Theatre in Western Culture Full Course Notes and Exam Study Guide
Theatre in Western Culture Full Course Notes and Exam Study Guide TH 2140 - 02
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TH 2140 - 02
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This 24 page Bundle was uploaded by Lydia Patchett on Monday August 15, 2016. The Bundle belongs to TH 2140 - 02 at Wright State University taught by Jason R Podplesky in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 14 views. For similar materials see Theatre in Western Culture in Theatre at Wright State University.
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Date Created: 08/15/16
DAY ONE There is a very long history behind musicals Showboat is considered to be the first musical o There was no curtain call o They did not white wash There was a specific song written for a black man o It covered 2 eras of theatre o Kern and Hammerstein > Ziegfeld theatre Bert Williams o He was a BLACK minstrel star The Red Summer was the summer that the Actor’s Union started David Merrick – producer o Hello Dolly o 42 Street o GROVER CHAMPION DIES Cameron MaKintosh – producer o Cats o LesMiserables o Phantom o Miss Saigon DAY TWO Watch the History of Musical Theatre No notes DAY ONE Directors did not exist until the 19 century They were not commonplace until the 20 century Teacher/ Director o Didaskalos” = teacher Turn of the century o George II Duke of SaxeMeiningen (Duchy) First to harmonize all the elements of the play Historical accuracy Ensemble approach (no more star system) Group (stage) pictures Invented the fourth wall Toured Europe in the 1870s – 1880s where Stanislavsky saw them First to experiment with realism and naturalism o Andre Antione (France) 1887 o Harley GranvilleBarker (England) late 1880s o David Belasco (USA) late 1880s o Konstantine Stanislavsky (Russia) 1898 o Theatre became interested in an expression of truth Director’s job o To have a creative vision o To direct the cast o To call the shots o Unified artistic vision o 2 part process Part one: preparation Play selection Conceptualization (core or high concept) o Core is the playwright’s intent o High is the director’s intent (postmodern) Designer meetings/ renderings Part two: implementation Casting is 80% of the director’s job DAY TWO John Doyle o Scottish trained o University of Georgia o Watermill playhouse – 216 seats o Actor/ Muso High concept Actors play instruments while they act o Put on “Company” at the Cincinnati Playhouse in 2006 This went to Broadway and had many nominations WATCHED this version of Company in class DAY ONE Theatre Traditions o Began with the dawn of time o North Africa/ Nile Region Ritual o The very origins of theatre o Make it special Storytelling o Validation o Makes it personal and affecting These two came together 6000BC in Egypt o It spreads out to Greece, Turkey, India, Italy, etc. The Greeks o Dionysus – wine, fertility, theatre the ritual storytelling that went into his worship begat theatre as we know it o Greek value system Polytheistic Greek chorus Olympics (sense of competition) Democracy – no women were allowed Public vs. private Plays are all debates It was a civic duty to attend the plays o Masks o No women onstage o We only have writing from four Greek playwrights Aeschylus (525 – 425 BC) He won 14 competitions Solider on the ships (think 300 movie) Solider hero We have 7 of his 7090 plays He added the second actor Thespis was the first actor (where the word thespian comes from) o The Persians o The Suppliants o Onestia Euripedes He won 4 competitions Rebel We have 18 of his 8090 plays He questioned the morality of the gods Very violent Tragedy Sophocles (497 – 406 BC) 7 of his 123 plays survive He added the third actor His language, character, storytelling were the best He was never less than second in a competition that he was in (he won 24/30) Oedipus, Antigone, Ajax, Electra He was a poet Aristophanes Comedian Ridicule Athenian culture Lysistrada Lenaia – winter festival (comedic plays) 11 of his plays survived o Greek chorus They represented the general population Provide the background (exposition) Ask questions in order to move the action Comment on the themes and tell audiences what to think They NEVER offer a solution o The plays Debates Climactic structures Heroes have high social status Moral lesson Violence happens off stage Deux ex machina is a staple of their plays Tyrone Gutherie o Minneapolis, MN o In 1950something he put on a production of Oedipus Rex that is