Your responses for these reflections should be at least one paragraph per question in the prompt, with at least 4-5 sentences per paragraph. Please provide a detailed analysis with specific examples supporting your claims for all sections of the prompt.
We know that Aristotle wrote the Poetics as an analysis of existing plays, specifically including those of Sophocles. He ordered the elements of tragedy from most to least important as such:
Plot — the events and actions of the play
Character — the people inhabiting the world of the play and the moral character of these individuals
Thought — the ideas expressed
Diction or Language — the language and words used to tell the story
Music and Dance — encompassing what the chorus contributed to the play through their song and dance
Spectacle — physical presentation of the play through sets, costumes, and lighting
Questions for Response:
Do you think this production of Hamilton follows and upholds that order of the elements in terms of importance? Or do you think this modern production utilizes some of the lower/lesser elements (language, spectacle, music and dance) in a way that actually makes them more important in this particular production?
Discuss two specific instances where the ensemble of Hamilton functions in a way that you believe is influenced by or connected to the tradition of the Greek chorus. Please provide the name of the song, how the ensemble is functioning in that moment (ex. providing exposition, commenting on the action, etc.), and how they’re performing that function (ex. through rhythmic dialogue, song, dance, etc.). As a review, here are the many ways a Greek chorus can function:
Greek chorus supports the storytelling
Provides exposition and background information
Relays information about offstage events during the play
Expresses, to the audience, the internal or hidden thoughts and emotions of the main characters
Provided the main characters with necessary insights
Represent the general population of the story
Greek chorus supports the exchange ideas, with the audience as active participants
Used to represent the views of the general citizenry, in contrast to the main characters
Comments on the action, giving the audience direction on how they should feel about the events taking place
Expresses the emotions and reactions of the audience, elevating them to a state of contemplation about the ideas being presented
Notes of Modern Interpretations and Influence of Greek Chorus
Musical theatre and opera
Often include a large chorus (also known as an “ensemble”) of singers and/or dancers
Represent the larger community of the story and serve in multiple smaller roles
Often used to interpret or reflect the thoughts and emotional reactions of the principal characters
More integrated into the story and with the principal characters than in Greek tragedy
Specific uses of Greek Chorus in modern storytelling
The five Muses in the Disney animated film Hercules, who provide background on the characters, comment on the action, and reflect the emotions of the principal characters — all through song and movement
The Oompa-Loompas in the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, who often comment on the morality of the characters as they drop off from the tour of the facilities
The girl group — Crystal, Chiffon, and Ronette — in the musical Little Shop of Horrors, who are both background characters in the storyline, but also comment on the action through song and movement
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