In the lecture, we watched Steven Soderbergh's Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), a film that follows a troubled young couple, the husband commiting adultery with his wife's sister, and how an old friend from the husband's past comes in and affects their lives, in particular, his strange hobby of filming women talking about sex and their sexual choices. There are a few twists in the film that were very well done, utilising the titular videotapes to control the distribution of information (something I'll get to in a moment).
Then, in the seminar, we began to discuss the concept of the Well-Made Play: it was a style of play writing that originated in the 19th century by playwrights like Eugene Scribe, Henry Gibson and Victorien Sardov, and is made up of several elements:
- Late Point of Attack: Act 1 starts later in the story (important events have already occured, backstory is given through exposition).
- Turning point: a major change in relationships
- Choreography of Knowledge: how information is distrbuted between the characters, and how long it takes for them to find out something (Three ways to distribute it: Less than the audience (creates mystery), Know as much (allows for identification) and Know more (creates suspense).
- Strong curtains: Major turning point/revelation/reversal at the end of Act 1
- Reincorporation: Some element from earlier is brought back into the story
- Scene A Faire: the obligatory/expected scene.
Getting into groups, we had to come up with a scenario for a well made play: Our story centers on a psychologist, John, who suffers from depression due to his work, not to mention relationship difficulties with his wife and daughter (Late point). Eventually, one of the wealthier patients convinces him to join him in experimenting with the pharmaceutical drugs he's prescribed (turning point). The strange new behaviour prompts curiousity and suspicion, who eventually discovers John's abuses, and after confronting him (Strong curtains), vows to go straight, though before long he cracks again and relapses (reincorporation). In the end, he dies from an overdose (Scene A Faire).
We also quickly looked at Farce, a style of writing that pokes fun at the 'Establishment', and is based around the characters' desperation/misunderstandings, a main component and source of humour being Qui Pro Quo (two people talking), which leads to misunderstandings, the big laugh being born out of the other character finally realising what the other meant. Capping off, we split into pair and wrote a quick Qui Pro Quo, mine dealing with two posh hunters, one of whom accidentally shot a dog, but the other believes it was his wife.
To conclude, today's sessions were extremely interesting, and it really amazes how many details and components make up a piece, since usually we just think of plays and stories in general as just plot and characters when in fact, there is a lot more going on and there are more conventions involved.