After watching the production, write a critique of it utilizing Aristotle’s 6 elements of tragedy as your guide (plot, character, theme, diction/playwrighting, music, spectacle). You may also write about the conventions of the production.

Successful papers have at least a paragraph about each of Aristotle’s 6 elements plus an introductory and concluding paragraph. The introduction should include basic information about when and where you saw the production, playwright, title, and other important facts, as well as, a clear thesis summarizing your overall impression of the production.

As an amateur critic you have three roles in writing this paper:

  1. Chronicler of History: using description of the experience as evidence you need to provide a historical account of the performance.
    1. Production title
    2. Producing company
    3. Location and theatre
    4. Type of audience/actor relationship (theatre architecture)
    5. Playwright
    6. Director
    7. Major actors and the roles they play
    8. Designers
    9. Genre
    10. Duration (acts/scenes)
    11. Style(s)
    12. Plot points/conflicts
    13. Major achievements
    14. Production history if relevant
  2. Interpreter of Meaning: analyze descriptive evidence and write how (or how not) this production has relevance to a specific audience.
    1. Thematic choices
    2. Choices of artists in comparison to play
  3. Assessor of Artistic Quality and Contribution: using descriptive evidence assess the artistic quality of production and comment on how (or how not) the production contributes to the artistic advancement of the artform.
    1. Plot- Playwright’s work
    2. Character- Playwright’s and actors’ work
    3. Theme- Playwright’s work, director’s work, overall company
    4. Diction- Playwright’s work (language of the play)
    5. Music- Composer, sound designer, music director’s work, musician’s work
    6. Spectacle- Designers’ work and technical artists’ work
    7. Conventions- limitations/opportunities of performance space, of style, of artform, of abilities

Several of things to keep in mind:

  1. Facts are facts. Sketch out notes about what you experienced before you begin evaluating. Your opinions need evidence to support them and this description is critical to your arguments.   
  2. Choices are choices. The events of the plot are the playwright’s choices. The playwright sets up the game and everyone else (actors, director, designers, etc) makes choices on how to play the game. You need to be able to separate the choices of the playwright (found in the script) and the choices of the other artists (seen in the production). The choices of the playwright inform the choices of the others.
  3. Your opinion is vital, but… Be careful of over generalizations and  unsupported arguments. Write why you enjoyed or did not enjoy something. Dig as deep as you can to try and understand  the choices of the artists in relationship to the script and message of the play.
  4. Beginning, middle, end. Introductions and conclusions are necessary to a successful paper.
  5. A thesis, pleases. The thesis statement for this paper will likely be an overall impression of the show. It may include one or two overall comments about the production. It may be written to show one overall positive followed by one overall problem. However you approach it, you need a thesis to give the paper direction and glue.   
  6. Revise, revise, revise. Never turn in a first draft. You should revise the paper, then have a friend or tutor proofread it and then you should revise it again.   

The basics: 

  1. 12 pt font (Times New Roman is preferred)
  2. Double spaced lines
  3. Titled (centered on first page of paper)
  4. Play titles should be italicized. (Do not underline or use quotation marks.)
  5. When introducing actors or characters for the first time use both actor name and character name. (Example: “The role of Mrs. Warren, played by Dame Judy Dench…” or “Dame Judy Dench, who played the role of Mrs. Warren…”) 
  6. After introducing an individual by first and last names, you may refer to them by last name only or a title and last name. (Example: First instance, “Director Joe Mantello wowed audiences by…”. Afterwards, “Mr. Mantello made it a point to…” or “Mantello made it a point to…”)   
  7. Do not use the entire paper to write a plot synopsis. The plot synopsis should only be 10-15% of the paper. Summarize what you experienced. You will not receive credit for the paper if you copy a synopsis found elsewhere.  
  8. The grading rubric is located within Turnitin.