Playwright Essay

Research Presentation: Each student will sign up in advance to make a research presentation on a particular play, to be presented on the day we discuss that play. Your presentation should be approximately 10 minutes long and cover the areas described below. It may take any form — be creative!–  and utilize tools like dance, visual art, dramatic presentation, PowerPoint slides or other media for your classmates. Your presentation will be graded on the depth of your research, as well as the effort you put into making a thoughtful and engaging presentation.

Production History: Give a brief biography of the playwright, focusing on their theatrical career. Describe the theatre company that first produced the play (structure, mission, other successes, etc.). Focus on the original production, but also give a chronological account of any major revivals and film versions. Include pertinent information, such as the theatre where the play was produced, date of the premiere, director, prominent cast members, length of run, and any awards won. If possible, find photographs or other graphics (posters, programs, ads) from productions.

Criticism: Discuss at least two reviews of the original production from major publications (e.g., New York Times). Focus not just on whether the critics liked or disliked the play, but on the important ideas or themes the critics find within the play. How do the critics discuss Latinx identities or issues in the play?

Contexts: Include some basic information about the time the playwright was writing, and what was happening in society. Talk about at least one or two significant events or general trends relating to Latinx people around the time of the play’s premiere. If possible, choose events or trends that seem relevant to the play’s subject matter.

Concepts: You must read the supporting materials that I assign for your particular play and discuss at least two key ideas or terms from those readings. Don’t feel that you need to summarize or explain the entire article; instead, focus on one or two specific words or passages that you found most interesting, challenging, or relevant to your reading of the play. If it’s helpful, also include the “Additional Materials” that I will give you. You can, of course, give your own perspective on these theoretical concepts, as well as your own interpretation of the themes of the play.

Relevance/Connection to Now:  Talk about the ways in which you think this playwright’s work connects to, illuminates, or offers a useful perspective on present-day issues, society or current struggles and events. Why and how do you think this playwright’s work still matters or offers something worth listening to?

Creative component: You can choose to frame or structure your entire presentation as a creative work (e.g. a short play, a video, a dance, a visual art piece), just be sure to include all the necessary information (as listed above). Or you may give a more academic presentation and then include a creative component separately that is inspired by the play or playwright. You may give a dramatic presentation of an excerpt from their play, or interpret it somehow, too.

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