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This week we have been looking at Urban Drama in Film and Theatre, its style, way of presentation,
the people, the characters, and situations that fill up the pages of Urban Drama playwrights and
screenwriters who seek to engage their audiences in very real and provocative ways. These movies
and plays can be intense and searing at times with their topics and issues related to so called
“street life” or stories that reflect the everyday struggles of so many that live in highly urbanized
areas dealing with poverty, crime, family, drug abuse, gangs, race, and social and economic
immobility, assimilation, gentrification and appropriation.
It is interesting to note that the style of these plays are not always supposed to be realistic. In fact
many playwrights will create stories that are slightly more melodramatic or having more
melodramatic characters in some situations to make their social commentary have more impact
and perhaps more entertainment in the storytelling. Stephen Adly-Guirgis is one of these
playwrights who tends to tell his stories in a melodramatic fashion or style. The Last days of Judas
Iscariot, Jesus Hopped the A-train, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, Mother [email protected]$%*& With A
Hat all have melodramatic characters and more theatrical elements that help to lift the drama in a
potentially provocative and entertaining way. The language and often course vernacular of the
people and characters that populate his plays is very important to him as way to convey aspects of
behavior, culture, decorum and a certain point of view about the society around him.
Here are two clips from a fairly recent production of his play: Our Lady of 121st Street.

WARNING: There is a lot of course language used in the dialogue within this clip which is the
first scene from the play.
One could make the argument that Urban Drama is a melding of particular aspects of so many of
the other genres of Theatre and Film that we have looked at so far this semester, African American
Theatre, Latino Theatre, Asian and LGBT Theatre. There are so many common themes that cross
over these genres. Urban Drama will often purposely blend the characters and cultures to look
more at the humanity of particular group of people rather than the specific cultural or ethnic
background being the underlying through line. These plays tend to have a “melting pot” kind of
casting that adds to the language, the conflicts and social angst in these stories.
For your discussion this week:
Reflecting on your studies this week including your own research and conclusions to what Urban
Drama in Theatre and Film is:
What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theatre?
What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?
Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street? Why or why not?
Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?
Your post should be at least 150 words with a response to two other posts with 150 words.
Student #1
What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theatre?
To be honest, I was never really that familiar with Urban drama till we watched the film Crash. I
loved how it emphasized people’s daily struggles that they have to face such as dealing with racist
people and people who don’t take the role of gender seriously. For example, when the police officer
molesting the other guy’s wife, I felt very shaken because there are many women out there going
through the same tragedy but no one to help them. Some of the themes that are presented in this
film still exist in today’s generation such as racism, crime, inequality of being from a lower class. All
these themes presented in urban drama reflect the lives of those who don’t speak up everyday. I
think presenting the reality in this genre is a good way to make others’ voices heard about what
they are going through.
What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?
Racism, crime, hate among people, gender inequality . It is basically used to represent a realistic
and articulate outlook on the urban community and also deals with the social issues of the urban
society. I’ve watched a couple of urban drama films such as Hotel Rwanda, which was all based on
the true lives of being an African-American. This was a very touching film for me because it was my
very first urban drama film that had ever sparked such a true emotion inside of me. Even in the film
Crash, at first I was very confused with the film because I couldn’t understand the plot very well.
However, later on in the film, the idea of how racial issues cause conflict among people became
more clear. We grew up in a society where we have seen many cases of racial injustice or have
seen documentaries about it. putting these issues in a urban drama genre makes it easier to
understand the lives of those who are being mistreated based on their gender, ethnicity or their
level of working class.
Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street? Why or why not?
No, I would not. Just watching the recent two clips, I felt very uncomfortable. I’ve seen plays
before and I’m just not a huge fan of it because I don’t think that their plot is too organized or easy
to follow along for their audiences. Instead, I’d rather watch a movie, where the story starts with a
theme. I don’t believe that plays connect with your emotions, well at least it doesn’t with mine as
much as films do. In a play, its also hard to see where the characters is facing while they are acting.
Yes, I agree it does provide a realistic view of the society but I just don’t like the way that its
directed. I prefer watching documentaries on reality that have different locations and everything is
not just played out in one location with just two characters acting the scene out.
Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?
Sure, why not! I love watching movies like the Crash or Hotel Rwanda or any other film whose main
focus is to portray the reality of people going through issues such as gender, race, ethnicity. These
are issues that have been going on for a very long time and there are definitely not enough films out
there to show the messages for these types of issues. We have a lot of themes of romance,
comedy, fiction but very few to address the social issues of our society. Urban drama has opened
my eyes as to what goes on in people’s day to day life. After watching the film Crash, I definitely
feel the urge of watching more urban drama films because they are so relatable to our society.
Student #2
What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theatre?
I personally like the genre of Urban Drama. I think it is very thrilling and it catches my attention
throughout the entire film. I could relate this to movies like Midnight Cowboys, Taxi Driver, or the
film we watched in class, Crash. I find this genre intriguing due to the story line and drama that
happens to inform the audience about certain situations or environments happening in our world.
