3. REINTERPRETING A STORY
In the production you just saw, the Isango Ensemble chose to reimagine the story of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, situating it into a present-day South African township. Consider how they used the following design elements to bring their retelling of this story to life.
Setting and Lighting: What did you see onstage when you first entered the theater? Were there certain colors that were used more prominently in the set or lights? What’s the overall mood of this opening setting? How does the set change throughout the performance? Does that change the mood?
Costumes: How did the costumes in this production help you to understand the characters?
Music and Choreography: As you listened to the opera, did the way that each actor sang and moved reveal anything about the character they played? How were the instruments used to help tell the story? Were there moments during the performance when the music or dancing affected you emotionally? What specifically resonated with you? Were their moments when you became more aware of the music?
- What theatrical elements can be used to evoke a certain mood?
- Thinking back on your experience, what scene do you remember most vividly? Which design elements helped to bring this scene to life on stage?
CONSIDER COMMON CORE ANCHOR STANDARDS SL5, R1, R7, W9
4. ADAPTING A CLASSIC STORY’S CONTEXT
Often in opera, theater, dance, film and literature, an older story is transported to a new setting, as Isango has told the story of The Magic Flute in the context of a South African township. In small groups, brainstorm other examples from art and literature that have taken a classic story and updated its setting. Discuss the examples and how each may have changed the source material upon which it was based.
- In updating a story, how much is the original meaning altered? Can it remain exactly the same, “dressed” in a different context?
- In thinking about The Magic Flute, how much of the story (originally an ancient folk tale) seems to be specific about South Africa and its story? At what moments did you become more aware of the presence of the story of South Africa in the performance?
CONSIDER COMMON CORE ANCHOR STANDARDS R7, SL2
5. DRAMA CRITIC
You are a drama critic for your school newspaper. Write a review of the performance you’ve just seen for your paper. Briefly recount the plot. Discuss the parts of the production—including the casting, acting, setting, music, costumes—you thought worked particularly well, or did not work well at all and explain why you thought so.
Pre-activity: Before you write your review, read three different theater reviews of current plays at Theatre is Chicago’s Critics Review Round-Up: http://www.theatreinchicago.com/reviewlistings.php. Analyze the structure of a review, identifying the key elements. Based on these key elements, describe the style you found most helpful (or least helpful) in communicating a play’s appeal for potential theater-goers. Now, you are ready to write your review of the Isango Ensemble’s The Magic Flute.
- How easy (or difficult) was it to understand the story?
- How much were you able to “suspend your disbelief” and believe in the events of this story?
- Did the comedic moments make you laugh out loud? Were there any moments that moved you?
- Did the performance convey a sense of magic?
- Which performances were most surprising?
CONSIDER COMMON CORE ANCHOR STANDARDS R7, W1, W9