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This week we have been looking at Urban Drama in Film and Theater, 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 F@$%*& 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.



Also respond to 2 answers:

First answers:

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

  • I think Urban Drama depicts common issues society is constantly facing. It’s informative, eye-opening, and relatable because it focuses more on realistic life situations. It shows the harsh reality, and how we as an audience can be more aware about our actions and how it affects others. It is an experience in which we are put into the character’s shoes, and we feel as if we were facing those problems.

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

  • I think some of the major themes or issues Urban Drama films deal with are racism, poverty, and crime. These are issues that society will always be facing, hence I think that’s why many Urban films focus on these issues for the most part. These every day struggles is what makes this genre so relatable.

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

  • I think I would go to a play like Our Lady of 121st Street, because I like trying to open myself up to new experiences and try to learn something new from it. The way they speak and move seems like they’ve gone through some hardships, and I’m curious as to how they’ve become the person they are.

Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?

  • I would definitely seek out more Urban Drama films in the future. It definitely makes me think about how we can never judge a person based on how they look, because everyone has gone through issues– some worst than others. I like that it takes me an emotional roller coaster, and I feel as if I’m in their situation.

Second answer:

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

I feel like this genre is probably the most relatable because the story lines do exists in the real world. For instance in the movie Crash, there were at least four small stories that all connected with one another because the issue for all of them was race and discrimination.

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

I think the major theme for this genre would be justice and for people to have a better understanding of the things people go through that don’t have the same advances as others. For example, in the movie Crash there is a father who moved with his family to a more decent neighborhood where less gun violence is involved and he does his best to reassure his daughter by wrapping an invincible necklace around her neck telling her it will protect her. When a man who is angry with him shows up to his house with a gun threatening to shoot him and then does and as he does the daughter runs to protect her father made me jump in shock and emotional thinking that the daughter got shot, this is intentional it was to get all the people watching the movie to feel this families struggle and emotions of the things people do that are out of a persons control.

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

I don’t see why I wouldn’t go see it. I think its good to see plays when you get the chance to.

Would you seek out another Urban Drama film in the future. Why or why not?

I would seek out another Urban movie, I feel like Urban movies talk about relatable issues going on, For example a lot of the stories in Crash sadly or still relatable.

 
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