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This class requires a short RESEARCH PAPER. It is due December 11th; now is the time to begin thinking about your topic. The research paper is about the SUBJECT OF YOUR CHOICE. Because this class is called Theatre Appreciation, it is important that you pursue something that interests you so that you may better appreciate theatre. The paper must be about theatre. Although film and television are related to theatre, those subjects are best saved for a film or television class. Your paper can be about something we covered in this class (Oedipus, Othello, Asian Theatre, Stanislavsky) or something related. Here are some subjects students wrote about in the past: the use of masks in theatre, minstrel shows and the use of black face makeup, Marlon Brando, the Actors Studio famed acting school, the choreography of Bob Fosse. One student wrote about theatre superstitions (like not saying the name Macbeth in a theatre). Our textbook, Theatre — the Lively Art, is full of wonderful information that might give you some ideas. Please email if you are uncertain about what to write about. Be sure your idea is about theatre. One student submitted a paper about Star Wars. I, of course, did not accept the paper and the student had to write a new paper the day before the class ended! Don’t let that happen to you—if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your topic, write me! WHAT IS A RESEARCH PAPER? Research is the quest for knowledge. It is generally based on a question: What was Arthur Miller’s impact on the American theatre? How did Bunraku puppetry develop in Japan? What are some controversial plays and why are they controversial? A research paper is not an argument paper, but it still must have a thesis, a focus. The focus is generally the significance of your research: Marlon Brando changed acting forever, Kabuki united different social classes in Japan, etc. I will ask you to post a few sentences about your idea on the Discussion Board by Wednesday, Nov. 25. (guidelines to follow). What are you researching? What do you hope to learn? Research is one of the most important skills you take with you into the 21st century, whether you continue on in school or begin your professional life. If you attended high school in the U.S., particularly in NY State over the past few years, you were probably exposed to the “common core,” which posits the idea that arguing and proving some sort of claim is the highest endeavor of formal education. Wrong! It is absolutely important to know how to write a thesis statement and to support it with evidence; your research paper has a “point” to make. However, research is also a very important 21st c. skill—we live in the information age so finding, evaluating, and communicating information is crucial. Here are some research ideas: 1) You may research a person we studied or mentioned, such as Samuel Beckett, Aristotle (focus on his drama theories), Julie Taymor, Marlon Brando. Seems like an easy idea, right? It’s not! These papers often turn out poorly because they become like encyclopedia lists rather than essays. If you do this, you must love the person (intellectually, artistically) and have something you really want to say about him or her: “Samuel Beckett’s bleak world view expressed the horrors of his time,” etc. Ira Aldridge, the first black man to play Othello, could be an interesting topic. 2) Greek theatre: What was it like to be at the Dionysia? Again, don’t just describe the Dionysia for me; I can get that from the Internet Theatre Database. Have a point! How did playwrights experience it? Spectators? Actors? 3) Shakespeare. YOU MAY NOT WRITE A BIOGRAPHY OF SHAKESPEARE. You must narrow this topic waaaayyyyy down. There are thousands of books about Shakespeare. Even a topic such Shakespearean tragedy is too broad. You would have to have knowledge of all his tragedies (Lear, Hamlet, etc.)–that is a year’s project. However, a research paper about how critics have interpreted Iago’s evil is doable, and there is much material out there on that subject. 4) Theatre architecture through the ages, or from one particular era in particular. 5) Critical theory. Critical theory is when critics look at art through a particular sociological, historical, or philosophical lens. For example, we explored a bit of feminist critical theory about Desdemona in Othello. You can look at Othello or A Midsummer Night’s Dream through the lens of feminist criticism, or Othello through the lens of Race Theory. 6) Asian theatre–the influence of Kabuki, Noh theatre (we didn‘t really study Noh but it is in our textbook and you can research it further if it interests you). Puppetry. Its influence. Its history. What accounts for its current popularity in Avenue Q and Hand to God and other contemporary plays? 7) Female actors onstage. 8) Controversial casting issues (some of which we discussed Week 4). 9) Controversies over Porgy and Bess, or Angels in America. 10) The Federal Theatre Project, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s program to keep theatre workers employed during the Great Depression. The movie Cradle Will Rock, which is on Videos, is about that. 11) Costume. Set design. Songwriting. Choreography. 12) This list could go on. Read Theatre– the Lively Art. Look at the clips on Weekly Assignments. Search the web. The important thing is to pick something that interests you, not just something expedient. Trust me, your paper will be better if you care about your subject. SOURCES Your Paper must have THREE outside sources. You must cite them in MLA format. MLA citation is for arts, literature, and humanities. APA citation is for social sciences. There are many online resources that demonstrate MLA citation, if you don’t know it. RELIABLE SOURCES A reliable source is academic or professional. For example, if you wanted to write a paper about how Eugene O’Neill’s seafaring experiences influenced his “sea” plays (we didn’t study that), the Eugene O’Neill Sailing Club would NOT be a legitimate source; however, a university archive or professor’s article would be. HELPFUL WEBSITES There are many. I think this one is pretty good: Short Research Papers/Jerz’s Literacy Weblog (he’s a professor, so legit). I will continue to post about research, but I want you to start thinking about your topic. Please email with any concerns or questions. Good luck.