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THEA 104 Week 2 Notes

by: Kinsey Sturgeon

THEA 104 Week 2 Notes THEA 104

Marketplace > Ball State University > Theatre > THEA 104 > THEA 104 Week 2 Notes
Kinsey Sturgeon
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Notes on paradigms, reading, & MAUs
Aesthetics 2
Dr. Michael O'Hara
Class Notes
theatre, aesthetics, THEA 104
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This 9 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kinsey Sturgeon on Monday February 22, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THEA 104 at Ball State University taught by Dr. Michael O'Hara in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 79 views. For similar materials see Aesthetics 2 in Theatre at Ball State University.


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Date Created: 02/22/16
Week T wo 1/20-Paradigms & Plays  Dennett’s Big Ideas o Ideas are infectious, replicating o Some ideas are harmful o Secret of Happiness is to find something more important than you are, and the dedicate your life to it o Shakerism is a sterilizing meme  Because they don’t believe in sex o Toxic memes can wipe out cultures that lack anti- memes o Porn is a bad cold, for us (?)  Could be very toxic to other cultures o Not all memes are harmful  Could be lottable  Big & Little ideas o A paradigm is a big idea o Play analysis reveals big ideas o Play analysis involves examining lots of little ideas to build a picture of the big idea. It’s where we START with play analysis o To get to the big idea, you have to work backwards  So, let’s work backwards o We’re going to start with the big idea and then return to the “big work” of examining little ideas o Oh, remember this idea…backwards  What is a paradigm? o Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions traces the evolution of paradigms within scientific communities o Primary argument is that “facts” are interpreted within “communities of belief” that change over time  Science relies on art / imagination  Example 1: Solar system o Example: Galileo and the Copernican revolution versus Catholic Church o Ptolemaic theory (geocentric universe)  Overturned by Copernican theory (heliocentric) o Shift radically repositioned humankind’s place in the universe  Example 2: electricity o Greeks “electron” means “like amber” = static attraction o 18th c. theories existed, all “scientific method.” Nothing explained everything o Changed to effluvium theories, e.g., fluids, by Ben Franklin. This theory was very “productive”  Fluids are not always useful o Repulsion, for example, not explained by water, nor arcs o Then, theories about electromagnetic bodies / valence electrons dominated o Now, wave theory helped us invent super conductivity, etc. 2  Theatre artists use paradigms o An Aesthetic Theory is a paradigm that helps explain, predict, or identify behaviors or beliefs in response to or concerning the creation or experience of art  Brooks Atkinson’s paradigm o His paradigm / world view was aristocratic / upper class: concerned with structure, form, beauty, and traditional aesthetic values o His mediation was reliable & predictable and powerful  Historically, theatre marks and / or reveals theories / paradigms o Theories are formal paradigms subjected to rigorous re-evaluations o Theories arise from “ideological climate” of an age, which is determined by asking:  What is being defended or attacked?  What is privileged or marginalized?  What hierarchies of power exist?  Four examples o 1870s-1900s: stable climate, male social, political, religious, and econ control, colonialism, emergence of Modernism o 1900s-1930s: conflicts among ideologies, capitalism v. communism o 1940s-1960s: Revelation of Nazi extermination camps, threat of world destruction from atomic warfare o 1970s-2000: Fruition of the ‘American Century’ 3  Each ideological age is reflected in all human activity o Modernism = scientific, predictable, ordered o Early 20th cent = disruption of WWI and population diversity leads to innovation and fusion o Mid 20th cent = authoritarian abuses & threat of annihilation lead to escapism or attack o Late 20th cent = tech advancements, stability  What is our current ideological age? o The question is not entirely rhetorical o But we can’t answer when we are in the thick of it o Our current ideological structures are in flux, and you will determine how 9/11, our first black president, the Arab Spring, #BlackLivesMatter, and other forces will have changed the world, and the webisodes, movies, television, and theatre that you create will play an important role in shaping that new world  Plays & paradigms o You can’t answer those big questions without some very hard work o All plays exist within two paradigms: ours and theirs o The play was written for a culture and a time that is now past, even if it was last week o WE have to find a way to perform it tonight so that it is relevant & powerful  Script analysis paradigm o Paradigms govern both theory application, the development of performance artifacts, and how we understand those artifacts 4 o Theatre, therefore, depends on the intersection of the paradigms of those who construct and consume the play o In other words, theatre must appeal to the general audience even when it challenges them  Paradigms also have a profound impact on teaching o Teaching paradigms mediates knowledge and knowledge production o There are different theories to explain and predict good teaching and good theatre, but let’s examine 2 ends on a continuum of these theories o Absolutism – right answers, knowledge as fact, textual authority, teaching defined as a transmission of facts o Constructivism – good answers, knowledge as a process, rational authority, teaching defined as transmitting socially valued processes  Learning is also affected by paradigms o Absolutism – right answers, teacher as authority, learning defined as accumulation of facts o Constructivism – argued answers, knowledge as process, personal authority, learning defined as performing or using new processes  What is your paradigm? o Sometimes absolutism is necessary o Children (absolutism) vs. adults (constructivism) o Sometimes it’s not o Subjects (absolutism) vs. citizens (constructivism) o What kind of art will you construct for the world? 5 o “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn...and change.” –Carl Rogers 1/22  How to Read o When you read anything as a creative artist or scholarly critic, you should SQR3: Survey, Question, Read, Repeat x3  First Pass o Survey the play/book. Ask yourself: what is the structure of the script?  What seems to be the “Beginning, Middle, End” (BME)?  Most “stories” have a 3 act structure; and all structural elements have BME o Read  Who are the major characters?  What are the given circumstances?  What is the plot?  Keep asking these questions as you read for the first time.  Enjoy the play.  Second Pass o As you go through for the 2ndtime, READ everything afresh and: o Tentatively mark the major units in each act  Major act units (MAU) are tied to the overall story 6  MAUs always have BME, and plays have a minimum of 3 MAUs, but usually 6-12. o If your MAUs don’t match Aristotelian plot points, you’re doing it wrong. Be prepared to change them. o S & Q again  Survey the overall structure you’ve marked, then ask:  How does the complication/conflict build?  What is the major struggle?  What is the primary or inciting action?  You might have answers, or you might not, but ask the questions.  Questions  Who or what creates the tension?  What is the cause of the action?  What is the resolution of the major struggle?  What is the conclusion?  You might have the answers, but AGAIN, be prepared to change them.  Third pass o Your third pass will confirm, refine, or change the answers. o Notice we have NOT yet attempted answer the question: what is the major theme or idea of the play? 7 o S & Q your answers before you begin the last pass. Do they fit with your earliest question? Do they help you see a satisfying structure? o Now, in your 3 pass, ID the scenes, and within each scene, ID each beat. Be prepared to change the MAUs based o what each set of BMEs tell you. o Your tentative MAUs will change because these question can’t be answered:  What is the “work” of the scene? This is usually liked to a character’s objective.  Is that “work” contained within a plot point?  If you can’t answer the first, and the second is “no,” consider changed the edges of your MAU. Again – MAUs are tied to plot structure. o As you mark scenes, keep asking questions.  What is the climax of this scene?  What are the important lines of dialogue?  Which character drives this scene?  What is the conclusion of this scene?  How does this scene affect my understanding of the larger structure? o What changes in each scene and in which beat does the larger story change directions? o Where does any of the following occur within the script?  Foreshadowing  Recurring motifs  Scene transitions  Counterparts 8  Repetition  Contrast  Clarity of interpretation  Action and stunts  Comedy scenes  Special effects  Visual effects  Change in locations  Script analysis o You’re finally ready to answer the big question:  What is the major idea or theme of this script? o How does that idea or theme fit into the historical paradigm in which the scrip first appeared? o How does that idea or theme fit into the contemporary paradigm in which the script will be performed?  Biggest Questions of All! o Can you build a coherent, defensible concept/character/design upon the foundation of this main idea or theme? o Does this theme help you tell the story that you need to tell TONIGHT? o Does this idea/concept allow you to connect to something essential to human experience, to all human experience? o That is your task…to connect. 9


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