Monday, October 21, 2019

God of Carnage: Day 2; Character & Dialogue;

TASK: Watch the film 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 you watch the film based on 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. Take notes as you watch/read to help you build your case or answer.
  1. Identify and explain each character's "role" (see above)
  2. How do they shift or balance or grow or conflict? 
  3. Which are protagonists or antagonists and when does this role shift in the play/film? 
Use evidence from the film or play script to support your answer. Your COMMENT response will be due today when we complete the film.


The Art & Craft of Dialogue Writing (short video)
Dialogue, Text, & Subtext, Part 1 (video)
How Character and Story Are Hidden in Dialogue (short video)

Dialogue isn't just talking. Dialogue HAPPENS. It happens when your characters' need to speak. It is also how they listen (or not listen), and the connotation, nuance, color and subtext of what they say, how they say it, and why they say it. Good dialogue is the result of well-defined characters in a well-structured plot. They may be compelled to speak (or not), but they should have a REASON for speaking.

Here are some tips to consider:

1. We usually talk because we want to communicate some need. If we want nothing, we say nothing, usually. We also speak when we want to: threaten, teach, explain, cajole, joke, murmur, pontificate, persuade, defend ourselves, apologize, seduce, evade, pout, challenge, yell, scold, cry, praise, question, convince, criticize, etc.

2. Dialogue is action. It is an action taken to satisfy a want or desire. What a character wants or desires moves them to speak and act. This is part of characterization--and the best way to build your character.

3. When we don't get what we want (often immediately), humans tend to become shy, aggressive, or hide our agendas in our words. This is often our subtext (the meaning hidden in a line of dialogue; or saying one thing, but meaning another) and is very important to actors. It is often this subtext that a good actor will uncover in a performance.

4. Actors have to hear each other. But characters often do not listen the same way we do. Characters interpret what is being said, ask questions, ignore speech, get confused, miss a meaning and even read special meaning into something that has no meaning. Listening, therefore, will often help build the conflict and drama in your scene. A response reveals something important about the listener. How a character hears, then, is an important point to consider.

Dialogue & the Roots of Action - Writing Exercise

HOMEWORK: None. Watch the videos concerning dialogue above. Complete the basic scene starter exercise we started in class. Get a character idea for an upcoming writing project. 


Anonymous said...

(other than the fact that the names are changed)
Alain/Alan: Always on the phone and ignoring the conversation, Alain becomes an unsympathetic character. The audience may feel little pity at his shock of the watery phone (aka “his life”). He’s dynamic because he becomes more (aggressively) involved in the problem.
Veronique/Penelope: Veronica, in the play in general, is a dynamic character that goes from being civil and yet on the offensive (armed with a stick), to defense of herself and her ways of civility, even beating up her aggravating husband.
Annette/Nancy: Annette becomes a temporary ally character to Veronica in the movie (and play) when she tells Veronica to stop crying because it will “only encourage him.” She is also a dynamic character in these works because she is complacent with her husband’s work antics, but rebels against him when she throws his phone in the watery vase (play).
Michel/Michael:Michel is a foil character in both play and movie due to the fact that he subverts his wife's civil meeting, enhancing her character and making her more relate-able,at least for me, especially when his wife called him out on it. This also makes him a dynamic character, because he generally goes from being somewhat complacent to objecting to his wife (when he pours her a drink in the film).
Minors: These off-screen characters (3 kids, Nibbles, and Michel’s mother) are mentioned in the play and provide background and motive for the characters, making the 4 main characters more round. Even Alan mentions a kid from a past marriage.
3. At the start of the play/movie, Penelope and Michael are working together and are antagonizing the other couple over their “armed with a stick” son, but they are the protagonists for initiating this conflict. When the dispute continues and they defend themselves, this line is blurred. Soon, the men and women team up about ¾ of the way through, making this a male V. female civility battle. By the end, everyone, especially because of Penelope, is defending themselves and their own beliefs, with slight connections still between the two men.

Anonymous said...

