* STUDENTS page(s) @ filmplus.org/classes -- "200 words" post is required about each play read! Do it on time!

[ see samples, left ]

from students page: 200 Words Post (after reading each play):

Paragraph 1: Plot Summary -- Describe in one paragraph the storyline of the play (six or seven sentences).

Paragraph 2: Theme(s) (Meaning or premise) -- What is the playwright saying to us? What is the point of the story or plot? What comment is the writer making about society? Support your theme statement from an action, dialogue or scene from the play.

Paragraph 3: Form -- tragedy, comedy, melodrama, or tragicomedy? Why you believe it is a particular type of play by using examples from the play (refer to definitions in texts to justify your selections).

Paragraph 4: Conclusion -- Discuss the play's universality. Will it withstand time? 100, 1000 years? Why? Peronal Opinion (Summary).


Use THR Terminology in your papers!

Biography/Psychology of the Playwright
National information about the setting of the play
Topical research into the play
Time period of the play
Genre of the play
Past criticism of play or playwright
Past productions of the play

Theoretical models such as:
Psychological Model
Marxism (a Materialist model)

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Student Papers

2005 THR215 Dramatic Literature
Besides midterm (5-6 pp) and final paper (10-12 pp) you are required to write "200 words" after reading each play.

[ Sample ]:

[ updates : 2007 ]

Robynn Gille
Thr 413
200 Words
Sam Shepherd
"Buried Child" 12/3/00

"Something New Please: It Doesn't Take Much to Make a Great American Play"

Perhaps it's the end-of-the semester blues, perhaps I'm frustrated with the whole human condition thing, but I think I have all the elements to make a "Great American Play" figured out, and it's all laid out here in Sam's work.

Here's what you need for a "Great American Play":

1) A dead child of some sort (or dead old man at the end) (see
2) A woman tired of her old man
3) No-good children that never went anywhere
4) Heavy usage of nature imagery...(nature takes away what man accumulates in 
vain, we get it! We get it!)

What disturbs me most is how much this play had in common with O'Neill's "Desire Under the Elms." It seems like the same damn story, only without the terrible usage of "accent" in the script. The relationship between Dodge and Halie is the same as the other couple in the other play. The rest of the play is just tormneted struggle between the stupid young and the tired old, all the same "American Gothic" white-trash. And this play takes from all those before it: "Grapes of Wrath," the dysfunctional family of "The Glass Menagerie," the escapism of "Death of a Salesman," the dead child cliche of Pirandello and Ibsen (I know they're not American, but not many "great" playwrights seem to be.) It's not that this play had nothing good going for it, it did. And I'm sure many others can find lofty, magnificent redeeming qualities that I couldn't find. The script was brilliant, it flowed wonderfully. The dialogue was witty and quick, and something I would like to see played out. I loved the idea of Tilden constantly bringing in vegetables from other people's farms (or so we think). The ominous, foreboding concept of the "rain" as a "finger of God" of sorts was a powerful idea. The things that Dodge could see that nobody else wanted to look at, the way all the characters twisted words and blew things out of proportion...Of course these things were noteworthy.

I just get upset when I have to read something that is way too similar to something else that I read, and try to find something significant and original, when it was all done before.

Heather Rae Reichenberg
Prof. Antohin

A world that can be explained by reasoning, however faulty, is a familiar world. But in a universe that is suddenly deprived of illusions and of light, man feels a stranger. His is an irremediable exile, because he is deprived of memories of a lost homeland as much as he lacks the hope of a promised land to come. This divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting, truly constitutes the feeling of Absurdity. (Esslin, XIX)
In Search of a Meaningful Existence
From Pirandello to Beckett

Pirandello and Beckett have one thing in common, they both take reality and flip it upside down to show the absurdity in life. They show the lack of harmony in what we percieve as reality. Underneath the illusions in their plays, we experience a loss and redefinition of the maker/author, time, communication, and the global family. Thus, we are left with an existential existence, where the reader is asked to create meaning in a world that truly came with none to begin with.

In Beckett’s Endgame we are given a one-act play where past and present are at conflict with one another admisdts a reality that questions creation itself. Existence in Endgame is absurd and never ending, where Clov (the body) leaves Hamm (the mind), and instead of Hamm dying, the alarm never goes off. Showing the possibility that life and finding new meaning in an existentialistic universe, must and shall go on.

In Pirandello’s Six Character’s in Search of an Author, the reader is faced with the fact that reality itself is an impossibility. This play is another form of redefining meaning in a world where we demand meaning and significance. This demand comes from a fear of meaninglessness, where nothing is certain or completely true, and when this reality of non-reality is revealed we, and the characters, feel alone and silenced.

Together, Beckett and Pirandello confront the constant dance of life between loss and redefinition. This can be seen in how they address the ideologies placed upon the maker (god or the author). For Beckett there is no maker, distortion is placed between the beginning and the end of his characters lives. This is seen when Hamm says,“ The end is in the beginning and yet you go on” (Jacobus, 734). Pirandello defines this same loss when his characters do not know who their author is and cannot seem to make a separation between creation and thought itself. In other words, both stories show characters that believe they know their true beginnings, and yet as their realities begin to unravel they seem to doubt the beginning and the end to all things.

Time ceases to exist in these two plays, where it threatens to destroy life in Beckett’s Endgame, while controlling the lives of the characters in Pirandello’s play. Time in each setting is carried out of context and defies all limits, as Hamm and Clov live admidst death, while Pirandello’s characters never seem to live. For Pirandello, his characters are racing against the clock, proving their own existence as the director himself demands perfect time and reality. “ Pretense? Reality? To hell with it all! Never in my life has such a thing happened to me. I’ve lost a whole day over these people, a whole day” (Jacobus, 546). This shows the temporality of significance in both plays. Where Pirandello’s time is fleeting as his characters lives are questioned, and while Beckett’s shows that these very creatures waste time itself. Their breathing insults time, and yet would time really exist without some cycle (be that linear or cyclical) to our insignificant lives?

