Thursday, September 6, 2018

The Colored Museum - Discussion #1; Dashboard Drama Exercise

Please make sure you have submitted your baseline scene. We will be adding to this scene next class after I have a chance to review your work and return it to you.

Overall, very good. You've shown me what you remember about playwriting.

Let's turn our attention to The Colored Museum. Take a few minutes (5) this morning to review the play. 

Select one of the monologues or short scenes in the collection and read it again closely. Choose one of the following questions and answer how the monologue or scene functions. You will be sharing your insights with 2-3 other peers. Jot down specific notes as you read closely and prepare your answer. 
  1. The character speaking hooks his/her audience--what grabs our attention? What specific lines or narrative compels us (as an audience) to listen attentively? 
  2. How the character(s) communicate(s) meaning (what's the purpose/point of speaking?) What seems to be the playwrights' message or point to his audience?
  3. How details and stage descriptions are presented to the audience. Why is it important to explain the action or character information in the stage directions as opposed to the words the characters say? What actions are suggested by the DIALOGUE or speech in the scene?
  4. How the story and plot are interwoven into the monologue or scene. What happens in the story? Examine what happens in the beginning, middle, and finally the end of the scene or monologue. How does the scene/monologue feel "complete"?
  5. How the playwright uses language or diction to create visual imagery (metaphor, allusion, personification, symbol, simile, etc.), sound imagery (onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm, alliteration, assonance, consonance, etc.), and
  6. how props or costumes are used (if any) help establish setting or character. What do props or costume descriptions add to the scene or monologue? How do they help develop or define characters or setting?
After preparing your answer, please take another 5 minutes to join 2-3 other students and explain how you answered the question (1-6) that you chose to answer. 

TASK: After our analysis, let's conduct a class discussion/Socratic seminar on the play. Your response can include answers to any or all of these questions.
  • What did you think about the play as a whole? Did it surprise you or please you or frustrate you? Explain why you reacted to the play in this way.
  • What is the premise of "The Colored Museum"? In a sentence or two, explain what you think is the premise or main idea/theme of the play. Is this premise interesting or important for a contemporary audience? Do you think people would pay to see this play if performed today? Why or why not?
  • What challenges and stage requirements are necessary to produce this play? How has George C. Wolfe anticipated a low-budget theater being able to produce his play? What did you learn about staging from the monologues or scenes you read?
  • Why are the monologues or scenes in the order that Wolfe puts them? What is the reason to start and end the play with the monologues/scenes he does?
  • Other observations? As a writer, what did you notice? What do you want to talk about in regards to this play? What might be important to remember as you write short scenes of your own?
If we have time during period 1, we will begin viewing a staging of this play. What we don't finish, we will finish watching next week.

The Colored Museum - Git on Board & Cookin with Aunt Ethel, The Photo Shoot; Soldier With a Secret; The Gospel According to Miss Roj, The Hairpiece,; Symbiosis; The Last Mama on the Couch Play; Permutations; & The Party 

Period 2: Dashboard Drama Exercise
  • Get into groups of 2-3. You will be collaborating on a scene that takes place in a car. We will be working with the drama students and Mr. Tirre will be recording your scene next week.  
  • Your scene should be 2-3 pages in length. Each character you include in your "car" must speak.
  • No more than 3 characters per car. 2 works best. 
  • Each character should have a reason for being in the car you are assigned. Think about where the character may be headed, or what the character was doing just before the scene begins.
  • Give each character a specific prop or small object to use. This can be as simple as a pair of sunglasses or car keys to something strange or compelling, like a stuffed toy, a desk lamp, or a hula-hoop. 
  • Match at least one of your characters to the make/model of the car you set your scene in. A police car, for example, is very different from a Model-t Ford. The people who might drive or ride in such a car should help you imagine an appropriate theme or idea for your scene.
  • Think outside the box. Creativity is key. Be unique and interesting--but remember that your scene needs to make some sense (at least to the characters involved). 
  • Genre and style is up to you and your partner(s). 
  • Title your scene appropriately. 
HOMEWORK: Share your idea and document with your partner(s) with a Google doc. Share the file with your partner(s) so everyone can contribute to the scene you are writing! Eventually, the scene will be seen by others. Plays are meant to be performed by actors. 

Complete The Colored Museum if you did not actually read the play. Wolfe's play is funny and a good example of how to write effective scenes. Learn from your reading.

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