Sunday, March 30, 2014

"There's nothing wrong with updating a little"

Although after reviewing the assignment I have several questions that I'll need to be asking professor Jeppesen, I can at least post my initial thoughts on what I might write about in my final paper.
My planned theme is:

Reviving Greek and Roman Theater for a Modern Audience!

It will be a collection of thoughts on how to make a tasteful adaptation of an ancient play. Not an expert guide by any means, just some thoughts. These will be based on historical aspects to consider, as well as experiential issues that arose in the production of our Amphitruo. It's really interesting stuff! Maybe our papers will end up posted here. If not, I might post a short summary of mine. The performance is only two weeks away! I am both excited and nervous. I hope we can prepare well enough by then.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Final Paper Outline

At the end of the semester we will have to write about how this class helped us understand ancient drama, and I will focus on the following aspects: 1. Adapting a classic, 2. What makes a comedy funny?, 3. The spirit of ancient theatre, and 4. Authenticity.  I hope to show how going through this process has helped me not only understand the mind of the ancient playwrights better, but also in a way to live what they experienced as artists and performers. There is something to be said about how some things must be experienced, not just read about.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Time Marches On

Just a quick update on our progress:

The pressures of the end of semester are building right on schedule, but luckily we've been able to find a little extra time to practice, which was desperately needed in my opinion. We seem to be on top of the blocking now, and I'm very excited about the action scenes we'll be doing, particularly those involving the audience area. I just hope we'll have enough time to practice it enough to be able to perform it like I know we all want to, but either way, it will have been a great experience. I'm so glad the class wasn't cancelled!


Friday, March 21, 2014

Progress 2

I am no actor. This whole blocking thing has been frustrating. Although I comprehend that it is important, I am still so far behind with my lines. I also find myself struggling to know how to even read my lines with all of the prompts in the script added by the translator which seem to be off. I struggle to pull off lines that I feel like I would never say in any situation. Clunky translation aside, little by little I am starting to find my way and hopefully will reach the point when I will be able to do my part well. Blocking is a chore, but I realize that if we don’t know where we are going on stage, there might be unforeseen blunders. I do not want to go on stage and look foolish. Fear is a powerful motivator to trust our director and get this down.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Our Progress

                   I'm feeling very optimistic about our progress! I think we have most aspects of our play planned for (props, costumes, etc) and now we just have to focus on rehearsal and improving our chemistry as a cast. I think that we should have a goal to be off-book (memorized) by a week from this Wednesday at least so that we can focus on blocking and fine-tuning without having to be concerned about lines. Thanks to our professor's hard work, I feel confident regarding the current status of our script. I think that any polishing it may need will come naturally during the rehearsal process. But from what I've heard in class so far, I really feel like everyone's' characters are starting to take form and that everyone is bringing a lot to the table acting-wise. Good work team! Now that we have a script- let's get down to memorizing!

The Story So Far

Things are going great! (and yes, they're only getting' better!)

Granted, we are a bit behind schedule, and I have been sick out of my mind for the past week, but if it were all going off without a single hitch, I think we'd start getting nervous. But viewed with a healthy perspective, things are going quite well.

The script is coming along fine, and has some pretty hilarious moments in it, especially if we can act it out right. Professor Jeppesen has proved a capable director. The plans for props, costumes, and sound effects also seem to be moving forward nicely. The stage we'll be performing on is great! Just perfect for our purposes. And while initially I was a little trepidatious about doing Amphitruo, it's definitely grown on me.

Yep. Things are good. Let's just hope they stay that way, and nothing crazy derails our plans...


Sosia in Act 1

For my portrayal of Sosia I have very little interest in reciting his very long triumph speech and since we are trying to shorten the play considerably I think it'd be in our interest as a group to cut it out for the most part.  I like the idea of Sosia (me) saying something like, "let me put it this way, the war was a doozy!" and leave it as that. It could be funny. Also I suggest shortening Sosia's other act 1 lines a lot. I think they are unnecessarily long and if I was being perfectly honest I don't want to memorize so much material, especially since I will be performing as Belpharo and Broma as well. I rewrote some of these opening lines of Sosia more to my liking but I don't think I have a knack for play writing. Usually when I write dialogue I focus on realism which wasn't really the point of a theatrical performance in ancient times. I would like to show what I got to the class at some point though. I am very open to suggestions. My main goal is just to shorten the lines.

