December 4, 2012
Response to Presentation
Overall, I feel relatively happy about our end result. Our information was good, clear, and well thought out. My biggest complaint was that it was ill organized. I wish that my group and I had spent more time discussing the chain of events instead of just trying to compile everything together immediately and calling it good enough. However, I was really impressed and pleased with the work that each member of my group did. It really showed that we all spent time and put effort into creating a clear and compelling presentation. Thank you, Brian and Daddario for constructive criticism. Your feedback really helped us direct our research on the Spanish Golden Age. Though I am still a skeptic when it comes to group projects, I found this project to be a really pleasant way to end the semester. Looking forward to Theatre History II.
November 15, 2012
Response to Week Two
This week has been dedicated fine-tuning our broad ideas and forming them into a well organized presentation. Even after we slimmed down to specific years, a specific playwright, and a specific play, we still had too much information to to try to marry together in a cohesive presentation so I began to go back into my research and started to slim down what I had gathered and create an easy to understand time line of political events which I plan to have finished by week three.
In my additional research I have realized it doesn't behoove me to glide over the beginning of the Spanish Golden Age and fixate only on the tail end of the Golden Age because there needs to be a clear understanding of how Spain came to power with the discovery of the Americas in order to understand why Spain fell and the Golden Age ended. I am going to incorporate more information on the rise of the Spanish Empire in hopes of a clearer chain of reactions that eventually ended with the fall of Spanish power at the same time Calderon's play was written.
Political understanding, like I said in my last entry, is vital for understanding dramatic works of a time. I just finished working on a production of Fifth of July which takes place post Vietnam War. The protagonist, Ken, is a vietnam vet who lost his legs in battle and is now dealing with the complications that arise when you don't have legs. There is actually very little dialogue about the war itself but everyone in the play is extremely affected by the war. The actor needs to be able to convey that hardship without relying on a presentation of the Vietnam War. This cannot be done without the proper research on the tine. Additionally, if you have a dramatic monologue about a war, like Ken and the character Gwen do in Fifth of July, you better know what you are talking about and research the emotional taxation that came with the time. Otherwise, you won't be able to paint an accurate picture of what that time felt like. You'll look phony and, in some cases, offensive.
November 15, 2012
Response to Week One
The first week was a lot of collaboration on how we are going to sum up the Spanish Golden Age within a 20 minute presentation. This may come as a surprise but the Spanish Golden Age was kind of broad. I presented to the group that the most eventful years of the Golden Age probably fell within the beginning and the end of the Golden Age (The rise and fall of Spanish power). We decided that it would be easier to fixate on a specific time period if we found a text that could guide us through a series of year. Years that the play was published and produced, and the years of the specific playwright. What was significant of that time, what political tie-ins were there associated with the text, etc. We discovered Life is a Dream by Calderon and his play married our ideas of focusing on a specific set of years associated with a text and focusing on the end of the Golden Age because Life is a Dream was written within the last thirty years of the Golden Age.
We began our research by assigning everyone in our group specific roles or areas to research. I personally was assigned to researching the political aspects of the Spanish Golden Age. I looked at the basic, broad, wikipedia overlay of politics that spanned the full length of the Spanish Golden Age and then I zoned in on the tail end of the Spanish Golden Age. Most of my research os based online. I have used very little of the actual play's text.
Research has always been an important part of historical presentation simply in order to understand the context of the area you are presenting on. In regards to rehearsal processes. I can comfortablly say that 95% (if not 100%) of plays have some form, however abstract, of political undertones. An actor should always research the political norms of the time their play takes place because humans live their lives in politics. We are affected by politics everyday. If you are trying to convey a character who lives in a specific time and you don't know what that time period was like, you can't convey that character truthfully.