Applied Dramaturgy Group Exercise:
Marisol by Jose Rivera
I first used the following applied dramaturgy exercise in an undergraduate theatre history course I taught at Emerson College. After a brief discussion of Marisol (the assigned reading for that day), the class was split into four groups, each with a separate assignment based on the text. Each group's task presupposes a hypothetical professional situation in which detailed knowledge of the source material would be essential for a positive outcome.
At the end of class, each group presented their work to their peers. They were required to cite specific examples from the text during their presentations to back up their choices.
This exercise can of course be easily adapted to many modern plays. As with any of the pedagogical materials on my site, I welcome any feedback from other educators who use any of my assignments.
Marisol Group Assignments
Group #1 - Preempting the Protests
You are administrative, production, and/or artistic staff members of a theatre company that is putting this play on as part of your season. Your theatre is located in a region with a population that is likely to take special offense to the content of this play. Give special thought to what might be shocking or offensive in this play in order to anticipate the substance of the protests. Address the community concerns you expect to face and discuss how you would tell those who will be offended by this material why it would still be important to produce.
Group #2 - The Movie Pitch
Pitch a film adaptation of this play. Why is now the time to produce this as a screen adaptation? What must be changed to make this work as a film? How would you add, delete, or expand scenes in the adaptation? Would there be extensive special effects? Of what sort? Cast the main roles and defend your choices.
Group #3 - The Prequel Mini-Series
Pitch an HBO made for TV mini-series a la Angels in America based on the lives and adventures of supporting characters from Marisol before the events of the play itself. The events of the series end the day before the play itself begins. What characters will you focus on? Where in time does it pick up? How do the characters get to where they are in the play? What evidence in the play supports your proposed character arc? Cast the main roles and defend your choices.
Group #4 - The Video Game
Describe a video game based on an aspect of this play as if instructing a group of Beta testers. You may model it on any well known game of any style. Discuss the structure of the game and how it is played. What are the player’s goals? What aspect of the plot is the basis of your game? Is it possible to win the game? How would that be accomplished?