Film Directing * flickr.com/groups/stage *
[ advertising space : webmaster ]
How to Read a FilmSubscribe to Open Class @ 200x Aesthetics
New UAF students must complete Assessment Form!
Mailing List & News -- subscribe yourself *
After 2009 : classes.vtheatre.net
|How to write paper||Character Analysis Checklist||How to think|
Writing about a performanceImagine you're writing a review for people who haven't seen the play yet. First of all, you'll have to give some basic information. Your reader will need to know the title of the play, the name of playwright, director, acting company, principal actors, and the place and time of performance.
But you also want to give some more substantial information. Your readers should get some idea of the plot and major themes. And you should also explain what was special about the production. Who designed the set and what was that person's vision of the characters' world? Was there anything particular about the way light and sound were used to interpret the action? Which actors did a really good job and why? How was the stage space used (or misused)? Were there any remarkable directorial choices or decisions?
It's easier to deal with the last question if you read the play before or after the performance (preferably before). But this is not always possible nor always necessary.
Avoid making inane, sweeping judgments: "two thumbs up!" or "disaster strikes!" The best reviews explain rather than judge and discuss the good and bad aspects of a production in an intelligent and witty manner so that readers can make up their own minds.
Richard Palmer's "The Critics' Canon" from Greenwood Press
|Title of the play: ____________________________________
My favorite scene:
What I liked:
CharacterMotives and goals:
How I feel about the character:
Relations to other characters
3. What is subtext?
4. What is a "fourth wall"?
5. What do we call "acting areas"?
6. What is an objective?
7. What is an inner monologue?
(a small picture is good enough in the right corner)
List your acting experience (if any)
If none, write list of roles of your favorite actor (and explain, why he/she is your favorite)
Acting related skills (sport, hobbies and etc)
Your goals in acting and this class
Books on theatre or plays you have read
(Also see Film Glossary)
1. Open your textbook
2. Read the play
4. Take notes
5. Read more
6. Think more
7. Take more notes
8. Think about what you wrote
9. Read what the others think (commentaries before and after the script)
10. Write down what you think about their thinking
11. Read again what you didn't understand
12. Close your textbook
13. Go to the library
14. Get more books on subject
15. Open them all and repeat steps 2 through 15
Here's a sample of good midterm paper (Diana isn't Williams' relative!) :
October 24, 1998
in focus: shows
He was a writer of notable talent, a misogynist of greater talent still, and a man whose devotion to his varying neurosis’s led to the dissolution of three marriages.(Mencken 153) August Strindberg was a complex person who produced equally complex plays. Written in 1888, Miss Julie captures the freshness of Strindberg’s novice period, and foreshadows the freedom of his upcoming expressionistic period. (Bjorkman 45) Miss Julie is a tragedy set firmly on a foundation of Naturalism. Focusing on staying true to life, Strindberg found new ways of expressing his characters. He expresses their views and personalities through every avenue of language, including punctuation.
