To read or not to read? That is the question… If you’ve ever struggled with Shakespeare, don’t worry, you’re more than certainly not alone. I’ve been there. Eh, who am I kidding? I’m still there! But there came a day when I realized all the possibilities the fantasies of Shakespeare’s plays create. Some of his stories are timeless, which allows one to transform his work into a tale of the modern day. That would make it more relatable and easy to understand, right? Interpreting Shakespeare’s A Midsummers Night Dream was more than fun. In fact, it was a rather enlightening task. Truly embodying a character genuinely makes one see the story in a brand new perspective. On this project, I worked with some very talented individuals. Tony HuangHoward LamTaishan Situ, and myself welded together an effort of bring a part of the classic story into the modern realm. We recreated the events of Act 3 Scene 1, Lines 1 – 106. Displayed in this post, we have first the short film we have put together.Then, you will find all the elements of our Director’s Notebook, including our script, tied up in a neat bundle in the form of an iBook document. Finally, there is my detailed after-project reflection. So, if the question is “to read or not to read?”, then please do, go on and read.

REFLECTION:

In our interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which brings the Shakespeare classic into the modern setting of the 21-century, my unique portrayal of the character Nick Bottom (simply referred to as “Bottom” in our film) converts the identity of the quirky actor from a Worker to a teenage high school student keen on directing his own film.
From the very first show, Bottom is seen standing on a ledge of sorts. I this scene, which he shares with the character Snug, this stance is one way the character asserts his dominance sub-textually. The shot and angles of this scene are framed, as well, to support the assertion of dominance in Bottom’s character. The two different angles used in this scene represent different elements that coordinate with the plot and characters; the first shot, looking upwards, further elaborates on Bottom’s power, as it looks up to him from a low to high perspective. All the while, in this same shot, Snug is given an eye-level shot, signifying him as the subordinate character. The second shot in this scene is over-the-shoulder of Bottom; with a slightly heavier focus on Snug, as his face is the only one visible. In addition, this shot also creates a sense of depth, as it looks from a high to low perspective, allowing the audience to imagine the distance between the two actors, creaking a sense of comfort.
In this short-short-film, I used my 21st-century reinterpretation of Bottom’s character to capture the spirit of the original Shakespeare classic. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bottom is depicted as being an over-confident and generally naive actor with an overdone belief in his own abilities. In my portrayal, the reimagined Bottom takes self-appointed dominance over his fellow actors, much like Nick Bottom does with the production of Pyramus and Thisbe. From the very start, he is seen dictating creative choices, providing unwarranted opinions, and, in one case, even patronizes Snug. However, much like his Shakespearean counterpart, much of this, if not all, is done out of good intention, as he genuinely believes to be the grandiose showman he sees himself as, while, in reality, there are few who take him seriously.
More specifically, in the notebook, I wrote the very last section of the script; from the scene in which Taishan’s character (Quince) enters and onwards. This portion of the story was a lot of fun for me to write, as it was, in bulk, comedically rich interactions between the various characters. I was truly able to widen my horizon embodying the characteristics of Bottom in his awkward arguments with Quince, where (surprise) he tries without fruition to assert himself as the director. In this particular scene, the blocking shows Bottom stepping down from his ledge to greet and talk to Quince. This represents that while they more or less hold the same level of power, Quince is the actual bigger man, hence Bottom steps down from his level rather than Quince stepping up. Bottom’s over-the-top perception of his own acting skills is seen as he clumsily delivers the line, “I am one of style, and drama!”, attempting to assert a futile dominance of skill over the actually talented Quince.

6 May 2016

Faithful. Always.

