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1

The Provincetown Playhouse

Location of first production of Trifles
Glaspell was a cofounder
Eugene O'Neill (first work produced), John Reed, and Edna St. Vincent Millay all helped start it
National theatre dedicated to artistically innovative and political drama reflecting the explosive arrival of modernism in the US
Due to financial, practical, and philosophical reasons, the plays performed were one act (like trifles)
One act plays were modeled after the Irish Players and the Abbey Theatre. Cook (husband) pushed for this in the playhouse

2

George Henderson (County Attorney)

Antagonist
Young
sexist

3

Henry Peters (Sheriff)

Middle aged
Doesn’t really do much to advance the story

4

Lewis Hale

neighboring farmer
Middle aged
Does little to advance story

5

Mrs. Peters

Mrs. Hale’s partner in crime
Thin woman with a nervous look
Never really knew Mrs. Wright, and barely knew Mrs. Hale

6

Mrs. Hale

Protagonist
Larger and more comfortable looking
Knew Mrs. Wright before she got married

7

Mrs.Wright (Minnie Foster)

The wife who killed Mr. Wright. Never seen.

8

Trifles setting

Early 1900s in the kitchen of the Wright’s abandoned farmhouse
Messy abandoned farmhouse.

The men comment that she must have been a poor wife to keep such a dirty home. Home is a metaphor for their relationship.

Very cold in the house--- maybe like the coldness in the relationship

9

Trifles: Important Visual Images

Bird Cage
Found in cupboard
Broken, door ripped off (most likely by Mr. Wright to kill bird)
Symbolizes the bad marriage and low chance escaping

Dead Bird
Found in sewing box
Dead, its neck was wrung (Mr. Wright)
Mrs. Wright used to sing a lot before she was married, bird sings
Sweet and pretty like Mrs. Wright used to be
Husband’s neglect silenced the bird just like the wife

Quilt
Men make fun of the women for observing it (quilting or knotting)
Unfinished by Mrs. Wright
At the end, Mrs. Hale says she was knotting it to the attorney, symbolism towards noose

Fruit Preserves
Men think the spoiled messy preserves were a nice mess
Women feel bad because of how much work she put into them
“Trifles” in title comes from Mr. Hale saying the mess was a trifle and bothered only women

10

Important Quotes

“Come to think of it, she was kind of a bird herself” -Mrs. Hale

11

Euripides
Medea, 431 BCE

Rivals to Aeschylus and Sophocles
As playwrights, all three were also responsible for composing the music, choreographing the dance and staging their plays. Historically, the playwrights were also actors, though Sophocles ended that tradition.

He made tragedies more realistic

He depicted gods and heroes to be more human
The earliest surviving musical document on papyrus is this excerpt from Euripides’ Orestes
The Apostle Paul quotes a line from Euripides in his “First Epistle to the Corinthians” in the Christian Bible.
He was not a fan off war, skeptical of religion, didn’t like fame

12

Context of Medea, 431 BCE

Location of production: Theatre of Dionysus built into side of The Acropolis
Performed during the Dionysia

5 day festival to celebrate the god Dionysus
Procession (parade) and revels (drinking and dancing)

3 Days Performances with a competition between 3 tragic playwrights with three plays and a satyr play.

Assembly
Publicly subsidized
Medea has been whitewashed by western civilization, at the time she would have been pictured as black/dark skinned. She was granddaughter of Helios (god of sun), and blacks were referred to as children of the sun

13

Characters
Medea

Medea
Protagonist
From Colchis, an island in the black sea (outsider in Corinth)
Used to be married to Jason, she has two kids with him

Jason
Antagonist
Engaged to Glauce, left Medea and the children for her

Creon
King of Corinth, father of Glauce
Exiles Medea but allows her to stay 1 extra day to prepare
Glauce
Daughter of Creon, engaged to Jason

Aegeus
King of Athens
Makes oath to house Medea after exile w/out knowing she will kill

Nurse
Caretaker of the house and Medea’s confidant

Tutor
Just watches the children and brings them from place to place

Messenger
Warns Medea to leave after the deaths of the king and princess

Chorus
Women of Corinth, basically narrators of the story, sympathize with Medea

Children
Children of Medea and Jason
2 of them, oblivious about what’s going on

14

Medea
Staging Elements
Amphitheatre

Theatron -Seeing place (the stands where they would watch)

Orchestra- Central to the performance where actors would perform in center circle

Parodos - Entrance and exit on either side of orchestra for actors and chorus members


Skene-A tent like structure. Behind the orchestra it would provide a backdrop to the actors housing the Mechane

