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Page to Stage: Assignment #3: Performance Review: “Why This Play Now??

The third essay assignment for the course asks you to apply your skills of analyzing a play as a written text and your knowledge of the choices playwrights and directors make in adapting and staging plays to a recent production of a historical play. Your task in this assignment is to evaluate a performance of the play in light of Chemers’s urgent dramaturgical question, “why this play now?”

Audience: Scholars, directors, and actors interested in the play you are reviewing

Format: 1200 words (4-5 pages); MLA style, including in-text citations and Works Cited page

Advice: The best review essays will include a thesis sentence that clarifies your overall assessment of the performance and will account for all three of the questions Chemers identifies as central to performance reviews: What were they trying to do? Did they do it? Was it worth doing? In addition, the best essays will also include a clear articulation of your own concept for what a successful production of this play should do that is grounded in summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation from the text of the play.


Type: Use a secondary source to analyze a primary source, and support your thesis with evidence

Rationale: The purpose of this assignment is to give students practice combining their ideas about textual features and thematic elements of plays into coherent interpretations. Students apply the theoretical approach to performance review described in Chemers book. If funds are available, students should be given the opportunity to attend a live production by a professional theater company or by a company at Queens College or another CUNY college. If this is not possible, students should be given the opportunity to watch recent filmed stage performances.

Pre-Draft Activities:

  1. Annotation and analysis of the text of the play(s) to be reviewed
  2. Outline and discuss Chemers’s model of performance reviews and use the model to assess reviews published in The New York Times or another periodical
  3. Library session focused on finding and interpreting performance reviews using Lexis Nexis and other research databases
  4. Practice in-class with using in-text citations and formatting entries for a Works Cited page
  5. In-class activities and peer review using Harvey’s elements

PagetoStage_Assignment3 (doc)

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