Author: Max | Filed under: English

Out of the characters of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, I find myself most able to relate to the fairy Puck, also known as Robin Goodfellow. Puck is depicted as the trouble-causing, mischievous servant to the Fairy King Oberon. His wrongdoings and pranks towards the mortal characters of the story, sometimes intended in innocence (and of course, other times intended malevolently,) always ends in some cases of serious mishap. I (more often than one would assume) might find myself in this position every so often. It has been the result of some (although intended in good heart) needless pranks that have formed some ruptures, albeit small, in some of my friendships. And, although it is not always myself conducting these gestures of mischief, I certainly have witnessed such actions perhaps more that one needs to in a lifetime. One other way I connect with the character of Puck-slash-Robin is his take on the reality of his world: “If we shadows have offended, think but this; all is mended, that you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, no more yielding than a dream” (Shakespeare 147). This quote, spoken by Puck towards the very end of the story, conveys an intriguing message: to remind you that, like a dream, the play (and consequently, his world) is not a product of the real world, but rather the fantasy of one’s imagination, suspended in a momentary stretch of spectacular reality. Sometimes, I wish that like Puck, I can have this outlook on life, to simple put all differences and conflicts aside and remind myself that there is a “real world” out there somewhere, that a better reality may be yet to come.

The greatest contrast I have to the character of Puck, however, would be the attribute of physical appearance. Having been considered big for my age, in some way or another, all of my life, I, sadly, cannot relate completely to the mysterious and mischievous character of Puck, who is depicted generally as a small figure, somewhat hunchback, with an almost frail stature (this however, not represented in 1999’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which the historical character was portrayed by a not-so-small Stanley Tucci).

The other characters in the story, dominantly to be Titania and Oberon, almost look down on Puck, and in some ways taking him for granted. However, Puck, being the faithful fairy servant he is, obliges to his orders. I cannot say that in real life, the social status of myself is exaggerated to such an extent, but in this day and age, a teenager’s ride through high school and friendship(s) can very much be rough. Although I have cemented friendships with a very tight circle of acquaintances who do, more often than not, make jokes at the expense of others (perhaps out of banter and good nature), I cannot feel as if sometimes, this can be taken too far, and feelings may be hurt. However, I, very much like Puck, do not allow these actions to drag me down, and I remain a faithful friend no matter what happens, and under any circumstances, no matter how unfavorable they may be.

After all, we both just want to bring a little more laughter into the world.

 

RATIONALE:

My short story, titled Flames, is a take on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel The Book Thief. The parallels between the two stories are plentiful. I took the original setting of an oppressive regime (Nazi Germany) and converted it to a nation of my creation (The Federated States of America). This fictional nation of the future is also present in one of my earlier stories, Sanctuary, which was a variation on The Veldt by Ray Bradbury. This story is very much a continuation of that world.

The character of Victor “Vic” Solis is the parallel of Liesel Meminger, similar in their curiosity of “outside knowledge”, of artifacts strictly regulated by their respective home states. Both also have father figures with the first name Hans, an blatant parallel (Hans Hubermann in The Book Thief and Hans Overfeld in Flames). These two characters are both very much caring and protective of their adoptive children, and both go out of their way, as well as the law, to help them protect their secrets, and feed their curiosity.

In Hans’ first appearance in Flames, he says the line “People have defining moments, I suppose… Especially when they’re children”. This line is in fact taken directly from The Book Thief  itself; a line spoken by Hans Hubermann. This was in reaction to their witnessing an execution of a seemingly innocent woman on the street, in front of her husband and young son, by a “Blackcoat” officer, an armored soldier of the law in the world of the Federated States, similar in motivation and aesthetics to a generic SS Stormtrooper: “The singular red armbands they all wore viciously juxtaposed the pitch dark of their uniforms. Vic was reminded of something… Some long lost place that had once been called Nazi Germany”.

The ending of the story, as presented, is a parallel to the book burning, near the exposition of Book Thief, where Liesel steals a leftover book from the Nazis. In this scene, Hans assures her that her secret is safe. In Flames, The Federated States operates under a similar policy as Hitler did with materials they deem unfit for their version of society. As a Hans is brutally apprehended and dragged away in front of Vic, a Blackcoat announced, “Crime: alleged possession and transport of a book of pre-Federation publication origins, classified as illegal contraband…”. The book (title kept hidden) is then seized and tossed on top of a burning pile. However, just before the lot of contraband is torched by a flamethrower-toting soldier, the wrapping paper on the book is torn off, and our hero, Vic, finally gets a glimpse of what was Hans’ final gift to him.

It was The Book Thief.