Friday, March 14, 2014


So… there has been a lot of talk about how we are behind schedule. I feel like I have contributed to this perhaps not helping enough with the adapted script, although I do feel like I tend to want to reinvent the entire thing, which isn’t the point, as we just need to get enough done so we can get through the much more daunting task of memorization. I am very pleased with the changes we are making with the script, particularly towards the ending. As I told Professor, this ending just did not sit well with me. Amphytruo always seemed to be getting the short stick and in the end be okay with it for a lack of recourse. The fact that our Jupiter will get his comeuppance from Juno sits much better, and I feel will be more satisfying for our audience. Hoping it all comes together.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Musings on 'Alcumena in the "Amphitruo" of Plautus: A Pregnant Lady Joke' by Jane Phillips

             In her article, "Alcumena in the "Amphitruo" of Plautus: A Pregnant Lady Joke" Phillips seems to disagree with her scholastic predecessors.  Many scholars have noted that Alcumena is one of the most virtuous female characters in Roman comedy. She behaves as the ideal wife in every way and her prose is more often littered with forgiveness and praise for her husband than indignation he deserves. Many have praised Plautus for his clearly positive (from the Roman standpoint) perspective on women in this play. However, Phillips made the claim that a lot of the humor surrounding Alcumena relies on the visual of an extremely pregnant woman. Phillips believes that Plautus knew that the image of a ridiculously pregnant Alcumena would contrast with her noble speech to humorous results. Also, Philips notes that some of Alcumena's lines in latin are double entendres with sexual references. These references combined with her ludicrous appearance would certainly have served Plautus's comedic motives.
          I found this article very interesting and it definitely affected how I see Alcumena within the bigger scope of the play. It definitely reminded me of the humor to be found in costuming- I will make sure I look very pregnant. But it also reaffirmed to me that Alcumena is a "straightman" in this comedy. In order for her to contribute to the comedy of this play, she must be entirely invested in her problems, which are of a rather serious nature. I think that Alcumena's character should be a contrast to some of the more "hammy" characters in this play like Sosia. Also, I think by conveying a strong sense of indignation and conviction, it will redeem some of the immorality present in this play.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tragicomedy? Or Comitragedy?

This is a brief commentary on Timothy Moore's article on Tragicomedy as seen in Amphitruo:

Due to a number of famous playwrights referencing the term "tragicomedy," many people have come to understand that it implies an equal-parts mixture of the two genres, like a Dramedy, or basically any movie with Sandra Bullock in it. This isn't an incorrect perception of the modern term, but the context in which this term was originally coined presents a notably different perspective on what "tragicomedy" is actually supposed to mean.

As stated in the article, as far as we know, Plautus, a Roman Playwright famous for his comedies, was the first one to use the word, and most likely invented it. Romans had a very specific definition of what a "comedy" was, and what a "tragedy" was, and it extended beyond simple seriousness vs. hilarity to the actual form and specific tropes associated with each kind of play. For example, if there were gods participating in the action, it was almost certainly a tragedy. Conversely, if you saw a slave engaging in rascally behavior, it was obviously a comedy. It's important to understand that according to classical theater tradition, these two sets of stereotypes hardly ever crossed. Which is why what happens in Amphitruo was somewhat radical/significant, particularly in the finer details of its execution.

ANYWAY, long story short,  rather than being that equal-parts mixture we might think of, Amphitruo is more about the supremacy of comedy over tragedy, and how comedy is so good that it can take perfectly tragic lines and elements, and with a sprinkling of unexpected context, role reversals, etc, make them into unmistakeable comedy. If you're interested in seeing more of the specific instances where this happens, you should check out the link at the top of this post! If you're into Classical Theater, then you'll appreciate it for sure.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Reflection of the Script Reworking Process

I have really enjoyed the reworking that we have done so far. I find it most helpful when we run lines in class during this process because I think our ears naturally pick up what is gratuitous or unnecessary to the essential motion of the play. It has also been beneficial when we have discussed themes and message as a cast that we wish to portray with this production. I like Professor Jeppesen's plot additions because I believe it changes the sentiment of the play from misogyny to one that features moral consequences. I think that this redeems the play from some of its less savory aspects and makes it more palatable to a modern western audience. I have also enjoyed some of the moments in which we have changed the wording of lines to help with the rhythm and flow of the language. I understand that we can't go over every line together as a class, and that some of the reworking process will be individual, but the experience of rewriting as a class has both helped our group dynamic while producing something is a product of our collective creativity.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

shop-working the cript-se

We've been working a lot lately on workshopping the script for Amphitruo, and it has certainly been an interesting experience. One that so far I've enjoyed quite a bit! First off we chose the script we liked best as a basis, and after that we began going through and finding all the parts we didn't quite like and changing them to work better.

Have you ever heard a song that was almost your favorite, but there were just a few parts that you didn't quite like as much? Well this is kind of like not just putting up with it. This is like making it exactly what you want it to be. Obviously, this is somewhat limited by skill level of those editing, but hey, we're college students, so I think where this is going, relatively speaking, is quite good. And I personally find that my creative power reaches a new level entirely when I'm able to work with others and build off of each others ideas. Of course, this is not always without democratic complication, but all in all, I think we're all pretty pleased with our work thus far.

This is beginning to materialize! Doubts are slowly beginning to disappear! Images are coming into focus! May we be inspired as we move ahead through the coming weeks.