Monday, October 5, 2015

The Baltimore Waltz; Theater Vocabulary: The Event

EQ: What is an event? How does a playwright create an event? How does a playwright use the event to help build a scene or play? How do we build our plays to be more dynamic?

LAB: last class you read Driving Miss Daisy and examined Uhry's use of plot elements in the play. Please turn in the analysis worksheet for participation credit. Then use the next 20-25 minutes revising your 2 person scene(s).

Complete and craft these scenes by next week by fixing formatting issues, fleshing out characters, adding appropriate characterization with monologues and dialogue, work on tightening your script, attend to your diction, and otherwise improve your draft (you will have to complete this assignment as homework since we won't be in the lab!)

Period 1 (at 9:30): Please join us next door to begin reading The Baltimore Waltz by Paula Vogel.

A note about suggested sets:

There are two types of sets a playwright can prepare a script for:
A. a realistic set
B. a suggested set

A realistic set (like the set used in 'Night Mother) is a standard, realistic set that looks and feels like the actual setting of the play. It is more detailed and infinitely more expensive. Characters interact with props, costumes, and set pieces. It is not practical to change the setting or location in a realistic set.

A suggested set (like the set used in Baltimore Waltz or Driving Miss Daisy) allows actors to create the setting through actions (like pretending to drive a car--which would be impractical in a theater) or through dialogue. Setting is described, not built. We use our imagination.

The Event

Most plays begin with an EVENT: a unique and significant moment in a character's life (or characters lives). In plays all scenes should be thought of as "events".

Events can be almost anything: an unusual incident, a special occasion, a sudden visit, or any kind of crisis.

An event that starts off the play is called the inciting incident: the point of attack, the turning point in the life of one or more of your characters. Some playwrights call this moment the "disturbance". Whatever term you choose, you want to start off your story with a strong reason for the events in the play to occur. As the play continues (particularly in plays with more than one scene) more events may occur in a story. The inciting incident is the first one.

protagonist usually confronts the inciting incident from a position of weaker power or disadvantage. Starting with a protagonist who has all his stuff together, who can easily defeat or solve a problem, makes for a boring play.

The beginning of a play ends when the protagonist(s) make(s) a major decision. This major decision should set him or her or them on a collision course with forces that will oppose and perhaps destroy him/her (aka: antagonist). This should be a decision. A decision to act, a decision that causes the antagonist to confront the protagonist, etc. A major decision makes a protagonist active in the plot.

The inciting incident and the major decision help to create the MAJOR DRAMATIC QUESTION: MDQ. The MDQ is, as stated earlier, the question that keeps an audience interested in the plot of your play. The MDQ is also attached to your overall theme. For example: MDQ: will action (and therefore revenge) be possible for Hamlet?

The middle of a play is fraught with a series of obstacles (rising action). During the middle, you need to pay attention to the 3 C's: conflict, crisis, and complication. These 3 C's will lead to the dark moment of your play (more on that later).

Conflict can be person vs. person (often true in plays), person vs. self (also common), person vs. society (common as well if done correctly), and person vs. nature (God, etc.) (not as great, but some plays do this one perfectly.) The more interesting the conflict the more interesting the play. Crises and complications cause the conflict to be more interesting. The crises is a critical moment--a place in time for the protagonist to act, make a decision--that usually has consequences. Complications are problems (usually unforeseen) that arise to thwart or challenge the protagonist.

As you read the play the Baltimore Waltz please note the event, the inciting incident, the protagonist, major decision, the MDQ, the conflict, crisis, and complications in your notes.

HOMEWORK: Complete your 2 character scene. Complete any missing work thus far. Complete The Baltimore Waltz on your own.

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