Choose just one theme for this paper.

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Nov 11, 2022


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Hello and welcome to Paper #3. I am writing a lot in this descriiption to offer a lot of guidance so that you can take this paper assignment step-by-step. Please follow these instructions carefully.

This is not a research paper, it is more like a long essay for a final exam (but we will never have an exam in our class!).

Please watch your selected play (some will have a play assigned by me) and associated material in your coursework folder. Look for one or more “theme(s)” of the work. Choose just one theme for this paper. Please use the definition of “theme” from our class materials. Do not use outside sources for this paper. See the lecture video re: six essential elements of theatre in your coursework folder, Week 2.

* Identify a useful theme from the performance/production that you watched. Avoid finding a “lesson to be learned” (keep reading this assignment for more about this).
* Use descriiptive criticism to identify, describe and explain that theme. Use at least three theatrical examples and one dramatic example to support your claim (see difference between theatrical/performed and dramatic/text-based examples). Your paper should be at least six paragraphs (intro/claim, four supporting examples, conclusion/so what?)
* Come to a conclusion still using descriiptive criticism for your last paragraph that uses one or more of the five functions of art from the “What is Art For?” short video, also in your Week 4 folder. (Remember, a conclusion is not a summary, it is a ‘so what?’ – use the “What is Art For?” video to help you find a ‘so what?’)

Re: theatrical examples – look for how things are done in the performance you watch. For example, “Troy is stunned to hear of the death” is a dramatic/text-based example because this happens in the scriipt and in any performance by any actor anywhere. Instead look for examples like this, “When Denzel Washington as Troy learns of the death he loses his balance and has to lean on the dresser to avoid collapsing to the floor. This is a theatrical/performance-based example because it is how Denzel Washington performed for us that Troy was stunned by the news of the death. Look for more theatrical elements in the coursework folder re: elements. The Wilson five additional elements will be helpful to you (actor, audience, …. etc.)

Here is what to avoid:
Do not use sources from outside of assigned class materials. This is not a research paper; this is a carefully limited (focused) response paper that you can do after our work together to this point. If you must use an outside source, remember to cite it (and include in references).

IMPORTANT: Avoid reducing “theme” (the thought/agony of the work, see class lecture in the elements folder) to a “lesson to be learned” or a “moral to the story”. The best theater offers sophisticated experiences that are not easily reduced to a didactic instruction. We often use instructive theatre for children: ‘don’t be a bully’ or ‘appreciate your teacher’ is the kind of message we might put in theatre for children. You are an adult and are well-sick of being told what to do and how to do it. Instead, we like an experience we could not have on our own. We go to the theatre to be transported, to feel new feelings, to think new thoughts and to appreciate the complexity of life. Looking for a theme will be looking for the philosophical puzzle of the work. What is agonizing about it?

1. Watch your assigned play, documentary, interviews, etc. and look for one or more theme. Find the definition of “theme” from our lecture videos (elements). The theme is NOT the lesson to be learned. Please check with me if you think you have the definition but aren’t 100% sure.

Summary: Watch your play and associated content for “theme(s)”. Identify theatrical and dramatic examples to support your finding of a theme. Offer a conclusion/so what? that ties a function of art from the “What is Art for?” video to your performed play.

Content = 80% (identification of theme and use of theatrical examples to support the staging of that theme)
MLA formatting = 10% (including works cited page, cite class materials and your play)
Informative title = 10%
On time = priceless

Writing tips:
Make sure you create a complete, informative title (see videos regarding how to write a title).
Make sure the font is the same throughout your paper.
Make sure the title of the play you use is printed in italics. (This goes for films and books, too.)
Do not use contractions (don’t).
Use the full name of a person you would like to mention and then refer to them by their last name each time after that.


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