Monday, November 7, 2016

God of Carnage; Character Types

Period 1/2: Read the reviews and interview handout. What strikes you about the subject, the style of the writing, or the content of the journalism?

Watch the play/film God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, directed by Roman Polanski (2011). Starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christopher Waltz, and John Reilly. The play won a Tony Award for Best Play in 2009.

As stated before, characters are the driving force of a play. Without well designed and depicted characters, a play will certainly fall short. There are some types of characters we want to be intimately familiar with (so that they are 'cast' in our plays):
  • Dynamic characters: characters that change through the events of the play or story.
  • Round characters: characters that are fully developed. They often have contradictory traits. A loving uncle, but a pedophile (How I Learned to Drive), or a wise chauffeur who is illiterate (Driving Miss Daisy), or a cranky old Jewish lady who has a heart of gold (Driving Miss Daisy), a bitter couple who actually love one another, despite their bickering (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf), etc. These characters are interesting because they possess contradictory or conflictual traits or qualities.
  • Confidante: someone in whom a character can confide or speak his/her mind freely.
  • Foil: a character who enhances a quality or trait of a major character or protagonist through contrast.
  • Sympathetic character: a character with whom an audience can identify.
  • Unsympathetic character: a character with whom an audience cannot identify. Usually this character has motives that are questionable, unappealing, or difficult to understand.
  • Ally: a character who helps the protagonist accomplish, achieve, or learn something.
  • Messenger/Herald: Usually a minor character, although not always--this character delivers an important message or brings some sort of external insight to the protagonist.
  • Minor characters: stock characters, spear-carriers, static, flat, cardboard cut-out, stereotype, supporting, allegorical, etc.
How do I develop a character?
  • Know what role the character plays in your play/story.
  • Use characterization: what a character says, what a character says about another character, actions, thoughts, or description. Description is best delivered through dialogue in plays. In fiction, it is delivered by description and imagery.
  • Provide backstory through flashbacks (fiction), or monologues (plays)
As you watch the film based on the play (and when you read the script of the play), examine the characters:
  • Alan Raleigh
  • Annette Raleigh
  • Michael Novak
  • Veronica Novak
Using the list above, argue what kind of character or what role(s) these 4 characters play within the drama. How do they shift or balance or grow or conflict? Which are protagonists or antagonists and when does this role shift in the play/film? Use evidence from the film or play to support your answer. Take notes as you watch/read to help you build your case or answer.

Turn in your analysis at the end of period 1, next class (Thursday, Nov. 10) for credit.

HOMEWORK: Complete your reading of The God of Carnage by Yasmine Reza.

Our Coffeehouse is tonight at 7:00 in the Ensemble Theater. Hope to see you there!

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