What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?
I think a major theme is violence and language, that also involves the issue of racism and crime as
well. This genre utilizes these themes and issues in order to educate the audience about the topic.
They can use language and scene of crimes and corruption to present the themes.
Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street? Why or why not?
Yes, I would definitely go to this play! I already like watching Urban Drama films so watching these
clips made it more intriguing. They used humor to be more entertaining and also educate their
audience about the themes that are presented in urban drama films and theatre.
Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?
I would seek out to another Urban Drama Film because this genre is something that I have been
watching for a long time. For once of my theater classes in high school, we watched so many films
under the Urban Drama theme because it had so many concepts to teach. The film we watched in
class, Crash, had my eyes on the film the entire time. They used such great scenes to show their
audience about racism, poverty, racial discrimination, and many other issues that not everyone
Student #3
What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theatre?
Urban drama is a less known and less spoken of genre, which I would think is linked to the scary
realizations that it carries. Urban drama takes the filters off what we see in most film and television.
It feels like a stripped version of cinema focusing on the reality that people do face but do not often
speak of.
What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?
The genre of urban drama deals with many major issues including just the basis of what we are
composed of including race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, as well as the struggles people go
through that are often difficult to come to terms with. These themes are important for people to see
past their own experiences and have a sense of the millions of possible lifestyles of the people
around them.
Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street? Why or why not?
I would definitely go see a play like Our Lady of 121st Street because just with the two short clips
from the opening of the play, it seemed to draw me into the characters and what judgement is
being put on them just for being themselves which becomes extremely relatable in real life.
Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?
I think i would seek out other urban drama films considering I really enjoyed the film Crash we
watched in class and was enticed by the small clips of the Our Lady of 121st Street. This genre also
brings awareness to sensitive subjects that I think become crucial to be more open minded to
understand people and all the unique experiences that we go through.
Student #4
Q: What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theater?
A: I see Urban Drama as a “message to the audience” or a deep connection to the viewer.
Also, I believe that they are meant have you feel empathy another and remorse from my
personal experiences.
Q: What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?
A: Major themes like racial, violence, and maybe sexual themes play a core role in Urban
Drama. These themes are sensitive to anyone no matter how we feel about them. Society still
face them even now and either we love it or hate it.
Q: Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street? Why or why not?
A: To be honest, I would not be excited to watch these type of plays as it usually leads to
violence and touches the ugliness of society. Maybe because I want to look away from the
hard truth that these plays bring in store for us. One little part of me would still like to see this
movie for the intense drama that can impact my way of thinking.
Q: Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?
A: Personally, I would not particular search out a focused Urban Drama to enjoy watching.
There are many plays that have some influence of Urban Drama as we have learn in class.
One series I very much enjoyed was Breaking Bad, which has a lot of Urban Drama themes.
To sum it up, I would not enjoy watching a purely Urban Drama play, but I can watch plays
that can have some of it, as a cameo.
Examples of replying to students ( theses may have different answers than the above I picked them
randomly )
I totally agree with your first answer because I believe that it does connect with the audience on a
deeper level. Urban films make you feel empathy as you said and understand what the inner city
people. I am from the inner city so sometimes when I see urban films I can relate to what the
characters are going through and also racial discrimination. For your answer two I wrote out the
exact same themes because those are the basic themes that inner city people go through but at the
same times not so basic because these themes are serious issues that aren’t addressed. For your
answer three I agree to your reason about not being as excited to see the play because of the
violence but can also bring the story to life for us. It’s true because sometimes we run away form
the truth, but when are we going to face reality and actually do something about it?
I agree that this genre gives a realistic outlook in society and social issues. Also, that they are
educational because people who watch these films will be able to educate themselves about issues
that are happening in society or even in their own community. Race, culture and corruption lay a
key role in these films because these factors play a role in the lives of many people. I agree that two
major issues of this genre are prejudice and religion. These issues are some that create the major
theme of these films. I would also seek for another Urban Drama film because I think it would be a
good opportunity to see what people typically face on the daily but perhaps in a different
perspective. For me as well “Crash” was a big eye opener and I was able to relate to some of the
storyline. This genre will definitely educate those who have or have not experienced such racism,
prejudice, violence etc.
I agree with your response to question number 1- I do believe that Urban drama provides us with
different views and opinions about society and social issues. I strongly believe that this reality of our
social issues can rarely be seen in today’s comedy or fiction films and I also liked how you
mentioned race and culture because it truly does highlight all that context in general and shows us
the reality that some people have to go through. Most of us are so occupied in our daily lives and
tasks that we almost forget about our social issues that society has to face with everyday. I think
that Urban drama is a perfect way to address these issues.
I also enjoyed reading your response to question number 2- Race and Religion are two very
sensitive topics and it is already hard enough to address these issues to someone without
offending the other person’s feelings. Crash was a perfect example of how people are being
mistreated and misjudged based on cultural identity. I like how Urban drama specifically focuses on
these themes to aware people in our society of the racial injustices happening around.

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