Book cover image for: French Play

The French Play: Exploring Theatre 'Re-creatively' with Foreign Language Students

Les Essif

$29.95 CAD / $34.95 USD

270 pages, 22 illustrations

6 x 9 inches

978-1-55238-213-4 (Paperback)

978-1-55238-348-3 (Institutional PDF)


About the Book

A guide to the challenging process of producing and directing a foreign-language play with English-speaking actors created for university drama students, but essential for anyone who requires a strong theoretical approach to foreign language drama.

The French Play is a step-by-step guide to the challenging process of producing and directing a foreign-language play with English-speaking student actors. Using his own student productions of French-language plays as models, Les Essif leads readers through the process of exploring drama and building a successful play with an eye toward applying re-creative strategies.

Essif promotes an array of new strategies for planning, producing, analyzing, and theorizing theatre, covering such essential topics as: exercises to produce a total, corporeal expression of the foreign language; performance semiotics; organization of rehearsal schedules; the collaborative assignment of roles; audience participation; publicity and promotion; taking the play on tour; and the evaluation of student actors.

Aimed at university drama students, The French Play is also a must-have for scholars and teachers of performance and dramatic staging, foreign languages, English as a second language, and anyone else who requires a strong theoretical and critical approach to foreign language drama.

About the Author

Les Essif is the author of Empty Figure on an Empty Stage: The Theatre of Samuel Beckett and His Generation, and numerous articles on French theatre and theories of drama and performance. He is a former New York City police officer and currently a Professor of French Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

The Pedagogy of Performance by and for Students of Foreign Language
The Creativity-Complexity Matrix by Re-creative Design
Theories 1: Performance and Re-creative Language Learning
Theories 2: The Sepct-actorial View of Performance
Theories 3: Teaching Literary-Dramatic Texts and Culture-in-Practice
Theories 4: Regenerating the Creative Principle of the Text

Prologue: Advance Preparation for the Project
Selecting the Play
Selecting the Rehearsal and Performance Space
Recruiting the Students

Day One—You’re On!
Discussing the Syllabus and the Project: Organizing the Class Sessions and Semester, and Setting the Rehearsal Schedule
Setting a Creative-Critical-Performative Tone for the Project.
The Introductory Re-Creative Exercise

The First Six Weeks of Performance Awareness and Textual Analysis
Creating a Performance Space, Challenging Habit, Trusting the Teacher-Director
Class Roster
Warm-Up Exercises
Interactive Dramatic Games
La Petite Mise-en-Scene (The Short Sketch)
Textual Analysis
A Performative Aspect to the Text
Guidelines for Performative-Textual Analysis
The Journal
Schedule of Re-Creative Sketches (Petites Mises-en-Scènes) for Each Class
Introducing a Semiotic Understanding of the Performance Work Vive la Différence!
The Discovery of Semiotics through Recreation and Re-Creation
Introduction and the "Systems" of Style, Costume, Prop, and Music, and the Style of Jeanne d’Arc
Day Three and Beyond

The Collaborative Re-Creation of the Original Text
The "How-To" Guidelines for the Comprehensive Re-Creational Assignment
D-Day: Pieces Come Together and the Full Story Takes Shape
Collaborative Examination of the Re-Created Texts
My Weekend from Hell!
Discussing the Text and Giving it and Ourselves a Name
Casting: The Anti-(Lone) Star System, or Every Star Has a Prominent Place in the Constellation

Co-Operatively and Re-creatively Rehearsing, Revising, Refining, and Promoting the Performance
Early Rehearsals
Blocking the Texts
Memorizing Text and Individual Work with Voice-Accent Intonation-Expressions
The Journal
The Week Before Spring Break
After the Break: Discovering and Claiming Our Space
The Material Genesis of the Play: Set, Costumes, Props, Sound, and Light
Collaborative, Co-Operative Duties: Stage Management and Promotion
Poster and Program Design
Financing the Production and Ticket Sales
Activist Promotion: "Storming" the Foreign-Language Classrooms
The Final Rehearsal Phase

The Opening Show: C’est fini! . . . Ce n’est pas fini!
Inevitable Doubts and Problems
Rehersing the Audience
Audience Feedback: The Survey
Photographing and Videotaping the Process and the Performance
On the Road: Another Space, Another Audience

Post-Performance Student Evaluation of the Performance and the Project

The Analytical-Subjunctive Art of Combining Texts and Con-fusing Character Identities
Regeneration through Combination
Reinterpreting the Absurdity of Cruelty through the Con-fusion of Character Identities in Ionesco’s Macbett
Taking Combination and Con-fusion to Another Level: "Don Juan, Ubu, Hamm: Quelque chose suit son cours" *"e;Dom Juan, Ubu, Hamm: Something is Taking Its Course")


A Sample Course Description and Syllabus
Sample Interactive Dramatic Games and Exercises
Sample Study and Performance Guide for a Critical-Creative-Performative Approach to Ubu Roi
Pavis’s Questionnaire
Textual Re-creation guidelines for Ubu 2000
Sample Excerpts and Material from Rewritten Plays
Sample Promotional Materials and Methods
Audience Survey
Instructions for Final Graduate and Undergraduate Written Assignments

Works Cited