To change voices within a piece of literature while the focus shifts from one character to another is an accepted method of writing. To employ differing vocabularies for each character is a mark of good writing. To shift punctuation, be it a conscious decision or not, is the mark of greatness. (Dahlstrom 61-3) Strindberg creates distinct speech patterns for each of his characters within Miss Julie by varying the use and frequency of their punctuation. The rhythm is so altered it not only forces the reader to take note of the dialectic differences of the characters, but the punctuation itself begins to take on a meaningful significance. The period, comma, exclamation point, semi-colon, dash, question mark, colon and the ellipsis are given a dualistic set of connotations; one in relevance to the character, and the other in relation to the play as a whole. Miss Julie’s character is shaped by punctuation more so that either Jean or Kristine, as she used all eight pieces of punctuation. To apply the principals of connotative punctuation to Miss Julie’s character, each piece of punctuation must first be defined, in relation to society, literature and Strindberg. Ending punctuation “...the period, exclamation point, and the question mark” (O’Hare 316) is the dominant form of punctuation in Miss Julie. It is present in each statement and thought, and changes according to how the thought came about, how it is paced, and the subtext it contains. The internal punctuation (the comma, semi-colon, colon, and the dash) brings a subtlety to the rhythm of the text.(321-349) Within the internal punctuation lies the humanity of Miss Julie: specifically internal punctuation provides her with a soul. The ellipsis oscillates between ending sentences and interrupting them. Primarily Strindberg uses it as end punctuation, and for the purposes for analysis, it will be treated as such. The period is the most familiar of all ending punctuation. Periods are a stopping point for a thought or an argument. They do not allow for questioning, or a reaction; they are masculine in nature. The slight pause taken after one is intended to allow the audience to process the thought, but not have enough time to question it. Periods are used to end sentences that “...make a statement...expresses a mild command, ...give directions...” (O’Hare 316). Periods are a firm, steady end to a sentence, and do not give birth to a new thought . Similarly, the exclamation point does not give birth to a new thought, nor does it invite doubt as to the speaker ‘s intent. The exclamation point is unique in that it is equally feminine and masculine. When used properly, it carries a strong male tone; as it ends a thought with emphasis allowing no room for argument with the statement. When used to convey excitement or an overload of emotion it becomes feminine. The conveyance of excitement is not the primary function of the exclamation point, yet the main function- to convey the empathic quality of a statement- (O’Hare 320) is overshadowed by Miss Julie’s excitable speech.(Gilman 215-218) The excitement of Miss Julie’s dialogue is not tamed by the question mark. Instead, the endless stream of questions serves to highlight her “erratic state of mind” (MacCarthy 92). The question mark is intended to express a question, moreover to express the desire for knowledge. The knowledge need not be a tangible object, and in Miss Julie’s case, it is frequently an abstract she seeks. Feminine in nature, the question mark spotlights the didactic role of the male.(Williams 83) The ellipsis is feminine in nature as well. Denoting a gap in the expressive thought, an absence of completion or the uncertainty of a statement; the ellipsis portrays the weaker side of communication.(O’Hare 361) Lending itself to subtextual interpretation by forcing the reader to complete the characters thought, the ellipsis is a highly mimetic piece of ending punctuation. The internal punctuation carries a higher interpretive value than the ending punctuation. It is more subject to interpretation, and variance of it’s connotations. The comma is the most prevalent of the internal punctuation. It has a predominantly feminine disposition, allowing the speaker to pause and collect their thoughts before proceeding in a sentence. The comma is also used to add one thought onto another, again a female trait. “The pause attached to a comma is longer than that of a period...” (Butler 4), allowing for more in-depth reflection upon what has been said, and anticipation of what is to follow. The semi-colon is a strongly feminine punctuation. The length of the pause varies with the sentence, but it is invariably shorter than the pause of a comma.(Butler 5) By allowing the speaker to clarify a statement in a decisive way, the semi-colon forces the speaker’s thoughts to be organized into related categories within the sentence.