Mechane- Machine structure used at the end to resolve plot by lowing a statue of a god onto the stage. The god would resolve the plot. Latin name is Deus Ex Machina (God from Machine).
Used for chariot in Medea, Euripides was famous for using it in unconventional ways

Ekkyklēma- Would have depicted the deaths off stage and would have been wheeled on as tableau

15

Medea Structure/Genre

Drama, Tragedy
Differs though from regular tragedies because Medea doesn't get a Hamartia

Hamartia- A tragic flaw, or a mistake in judgement
This usually causes the downfall of the character
Euripides makes it seem like she has one, but in the end of the story she is the only one that is fine after the 4 deaths
The hamartia does not cause Medea’s downfall

16

Medea Setting

Corinth, Greece
In front of Jason and Medea’s home

17

Important Visual Images
Medea

The delicate robe and garland worked in gold
The poisoned presents given to Glauce
The Argo
Ship that Jason and his crew take to get the golden fleece

18

Fences
August Wilson

Born in Pittsburg 1945
1978 moves to Minneapolis becomes associated with playwrights center

19

Context
(Arthur Miller Crucible Death of a salesman) Tragedy of the Common Man, Tragedy is now about the every man instead of a god or hero, this makes it more relatable as in Death of a Salesman. (Democratized Tragedy)
Lorraine Hansberry wrote A raisin in the sun, went to wisconsin.
Both of these influenced fences. In home drama and democratization of Tragedy.
Examined the african american community by decade
Great Migration
6 Million African Americans migrate from the U.S. South between 1915-1970

Context
(Arthur Miller Crucible Death of a salesman) Tragedy of the Common Man, Tragedy is now about the every man instead of a god or hero, this makes it more relatable as in Death of a Salesman. (Democratized Tragedy)
Lorraine Hansberry wrote A raisin in the sun, went to wisconsin.
Both of these influenced fences. In home drama and democratization of Tragedy.
Examined the african american community by decade
Great Migration
6 Million African Americans migrate from the U.S. South between 1915-1970

20

Jim Bono

best friend of Troy
Looks up to troy and drinks with him every Friday (payday)
Troy and Bono work together on the sanitation truck
Bono leaves troy when he jeopardizes his marriage. His wife and Rose are friends. Also because Troy got a different position (driver)

21

Troy Maxson

Garbage Man
Wants to be promoted to drive garbage truck. He and Bono are garbage men
He is promoted but he and bono grow apart because of it.
Doesn’t want Cory pursuing football he could never play baseball because of his race.
Cheats on his wife with Alberta, she dies in childbirth
Signs Gabe into the hospital and takes the money

22

Rose Maxson

Troy's Wife

23

Gabriel Maxson

Troy’s brother.
Damaged by the second world war, has a plate in his head

Adamantly believes he is the angel gabriel
Receives Disability benefits.

Troy puts him in an institution and takes half of his check
Often shook down by police for his wealth and abused by kids on the street.

24

Alberta

Troy’s mistress
Has Troy’s kid
Dies in childbirth

25

Lyons

Troy’s son
34 years old
Musician

26

Fences
Structure/Genre
Drama
Modern Tragedy

Structure/Genre
Drama
Modern Tragedy

27

Fences Setting

Story begins in 1950’s but ends in the year 1965
In Pittsburg like all of the plays in the series with the exception of one.
Maxon’s dirt yard/porch, infers that they are poor

28

Actions and Motivations of Central Characters
Troys hamartia

Troy dedicates himself to a course of action that he thinks is right, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. Troy misses the mark by doing the wrong thing for what he thinks are the right reasons

29

Important Visual Images/ Symbols
Fences

The fence
Rose- build it to keep people in (loved ones)

Troy- builds it to keep things out
Death

Cory (after their fight)
Blue
Troy’s dog when he was young
In a buncha songs

Baseball
Serves as a symbol for the exclusion of blacks from the country’s social and cultural institutions

Troy played and was excluded from major leagues due to color

Gabe’s old trumpet
Carries around, plays at end and no sound comes out so he dances opens up heaven's gate

Raynell’s Garden
Nothing grew in the garden yet
Symbol towards Troy’s shadow?
After death, Raynell is seed, she will grow
Baseball Bat

Cory uses to attack Troy
Struggle over it, Troy takes it away, Cory moves out

30

Atsumori,
Zeami

Son of famous playwright Kanami
He took noh in a poetic direction
Yugen- sad, elegant, mysterious beauty
Use of ghosts
Infuses haiku
Actor, head of his dad’s old acting troupe, and playwright
Became buddhist monk towards the end of his life
Banished to remote island of Sado by shogun