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)

October 2006

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About the Book

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.

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
Acknowledgments

Introduction
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
Homework

The First Six Weeks of Performance Awareness and Textual Analysis
Creating a Performance Space, Challenging Habit, Trusting the Teacher-Director
Questions
Class Roster
Recap
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")

Conclusion

Appendices
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

Notes