Film & Theater studies

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This assignment has multiple parts, which will be explained in class. The upshot is that we are asking you to look closely at Anna Deavere Smith’s performing of one of the characters in Fires in the Mirror. Choose one of the segments of the piece and watch Smith’s performance (available on YouTube). Follow the practice described by Smith–trying in repetition to make those words your own. What you are looking for are the actions of the character, but consider what Smith says about the importance of finding where language “breaks down.” That is, where do we get a glimpse of the distinctive individual character behind the mask? By learning the words, by putting yourself into the footsteps of this character, what do you discover about the action? Write about what you discover, either in the form of a moment to moment study of how the action/mask change moment to moment or in a more summary way about the competing forces shaping the character. This is not a five-paragraph essay but instead a writing exercise that tries to represent the complexity of what an actor (Smith and/or you) does with a character. (3-4 pages, due October 12 at the beginning of lecture).


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