considered to be the most similar to the original version o Gutherie theatre One of the lead actors on Stark Trek came from this theatre o The theatre auditioned cities and moved around The Greeks were conquered by the Romans Romans o Renamed the gods o Theatre is festival based o Celebrated many gods o “Ludi” were the games that they played o Short comic plays about everyday life o Platus, Terrence, Seneca o Plays, gladiators, fights to the death, reenactment, chariots, etc o Events were FREE o The Romans were very largely the Christian Church 900 AD – 1500 AD Medieval Period (Dark ages) Corpus Christi festival 60 days after Easter 1311 AD Different guilds had different stories to tell Wakefield cycle – 32 short plays (England) Pageant wagons DAY TWO Renaissance (rebirth) o 1500 – 1700 o Italy o Called the Golden Age England o Elizabethan Period o 1550 – 1616 o Professional theatre o The country was ruled by a woman, yet women had no power o Humors Blood (leeches) Phlegm Bile, etc. o Kind of scientific Shakespeare in Love o This is the fictional story of how Shakespeare came into popularity o Tom Stoppard wrote this o It was written using the same plot devices that Shakespeare did The Queen/ King was disguised as a commoner Crossdressing was used for disguises Mistaken Identities Sword fights Adultery/ cheating Ghosts Play within a play William Shakespeare o 1564 – 1616 (died at 52) o He was catholic o He wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets o Stratford ordAvon o Was the 3 of 8 children and the oldest boy o Married Anne Hathaway at 18 years old (she was 26) They had a baby 6 months after they were married named Suzanne in 1583 In 1585 they had twins Judith and Hamnet (who dies in 1596 at 11) He disappeared “the lost years” from 1585 – 1592 In 1592 his plays were being produced in London by the King’s Men The most popular play was Titus Andronicus In 1593 / 1595 he started writing his great plays Problem plays In 1623 his First Folio was created Iambic Pentameter Feminine endings has 11 syllables and changed the flow The dude invented words!!! The globe burned down in 1613 Macbeth is the world’s most produced play He wrote in prose and verse DAY ONE Designers and Technicians make the magic happen Willing suspension of disbelief Design Process o Read the play o Collaboration and sketches o Discussion/ give and take – model/ renderings This will happen over and over until an agreement is made o Evolution of design: build/borrow/buy This turns ideas into reality Tools of design o Manipulate Line Shape Mass/ amount Texture Color Goals of design o Tell the story o Define the time and place o Define style (the world of the play) o Create the mood and tone o Serve as visual metaphor (concept/ vision) DAY TWO Theatre Spaces o Proscenium o Black box o ¾ thrust o Round (Arena) o Skene o Environmental Theatre Costume: defines and enhances character Sound: integral (playwright) vs. incidental (director) cues Adolphe Appia (1862 – 1928) o Antirealism and symbolism Edward Gordon Craig (1872 – 1866) o Actor, architect, scenic designer o Nonrealistic Theatre in Western Culture Lydia Patchett Chapter 1: What is the Theatre? Theatron: seeing place A building o Not always a building o Greek theatres of the fourth century BC were gigantic stone edifices, some capable of holding up to seventeen thousand spectators o Roman theatres would be up to three stories with gilded columns and marble carvings A company o Troupes o Generally travelling troupes would have included actorplaywrights and actor technicians so that they were selfsufficient An occupation o Work Rehearsals take normally four to six weeks Lots of writing, researching, planning, casting, designing, and creating a production ensemble Seven day work weeks become commonplace Producing Directing Designing Building Crewing Stage managing House managing Playwriting Composing o Art Creativity, Imagination, elegance, power, aesthetic, harmony, and finesse of form In great theatre we glimpse not only the physical and emotional exuberance of a play, but also the deep yearnings that propel humanity’s search for purpose, meaning, and a life well lived o Impersonation The single most important aspect of theatre Character actor separation In a play it must be the characters who have apparent life; the actors themselves are expected to disappear into the shadows, along with their personal preoccupations, anxieties, and career ambitions o Performance An action or series of actions taken for the ultimate