Extra Credit Ideas (Theat145)
Creating a comparison is the focus with most of the following extra credit options . Creating a comparison where two or more different items are brought together seems highly appropriate for a course whose theme happens to be "colliding cultural words."
Create a thought provoking, aesthetically intriguing collage, visually comparing and contrasting key issues from two of the plays we have read in class, and then ...
  • write a 3 page, typed, double-spaced paper
    explaining your choices.
Write a paper based on one of the four Cross Cultural Simulations we did in class. Take into consideration even the most miniscule of details as you explain how the experience would benefit you in preparing for a character from one of the plays we read this semester. Your focus should be one one play, one character, and one simulation, but feel free to bring into discussion as many other plays and perspectives as possible to amplifly your position. For details about each of the simulations, see:
Simulation#1 Simulation #2
Simulation #3 Simulation #4

You could also consider comparing and contrasting two specific simulations to make a point. As long as you perceptively bring into play the details of the simulation, virtually anything is fair game.

DOES THE MILITARY 'GET IT' ON ISSUES OF SEXUALITY AND GENDER? Many of the plays we have read this semester have delt with sex and gender issues. Jack R. Payton of the St. Peterburg Times (see Moscow-Pullman Daily New, July 19 &20, 1997) writes about an Air Force cheif petty officer, Scott Lanum, who was conducting an encounter group centered around sexual harrassment and discrimination. Lanum argues that:

"Sexism is a lot more difficult to deal with than race. It's much harder to get down to the real isses."

As a facilitator, he separates the men and women in each encounter group. He asks the men to draw up a list of eight ways they have practiced sexual discrimination in the recent past. The women are told to list eight kinds of sexual discrimination they have suffered. When the lists are finished about wo minutes later, the men and women get back together and compare their work. According to the article, that's when the trouble starts. Typically, the men list such grave gender transgressions as opening a door for a woman, or insisting on paying the bill at a restaurant. In contrast, the women--and these are women who have risen to the equivalent rank of staff sergeant or better in the Army, Air Force, Marines, or Navy, aren't buying it. Their list, which has 10 items instead of the requested eight, deals with much more serious issues of sexism such as being passed over for a promotion or kept out of the a military career field such as flying or infantry training.

This alone might be cause for commotion, but when one of the men points out that the women can't even stick to the requested eight points of discussion and another jokes about woman "acting weird at that time of the month," all hell breaks loose.

Lanham reiterates his point, arguing:

"When they (the encounter group participants) were talking about racial discrimination last week it was deadly serious. Nobody was playing games. People got down to the real issues. Sexism is going to be much harder to eradicate."

Write a position paper defending or rejecting Lanham's point of view that sexism is harder to deal with than racism. Whenever possible bring into discussion plays we have read this semsester to highlight your arguments.

We have seen in several instances that male-female relationships have served as a metaphor for colliding cultures. Write a paper further exploring the ramifications of this metaphor as it pertains to a particular play we have read this semester. Carefully consider what maleness, femaleness, and family mean in your own culture compared to the culture or cultures being dramatized in the play you have selected. A good place to start researching this topic is to watch the video, Gender Matters (available at Media Materials Services--Holland Library). Generate ideas about this topic by reacting to the following:
  • In America it has been said that men and women communicate differently; men talk to complete, whereas women talk to connect.

    Women talk toward interdependence, whereas mem talk toward independence.

  • Women talk cooperatively, men talk comparatively.

Are these just outrageous stereotypes, or is there some level of truth to them? Are such differences applicable to gender relationships outside of America as well? Does this delineation of male-female differences in communicating parallel what happens in cross-cultural interactions?

