In this Discussion, we want you to think through the interrelationship between the news and entertainment or the arts. Last week, we saw this when we asked you to analyze the Stephen Colbert performance in character at the National Correspondents Dinner.
This week, we ask you to consider the role of the journalist as narrator of a news story in two distinct media modes of address: in a radio news story or podcast (Robbie Brown’s version of “21 Chump Street” for This American Life and in the musical theater adaptation of this story, “21 Chump Street” in the video.
The musical theater piece by Lin-Manuel Miranda reflects upon and enacts the very process of telling the news story that Robbie Brown engages in when he recorded his radio story. So in watching the musical theater version, audiences are not only asked to reflect upon the news they’re learning about, but also on the process of packaging events into a coherent narrative for the consumption of the public–that’s why the narrator (played here by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself) is on-stage along with the actors who play the teenagers (and the cop).
WATCH SOME OF THE ACTUAL HIGH SCHOOL PERFORMANCES(LINKS TO AN EXTERNAL SITE.)LINKS TO AN EXTERNAL SITE. OF LMM’S “21 CHUMP STREET,” (HYPERLINK) AND WRITE A 400 WORD ESSAY IN WHICH YOU ANALYZE WHICH ONE OF THE SCHOOLS’ VERSIONS FEATURES THE MOST CONVINCING NARRATOR/NEWS REPORTER.
- Your thesis must explain what criteria you used to evaluate the performance as “convincing”–by arguing what it was about school X’s version of the play that put across an effective depiction of the news reporter.
- A successful, provable thesis does not merely re-state, summarize, or describe the content of the play. Instead, it makes an argument for School A’s version as portraying the narrator/news reporter as someone who does x, y, and z.
What Constitutes Proof (or how to “cite” a performance): since this prompt asks you to analyze a performance, you may cite the following as support for your claims:
- the actor’s voice when speaking, demeanor when delivering lines, costume, or how well you could hear him/her in the role
- the set for the play–was the narrator visible all the time, or only when s/he had lines?
- resemblance of the actor’s performance to either Robbie Benson’s demeanor or speech pattern in the original story or else to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s performance of the narrator/reporter in the assigned version of his musical