Monday, October 12, 2015

Midterm In-Class Project

When: November 10
What: A "theatrical treatment" of a scene of your choice that addresses selfhood.
How: Individually or in pairs (if you choose the latter, both students will receive the same grade)
Where: In class (and to be completed by the end of the class period)
Medium: Typed or handwritten. You can email me your work by the end of the class period or hand it in directly. However, all feedback will be given via email, so if you handwrite, please include your email address. In both cases, be sure to include your name(s)

For this assignment you must choose a scene (any scene from any of the plays on the course schedule) and produce a "theatrical treatment" that addresses the theme of selfhood.

What this means specifically is that you should choose a scene or a passage that, according to you, expresses a particular idea about selfhood. Then, thinking like a director, you must decide what performative and scenographic decisions you would make to articulate this idea about selfhood on stage. Who would be on stage? How would they be arranged in space? How would they move? Would there be specific considerations given to casting, acting, lighting, scenery, costume? These are just some of the questions you might consider as you're working on this project.

A central assumption of this course is that "selfhood" is a theme that has both a conceptual and a theatrical dimension in Shakespeare's plays. The point of this assignment, therefore, is to get you to bring together these two modes of analysis--the conceptual and the theatrical--in a way that's mutually illuminating.

The "theatrical treatment" you write in class should consist of two sections:

(1) An analysis of how selfhood is represented in the scene you've chosen (1-2 pages). This is straightforward literary-critical analysis.

(2) A description of the precise performative and scenographic decisions you would make to articulate to a theater audience the ideas about selfhood you just outlined in the previous section. This should consist of precise description, almost like extended stage directions or theatrical program notes. Modern playwrights like Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill frequently include extended stage directions that describe exactly how scenes should be treated in order to advance the particular ideas they have in mind. You're not required to imitate this style, but if you think you'd find it helpful to consult some of these playwrights as a loose guide, feel free to do so.

I suggest you start thinking about which scene you might want to work on as soon as possible. Set aside some time during Reading Week to plan and generate some notes. You're allowed to bring these notes and a copy of the play on the day of the assignment.

Have fun with this project! It's unique in that it allows you to bring together critical and creative thinking. I hope you enjoy working on it.

NOTE: If this semester, autumn 2015, is your first semester in the MA program and you intend to validate this course with the university exam, then you don't have to do this assignment.