Glendale Community College Tw

Play Review Assignment

In this course, we traditionally require students to see 1-2 shows and write a review on that production. Due to COVID-19 and the absence of live theatre,students in the Fall 2020 semester can watch one of the approved filmed theatre events and write a critique on the show for credit.

  • Please read the guidelines below for more details on the approved shows and guidelines on how to write your paper.

The Play Review assignment is graded out of 100 points and is weighted to be 20% of your grade!

Play Review Paper Guidelines:

  • Must be typed and submitted to Canvas in .pdf, .doc, or .docx form.
    • May be turned in at any point AFTER we discuss the Functions, Elements, and Principles of Design
    • Five paragraphs in length. A paragraph should be 4-5 sentences long.
      • Please see the “Structure” portion of this prompt
      • Should utilize the knowledge you have gained throughout this course so far, particularly the first few weeks of class where we covered criticism, dramatic structure, and theatre design.
      • Structure

        The following is not a hard and fast rule, but more of a guide.

        Paragraph 1, Introduction:

          • Who (the playwright, director, main actors, designers, etc.)
          • What (the play)
          • Your initial thoughts on the play/musical and how the camera may have changed the experience
            • Maybe it would have been funnier in person?
            • Or perhaps because you saw it alone you were more comfortable with reacting carefree?
            • Was the camera work distracting at all? Or did it help you focus on the story and actors more? Did the camera choreography help tell the story at all?
          • Where (name of the theatre and the school/company sponsoring the play)
          • When (performance times and dates)

        Paragraph 2: Summary

          • A brief summary of the action of the play
          • A brief idea of the major themes of the play

        Paragraphs 3 and 4: The Meat & Potatoes

          • Pick two major topics that should be discussed. For example, paragraph 3 might discuss the acting and paragraph may address technical issues that the play raised. Try not to mention a ton of different topics, but to limit the review to two topics and discuss each completely.
            • You can also discuss here things that they could do on film that may be more difficult or different in real life. For instance a ton of different locations, special effects, seamless lighting changes (or perhaps the lighting was more realistic in the movie than it would be on the stage), surround sound audio and underscoring.
          • Note: Simply describing that something is “good” or “bad” isn’t enough. These are surface level arguments. Dig deeper and defend your opinions using information that you have read in the textbook, things we have discussed in class, or information you have gleaned from lectures. Back up what you say and prove that you know what you are talking about. Think of yourself as a critic, not simply a reviewer.

        Paragraph 5: Closing

          • Wrap up your paper with a brief closing statement in 3-5 sentences.

        Pre-Approved Plays

        *Note: I will add or remove from this list throughout the semester. Since life is very much in flux, theatres may end up spontaneously adding or removing shows. I will try to make an announcement whenever I hear about a cool socially distant show that is happening.Another note: You will notice that there are very few musicals and Shakespearean works on this list — that is intentional for your first play review.

        Socially Distanced Theatre / Readings

        • Dream 2.0 by Glendale Community College
          • This is going to be a live-streamed event over Vimeo.
            • We pre-recorded the content, but the viewing will be communal like a theatrical experience.
            • The cast rehearsed over Zoom with each other, like an in-person play
          • I will post ticketing information when we have it available!