(O’Hare 340) Colons are also used to organize and clarify statements, but they accomplish this in a masculine manner. There is no room for a long pause, and the list of items or objectives is quickly launched into.(Butler 5) Colons leave no room for flowery adjectives, resulting in the text following them being entirely masculine. The colon is never found in Miss Julie’s dialogue, only in her stage directions. The colon is the most neglected of all punctuation by Strindberg. The last of the internal punctuation, the dash is one of the most potent punctuation marks. Feminine in nature the dash can be used to indicate a forth coming revelation, an emotional beat in the dialogue, or a shift in the tone of the thought.(O’Hare 348) The drama associated with the dash comes from the length of the pause associated with it.(Butler 7) Pauses can Williams 5 last longer than those of the comma, and can be emphatically extended by the author by stringing a series of dashes together.(7) Strindberg created Miss Julie as a half-man half-woman. She is the first of the new breed of women, those so separate from men they require their own place, and psychology in literature.(Priestly 291) As a hybrid of the two human species, Miss Julie is not confined in her use of punctuation by her sex. The predominantly female tones are occasionally supplanted by extremely masculine phrases. This allows Strindberg to convey the duality of her sex. Miss Julie is extremely feminine in the play’s beginning. In her first appearance, she uses ten exclamation points as compared with four periods. Coupled with the eight question marks, two dashes, five commas, and one ellipsis Julie has taken an overtly feminine tone. Julie abruptly switches to a masculine tone on page 394 when she states “The man I gave my love to was a swine.” This simple statement with only a period for punctuation demonstrates her masculine side. The contrast with the subject is remarkable: by giving such a feminine statement masculine punctuation, Strindberg demonstrates the “third sex”(Brustein 96) that is Julie. On page 395, Strindberg reinforces the message of his punctuation with his stage directions “(shy; very feminine): “Miss!”-----Call me Julie! there are no barriers between us anymore. Call me Julie!” The elongated pause dictates the feminine pacing of the line, while the repeated exclamation points add a heightened sense of emotion. Joined with the shy delivery this statement becomes one of a purely feminine nature. The feminine tone is continued on page 399 when Julie demands “Alone?----- Where?----- I can’t do that!” Here the soft femininity of the pauses is overlaid with a sense of growing irrationality climaxing at the exclamation point. Miss Julie has exclusively used the exclamation point as a vehicle for emotion up to this point. Joining the emotional impact of the exclamation point with the anticipatory facets of the long pause, Strindberg had successfully created a picture of Miss Julie as a frantic, emotional woman. In explanation of Miss Julie...I have suggested many factors: her mother’s fundamental instincts; her father’s mistaken upbringing of the girl; her own nature, and the suggestive influence of her fiancée’ on a weak and degenerate brain...” (Strindberg 99) This picture of the flighty emotional woman changes when on page 401 Julie commands “Get dressed, then!” The exclamation point is used to add an assertive edge to her direction. By adding this masculine command following a series of emotional pleas, Strindberg shows the two faces of Julie, a woman who had been raised, emotionally, as a man.(Huneker 579) That she delivers this order to a man who has been linguistically dominating her throughout the play reveales Julie’s latent assertiveness. This assertiveness goes back into hiding when Julie exclaims “Don’t be cruel! Let me take her!” (Strindberg 401) In this passage Julie reverts back to using the exclamation point as an emotional device. No longer commanding Jean, Julie is now pleading with him for a favor. This pleading continues with a searching element being added on page 402 “I can’t stay here, and neither can Jean -- so we must go away...” The rationalization followed by the pause of the comma and then the longer pause of the dash and finally the extended pause of the ellipsis shows the distanced and vague desperation of Julie at this point. The incomplete thought gives a ‘damsel in distress’ feel to Julie’s sentence. By ending the sentence with an ellipsis, Strindberg forces the reader to place themselves in Julie’s world to complete her thought. By allowing his punctuation to carry so much meaning, Strindberg creates another level of characterization in Miss Julie. This characterization through punctuation is subtle, and registers in the reader’s subconscious mind only, creating a third dimension to his characters. Strindberg often protested that “my figures [are] rather “characterless”” (Strindberg 97) He maintained his ‘figures’ were not carefully drawn mimics of