For this week’s blog I’d like you to make an argument about the play Oedipus Rex, and comment on a partner’s idea (we’ll determine partners today). Your argument should encompass an answer to this question: What do you think is the central idea that Sophocles was trying to communicate to his audience in the writing of his play? Select a way to articulate this central message, and consider consulting the play for evidence for your assertion. You should post by Tuesday February 1 in order for your partner to be able to comment on your argument in detail, and to give you time to do the same.
Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex
Excerpts from Aristotle’s The Poetics
(note: I’d encourage you to finish reading The Laramie Project this week as well. However, you can take your time with this text.)
Things to keep in mind while reading excerpts from The Poetics:
-keep in mind that Aristotle was writing about a century after the tragedies to which he refers were written and performed. Aristotle’s views and arguments about theatre may be some of the oldest we have—and certainly are some of the most influential. However, The Poetics represents only one point of view about theatre.
-recall or look up the words mimesis and catharsis. Realize that the theatrical importance of these words comes from Aristotle’s writings, and both have saturated the cultural imaginary of what theatre ought to be and do. Why might this be?
Things to keep in mind while reading Oedipus Rex:
-Oedipus was Aristotle’s ideal tragedy. What elements of the play can you identify that might qualify it for this honor?
-even now this play is one of the most often performed—there’s a production you can go see at the Guthrie Theatre. A reviewer in the Minneapolis Star Tribune suggests, “The show leaves us with many hard questions, including this one: Do you really want to know the truth about yourself and your history?” (link to article--registration required) Are there elements here that seem timeless? Why has this play endured for so long?
-consider the theme of this course, how the stage and the city co-exist throughout history, in conjunction with your reading of this play.
Just a few points before I see you on Thursday...
-as Branislav noted on the lecture, there's a slight problem with the course syllabus. Essentially, the week after spring break was skipped. An updated version of the course syllabus will be put on WebCT as soon as it's up and running, but essentially the syllabus will be altered as follows:
March 22: Plays and Games
March 29: Acting and Performance in Everyday Life
April 5: Directing/Stage Design
April 12: Professional Roundtable and Quiz
The remaining weeks will be dedicated to work in our discussion groups on final projects.
-I've heard from a few of you about the location of your blog. Email me as soon as you've set it up and made your first posting! If there are any concerns or points of confusion, email me right away.
-The reader is definitely in the bookstore and also, I understand, on reserve in Wilson Library. Check there if you are unable to find it in the library--I will investigate further.
-I hope preparation for your performances is going well. Do not see this as an intimidating assignment, or at least try not to. Try to allow yourself to be at ease with us, even if this itself is for you a challenge, and only do something that you can be absolutely comfortable with. I'm working on a performance of myself as well that we'll include in our class work together.
I look forward to seeing you Thursday!
This week's assignment has two parts. Both parts of the assignment will be due by classtime Thursday, January 27.
Performing You: Come up with a short performance that reveals something about yourself to us. You could tell a story or joke, demonstrate a talent, or create an interpretive movement-based piece. A good start for considering what you might show us in performance might be the object you chose for today's exercise. Entertain us, move us, or make us think! Be creative, and choose a way to perform for us that you can be comfortable with. Your performance need be no longer than 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Beginning to Blog: Each week this semester you'll complete a short writing assignment on your own weblog. This method of turning in assignments will lend a great deal of flexibility to both of us, and later in the semester will be a communication tool as you work more extensively in small groups. Follow these steps:
-choose a weblog service. You might try www.blogger.com or the University service UThink at www.lib.umn.edu.
-create a weblog. The instructions on most websites are quite clear. Let me know if you have any difficulties.
-email me with the URL where your blog can be found. I'll comment on your postings once I receive this information from you.
-post a response to the readings for this week. What I’d like you to do is choose a line, quote, or passage from TWO of the four texts. What is the significance of each passage for you—insightful, challenging, connects to something you’ve been thinking about? What does each passage contribute to a discussion on what theatre IS and what theatre DOES? How do the two passages you’ve chosen connect to, contradict, or dialogue with one another? Finally, include in your posting any muddy points from these articles—ideas that are unclear or that you would like more information about.
**(please let me know RIGHT AWAY if you are unable to access the internet on a frequent enough basis for the purposes of this assignment. Much of your work this semester is designed to revolve around internet communication, but I am happy to make arrangements for you if necessary.)
Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (in the reader)
Excerpts from Pavis’s Dictionary of Theatre (reader)
Cassady’s Playwrighting Step by Step (reader)
Scene 1 of The Laramie Project, titled “Moment: A Definition” (bookstore)
New York Times article, “Don’t Blink: You Might Miss the Show”
I look forward to getting to know each of you this semester as we start to navigate the ins and outs of theatre. This blog will house each of your weekly assignments, discussion points I think are notable, downloadable versions of the syllabus and major assignments like the text analysis, and links to each of your blogs. I encourage you to check this often, and leave comments as well!