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Urban Drama Discussion

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You will need to respond to the prompt given to start the
discussion. Your initial response must be a minimum of 150 words. Also, you
must respond to two other student’s responses that are provide at the end of this post.

I welcome disagreements and discourse as long are the responses
are civil and respectful, ESPECIALLY when you are posting in response to another person’s

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 (like Crash)and television shows like (The Wire) 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 narratives on stage 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.

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:

Reflecting on your studies this week including our viewing of Crash and 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 or view more films like Crash? Why or why not?

Your post should be at least 150 words with a response to two other posts with 150 words.

THIS WILL BE DUE ON December 8th

First student response:

1.) What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theatre?

In the context of Film and Theater, I think Urban Drama is a valuable genre of creative expression. Urban Drama isn’t just about the stereotypes of characters who “have had a hard life”. Urban Drama takes these narratives one step further, and adds the humanity and perspective that these stereotypes are missing. Urban Drama becomes a catalyst for forward thinking, and gives a voice back to individuals that feel like society’s harmful stereotypes have silenced them. As well, this genre is essential to our understanding because through film/theater we are directly faced with aspects of society that are improving from the past, and difficulties that are still present (that, in a perfect world, wouldn’t exist at all).

2.) What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?

After our lecture about Urban Drama, I’ve learned that the major themes associated with Urban Drama are complex, and difficult to digest. In class we talked about how Urban Drama deals with a host of things: the harsh realities of life on the streets, gangs, the police force, domestic violence, racism, ect. These themes/issues are only a small portion of the things that Urban Drama addresses. I think it’s important to acknowledge these issues because if we don’t, then we remain silent. Silence is not always a quick fix to complex problems. The more society ignores what we don’t understand, the more divided we become.

3.) Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street or view more films like Crash? Why or why not?

I think I would go see a play like Our Lady of 121st Street, because I believe there is power in awareness and acknowledgement. If I were to pull away from films like Crash, I would forget what struggle really looks like for individuals. Art (that displays issues in our society) is extremely important to the human experience, because it is essential that must be watched, rather than argued through like certain debates that we see today. Films like Crash open a much needed conversation about the problems that can’t be faced easily. This is the precise reason as to why I would watch more films in the Urban Drama genre.

Second student response:

What is your opinion of this genre of Film and Theatre?

– Personally, I think that this genre is not only very informative and fascinating, but also essential to the sociocultural development of societies as diverse as ours. The reason I say this is because as many other forms of media my reinforce false sterotypes of certain minority groups and therefore create barriers betwen certain groups, urban drama helps highlight the reality some are forced to live and gives us an insight on lifestyles that are not often potrayed in pop culture.

What do you believe are some of the major themes or issues that this genre deals with?

– If I were to generalize one of the major themes often potrayed by this genre, I would ultimately have to say that it often deals with struggles. What I mean by struggles is the hardships that people undergo concerning other people, whether it be domestic issues, street violence, or even race issues. Obviously, I do not believe that it is not limited to the issues mentioned above, but such problems are the first that come to mind when I hear ‘urban drama’.

Would you ever go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street or view more films like Crash? Why or why not?

– Of course I would. I think it is important to be educated about issues that are often overlooked by media as it provides us with a better comprehension of the composition of societies made up of other social classes and ethnicities. Although films and plays of such genre may not be 100% accurate in their depictions, it is an excellent first step in developing a better understanding of such groups.


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