Alan/Alain: An unsympathetic character throughout the entire play. Even from the start, he's always preoccupied with work and is always on the phone. Because of this he never gives his full attention to the situation. It's never really known as to why he came to meet the Novak's if he never wanted to in the first place. Alan/Alain is also a foil character to Veronica because he contradicts every aspect of her beliefs such as abiding by the way life works in relations to where they live. While he's an ally, towards the end, to Michel. He even goes out to way that Michael's action are "justified."

Annette: An ally character towards the end of the play; she starts to take sides with Veronica about resentment towards their husbands actions and words in regards to their lack of sympathy. In the beginning she's sympathetic when she expresses how she appreciates the Raleigh's generosity.

Michael/Michel: A dynamic character that changes through the events of the play; Michael starts off as a mediator between his wife and the Raleigh's, but over time he eventually spirals into anger and is less of a pacifist, becoming more aggressive and blunt towards the Raleigh couple when he's fed up. An ally character to Alain; when Annette damages his Alain's phone, Michael tries to help him and even calls out Annette on her actions. Towards the end, he foils Veronica because he also starts to contradict her beliefs and starts to downplay her words.

Veronica/Veronique: Is the foil character of Alain; while Alan believes that every man is only out for themselves and has "no moral sense", Veronica believes otherwise and that it is necessary for someone to have some sort of moral compass.

Veronica and Annette at some point also become unsympathetic characters; Veronica when she starts to become all high and mighty about her character. And Annette when she starts to verbally beat up her husband about his lack of understanding. All four of them become a confidante when they start to confide in each other about all of their issues in regards to marriage, children, and all of the hardships that come with life. Which is how they balance out conflict between the four of them; they try to find a common ground between the four of them where they can discuss similar situations that they have to deal with throughout their every day life and how it impacts them emotionally.

However, the role between protagonists and antagonists shifts consistently between the four of them. The Raleigh's are somewhat deemed as the antagonist of the story because their son is the one who assaulted the Novak's son, which makes him the victim. When it becomes known to the audience the Novak's son was the one who called the Raleigh's son a "snitch" that's when the role shifts and the Novak's become the antagonist of the story.

Anonymous said...

The two couples, Michael and Penelope and Alan and Nancy, are the major characters of the drama that significantly impact the direction of the play. Michael and Penelope, whose son is the victim, start off almost condescendingly scolding Alan and Nancy for their son's behavior. This leads to tension and conflict, the balance and sides of the four adults constantly shifting. Penelope could be seen as an antagonist for her whiny and annoying behavior, as well as Alan because of his sometimes disrespectful and antagonizing comments. Although they're all upset with each other as the problem continues to escalate, Michael and Nancy sometimes let Penelope and Alan bicker back and forth. The conflict between the two couples also opened up opportunities for the other couple to see problems within their own marriage

Anonymous said...

Alan Raleigh was a character that was a foil for Penelope bad trait of accusing others. It feeds into her assumption that everyone else is wrong and she is right and everyone should be politically correct. Alan starts off as someone who is disliked and is the antagonist of the play. I think that the most sympathetic character was Nancy since she slowly became the most truthful and likable character even as she got crazier. She was just a poor wife who deals with everything and is finally standing up for herself. Even though Penelope was always the character who was the victim in the scenes, she wasn't very relatable with the audience. Also, her character didn't change as much throughout the play/film because the other characters had put up more of a mask. The conflict changes and shifts with the characters, as more of their true emotions come out. Michael starts off as the peace-keeper but throughout changes into a stereotypical man who doesn't care about any social issues and just likes his liquor and cigars. This amps up the conflict between the men and the women, as more sexist comments are made as well as the failing marriages are revealed. Michael and Nancy were the characters that changed the most in response to the drastic differences of Penelope and Alan.

Anonymous said...