reality, but instead people built on conflict and interaction. This is what makes Miss Julie and others of Strindberg’s creation mimetic, kinetic and rounded characters. Strindberg’s aversion to the term ‘character’ descended form his work translating fairy tales. (Lamm 192) In fairy tales, the characters directly opposed Naturalism: caricature and character became synonyms in Strindberg’s mind. The extreme characters in fairy tales necessitated the use of extreme punctuation. The plots are simplistic, and spectacle is the most important of the dramatic elements. With a plethora of extreme punctuation, the fairy tale introduced Strindberg to the concept of punctuation as a character device. By conveying the excitement of defeating an evil witch through a series of exclamation points, Strindberg came to realize punctuation could be used to enliven his dramas. In order to keep the drama still in the realm of Naturalism, Strindberg submerged himself in the conventional punctuation of the time. The literature of the late 1800’s full of extraneous punctuation. “People seemed to believe that if the punctuation was interesting, so would be the subject matter.” (Murphy) By creating lifelike rhythms of speech, Strindberg kept within the bounds of Naturalism; by creating a shell of Naturalism around Miss Julie he managed to surround her in a timeless reality. Strindberg emerged himself in his dramas “...he could not write at all unless his passions were engaged.” (MacCarthy 260). His stories, characters and conflicts were born of his own torment. (261) This deeply personalized style of writing explains his attachment to extreme punctuation. ...Strindberg not only suffered what by most definitions would be madness, but managed it like a conductor managing an orchestra. It makes his suffering no less real and painful to say that it was always being turned over and over by the bloody fingers of his mind unceasingly searching out the artistic possibilities inside his explosions. (Miller 30) Strindberg’s explosions became Miss Julie’s exclamation points. The calm before the fury was transformed into her ellipsis. His angry fear of the female sex gave the semi-colon its understated sensuality and strength. Assigning personal values to punctuation enabled Strindberg, even on an unconscious level, to add delicate reminders to his readers who Miss Julie was. Using punctuational rhythms from the vernacular of the play’s time resulted in the preservation of a real moment in time; through the play, in Miss Julie. Strindberg’s punctuation characterization of Miss Julie allows the reader to believe in her character: analytically, emotionally, consciously and unconsciously. Strindberg did not create “characters”. In Miss Julie he gave birth to a human.
Works Cited Bjorkman, Edwin. Voices of To-morrow: Critical Studies of the New Spirit in Literature. Mitchell Kennerley, 1913. Brustein, Robert. The Theater of Revolt: An Approach to the Modern Drama. Little, Brown, and Co. 1964. Butler, Susan J. Pronounce Your Punctuation! A Guide For Middle Schools. Western Press, Walled Lake, MI. 1992 Dahlstrom, Carl E. W. L. “Strindberg’s The Father as Tragedy” Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2, May, 1955, pp. 45-63. Gilman, Richard. The Confusion of Realms. Random House 1969 Huneker, James. “August Strindberg.” The Lamp XXIX, No. 6 (January 1905): 537-82 Lamm, Martin August Strindberg. Edited and translated by Henry G. Carlson. New York: Benjamin Bloom, 1971. MacCarthy, Desmond. Theater. MacGibbon & Kee, 1954 MacCarthy, Desmond. Portraits. 1931. Reprint by MacGibbon & Kee Ltd., 1949. Mencken, H. L. “The Terrible Swede,” in The Smart Set, Vol. XXXVII, No. 2, June, 1912, pp. 153-58. Miller, Arthur. “The Mad Inventor of Modern Drama,” The New York Times Book Review, January 6, 1985, pp. 1, 30. Murphy, Anna Ph.D.. telephone interview October 19, 1998. O’Hare, Frank and Kline Edward A. The Modern Writer’s Handbook, Fourth Edition. Allyn & Bacon, Massachusetts, 1996. Priestly, J. B. Literature and Western Man. A. D. Peters and Company, 1960. Strindberg, August. Plays. Second series. Translated by Edwin Bjorkman. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913. Strindberg, August. “Miss Julie,” The Compact Bedford introduction to Drama. Second Edition. Edited by Lee A. Jacobus. Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, Boston, 1996. Williams, Raymond. Drama: From Ibsen to Brecht. Chatto & Windus, 1968.
@2002-2003 film-north * ©2004 filmplus.org * * home * about * guide * classes * advertise * sponsors * faq * contact * news * forums * mailing list * bookstore * ebooks * search * calendar * games * polls * submit your link * web * shop *
Get Site Info
TOPICS: drama + comedy + postmodern + aesthetics + film analysis + filmmaking + showcases - theatre + spectator + method + biomechanics + acting one + thr w/anatoly + plays +
Quotes & Thoughts: * business: your ad here! *
^ your banner ^