Week 1- Our group decided to sit research some very basic articles on Tudor drama and the history of that period. When we brought our research together we then sat down and tried to narrow the material down and pick out a topic that interested us while also defining a smaller time period to look at since the Tudor period is very large and bleeds into both medieval times and Elizabeth and Shakespeare etc. I brought in a synopsis/review of a book that addresses specifically that fact that this in-between time is often overlooked by theatre and literary historians. It was a time of religious and social change in England and drama cannot be looked at as just skipping from the reign of Richard III to Elizabeth I. I thought this provided a good frame for us to reference to make sure we kept our research focused on this interesting and overlooked time. I brought in an article on University theatre as well which I found less interesting and we decided not to focus on that type of theatre. We then went online and looked up different types of plays that were popular in the early 16th century, and decided we were interested in researching heroic plays and their function. In the early stages of searching we stumbled across Robin Hood, a character who has stood the test of time and is as recognizable today as he was during our time frame. Leaving class I was excited to look at how this hero was used theatrically to make and interpret history. Was his story and character under the Tudors the same as what I grew up with? I was relating the way I conducted my research the way I do in English classes when reading fiction. By looking at the time and asking - who is writing this? how were they personally or through affiliation (with political, religious groups etc.) affected by their own time and space? what is their history? how is their work responding to this (if it is at all). This is basically how I looked at the project and started to dig deeper into the subject.
Week 2- This week my group focused on taking our topic of Robin Hood and researching about the playwrights, actors, and spaces that used his character. The sources I found were mostly about how he was used as a symbol of the poorer class, image was a recognizable figure to unite the people against the injustices of the ruling class. Someone else brought in sources about the festivals where these Robin Hood plays were performed. It seems as though these festivals, held by Protestant and Catholic groups, used him to rally the people so they would support and give money to their group or cause. Since most of the poor people in England at the time were Catholic, they wouldn't want or need to say that the donations were going towards the Church of England, they could just try to unify the people against the ruling class. Then all they had to do was wait for the alcohol to go around and the festival to get gayer before they began collecting donations. Overall, these festivals would please the poor and make them more likely to favor the people/ groups that put it on.
I also considered some figures/images today that are used by companies/ campaigns in a similar way. Popular images like Rosie the Riveter have been appropriated by the modern Tea Party movement, which seems to make little sense considering she is a symbol for female empowerment rather than traditional and conservative family values. Obama's Hope image is widely associated with him, yet the Hope slogan was used by the Republican campaign in the 2012 election races. I think it's interesting to be watching this recycling of images and figures in the modern day while researching how it was done through theatre and festivals in the Tudor period.
Week 3/4 - Now that my group knows what we want to talk about and we sat down to figure out how we would present our information. This included a lot of us sitting around and spewing out all of our research and ideas about each part of our theme. Then we had the task of deciding what would fit, how long to spend on each section, what context is needed, which texts to talk about. We knew we'd be using a powerpoint but didn't want it to be full of a lot of text, we wouldn't be reading off of cue cards and our audience shouldn't be reading slides. We were all really interested and engaged in our topic so we knew it would be easy for us to keep the presentation conversational (at least between ourselves) so we only made a rough guide for who would be talking about each section/ slide. I feel that our best preparation was already done because we had all done a lot of research on each aspect of our topic and had conversations and arguments to ensure that each group member's ideas, research, and conclusions were properly challenged and we could come to a consensus on what point we were making.
Final Presentation - I thought our presentation went pretty well. We had a good guide for what we wanted to say and we were all educated enough on our topic to not have to read directly off of anything. We also chose to move all of the tables and things out of our way so we wouldn't be so separated and lecture-y with the class. These two factors are something that bother me about a lot of lectures and presentations so I was glad to avoid them. I was also glad we chose to all interject and talk about everything, rather than assigning each member a large section such as history or politics to talk about in turn. It was fun to present because I felt well prepared and engaged, I hoped our excitement would help the audience to be interested (I know how boring presentations can be). I was also really impressed with the group who talked about Egungun masks. They seemed to really know what they were talking about and when they spoke it was clear they had researched a lot and were informed. It was great because I feel like I understand the basics of the form fairly well after only 20 minutes and with no prior knowledge. This was overall a fun process to work with that allowed us to find something we were interested in and engage us in a deeper way with the material.