benefit of someone else Presentational Representational Willing suspension of disbelief Wellwritten and wellstaged dramas make people feel, not just thing Live performance: the theatre is a living realtime event in which performers and audience mutually interact. Intimate Scripted and rehearsed performance: permanently set words and actions The play fully exists only in performance Chapter 2: What is a Play? Dran: ancient Greek word meaning “something done” A play is a piece of life that has been animated, shaped, and framed to become a work of art Historically, in Western drama, a “fulllength” play has usually lasted between two and three hours. This is not an entirely arbitrary period of time; it represents roughly the hours between lunch and dinner (for a matinee) or between dinner and bedtime To classify a play by genre is to say what kind of play it is o The first defined dramatic genres were tragedy and comedy o A tragedy always ends in the death of one or more of its main characters and focuses on a universal theme about human life and society o The classifications of plays into genres is not a science, but a matter of opinion o Comedy is a very popular genre and has been a staple of the theatre since ancient times o History play o Documentary drama o Tragicomedy o Melodrama o Musical Even when improvised or radically experimental, a play’s dramatic action tends to be crafted in wellunderstood compositional patterns. We call these patterns a play’s dramaturgy o Plot: the mechanics of storytelling o Characters: the human figures who undertake the actions of the plot o Theme: the play’s overall statement, its topic, central idea, or message o Diction: literary character of a play’s text, including its tone, imagery, cadence, and articulation, and to the playwright’s use of literary forms and figures of speech such a verse, rhyme, metaphor, apostrophe, jest. And epigram. o Music: can take many forms o Spectacle: encompasses the visual aspects of production: scenery, costumes, lighting, makeup, properties, and the overall look of the theatre and stage o Convention: the agreement between the audience and actor by which the audience willingly suspends its disbelief and accepts the play as a new and temporary “reality” o Preplay: the attraction of an audience o Play: exposition, conflict, climax, denouement o Postplay: curtain call 7 Basic Stories Chapter 3: The Playwright Neil LaBute Dramatic Structures The Shape of Things Chapter 11: The Critic and the Dramaturg Chapter 4: The Actor The first notion is that an actor creates a performance externally, first by imagining how his or her character should walk, talk, and behave, and then by imitating these imagined behaviors when performing the character. The second notion is that acting is created internally, by concentrating not on imitating behavior but actually experiencing it, and thereby “living the part” while performing it Stanislavsky’s system of acting described as the actor :living the life of his or her character on stage” turned many American actors into Stanislavsky disciples Stanislavsky’s system became “the Method” The character’s task is different from the actor’s task. The actor’s task may be to get a standing ovation from the audience, or a good review win the local press; but the character’s task for, let’s say Juliet is to win Romeo’s love or, at other times, to win her father’s respect, the friar’s blessing, or the nurse’s assistance Emotion memory (or emotional recall, or affective memory) whereby mentally substituting remembered situations from his own life into the action of the play could allow him to reach the emotional levels the play required Two of Stanislavsky’s disciples, Richard Boleslavski and Maria Ouspenskaya, had moved to New York and founded the American Laboratory Theatre, bringing Stanislavsky’s system to the attention of hundreds of young New York actors Stanislavsky prized true emotion but also recognized the necessity for rational control in performance, and the second half of his An Actor’s Work mainly concerns external acting techniques Even Stanislavsky understood that technical mastery is at least one critical part of career success in acting, for it is obvious that actors must be heard and understood in the back row, and must fulfill the basic expectations that the text promises and the production’s director seeks to create Most of the best actors are strong and flexible; all are capable of great physical self mastery and are artists of body language Great acting