The loss of communication is very important in both plays, because it shows the alienation that surrounds our self based realities. No matter what, each individual character seems to fade in and out of what the other is trying to say because they are too self-absorbed to hear one another. Martin Esslin points out in his book, The Theatre of the Absurd, that communication itself is meaningless in a self-based world: "In a purposeless world that has lost its ultimate objectives, dialogue, like all action, becomes a mere game to pass the time. It is time itself that drains language of meaning." (Esslin, 45)

In other words, the characters prove that self-absorption does not necessarily mean self-awareness. Usually stating just the opposite, this self-absorption can keep us from understanding ourselves and therefore one another.

This inability to hear our own voice and the true voice of others, creates a loss in the global family. Pirandello and Beckett show the global family dying out, through the lack of scene changes and no introduction of any new characters. Thus creating a world that lives off of itself, or some invisible and self-destructable host. These characters seem almost paracitic, forever co-dependent upon a specific reality, and yet constantly pondering the chance that there may be something else, some sort of meaning: "Every true man, sir, who is a little above the level of the beasts and the plants does not live for the sake of living, without knowing how to live; but he lives so as to give meaning and a value of his own to life." (Pirandello, 545)

After reality is stripped out of the hands of these characters they are left with self-definition, and the test it whether it will or will not be self-based.
The self-based reality of Pirandello’s and Beckett’s characters becomes redefined in their search for a meaningful existence. What replaces the world of self is a world where there is a loss of self in relationship to other human beings. An end to self is not the lack of personal movement, thought, happiness, or freedom that we witness in Beckett’s Endgame. It is the ability to hear what others have to say while understanding ourselves better through other people. There is a paradox between living for personal redefinition while giving to others as well. Martin Esslin described this balance when he said:
The recognition of the illusoriness and absurdity of ready-made solutions and prefabricated meanings, far from ending in despair, is the starting point of a new kind of consciousness, which faces the mystery and terror of the human condition in the exhilaration of a new found freedom. (Esslin, 46) In other words, once the individual and these characters begin to let go of themselves and start discovering someone else’s reality, they then will meet the possibilties of their own soul.
These very characters show the cycle of selfishness that creates a death in the individual, where a truth can never be achieved and significance or meaning is lost. This is true absurdity, as well as the fact that these characters represent the reality of our own self-isolations and sorrows. This alienation from others has occurred in the play, and our lives, because we no longer deconstruct what we percieve to be reality. Creating a lack of harmony in the global community and the individual, when all that is needed is a redinition of self and what we claim to be our boundaries. In a world of constant loss and redefinition, we are faced with the wonderful possiblities of change and improvement. Yet here we sit, with Clove and Hamm, where we cry out for someone or something to define us and give life its meaning. Meanwhile, the parade of existence is flying by. So drop the bottle of painkillers and climb up that ladder, and see what’s in the window. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself on the other side.

Esslin, Martin. The Theatre of the Absurd. New York: Anchor, 1961 Jacobus, Lee. The Complete Bedford Introduction to Drama. 4th Ed. New York, Boston: Bedford/St.Martin: 2001.

Please, post them on DramLit Forum (see archives).

Give some feedback on the posts!

Questions? Post them!

[ It could be useful to post the papers from directing or acting classes here -- to connect to my recent aim of this book "Grammar of Drama" for actors and directors ]


I require that all papers and drafts must be posted on Class Forum for others in class to read and comment.

Film papers are @ Film-North.


Take notes while reading!
Next: test


Thinking of plagiarizing? Better think again. (questia.com)
In researching the topic for your paper, you've found the perfect text — or even an entire finished piece — which brilliantly articulates the very points you planned to cover. If you're tempted to use these words and ideas as your own...

Taking material developed by other people and passing it off as your own without giving proper credit is plagiarism. It's unethical to plagiarize, and there's no argument to defend even unintentional plagiarism.

You should avoid plagiarizing because:
Penalties are severe. Punishment can range from a failing grade on the assignment to expulsion from the university.

Instructors are savvy about the technology. They know how it can be misused. They are familiar with online paper repositories and paper mills. And they understand how to use search and plagiarism-detection tools to locate original sources and identify material you've boosted..

Instructors are also familiar with your knowledge and capabilities and are likely adept at spotting material or wording which is out of synch with your skill levels.

Giving props is the right thing to do. It is simply fair and responsible to clearly cite your sources and follow standard documentation procedures.

Here's how to avoid plagiarism — accidental or otherwise:
Keep good notes when doing your research. That way you won't have to wonder which sources said what. You'll also be more aware of which ideas came from a source, and which you originated.
Whenever you copy a fact or quotation, always write down the source at the same time. That way you won't have to try to re-find the source later. Write down or copy or print out all the information you will need to cite a source the first time you use it. It's too easy to forget to do it later. Start creating your bibliography entries as soon as you are certain you are going to cite a source in your paper. It's easier to do this one at a time, instead of trying to do a large number all at once.
If you aren't sure whether or not you need to credit a source for something in your paper, check with your instructor. Find more useful information on Documenting Your Sources in Questia's guidelines for HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH PAPER, section 8. (need link).

Also check out How Not to Plagiarize by Margaret Procter, Coordinator of Writing Support, The University of Toronto