Micheal is very rude and self absorbed and shows no type of compassion for anyone and actually incurages violence in away when he says in the film " I believe in the god of carnage" refering to believing in the fact that we are all children and we cannot challenge anything and things just happen. His wife is a drunk in denial in the film she was throwing up and still wanted to continue drinking in the film she states this. Now where As alan is very sarcastic and at first he's seems very happy go lucky but he infact comes to find out is very unhappy with not only just his relationship with his wife but also with his child in the film he states that children suck the life out of you and make you feel old His wife is almost the complete opposite of him she disagrees with his comment but she also comes off as very confident etc in the film but ends up being a complete push over. The film takes a shift because the parents are coming to this meeting to talk about a conflict that happened between their children but it ends up steering way clear from that, and from that I feel like the parents are the antagonist and the children are the protagonist because of the fact that the parents in the film are showing that they care more about themselvs then their children which only goes to prove that children become what they are raised around.

Anonymous said...

In the play/novel God Of Carnage each main character and minor character as well have specific roles and parts that they play within the story to flush out the plot.Alan Raleigh,Annette Raleigh,Michael Novak,and Veronica Novak are all main characters who never leave out of the spotlight, they are protagonist, but to each other their connected almost as antagonists to each other throughout the play.As the play progresses they each reveal their "true colors" Veronica Begins crying and cursing out everyone in the room while even physically attacking her husband Michael who advertises his very pessimistic views on the world. As for Annette She seems go care in the beginning but then turns her attention to drinking and vomiting and drinking again all the while yelling at everyone in the room.The only character that I would argue has a constant role in the play s Alan. The only time he is vulnerable is when his phone is damaged. Minor characters such as the children are their as problem starters for the rest of the play with the Novak Child being hit in the face with a sick by the Raleigh child.Other minor characters who both serve as messengers are Walter and Michael's mom both offstage from a phone as well.

Anonymous said...

Alan was an unsympathetic character throughout the play. He challenges society norms and rules, he questions Penelope's accusations against his son even though Alan's son was guilty. Alan was the main antagonist of the conflict since he initially started it with his attitude toward the situation. His wife Nancy, became a dynamic character because throughout the play her role changed. She went from this modest woman with morals to ending as a drunken idiot. Nancy challenged her husband's negative attitude throughout the play. Michael was also a dynamic character because he started the play as being supportive of his wife, Penelope, to then when we reached the end of the play he and everyone else were against her. Michael begins as a protagonist and ends as the antagonist. Michael's wife, Penelope, was a foil character. No matter what she maintained her integrity throughout the play even with three people attacking her. Each of the characters had a switch of being a protagonist and antagonist at least once in the play. Their motives weren't always clear and they were constantly changing.

Anonymous said...

Alan is an unsympathetic character. He represents true, unapologetic human nature. His sexist comments and rudeness makes turns the audience off of him. For example,his line at the end of the play about what men want in a women makes his a clear bad guy. He is the one character who stays an antagonist throughout the whole show. He is rude and apathetic from the start, however he is also the only character that is really honest with himself. Michel starts out as a protagonist. The audience can sympathize with his want to keep the peace. However, as the show progresses and tensions rise, his true, antagonistic behavior comes out, like when he talks about how marriage and children are awful. While this sentiment is mean and grim, perhaps there is something audiences can sympathize with about how he is being honest. Penelope also starts as a protagonist. Audiences sympathize with her passion for civility and ethics. However, throughout the show, the audience can see that these passions are fragile and she is not better than her children when she hits her husband. I think that audiences continue to sympathize with her and her frustration throughout the show, although she is no longer a saint. Nancy is also a protagonist who is driven to antagonistic behavior like destroying her husbands phone and destroying the tulips. All four characters are foils for each other. For example, Michel and Alan drive Penelope to a breaking point with their disregard for decency, Penelope drives Michel to the breaking point with her annoying and fake commitment to decency, Michel makes Nancy crazy by ignoring her and always answering her cellphone...etc. All four characters are also round. They are all well developed with flaws and contradicting traits like passion for justice and self righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Alan- seems like the type when the conversation gets to deep he would answer the phone and ignore the conversation he is nonchalant and doesn't really argue back with his wife witch makes him seem like the unsympathetic character.