today demands both a convincing inner life for the character and virtuoso skills that can deliver that character with some or all of these technical ideals: clarity, excitement, vivacity, charm, sex appeal, a sense of danger, and a sense of exhilaration along with a profound engagement with the dramatic text, its issues and ideas and its production Actor training entails two distinct phases: development of the actor’s approach to a role (largely creating the character’s inner life) and developing the actor’s vocal and physical instrument (largely concerning virtuosity) The actor creates her or his performance through the pursuit of the character’s zadacha, or task to be accomplished The second element of the actor’s approach is the identification of the tactics necessary to achieve goals and avoid defeat The third and most complicated element of the actor’s approach requires research into the style of the play and the mode of performance that will govern the production, in which each role is but a single integer The actor’s instrument is the actor’s self her mind, mettle, and metabolism are the materials of her performance Voice and speech, quite naturally, are the first elements of the actor’s physiological instrument to be considered Movement is the second element of the actor’s physiological instrument The psychological gift of imagination and the willingness and ability to use it in the service of art, is an even more important component of the actor’s instrument The fourth and final aspect of an actor’s instrument, and to a certain extent the one that rules them all, is simply discipline In essence, the actor’s professional routine consists of three stages: audition, rehearsal, and performance o Audition: the primary process by which acting roles are awarded to all but the most established professionals o Rehearsal: plays are ordinarily rehearsed in a matter of weeks: a normal period of rehearsal ranges from ten weeks for complex or experimental productions to just one week for many summer stock operations o Performance: performing, finally, is what the theatre is about, and it is before an audience in a live performance that the actor’s mettle is put to the ultimate test o Each actor has his or her own way of addressing this problem. Some rely on their total immersion in the role and contend that by living the life of the character they can keep themselves equally alert from first performance to last. Others turn to technical elements reworking their delivery and trying constantly to find better ways of saying their lines, expressing their character, and achieving their objectives. Still others concentrate on the relationships within the play and try with every performance to find something new in each relationship as it unfolds onstage o Acting is an art. It can also be a disease. Professional actors are privileged people. They get to live the lives of some of the world’s greatest and bestknown characters o The addicted actor the actor obsessed with acting for its own sake is probably not a very good actor, however, for fine acting demands an open mind, a mind capable of taking in stimuli from all sorts of directions and not merely from the theatrical environment Patrick Stewart Chapter 5: The Director History of Directing SUSAN Cirque Du Soleil Rent Top Dog Under Dog Vagina Monologues DAY ONE Modern Theatre No notes DAY TWO Charles (Chuck) Mee o Born in 1938 o Playwright, author, historian o He wrote 12 plays o He had the thought that there is “No new art” o He contracted polio at 15 years old o He doesn’t believe in realism or naturalism o It is all about “what I like” o He has a distinctive approach to playwrighting: he synthesizes preexisting texxts into startling new creations ((re)making) o He believed that there is no such thing as a “new play” Big Love o Aeschylus – ‘The Suppliants / The Suppliant Women’ It was the first play in western culture o Male aggression and the universal power of love and sex o There is a world of extremes o New genre: violent comedy o Music is integral to the movement of the play o There are no easy problems (just like the greeks) DAY ONE What is Theat(er)(re)? o Theatre is the Action o Theater is the Building Theatre existed everywhere o Scribe and Sardow perfected boulevard theatre in France in the 1700s Melodrama – More about the plot than anything else English theatres started spelling it with the “re” ending to try to mimic French theatre Greek o Theatron means “seeing place” o Theaomai means “to behold” o Dran