Our Country’s Good

Today, we were introduced to the script of Our Country’s Good. We learned that within the play the characters are performing a play. This makes the storyline similar to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This also means that it is a play about theater and acting techniques. I look forward to learning more about theater going through the process of preparing the play for a reading and also extracting insight from the text itself as the characters learn about theater.

Jane will be casting the play. She will decide based on a number of criteria. She will look to what she thinks our strengths are and what skills she thinks we should evolve. Jane will also subjectively choose based on similarities she sees between us and the characters in the script.

Talking about this play sparked a conversation about censorship and what is appropriate for presentation. Some of the language in the text may be unsuited for our audience. This led to talking about One Acts and how some of the content is a bit controversial.

 

After reading the play I’m not sure which character best suits me. I don’t think I got enough of an introduction to the female roles. Although I did find a couple of lines that were particularly insightful and pertinent to our conversations from earlier today. Tench said, “The content of a play is irrelevant.” Ironically, just hours ago, our class was talking about some of the content in this play may not be fitting for a high school production.

“The theatre is an expression of civilisation…. It will remind them there is more to life than crime, punishment. And  we, this colony of a few hundred will be watching this together, for a few hours we will no longer be despised prisoners and hated gaolers. We will laugh, we may be moved, we may even think a little.”

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Hamlet

Today I started reading Hamlet for IB English. It’s interesting to me how Shakespeare can be examined from a theatrical point of view and from a literary one. I look forward to seeing the differences between how the text will be approached from each lens. Perhaps some of what I have learned in IB Theater will lend itself to the study of Hamlet in English class.

Origins of Theater

Determining the origin of theater is not an entirely objective investigation. Much of the theories are based on speculation. The most prominent and widely-accepted theory claims that theater finds its origins in ritual and myth. Many years ago people did not have the scientific explanations for the world around them like we have today. People looked around for connections between the natural environment and occurring events.  Many events were attributed to supernatural or magical forces. Groups would engage in an action which would then be followed by a favorable event. These people would find a supposed connection between the two. This would thus lead to them repeating the action in hopes to receive the same beneficial outcome. As people continued to do this their actions became more elaborate and theater as an art form was created. Those engaged in the rituals would embody spirits by wearing costumes or masks. This showed separation between the mythical characters and the humans. Simple rituals to evoke actions transformed into entertainment valuing the aesthetic nature of the performance.

\text{action} \Longrightarrow \text{favorable event} \Longrightarrow \text{supposed connection} \Longrightarrow \text{repetition of the action} \Longrightarrow \text{sophistication of the action}

 

Another theory that lends itself to the origin of theater is founded on the idea that theater came from storytelling. Relating to each other as people via conversation is seen as a fundamental desire. People are naturally inclined to tell stories. these stories are accentuated by gesticulation and impersonation. The story comes to life as voices are adopted for different characters in the story. The retelling becomes life like. Some experts say this instinctive tendency is what evolved into theater.

 

Similarly, theater as an evolution from the natural desire for fantasy and a break from reality is another claim. One author describes it as, “the theatre, then, is one took whereby people define and understand their world or escape from unpleasant realities.”

Ragtime

The show was absolutely phenomenal. I was completely absorbed from the time the curtain opened until it closed.

The set was rather minimalistic. There were a few main planes that hung from the ceiling and could be moved, but otherwise there were no large set pieces. Plain four legged wooden chairs were used in many scenes.

The singing was outstanding.

I had had the luxury of meeting and talking with many of the cast prior to seeing the show. It was a very interesting experience to go to a show with background knowledge of the people on stage but no knowledge of what the play was about. It was like I was simply going to see these people rather than a performance.

 

Review in progress…

Choice of Style

I’m going to be staying with the European theme. Last  year I explored Greek and this year I will work with Brecht.

Brecht is anti free enterprise. He is more of a communist and socialist. He believes we allow ourselves to be bought and sold as people. Giving ourselves to the industry of power. Uses historical events and people.

“Brecht created an influential theory of theatre—the epic theatre—that proposed that a play should not cause the spectator to identify emotionally with the characters or action before him or her, but should instead provoke rational self-reflection and a critical view of the action on the stage. Brecht thought that the experience of a climactic catharsis of emotion left an audience complacent. Instead, he wanted his audiences to adopt a critical perspective in order to recognise social injustice and exploitation and to be moved to go forth from the theatre and effect change in the world outside. For this purpose, Brecht employed the use of techniques that remind the spectator that the play is a representation of reality and not reality itself. By highlighting the constructed nature of the theatrical event, Brecht hoped to communicate that the audience’s reality was equally constructed and, as such, was changeable.

One of Brecht’s most important principles was what he called the Verfremdungseffekt (translated as “defamiliarization effect,” “distancing effect,” or “estrangement effect,” and often mistranslated as “alienation effect”).[63] This involved, Brecht wrote, “stripping the event of its self-evident, familiar, obvious quality and creating a sense of astonishment and curiosity about them.”[64] To this end, Brecht employed techniques such as the actor’s direct address to the audience, harsh and bright stage lighting, the use of songs to interrupt the action, explanatory placards, and, in rehearsals, the transposition of text to the third person or past tense, and speaking the stage directions out loud.[65]

–Beginning information to think about. From Wikipedia

 

Plays I could use:

Mother Courage and her Children — woman who sells goods to the soldiers. Soldiers take her child into the army and he dies.

Chalk Circle — two women both claim the same child. Written with long monologues.

Silent Football

Today Lucas introduced a new game to us.  The class ended up being split up because Jane needed to focus on a few students who were having trouble using their blogs. After this happened our focus was also split. The small group that remained to play games didn’t seem to really want to be connected to theater games, myself included. The process of learning the game wasn’t taken very seriously. Silent Football wasn’t much of a success.

Australia

We first began to explore Australia by watching a movie entitled “AUSTRALIA: BEYOND THE FATAL SHORE”
  • language includes mate, bloody hell, and gamut
  • first seems about pleasure: beaches and fun
  • 500,000 people attended the gay parade (more than went to see the pope)
  • were not founded by puritans but almost pretend like it or try to be
  • first inhabitants were convicts and their jailers
  • harsh moral code by Reverend Marsden
  • serious effort being made to change view from one of sins to optimism as a culture
  • meant to be a secular nation
  • church was highly influential in politics
  • has begun to shift back to a place where activities are dictated
  • legalized and regular prostitution
  • currently an effort to ban X-rated films
  • catholic church is especially tough on sinners
  • enigmatic country
  • currently fantastic art center

 

AUSTRALIA IS A PLACE WHERE:

  • political and personal visions are different
  • controvery flourishes
  • liberality lives (sex, gay pride, etc)
  • pleasure for the people
  • church assumes control
  • aboriginals and Europeans are divided