Assignments & evaluation

ENGL 345: Modern Drama

Dramaturgy exercise (25%), due October 22: this assignment combines creative and analytical interpretations. Based on a scene (or any short, more or less self-contained passage) from any one of the plays on the syllabus, you will produce two related documents:

  1. detailed staging instructions (10%–no length restrictions, but a guideline would be about 1-2 pages of script) for that scene, attending to such technical issues as stage directions, lighting, mise-en-scène, music/sound (if any), etc. (you may choose to imagine a film instead of a stage version, in which case you’ll want to consider camera angles, montage, etc); and
  2. a critical analysis of (1) (15%–3 – 5 pages). Explain why you chose to stage the scene as you did. You don’t need to justify each direction in a point-by-point fashion; instead, explain the general principles you used to decide on, say, lighting, along with a few examples from your staging instructions. In other words, this should be a close reading and critical interpretation of your own creative interpretation of the scene.

I will assume no formal knowledge of dramaturgy for this assignment; what I am looking for is well-considered artistic choices that highlight, complicate or ironically counterpoint aspects of the play’s text; and clear explications of those choices, with attention to the aesthetic movements and specific dramatic theories we have been reading. (You may also include ideas from modern theorists not on the reading list, such as Gordon Craig, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Augusto Boal in T/T/T, or others)

Group presentation (20%): Click here for more info. In groups of 4, you will sign up to present on one of the plays. Each group member should be prepared to speak for a maximum of 5 minutes. Exactly how you structure this presentation is up to you. You may choose to divide the presentation into three separate topics (for example, one person might report on a recent scholarly article about the play; another may do a close reading of a short passage in the play; and the third may relate the play to any of the theoretical texts we read); also acceptable would be a creative take on the presentation, for example your own interpretation and performance of a short scene, along with your commentary and critical explanations. If in doubt about how to go about this, contact me. Your grade will be based on your individual contribution to the presentation, but groups that give cohesive presentations will see the individual grades boosted.

In-class test (20%), November 24: this will take place in normal class hours. The test consists of preparing answers for three of the five pre-circulated questions. If you don’t have these questions, find them on the Moodle site.

Final essay (35%), due December 1: Ideally, your essay topic will emerge from your reading journal and/or group presentation, though you’re welcome to write on a topic of your own choice. Essay topics will also be distributed. The essay should be between 6–8 pages, double-spaced with normal margins, using MLA citation format. Use of secondary literature is accepted but not required.

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