Michael- he is a peace maker but towards the end he gets tired of being the peace maker and bursts he seemed to have multiple personality's so I would say hes the dynamic character

Penelope-I think she is a dynamic character that went from one side to another she goes through mixed emotions through out the play when she gets closer to Alan and his wife

Nancy- I feel like Nancy would be a temporary ally character to Penelope but then again she seems like a dynamic character because she tells her to stop crying because it would only make it worse

The minor characters would be the kids involved because they weren't there so would Michael's mother and the people who Alan were on the phone with

in the beginning Penelope and Michael are working together as a couple to "antagonizing" the other couple over with the stick that the other son had but they are the protagonists because it went to far When the conflict continues and they begin to defend themselves Alan and Michael team up and then women team up Penelope begins to calm down and thats when the conflict settles

Anonymous said...

Alan Raleigh is always on the phone, he’s not really alert to the conversation and what’s going on, until his phone got messed up. He isn’t liked, he’s sarcastic and at first. He appears as happy, but as the play continues we find out is very unhappy with not only with his relationship with his wife, but also with his kid because in the film he says that “children suck the life out of you and make you feel old”. Protagonist or antagonist? Antagonist. Annette Raleigh is Alan’s wife; she’s the opposite of him. She doesn’t agree with what he said about children and is confident. She seems caring in the beginning, but then she starts to drink and throw up and drink again and yell at everyone. Protagonist or antagonist?Antagonist. Michael Novak is like mediator for his wife and the Raleigh's, but then eventually gets angry and is less of a pacifist. He was aggressive and blunt towards the Raleigh couple, helps his wife be more understanding, like when she called him out. He’s rude and seems to only care about himself, no sympathy and is okay with violence in the film he says, " I believe in the god of carnage". Veronica Novak is Michael’s wife; is a drunk, she was throwing up and still wanted to drink. She was civil in the beginning but still offensive. She beat up her husband. The role between protagonists and antagonists shifts change between the couples. The Raleigh's son is the one who assaulted the Novak's son which makes them the antagonist. Then once we found out the Novak's son was who called the Raleigh's son a "snitch" is when the role change and the Novak's become the antagonist of the story.

Brad Craddock said...

From Degraj:

The characters' role change and expand as the story progresses. In the beginning, all of the characters start off as "basic" characters, just trying to resolve the issue that their kids caused. Zachary and Penelope's Kid(PK) are not the protagonists or antagonists but they are the ones the kicked off the plot. Alan's role is one that is kind of a rich "non-caring", boring and rude person. In the movie, Alan is always on the phone and all of " is in the phone...". He always seems busy. Also he was the first one to say an inappropriate word, during his second(?) call. Nancy, Alan's wife, is always trying come to a conclusion and be nice and has a role of calming everyone down, and having a sense "moral". She's lonely even when she has Alan because Alan is always on his phone and busy. She says "That phone is always more important..."when Alan gets a call. Penelope has a role that is more of a weak one. She's always crying and yelling. She's always worried. Michael has a role of almost being a comic character as he's more of a nonchalant character and tries to talk to everyone. The conflict is never ending in the plot as the characters never really leave the scene, and the conflict just grows. The further the story progresses, the major conflict is more and more ignored. More conflicts arise as the characters don't agree with each other. Penelope and Nancy were only characters who tried to bring the actual conflict-PK and Zachary-into the argument and this serves as a balance. The protagonists in the beginning are Alan and Nancy as their kids was the one who "started" the conflict. But as we learn more and more about the characters, everybody becomes both the antagonist and the protagonist because their actions keep them from resolving the conflict but also they all want to resolve the conflict

Anonymous said...

Michael was a main character whose son was the victim and just wanted to solve the conflict. He was not rude and was calm throughout the play. Penelope, Michael's wife was also not very rude. Even though they started to blame the other couple for what happened with the kids, they became calm and wanted to find a solution. Alan was a main character who was not very included in the conversation because he was busy on his phone. It felt like every time the conversation was getting good, he had to pick up his phone. He is the father of the kid who hurt Michael and Penelope's son. Nancy, is Alan's wife. She was a main character and was involved in the conversation unlike Alan. She ended up causing conflict when she threw up on Penelope's coffee table and books.

Minor characters were the two kids which one of them hurt the other.

The conflict was that one kid hurt the other and the parents had to solve it but Alan was not involved and seemed not to care. Another conflict was when Nancy vomits on the coffee table and books.

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