Professor Robert Leston
Finding a Subject to Write About
-Film: Blood Diamond, The Butterfly Effect, Sunrise
-Theatre: Broadway - Rent, Phantom of the Opera; local performances – University shows, etc.
-Dance recital: NYANA concert, Ballet performance, modern dance
-Museum exhibit: MoMA, Metropolitan exhibit
-Television: Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol
-Poem: Why I am not a Painter, by Frank O’Hara
-Excerpt: “Old man and the monster” from Arabian Nights
-Restaurant: Colonial, Café Espanol, Fushimi Lounge, Arirang Steakhouse
Listing Subjects Related to Identity and Community.
-Meals-on-wheels program: St. John the Baptist Bread and Life Soup kitchen.
Listing Subjects Related to Work and Career.
-Evaluate the local pharmacy where I am employed, interview and profile a supervisor.
Choosing a Subject. Review your list, and choose the one subject that seems most promising.
I think I can offer a sufficient critique of the themes behind Broadway’s Rent. I have just seen
the performance, and I believe I can do an adequate review of it, while also comparing it to the
film version of the musical. The latter is convenient because I can obtain a DVD and review it in
Exploring Your Subject and Possible Readers
Reviewing What You Now Know about the Subject. Write for a few minutes about what you
already know about your subject right at this moment. Focus your thinking by considering
questions like these:
I am interested in this subject because watching a live performance is a one-of-a-kind
experience that can bring an indescribable satisfaction. Every time the characters come
alive on the stage there is a little bit of magic created on that realm. I am always
mesmerized by this transformation, and watch it, transfixed.
I like the depth and complexity of it, but at the same time regret that all of it cannot be
captured in one viewing by the audience. The live act is breath taking, but for a complete
grasp of the subject matter it is much more convenient to watch the film.
I usually look for the quality of the singing/dancing, the character development, stage
scenery, and the plot. Others may look for similar features. An important quality is
viewer interest and maybe even suspense.
How can I arrange to become very familiar with my subject over the next week or two?
Familiarizing Yourself with the Subject.
My idea for this review is a bit complex, since I plan to review the live performance of Rent, but
also want to juxtapose it with its movie version. I have already seen the Broadway performance
and also watched the movie, but since I have the DVD it will be easy to review it again. I have
my impressions from the live show and also the basis for comparing and contrasting between the
Making a Tentative Judgment.
Rent is a powerfully and exceptionally moving performance, it is a work of art that will apply to
audiences through the ages. Made for the NY crowd in 1989, it continues to outline the
complexities of today’s world. Something happens every time the physical curtains open on the,
at first glance, shoddy set at the Theatre on Broadway. The home setting really brings something
to the table and leaves a lasting impression with the viewer. However, to fully understand the
meaning and depth of the play, the movie is a powerful addition to the magic that is Rent.
Identifying and Understanding Potential Readers.
My problem is to tie in this topic with something up-to-date that makes my review
relatable and likely to be read. Even though Rent has been running on Broadway for a
long time, and it has been a while since the movie version came out, I want to highlight
its depth and advertise it to increase my readers’ interest. I want to convey to them that
just because it is “old” they should take the time to go and see it playing live, while they
still have a chance right here in their home of NYC.
My particular target readers are New Yorkers themselves. More likely than not, these
readers are aware of my particular aesthetic object of review. I expect that they do not
live under a rock and hence have at least heard of the musical, or been at other Broadway
shows. My secondary targets are NYC tourists who are looking for ways to quickly
absorb as maximum NY culture in the minimal time. I will attempt to convince them to
opt for Rent as the perfect way to experience both the renowned Broadway and the
themes it explores about city life.
My audience’s standards of judgment will likely be based on overall enjoyment,
affordability and the availability of the subject. I should consider mentioning things like
discounted offers, group tickets, and show times in my review.
Testing Your Choice
I feel that my subject of choice is a strong candidate for a review. If I find a way to make it
“relateable” then I can do a competent review of it.
Becoming an Expert on Your Subject
Immersing Yourself in Your Subject.
I plan to watch the DVD multiple times to make observations and detailed evaluations of plot,
themes and character portrayal.
Learning More about Standards for Judging Your Subject.
I want to become an expert of the subject, and will look into other reviews of it or information
available to me through research. In this way I will learn the criteria for making judgments on
my subject through examples of other people’s writing.
Developing Your Evaluation
I have watched a lot of movies, musicals and have been to a few Broadway performances. I am a
performer myself, so I think it will help me evaluate the overall effect and organization of the
musical. This particular production is more interested in music and underlying issues; I myself
usually look for dance as an important part of the process. I plan to somehow incorporate these
observations into my persuasive essay.
It would be best if I could find articles or other reviews to help me explore my critique. Negative
comments would be just as helpful as positive because I have room to either agree with them or
argue their points within my own review. Interviews would be best, but I don’t know whether I
could get some authoritative comments on this piece. Maybe I could just get some quotes from
fellow viewers of various interest/age/cultural groups.
Anticipating Readers’ Alternative Judgments, Questions, and Objections.
Affordability and availability may be an issue for some people. Skeptics will probably disagree
with my emphasis on the importance of themes as revealed by Rent. People are naturally
uncomfortable with controversial topics and this musical brings it all out to the table. However,
if they give it a chance they may just find themselves being immersed into that world, and
recognize that there is a fine line between that alternative and reality.
An Online Activity: Researching Alternative Judgments
http://reeltreat.blogspot.com/2006/12/rent-musical-playmovie.html - blog, interesting and helpful
http://www.playbill.com/events/event_detail/603.html - info about theatre/production
http://www.broadwaybox.com/shows/rent_nyc_tickets.aspx - discounted tickets
http://imdb.com/title/tt0294870/ - movie info and reader reviews
Designing Your Document
It would be really cool to have some visual or even audio clips to boost reader interest in my
topic of choice. I will attempt to post some images from Broadway and from the film here, but
audio will be harder to find so I will work on that.
Defining Your Purpose for Your Readers
Viewers may not get the full effect simply because it is hard to catch all the words and all the
emotion performed onstage. The film subsequently made introduces a brilliant way to capture all
of this for multiple viewing sessions without the $120 a ticket that Broadway requires. The film
includes details that is hard to capture on stage, where the imagination of the viewers have to fill
in the blanks. Whether or not that’s a good thing is up to you.
Formulating a Tentative Thesis Statement
Laden with music, dance routines and humor, Rent actually carries a few very powerful themes
beyond theatre antics. Rent explores the uncertainties in life and the social overcoming of
obstacles. In essence, the cast is a group of college kids and their friends in the community who
stick together through the harsh realities of life, such as the bare minimum of paying their rent.
If you look just a bit deeper underneath the entertaining aspect of the musical, you will find that
the interior themes show a lot about the contemporary society.
Seeing What You Have