Part I: Short Answer Questions (3 points each) (Choose 8 out of 12; 24 points total).
- How do Vietgoneand Viet rock differ in both their aesthetics and in their attitude toward understanding the Vietnam conflict? Please provide 2 specific, concrete examples of each.
- A View from the Bridge centers on an individual who appears to be driven by his own desire toward self-destruction, disregarding community values. Compare Eddie’s sense of masculinity and inability to accept the world around him to that of Yank’s frustration with his sense of self and his class position in Hairy Ape. In what ways do societal expectations shape their tragic downfall? What is the relationship between individual choice and fate? Be specific and use concrete examples.
- Machinaland The Children’s Hour both address issues of conventional morality and the ways in which it shapes sexual behavior and identity. Compare the Young Woman to Martha and demonstrate how they are shaped by and resist or struggle with the expectations of conventional morality and sexuality. Be specific and use concrete examples.
- Fencesand Mulatto both deal with a father-son relationship. Compare these two plays and explain how the failure of the father to fulfill the son’s expectations and visa versa shapes each story. What do we learn about the historical moment and the changes happening in society from each? Be specific and use concrete examples.
- What are the key differences between melodramatic, expressionist and realistic acting? Using a specific example from a text in the course (a moment in a play), explain how its presentation would change based on each of these three styles of acting.
- Verbatim theatre is not realism, but it is considered to be more “real” in many ways. Describe three specific ways in which either Twilight Los Angeles, 1992or The Laramie Project challenge the conventions of realism and explain how the play attempts to create a more authentic reflection of reality than any fictitious interpretation of these historical events could. Be specific and use concrete examples.
- As performance genres, minstrelsy and vaudeville both propagated racial stereotypes while also providing some opportunities for Black artists. Please explain how and provide historical examples.
- What are some of the effects of sounds in Machinal? How do sounds help shape the environment and comment on the play?
- What is a comedy of manners? How does Fashiondisplay elements of a comedy of manners? Be specific and use concrete examples.
- How did feminist performance artists challenge standards for representations of the female body? Give a specific example of an artist and performance.
- Conversational dynamics structure much of realistic theatre. Shelteris not a realism play; it employs dialogue in a different way. Make a comparison between Shelter and one of the realism plays we have studied. Consider: What can be said? What can’t be said? How are things said and by whom?
- How has theatre been used to generate social and political change in the US, specifically from the 1960s on, and what are some of the characteristics of performance styles used in protest theatre? Give at least one specific example of a theatre company and one of their performances.
Part II. Quotes (2 points each; 16 points total)
Identify the speaker, the play, and the significance of the quote. Be brief but specific in detailing the significance.
- “When your daddy walked through the house he was so big he filled it up. That was my first mistake. Not to make him leave some room for me. For my part in the matter.”
- “I don’t understand you; she’s seventeen years old, you gonna keep her in the house all her life?”
- “Good hard rain. Takes everything straight down deep to the roots. The rest takes care of itself. You can’t force a thing to grow. You can’t interfere with it. It’s all hidden. It’s all unseen. You just gotta wait til it pops up out of the ground. Tiny little shoot. Tiny little white shoot. All hairy and fragile. Strong though. Strong enough to break the earth even. It’s a miracle, Dodge. I’ve never seen a crop like this in my whole life. Maybe it’s the sun. Maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s the sun.”
- “In order for me to be a, to be a true human being,/I can’t forever dwell in darkness, /I can’t forever dwell in the idea,/of just identifying with people like me and understanding me and mine.”
- “That- that is the ineffaceable curse of Cain. Of the blood that feeds my heart, one drop in eight is black- bright red as the rest may be, that one drop poisons all the flood; those seven bright drops give me love like yours- hope like yours- ambition like yours- life hung with passions like dewdrops on the morning flowers; but the one black drop gives me despair”
- “I’m de ting in coal dat makes it boin; I’m steam and oil for de engines; I’m de ting in noise dat makes yuh hear it.”
- You died here in this house and you’d been living dead a long time. You lived dead. And when I said to you this evenin’, “Get up! Why don’t you help me?” You’d been dead a long time”
- “It’s funny; it’s all mixed up. There’s something in you, and you don’t know it and you don’t do anything about it. Suddenly a child gets bored and lies—and there you are, seeing it for the first time.”
Essay Question (20 points)
During this course we have charted a movement in US theater from the days of the melodramatic comedy of manners Fashion through the emergence of Expressionism, the advent of Realism, along with a brief excursion into the Off-off-Broadway space of the 1960s, as well as contemporary verbatim theatre. In doing so, we have engaged with a range of examples from US theater. Choose one of the following themes: family, belonging, “Americanness” or justice and trace the theme of your choice through the works we have studied. You will need to address a 19th century example (Fashion, The Octoroon or minstrelsy), an expressionist example (Machinal or The Hairy Ape), an example of realism (A View From the Bridge, The Children’s Hour, Fences, Vietgone), and an example from verbatim theatre (Twilight Los Angeles or The Laramie Project). How does the theme stay the same between these works and how does it shift to reflect the aesthetic investments of these works and the time in which they were created? Make sure you are engaging comparatively and drawing on specific and concrete examples from each of the works you address
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