History of Theatre Clips

Watch the following clips by Monday, March 10:

Clip #1

Clip #2

Take notes and be prepared to discuss in class!



Your oral exams are being pushed back, most likely to the first week of March, so that we can better prepare and ensure everything runs smoothly. Enjoy President’s Day!

Something Puzzling

David Lynch

As I mentioned in class yesterday, when I was in high school I was particularly enamored with art that I didn’t necessarily “get” right away. I probably still am. I like movies, books, and TV shows that show me something new. If it leaves me with a sense that I didn’t get everything there is to get right away, then all the better. To me, this is a reason to discuss and revisit to a text…which I love to do. If I feel like I understood everything immediately, why bother spending any more time with a text?

If I had to pick something from high school that left me wanting to understand it better, then it might have to be the work of filmmaker David Lynch. David Lynch is a highly acclaimed filmmaker who’s been working for more than three decades now. He exists somewhere between mainstream cinema (his movies have pretty big budgets and well-known actors in them) and “art” films. Lynch’s movies are generally pretty accessible, there are characters and a plot, there’s humorous elements and sometimes mysteries, and there’s elements of recognizable genres like melodrama and horror. However, Lynch’s movies adhere to a logic all their own. Lynch likes to blend genres in unusual ways. Oftentimes his films begin one way and then abruptly veer into a different direction at some point, changing their tone, and even aesthetics, entirely. Other times, Lynch’s films include strange scenes that disrupt the narrative flow of an otherwise recognizable genre. In both cases, you the film viewer are invited to think you’re watching one kind of film and then shown things that just don’t make sense for that kind of film!

Always in Lynch’s films there’s a sense that things are happening for a reason. The disruptions to the narrative don’t feel random. You think as you’re watching his films that if you spend just a little more time, you can understand what’s going on. Like I said, there’s a logic at work. But it’s not the logic of typical Hollywood films; rather, it’s a logic more akin to the logic of dreams. Once you begin to accept that aspect of his films, you can take quite a lot away from them. These are movies that refuse to be what you expect them to be; you have to take them on their own terms or not at all.

Lynch was the first filmmaker who had me wanting to look up things about him, his films, and what other people said about them (going “online” to do so in the early days of the internet. I’m old). I studied his work in a way I never had before. In doing so, my views on films and filmmaking were expanded and new doors were opened.

Some suggested viewing (WARNING WARNING WARNING, David Lynch’s films are almost all rated ‘R’ and feature adult themes…like violence and nudity. I am in no way saying that you should see these films. But if you wanted to see them…):

Lynch’s most accessible work:

The pilot episode of Twin Peaks – Used to be on Netflix. Probably the most commercially successful thing Lynch did. The series as a whole doesn’t live up to the pilot, but is also worth watching too.

Blue Velvet – One of his most accessible and acclaimed films. Some very disturbing content, though.

The Elephant Man – Probably the only film of his I could show in school. Very good, a little atypical for him.

Mulholland Drive – His second most acclaimed film. Very good, was on Netflix recently. Lots of adult themes, though…

Drown Presentations

Here’s the (tentative) order of presentations for next week:

Monday, 12/9 – Brianna & Nuba, Jeffrey & Andrew, and David & Christian.

Tuesday, 12/10 – Laura & Anna, Daisha & Ryan, and Megen & Mikaela.

Wednesday, 12/11 – Mary & Naima, Ummar & Alex, Nicholas & Huy, Natalie & Alyssa.

All of this is, of course, subject to change.

End of the Semester

1. Your in-class essay over Drown will be completed in class tomorrow. You already have your prompts. I will choose one of the potential prompts and you will have an hour to compose your essay. You may use your book.

2. Your project in which you adapt a story from Drown will be due Mon., Dec. 9. We will begin the presentations that day. I will begin creating a list for who presents in what order this Friday.

3. The rough draft of your World Lit. paper will be due the day we return from the holiday break. I will ask that you bring a typed hard copy that day (no e-mails). Be sure to incorporate in-text citations where necessary.

4. The amendments to the second-semester curriculum are as follows:

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller, will be DROPPED.

A Visit From the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan, will be DROPPED.

Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, will be DROPPED.

The Tempest, by William Shakespeare, will be DROPPED.

Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, will be DROPPED (with the potential to be picked back up if time allows).

Both Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett, and poetry by William Blake will be added to the multi-genre unit (along with Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five).

Both Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, by Tom Stoppard, will be added to the drama unit (along with Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman and David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross).

That’s all for now…I’ll post further updates as necessary.

Looking Ahead

Ok, just a few things:

1. We’ll end our first cycle of student-led openings this week and begin a new cycle Monday. I will be asking each of you to bring in a poem of your choosing and lead the class in analyzing it. Refer back to my earlier post about the song lyrics for the order in which you’ll present. Here are a couple websites that will allow you an opportunity to find new poetry (if you’re at a loss or just want to explore): The Poetry Foundation and Poetry 180. Any poem is fine, so don’t feel as though it has to come from one of these sites…

2. Your essay test over Winter’s Bone will be this Wednesday. We’ll talk about prompts tomorrow and you’ll have an hour to complete it. It will be open book.

Friday you will have your first quiz over Drown. The quiz will cover pages 1-108 of the novel.

3. We will be meeting briefly after school to discuss IA’s. The dates for our meeting are as follows:

Mon, 11/11 – Natalie & Daisha

Tues, 11/12 – Ryan & Laura

Weds, 11/13 – Brianna & Alyssa

Thurs, 11/14 – Mikaela & Huy

Fri, 11/15 – Anna, Alex, & Nuba

Mon, 11/18 – David, Naima, & Andrew

Tues, 11/19 – Megen, Mary, & Ummar

Weds, 11/20 – Jeffrey, Christian, & Nicholas

4. I’ll be out the Thursday and Friday before Thanksgiving. Don’t worry, I’ll find something productive for you to do while I’m gone… ;).

That’s it for now. Keep up the good work!


Just a Heads Up

Just wanted to give you guys a little perspective on next week:

You should currently be reading Winter’s Bone and plan to finish the novel by next Friday (in anticipation of a second quiz).

As you read, you should look for one quote from the novel you can discuss in class Tuesday. Anything that you find striking will work, but be ready to articulate why. You cannot use any of the quotes I used on my quiz yesterday…

After all of the Laramie presentations are finished, you should post an entry on your blog explaining what you learned from the project. Your response must be multi-paragraph and will be used in part to determine your overall grade on the project.

You should bring a thesis statement and anything else you’ve completed for your IA (notes, outlines, etc.) to class on Tuesday. I will look over the materials and conference with you at some point. We will then set due dates for your outlines, rough draft, and final draft.

We will have a one-hour, timed Socratic seminar on Wednesday of next week. I will provide a series of guiding questions and you should bring 5-10 questions of your own. Your participation in the seminar will be graded holistically.

Okay, I think that’s about it…I really appreciate all the hard work you’re doing in my class. Keep it up!