Sunday, October 28, 2018

2nd 10-Minute Play Script Due; Cross-Dressing/Commedia; The Mystery of Irma Vep (Day 1)

Proofread and submit the play draft you have been working on today between 7:30-7:45. Check your grammar and play format to make sure it is correct. Use the advice from our handouts on the "art of grabbing", the "main event", your dramatic triangle, roots of action, developing a life and occupation for your characters, and review the notes on dialogue. Apply them all to your draft. Play drafts are due by 7:45. Please submit a copy of your play to our Google classroom. If you finish early, please read the information about cross-dressing/pantomime & the commedia from the handout or at the links below:

Cross-Dressing/Pantomime and the Commedia Dell'Arte 

Comedy has a long tradition in theater. The spring theater festivals from Greece began the tradition. Later in the Middle Ages, the comedy dell'arte form appeared. Read about the pantomime and commedia dell'arte tradition here today (or see your handout). Complete the graphic organizer for your notes on these articles and turn in when completed.

Cross dressing has been a common occurrence on the stage (the Greek, Roman, and Elizabethan theaters only employed male actors!) Many of Shakespeare's funniest comedies use the trope of cross-dressing, for example: Twelfth NightAs You Like It, and even The Merchant of Venice. The play we're going to read today carries on this tradition.

Read about cross-dressing and theatre here (see the handout).

The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam

One of the reasons people attend theater, as opposed to staying home watching TV or going to a movie is that through theatrical convention, we are often treated to a live-event that is intimate and "magical" in that what we witness on stage is a heightened exaggeration of life. 

Theater tends to be REPRESENTATIONAL and symbolic, rather than presentational. That is, the characters, plots, settings, props, etc. of a play REPRESENT reality, they are not reality. The viewer is likely to accept certain "unreal" actions, dialogue, characters, etc. while watching a stage play that he/she would not accept in film or in a novel.

Our case study will be the play The Mystery of Irma Vep by Charles Ludlam. Ludlam created the Ridiculous Theater Company in NY in 1967. Charles Ludlam died of complications from AIDS in the 1980's.

Ludlam is best known for the theatrical movement: The Theatre of the Ridiculous.

""The Theatre of the Ridiculous" made a break with the dominant trends in theatre of naturalistic acting and realistic settings. It employed a very broad acting style, often with surrealistic stage settings and props, frequently making a conscious effort at being shocking or disturbing. "Ridiculous" theatre brought some elements of queer performance to avant-garde theater. Cross-gender casting was common, with players often recruited from non-professional sources, such as drag queens or other "street stars." [We see this trend continue with the plays of Charles Busch].

Plots in these "ridiculous" plays are often parodies or re-workings of pop-culture fiction, including humor and satire to comment on social issues. Improvisation plays a significant role in the plays, with the script acting as a blueprint for the action.
 Arnie Burton and Robert Sella play a dulcimer duet in the Charles Ludlam's The Mystery of Irma Vep, directed by Everett Quinton, at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
HOMEWORK: Please choose 1 play by Charles Busch from the collection. Read this play by Wednesday, Oct. 31. Complete a play analysis for the play you choose to read. Consider Busch's style of comedy, his influences from pantomime and commedia dell'arte traditions, characterization through dialogue, and cross-dressing as you read.

You may choose any of the following: Psycho Beach Party, The Lady in Question, Red Scare on Sunset, or the Tale of the Allergist's Wife

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