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Theatre & Film Studies
Peter Cockett

Fox 1 Lecture 2 Theatre, Cinema & Society 1T03 Thursday May 9, 2013 Dr. Peter Cockett Linear Narratives & Their Consequences – Lecture 2 Linear Narrative:  Aristotle (384-322 BC)  Poetics  Tragedy is the “imitation of an action”  Epic (novel) tells and imitates  What is an “action”?  Roughly approximate to a story  Aristotle says every good action has “a beginning, a middle and an end” = must relate to each other in a causal fashion  The action of tragedy is that a great person falls to destruction (King Lear)  Formal elements of the “action” of a play  Peripeteia: Reversal of fortunes (Lion King: finds out he’s king)  Anagnorisis: Recognition/discovery  Films and plays often feature several of these  Sometimes they occur together, sometimes separately  Oedipus Rex  Vladimir Propp (1895-1970)  Russian Formalist  Analyzed fairy tales and found repeated patterns:  A hero goes after the object (King -> Princess in the castle)  There could be obstacles in between such as climbing a mountain range, an antagonist (wicked wizard), social status (poverty), & internal obstacles (self- doubt)  In theatre and film analysis we generally refer to the hero as the protagonist  Identify moments of reversal and recognition  What is discovered?  How is it significant?  In “possible world” of the play or film  In relation to cultural discourses of the creators’ society  In relation to the cultural discourses in our own society Fox 2 Lecture 2  The Lion King  Identify moments of reversal or discovery  What do they mean? Identification, Empathy & Catharsis:  When watching a film or play people often identify themselves with the protagonists  In tragedy, an empathizing audience will share in the pain and suffering of the protagonist  Aristotle called this catharsis and believed it was key to the social function of drama  In comedy, an emphasizing audience will share in the happy resolution and the restoration of social order at the end  What if you don’t agree with the social order restored? The Problem with Linear Narratives:  The Perspective of One:  Through whose eyes are we seeing the possible world of the play or film?  What gender is the protagonist?  What class is the protagonist?  What race?  What culture?  Arguing that we see through “human” eyes is not acceptable. There is always a particular perspective created as a consequence of the choice of protagonist  Closed worlds:  They have a beginning, middle and an end  Aristotle also says that each part must be causally related to the other creating a progression of seemingly inescapable logic The Problem with Empathy:  Augusto Boal  Brazilian theatrical creator, theorist and politician  “Empathy must be understood as the terrible weapon it really is. Empathy is the most dangerous weapon in the entire…”  “empathy is the emotional relationship with is established between the character and spectator and which provokes a delegation of power on the part of the spectator, who Fox 3 Lecture 2 becomes an objects in relation to the character: whatever happened to the latter happens vicariously to the spectator”  Whatever the protagonist sees, I see Possible Worlds:  IMPORTANT PREMISES:  All theatrical performances and films are cultural constructions  Society is also a construction  Theatrical performances and films present possible worlds that establish specific relationships with the societies of their audiences  Task: Learn how to analyze the way films and plays structure audience response and thereby communicate their meanings  Our analysis will be broken down into the production choices made
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