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DRAM 140 UCLA A Personal Response to A Filmed Performance Antigone Paper


For this assignment you will be actually observing and describing your own reactions to one of the films that you watched this semester.

  • Antigone Film #1: 1961, Yorgos Tzavellas

This is different from writing a review, which is essentially an expression of an informed opinion, such as “the acting was good.” Describing your own response to the acting would look something like this:

“I noticed that the actors really knew all their lines and their blocking very well – they seemed very comfortable up there. I found myself being impressed by how polished the acting was even as I was enjoying the story.”

Or this:

“I noticed that there were long stretches where the actors just seemed to be going through the motions, not really feeling anything – I found that I didn’t believe in the play. My mind was wandering.”

Notice how in the above examples, each sentence starts with “I” or “my.” That is because to do this assignment right, you need to shift your focus back and forth from describing exactly what you saw on the screen, and then describing your reaction to and/or your assessment of what you saw. As you watch the film you are also watching yourself watch the film – and noticing your own reactions.

You’ll be taking it one step further, and commenting on why you felt the way you did – what about the acting, directing, playwriting, or design evoked that reaction in you.

Step one is to choose one of the films assigned in class, and watch it again, this time with a more critical eye.


Identify three specific moments in the film that grab your attention in some way; your response to the moment can be positive, negative, or somewhere in between.

Take Notes during the film! There’s no better way to do this, trust me. You want to pause the video right at that specific moment that you think is interesting for some reason, and then right then and there, write down your thoughts! Write down just what you need to in order to describe the moment of the film, describe your reaction to it, and speculate as to what about that moment – acting, directing, playwriting, or design – is making you feel that way. You’re going to go back later and flesh out these notes as you complete the project.

Identify those three moments by line or by action:

By Line: When Iago says: “This is the night that either makes me, or foredoes me quite,” I found myself nodding, agreeing with him – it was true, I realized, it was far too late for him to turn back – and right then, I was almost, to my surprise, hoping he would win. Almost like I was a co-conspirator.

By Action: When Othello slammed Desdemona down onto the bed, I was shocked –the staged violence was so sudden and so convincing that for a split second of a moment I believed that it was real.


Describe three moments in detail, quoting the line or describing the action in such a way as to help me find the moment you’re talking about.

Describe your personal response to it – your reaction, thoughts, & feelings. Be sure to describe your own reaction, rather than judging the work as “good” or “bad”. Use “I felt” and “I thought” statements.

Relate that moment to what you have learned about two or more of the following elements of theatre: acting, directing, playwriting, and design. SEE EXAMPLES BELOW for how to do this!

LENGTH: Write one 5-8 sentence paragraph for each of the three moments you want to comment on. The overall length will be one to two pages. I care much more about quality than quantity, so when you sit down to do this, give it your best effort!

EXAMPLE A:( NOTE: this is a Personal Response to a Live Performance of a play I directed back in 2008. I chose a play that you did not read in class to avoid inadvertently influencing student work. The same is true for the second example.) Personal Response

When Ivanov began conducting his orchestra, I was completely convinced that he was, in his own mind, indeed conducting an orchestra; I found the way he moved his hands, his arms, even his whole body in rhythm with a tempo only he could hear mesmerizing and entirely convincing. Ivanov seemed swept away by the beauty of the music, but what was even more interesting to me were the moments in which he was clearly convinced that he was in control of the orchestra – while being so out of control when the fevered imagining ended and he found himself back in his cell. There was even a particular moment in which his chest swelled with pride as he lead the orchestra into a thundering crescendo. The juxtaposition of this moment of absolute control with the very next moment, in which he slowly and reluctantly returns to the reality of his prison cell, was stark and poignant, and I really felt for him.

Then, when Alexander began reacting in frustration to Ivanov’s erratic actions, I truly believed that he was groggy, angry, and resentful that his sleep had been disrupted; my sympathies immediate shifted from Ivanov to Alexander, as it became clear that Alexander had been suffering Ivanov’s unhinged antics for quite some time. The dialogue in this scene integrated the backstory of these two characters with the conflict between them in a way that felt and sounded both natural and authentic to me. I also really appreciated the humor the playwright managed to inject in a scene as stark and depressing as this one. I was also impressed with the design, as the rusted iron bunk bed frame and the thin, filthy, torn mattresses really evoked the feel of a Soviet Russian prison cell. The cold wash of light, with one bright streak of light across the stage floor from the narrow window far above, also struck me as very evocative and haunting.

There were only two moments in which I caught myself losing interest for a little; the first was during Alexander’s long monologue. I felt I understood the story of the monologue very early on, and that beyond that point, the language became repetitive. I was surprised, as so much of the dialogue up until this point had been witty, sparse, even bare – but here I found myself shifting in my seat, restless and a little bored. I noticed that the actor seemed to be just reciting lines rather than feeling them and believing them – I felt the director needed to give the actor more support, direction, and insight into this very long monologue, as the actor seemed to me to be “at sea.” I was very relieved when the actor playing Ivanov entered, and the story advanced from there.

The other moment in which I caught myself drifting off was when Ivanov again (for the third time I believe) declares that he does indeed have an orchestra, and proceeds to conduct yet another concerto that only he can hear. I felt like I had seen this already; I already “knew the drill,” as it were, and as far as I can tell, nothing new was revealed here, therefore it failed to either reveal character or advance the plot. In both of the above moments, I felt that it was the writing and not the acting that dragged on.


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