Question#1. With regards to our Benedictine value of community, directors must effectively foster a sense of creative community within a production. The director, by constructing and sharing a concept, unify the skills and talents of people who might be very different from one another, or whose acting processes are different. In your job or classes or just life experience, have you ever dealt with groups of people, all with different talents, in a way that enabled all to work towards the same goal effectively?
What did your process have in common with a theatre director? If the experience was not so effective, what went wrong? What skills can you take with you from the theatre that might help you succeed next time you are faced with this scenario? Be certain to compare and contrast your experiences of creating community with that of the theatre director, as described in the text and in class notes.
#2. The Question at Issue in a writing assignment deals with the thesis and how the focus of that thesis is maintained throughout the paper. In a play, the Question at Issue is called the Major Dramatic Question (MDQ). This is the question the play was written to answer. Consider your favorite film or play. What is the MDQ? Does the play begin or end with the MDQ? How does the playwright or screenwriter keep the MDQ in focus in the middle of the piece? How does the use of an MDQ shape your enjoyment and understanding of the story? Can there be more than one MDQ is a play? (Just a clue—probably not.
You can be distracted by an event or obstacle, but that does mean that the obstacle is the MDQ. If I am in New York and have business to transact in Los Angeles, I might visit in Saint Louis along the way if I am driving. My “purpose” in taking the trip was not to stop in Missouri–it was just added entertainment along the way. Or, to put it another way, the MDQ in a play is like the thesis in a research paper. All the events in the play are like the evidence you would include in the paper to support your thesis. The paper isn’t “about” the evidence, the evidence is included to ‘support” the thesis.
Try thinking about your favorite movie in this way. If you suppose that it has more than one MDQ, there is probably a structure underpinning it which you are not seeing. If you can find the underlying structure, that will help you unify the events in the film, and you will probably see that all of the events are meant to serve a single purpose. Just a thought…We will continue to discuss…)
#3. Costumes help to establish character. We make assumptions (Elements of Thought) about characters based on what they wear. We are led to believe that they are modest or flamboyant, messy or meticulous, introverted or extroverted. We can make assumptions about the character’s career, beliefs, gender identity, or ethnic group.
We make these assumptions as audience members just as we do in daily living. Designers are aware of our human tendencies and pay attention to these inclinations when constructing their designs. Have you ever been mistaken as belonging to a member of a group with which you have no association just because of the clothing you were wearing at the time? How did you respond to the mistake?
Did the experience encourage you to consider the social impact of apparel choices? If you have never had the experience personally, did you ever mistakenly classify someone else who was wearing clothing which you associated with a particular group? Again, did the experience lead you to reconsider any innate prejudices you may have had regarding clothing? If you have not had this experience in real life, have you been “misled” in a film or play by a character’s attire? Do you suppose that the designer or director may have purposely misled you? If so, was the ruse effective? Explain.
#4.With regards to our Benedictine value of community, review the following blog from the Huffington Post entitled: “The Wal-Marting of American Theater,” by Scott Walters:
The Wal-Marting of American Theatre
How can theater administrators retain the local flavor of their arts community and attract an audience? Do you think the homogenization of American Theater has occurred out of laziness–in that it is easier to sell a “product” which is comfortable and familiar to audiences–or necessity: the fear that an audience will not attend a theatrical “product” which is unknown? How can the marketing department address this issue…or can it?
#5.With regards to our Benedictine value of respect, Chapter Two of the textbook discusses the exclusion of biologically-perceived women from the theaters of the past and the conventions used to create female characters on stage. How were women represented on the stage? What conventions were used to create female characters?
Are there any such conventions used today for the representation of women or men in the theatre, cinema, or on television? How will transgender figures such as Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox and Jeffrey Tambor (“Transparent”) change the way we view comedy and/or drama in relation to gender?