        Recorded (Mediated) Theatre Productions

        • BroadwayHD – $8.99/mo subscription, however you can sign up for a 7 day free trial and then cancel after you have watched your play
          • Macbeth 2010: a modern and disturbing production of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart.
          • Red: A haunting and moving play by Jonathon Logan starring Alfred Molina as Mark Rothko.
          • Indecent: A drama inspired by true events surrounding the controversial Broadway debut of God of Vengeance for which the producer and cast were arrested and convicted on grounds of obscenity.
          • The Tempest: Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, this production features and all-female cast.
          • A Doll’s House : An innovative new production of a classic work of realism in which Nora Helmer is forced to reveal a secret to her husband and in doing so, reassesses her life as it stands.
        • Broadway on PBS – Currently, these shows are free on PBS in support of Black culture. I will try to let you know if that changes.
          • Twilight: Los Angeles: Anna Deavere Smith’s astounding one-woman-show based on real interviews about the 1991 Rodney King police brutality and the violent 1992 aftermath in Los Angeles. Many themes in this piece speak to the BLM movement and police brutality crisis we are facing today.
          • Much Ado About Nothing: A Public Theater production recorded live at Free Shakespeare in the park, features an entirely Black cast.
            • This production requires PBS Passport to view — a worthy cause to donate to if you’re not already a member!
        • Amazon Prime – Most of these plays are free with Amazon Prime
          • Pass Over: A modern, provocative riff on Waiting for Godot, this play is about two young black men talking shit, passing the time, and dreaming of the promised land. This is the play mentioned in the Criticism Controversy that we cover in Module 1.
            • **I watched this play last week and it is really funny, unexpected, and poignant.
        • Digital Theatre+ is accessible to students for free through the library! This is a great resource for professionally staged performances to watch FOR FREE. Simply go to the Library A-Z List and look under ‘D.’Please reach out to me if you have trouble getting login credentials.
          • Pipeline by Dominique Morrisseau: the challenges faced by Black youths in the American public education system are exposed as a public school teacher fights for her son’s future.
          • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen: Nora Helmer reexamines her life within a patriarchal society after she is blackmailed by one of her husband’s employees.
          • The Taming of the Shrew: In this unique production, genders are swapped and men must adapt to living in a matriarchal society in 1590’s Britain.
          • Falsettos: A humorous and poignant story of the perfectly imperfect Malvin, a father torn between his family and his sexuality amid the devastating AIDS crisis.
            • **I saw this production when it toured at Center Theatre Group and it is truly beautiful, hilarious, and moving.
            • **This production IS a musical, but I am allowing it 🙂
          • Indecent by Paula Vogel: Inspired by true events in 1923, this play follows a troupe of Jewish actors as they bring Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance to the Broadway stage.
          • Medea adapted by David Stuttard: A scorned woman’s fury is met with terrifying consequences in this dynamic and daring production of Euripides’ classic tale.
          • True West by Sam Shepard: Often hailed as Sam Shepard’s masterpiece, True West deconstructs the damaged relationship between two estranged brothers who are striving for success.
        • National Theatre at Home – The National Theatre is renowned as one of the best theatres in London and the world. During the pandemic, they have been making some shows available through their streaming service. These plays require a $12.99 monthly subscription that you can cancel at any time OR you can rent the production you want to watch for a reduced cost.
          • Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches by Tony Kushner: America in the mid-1980’s. In the midst of the AIDS crisis and a conservative Reagan administration, six New Yorkers with interconnected lives grapple with life and death, love and sex, heaven and hell. This features a star-studded cast including Nathan Lane and Andrew Garfield
          • Angels in America Part Two: Perestroikaby Tony Kushner: Part two picks up the threads of our six New Yorkers whose relationships are in tatters and fates are rapidly intertwining.
            • **You can watch either part one or part two for this assignment — though I highly recommend part one since it will introduce you more to each character.
          • Amadeus by Peter Shaffer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a rowdy young prodigy, arrives in Vienna determined to make a splash. Awestruck by his genius and seized by obsessive jealousy, court composer Antonio Salieri begins a war with Mozart, with music, and ultimately with God.
          • Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Meera Syal and Thusitha Jayasundera: In India’s biggest slum, beyond the luxury hotels surrounding Mumbai airport, lives Zehrunisa and her 16-year old son Abdul whose gift for trash sorting is the source of his family’s income and ambitions to fund a new life. Their dreams are big, but fragile and just one accusation could shatter the whole neighbourhood.
          • Julie by Polly Stenham: Wild and single, Julie throws a huge party in her luxurious London house which rapidly descends into a fight for her own survival. Starring Vanessa Kirby

        These are merely the pre-approved plays. If there is another play you would like to watch on any of these platforms, please reach out to me via email or office hours for approval. I will approve pretty much anything except musicals.