means “to do” (this is where drama comes from) o All together this means “an action is witnessed” Elements that make up theatre: o Performance o Audience o Script/ Score (something to be rehearsed) o Space (to perform) Sports Churches Parades Job presentation Political events Classes Traditions and Innovations o Theatre is social o There is a system of values: Conventions Specific to the time period The place and location The culture o Every culture has developed theatre Forces of theatre: o Globalization (technology) o Post modernism – They are the voice to “other” / progressiveness. Anti______. They are breaking rules to find new forms. They break traditions. o Multiculturalism – A specific culture is being celebrated o Interculturalism – mixing cultures to create new forms DAY TWO Traditions vs. Innovations o Systems of values establish conventions. “Rules of behavior” are followed. o Specific to time, place, and culture o Forces changing traditions Postmodernism (avantgarde) Multiculturalism – celebrating a specific culture Globalization Eve Ensler o Wrote and performed the Vagina Monologues o Playwright and feminist activist o 1996 – 1998 o Vday movement Global movement to stop violence against women Benefit performances – over $40 million raised as of 2015 DAY ONE Post Modernism o Nontraditional theatre forms o Techno advanced o Springs from antirealistic aesthetic o Not interested in “logic” or “literal meaning” dream o There is a mix of ideas, images, and sensory discoveries Multimedia Delightful surprises o Subjective o Celebrates randomness Robert Wilson (1941 – present) Waco, Texas o Renovated the visual elements of avantgarde theatre o Playwright, director, designer, and producer for all of the plays o Tableaux vivants – living pictures (not dramas) LONG DURATIONS (12 – 23 hours) Einstein on the Beach was 5 hours with no intermission o In 1984 Wilson was introduced to America o ABSOLUTE WILSON DAY ONE What is a Play? o A play is an event, it is an action o A play is a piece of life that has been animated, shaped, and framed to become a work of art o Historically, a full length play lasts 2 – 3 hours, which is roughly the time between lunch and dinner, or dinner and bed o Genre = kind o The first genres were tragedy and comedy Tragedy always ends in death and focuses on human life and society Comedy is a very wide ranging genre Others include: history, documentary drama, tragicomedy, melodrama, and musical o Well understood compositional patterns of action in a play are called dramaturgy Components of a play o Aristotle “The Poetics” 6 Components of Tragedy o Plot – mechanics of storytelling (dramatic action) o Characters – human figures who undertake the actions of the plot (protagonist v. antagonist) o Theme – the play’s overall statement (message) o Diction – literary character of a play’s text (language) o Music – can take many forms (sound) (tempo/pace) o Spectacle – visual aspects of production (tech) o Conventions – the audiences’ agreement to accept the play as reality Temporal structure (climactic play structure) o Preplay – the attraction of an audience o Play Exposition Conflict Rising action Climax Denouement o Post play Curtain call DAY TWO Plot vs. Story o Plot is cause to effect, it is the details o Story is the basic narrative. There are 7 basic stories: Achilles: hero with a fatal flaw and an unstoppable monster Cinderella: rags to riches Circe: Spider and fly – the chase Faust: sell your soul to the devil (is it worth it?) Orpheus: The loss of something precious and the quest to get it back Romeo and Juliet: starcrossed lovers, lost love, opposites attract Tristan and Isolde: love triangle Dramatic question: the thing that keeps us watching 1980s – Guy Laliberte 1984 – Gilles SteCroix and Daniel Gauthier Cirque du Soleil – circus of the sun o Quidam – 1996 (we watched parts of this in class) o Franco Dragone director DAY ONE Wright means builder / repairer Plays are blueprints or plans 7 qualities of a “fine” play o Credibility and intrigue “willing suspension of disbelief” o Speakability – stagability and flow (producability) o Richness (depth, subtlety, finesse, quality) o Depth of characterization (distinct voices) o Gravity and pertinence (universal theme and meaning) o Compression, economy, and intensity (plot) o Celebration of being alive Playwright’s tools o Dialogue o Action and conflict o Structure Well made/ “climactic” = 99.9% of plays o Eugene Scribe and Vincent Sardou – France late 1800s Foreshadowing Cliff hangers