Watch BEFORE WE KNEW NOTHING, a video available from Media Materials Services in Holland. The video is about an anthropologist living among the Ashaninka who inhabit the Amazon rainforest of eastern Peru, as well as a reflection on the experience of living and filming among a people who continue to resist acculturation into the standards of the modern world. Study this film and then try to relate the ideas dramatized in the film to those dramatized in The IK and The Golden Age . In both The IK and The Golden Age we witness various people deliberately studying a foreign culture. Sometimes the studying is by an actual anthropologist ( The IK ), and sometimes it is by a kind of amateur anthropologist ( The Golden Age ). And sometimes those being watched are just as interested in watching the watchers! In any case, write a paper comparing and contrasting the various depictions of an anthropolgist at work as dramatized in:
  • The IK
  • The Golden Age
  • "Before We Knew Nothing"

(Film and Theatre Comparisons)

  • Compare the cultural issues inherent in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club *with one of the plays that we didn't read from the Between Worlds Anthology.
  • Compare and contrast the film Zan Boko *with one or both of the South African plays we have read.
  • How can you tell that Master Harold and the Boys and Sizwe Bonsi is Dead *are works by the same writer?
  • How can you tell that Dream on Monkey Mountain and Pantomime *were both created by Derek Walcott?
  • Compare and contrast David Henry Hwang's As the Crow Flies with his M. Butterfly.
  • Compare and contrast Fugard's Master Harold and the Boys with The Piano Lesson.
  • Compare and contrast the film The World of Apu *with Naga-Mandala.
The arts are fundamental to our history and to our culture. From the art left by our ancestors, the stories of all of us unfold. Keeping this in mind, imagine that one of the plays we have read this semester is literally dug up by an archeologist in the year 3000. The newly found play happens to be the only extant example of what used to be called "modern theatre." The find of this text is particularly significant because it is well known that the history of all earlier periods had been wiped out by a series of unforseen nuclear disasters occuring late in the year 1999. Given all this, what is this play going to tell our inquisitive archeologist about what life and people were like when this play was written? Or is the period of the play different from when the play was written? In any case, the central question is what is the archeologist apt to discover about life in the past? What, if anything, will still be relevant, and what will not? A variation of this kind of paper is to have a play be discovered by an "alien." For an example of just how strange the conventions of theatre would be to an extraterrestial, read:
The IK is a play adapted by Colin Higgins and Dennis Cannan from the book, The Mountain People , by Colin Turnbull. Write a paper in which you compare and contrast the book with the play. Which do you prefer, and why? The book, The Mountain People is available at Holland Library (DT429.T87). Here are some excerpts from the book.

Some of you may already have children, whereas some of you hope in the future to have children, right? In any case, imagine that your son or daughter (or if you just can't stand the thought of kids, then imagine yourself doing this) wants to marry into the Hutterites. Here's a case of a group of people living in the United States who have adopted all the modern world has to offer in terms of their agricultural concerns, but who have aggressively resisted acculturation into the standards of the modern world in all other aspects of their lives. Would you let your son or daughter (or yourself) marry into the Hutterites? Start your research by watching The Hutterites: To Care and Not to Care (video available at Media Materials Services--Holland Library). The video depicts the life of these extraordinary people who have persisted and grown despite centuries of persecution, migration and voluntary isolation. In arguing for or against such a marriage, bring into conversation meaningful parallels from some of the various plays we have read this semester

These days, much of what we know about each other, and much of what we learn from television, newspapers, and journals--reinforces our separateness and confirms our distrust . Pick a play we have read that dramatizes our distrust, and compare it with one that dramatizes togetherness and trustfulness --one that seemingly helps to bind us, one to the other, by trying to understand the distances between us, by celebrating that which we hold in common.

Directly or indirectly many of the plays we have read this semester have dealt with the so-called American Dream. In America (so the mythology goes), one can be anything, do anything no matter what one's social and economic status may be. All it takes is hard work, tenacity, force of personality and being noticed by the right people. If success doesn't come today, it will surely come tomorrow. From Horatio Alger to Bill Gates, belief in the American Dream permeates our culture. Nature, new frontiers and the wide open spaces are essential to the American dream, evoking the values of a simpler time and the opportunity to start over. Lots of information is available at the library, but for immediate gratification you might take a look at the following article to give you some ideas

Two Paper possibilties:

  • Compare and contrast how two or three different plays we have read this semester have dealt with the concept of the American Dream.
  • Or pick a play to write about which in your opinion has effectively dramatized a particular way of thinking about or relating to the American Dream. You may very likely opt to discuss only a particular facet of the American Dream, rather than attempt to encompass all its many associative issues. Although your discussion should be focused on a single play, feel free to bring into discussion other plays that we have read this semester to support your ideas.

*film or video available from:
Media Materials Services/
Holland Library

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