Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Ridiculous Play Project; Mystery of Irma Vep: Day 4; Act 2


Continue writing your play scripts. Aim to complete your play script drafts by end of lab on Friday.
  • Your scene should have 2 actors (but as many characters as you wish...).
  • Your scene might be inspired by a film scene or famous, well-known or loved book, etc.
  • Look at the previous writing advice about how to write scripts in the past few posts (and the exercise below). 
  • This draft will be due Friday so that I know you are writing it.
Character's emotions: The father of Behaviorism, John Watson (not Sherlock's sidekick...), said that there are 3 basic feelings that we share.

Characters can often feel
  • Anger: jealousy, envy, hatred, criticism, frustration, etc. 
  • Fear: timidity, uncertainty, disappointment, etc.
  • Love: lust, pride, infatuation, pride, etc.
We might add:
  • Sadness, if that sadness or melancholy is not born out of anger at oneself (guilt or shame), fear of loss, or born of love or lack of comfort.
For each of your characters in your play, spend some time to ask: 
  • What basic emotion is most prominent or powerful for that character?
  • Why is the character angry?/What makes the character angry?
  • Why is the character afraid?/What makes the character afraid?
  • Why is the character so loving?/What does the character love?
  • Why is the character sad?/What makes the character sad?
And what event in the character's past caused this emotion? Consider the character's backstory. Use this powerful emotion in a monologue or reveal the character's emotional state in the dialogue of your scene. 

Period 2: Classroom 

Act 2 of The Mystery of Irma Vep.

Acts versus scenes versus beats

If a beat is a short exchange of dialogue between two or more characters on a specific topic, then a scene is comprised of more than one beats--often with a definite beginning, middle, or end--but scenes, like chapters in a book, deal with what is immediate or happening "now" in the story. Past events are given as backstory in monologues or through dialogue concerning off-stage situations. Scenes involve characters entering or exiting a location at a specific time or place. 

Acts, however, are major events or sequences that usually have a significant impact on the structure of the story. I.E., they have structure beyond a single scene. Usually, in modern plays like The Mystery of Irma Vep, the act breaks at the crisis. The Major Dramatic Question remains unanswered, thus compelling a second (or sometimes third) act. 

You can think of all of these parts (beats, scenes, and acts) as having a definite beginning, middle, and end. I.E., they all have an inciting incident, rising action, crisis, (dark moment or enlightenment), climax, and resolution.

HOMEWORK: Complete Topdog/Underdog. Answer the ?'s. Prepare to complete your ridiculous scene in the lab.

Look here for information about Suzan-Lori Parks. As you read, please answer the following questions:
  1. Who are the 2 characters in this play? How are they similar or different from the historical figures they are drawn from? How are they similar/different from each other? (see our writing exercise above for details....)
  2. Identify the inciting incident in this play.
  3. Identify the Major Dramatic Question in this play. 
  4. Identify the dark moment or crisis for both Lincoln & Booth.
  5. Identify the enlightenment for both Lincoln & Booth.
  6. Choose one type of conflict in the play and explain how this conflict contributes or effectively adds to the plot or theme of this play.
  7. Choose a beat in the play. Identify the page # and section of the beat. For this beat, identify the beat's objective for each character Booth & Lincoln.
  8. Suzan-Lori Parks is an unconventional playwright. Read about her background and her author's notes. How does she use theatrical elements in a unique or effective way throughout the play? 
  9. Compare Topdog/Underdog to other 2-person plays we have read ('Night Mother, Mystery of Irma Vep, The Dumb Waiter, Oleanna, "The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year", "The Red Coat", or "Slaughter in the Lake")--how does this play measure up in your opinion? What might you have learned about playwriting from reading it? Which play is strongest or best in your opinion? Why?
  10. Topdog/Underdog was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Why do you think this might have been a good choice for a contemporary audience or a good example of contemporary writing? (you might examine the importance of the play's theme, or its characters, or its style, for example...)
Please read the play and answer these 10 questions by Friday, Oct. 20.

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