Episodic Structure o Take place over a long time period o Tons of characters (hard to find a protagonist) o Multiple locations Circular Structure o Myth of Sisyphus o It ends where it begins but with an effected ending Serial Structure o Series of scenes / sketches / songs connected by a common theme DAY ONE Neil LaBute (1963 – present) writer and director o Attended Bringham Young University (a Morman university) o He met Aaron Eckhart there o All LaBute ever wanted to talk about was his work o He writes his dialogue the way people talk o In The Company of Men Play written in 1993 Film produced in 1997 o Bash: The Latter Day Plays Play 1999 3 monologues Loosely based on 3 Greek stories / murders o Autobatin Play 2004 with MCC o His trilogy about appearances and looks – they all have four people, multiple sets, and are modern tragedies The Shape of Things – 2001 Fat Pig – 2004 Reasons to be Pretty – 2008 o Mercy Seat Play 2002 The first 9/11 play to open The Shape of Things o Opened in London in 2001 at the Almeida Theater (bus station) o No curtain call o The theme/ meaning is: What is art? o Adam and Eve(lyn) Spray paints on “God” Forbidden fruit E.A.T (referring to the fruit) Fall of man/ loss of innocence story Art = Serpant? DAY ONE Critic and Dramaturg o Both deal with dramatic analysis o Critic’s analysis is public o Dramaturg’s analysis is private Duties of the Dramaturg: o Playwright o Director – research and the concept o Community (educational outreach) o Literature / Publishing / Academic Journals o Theatre (in house) o They make sure everything makes sense and happens The questions they ask o Did you like it? Why? o What does it mean? What is the theme? o Did you follow the story? o Are there interesting / truthful / believable characters? o Did it move you emotionally? o Did it move you intellectually? o Did it move you to take action? o Has it been better? Why? Where? o Were you changed? Dramatic Analysis o What is its social significance? o Human significance? o Overall artistic quality? o What is its relationship to theatre as a whole? o What is its entertainment value? WEEK TWO RENT! o Written by Jonathan Larson o Lynn Thompson was the dramaturg o New York Theatre Workshop – read Rent in 1993 It was worked on there from 1993 – 1996 They bought it for $2,000 o Lynn Thompson sued for coauthorship of Rent in 1996 She said she wrote 48 – 50% of the book and 8 – 10% of the lyrics She wanted 16% of the royalties This case was not solved until 2000 or so DAY ONE Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances Actors can create performances externally or internally o External – study o Internal – feel Stanislavsky – actors live the lives of their characters onstage (The Method) The character’s task is different from the actor’s task Emotion memory – remembering one’s own situations and using those American Laboratory Theatre NYC Stanislavsky prized true emotion, but realized the importance of technique Great acting requires a convincing inner life and virtuoso skills The actor creates the performance through the task – then identifying the tactics needed – then trying that all into the style and feel of the play The actor’s instrument is their self o Voice and speech o Movement o Imagination o Discipline The actor’s routine o Audition o Rehearsal o Performance Every actor is different Acting is an art and a disease All actors have a sense of play 7 figure – actor’s union has the lowest negotiated wages in America Actor’s tools (approaches) – training Presentational outside o Technical Voice and body Singing and dance Accents and dialects o Musicals, Shakespeare, verse plays, viewpoints o European Thespis Interactive Representational inside o Feels – step inside o The method o American o TV and film o 4 wall o “Become” The Method – a scientific approach to the craft of acting Constantine Stanislavsky – Moscow art theatre 1880s – 1930s Zadacha (Russian) – task problem “objective” Beat = bit o Checkov and Gorsky o There is no acting, there is becoming o 1920s – 1930s toured USA o An Actor Prepares – 1936 (incomplete), 2008 (complete) Maria Ouspenskaya and Richard Boleslavski o The group theatre Harold Churman Stanford Meisner Stella Adler Lee Streisburg Elia Kazan o Each founded a big acting school in NYC o Sense memory, emotional recall o Plays of Clifford Odete Read up on the Patrick Stewart Essay in the book DAY TWO Neil Labute o Introduce the Shape of Things Dramatic Structures
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