———- ———- ———- ———- ———-

DENVER, CO

Federated States of America

October, 2103

Vic Solis was an outlier. He always had been, and he knew it. In fact, he embraced it. The Federated States was certainly not his world, and 2103 was, without a doubt, not his time. The endless stream of advertisement and hollow propaganda never grew on him, and he considered himself one of the special few who could see through the nation’s corporate sponsored lies.

He walked out from a set of glass revolving doors guarded by two Blackcoats, at the foot of a gleaming skyscraper that reached higher than the eye could see. He worked here in nation’s capital, as a lab technician for the Camelot Corporation. A stale, meaningless job. A means to an end.

To what end that was exactly, he was uncertain.

As he stood at the edge of Pantheon Prime Plaza, a massive, busy commercial square directly outside his building, he looked up to the deep red of the sky, one that looked as if it were bleeding out some forgotten wound. The light drizzle of half-poisonous rainfall splattered, as it always did, on the concrete pathwalk. The puddles that formed in the uneven spreads of cement gave off a yellow glow in the most subtle of ways. Almost as if a dim, hopeless light was trying to break through the surface.

He calmly observed his surroundings.

Loudspeakers and behemoth TeraTrons stood like prison walls, spilling an unbearable, shameless heap of endless commercial content on the thousands that passed through the Plaza. Slogans and headlines akin to Buy from CamelotCorp, Protect You Home! and Miller-Yu Breaks 100 Trillion! shined numbly, serving up naïvely colorful adverts to cater to the needs of their corporations.

The perpetual motion, he noted, was almost beautiful, in a way. As the world spun around him, he felt as if he was frozen in time, in that very moment. Like some unfortunate prehistoric organism trapped in an eternal coffin of ember.

His eyes moved over to the parts that stood out.

The Corporation executives and the States politicians, with their squadrons of bodyguards and expensive business suits, talking amongst themselves, walking in packs. Probably making some shady business deals.

The sleek, gunmetal grey hoverplanes that passed silently overhead, effortless clean ion engines gracefully maneuvering the spider’s web of buildings that was downtown Denver.

The Capitol Tower, standing tall and proud, towering out over the rest of the skyline. Even Vic had to agree that it was a magnificent feat of architecture.

The Blackcoats, clad in kevlar and unmoving. The metal of their guns glinted off the setting sun of an early evening. The singular red armbands they all wore viciously juxtaposed the pitch dark of their uniforms. Vic was reminded of something he had learned many years back in school. Tales of a failed regime in the old world. Some long lost place that had once been called Nazi Germany.

He felt like an artist. The way he was able to see the world was unique. While the crowds and the masses and the poor always seemed to be rushing to get someplace or another, Vic stood in one spot, calmly taking it all in. At times, the reality of it all struck him like a hammer.

But an artist’s job doesn’t end with just the graceful, or the uniformity, or even the obvious. Vic’s eyes darted from scene to scene with quick microscopic movements that seemed to separate parts of the world from the one another.

He noticed the smaller and the grittier things. The occasional execution. The sporadic taking of a life that hailed no moment’s hesitation. A brief bang and a moment’s waft of gunpowder. And then it was finished. He heard a scream

Vic turned his head toward the source of the sound. He saw what looked like a poor family of three. The child cried behind his father’s protective embrace. The mother stood with her back to them, tears streaking down her face. A Blackcoat confronted her, a loaded gun steady in his hand.

Her husband did nothing to protect her. And she loved him for it. He already knew what was going to happen. Nothing was going to change that. The last thing he wanted was to leave his son an orphan on the streets of a cruel, brutal world. He closed his eyes and held his child close to him.

Then, there was the gunshot.

The image froze in Vic’s mind. Reality seemed to slow down. Each sound sluggishly entered his ears, yet he heard everything in perfect clarity. 

He watched as a shining gold casing flew from the gun. He heard the faint but unmistakable thud as the bullet hit the mother in the chest. His eyes witnessed the expression on her face in that moment. He memorized it. He saw as her lifeless body fell, dead before she hit the ground. He felt his own heartbeat quickening, his fists clenching in a moment of anger.

Then, as quickly as it had happened, it was over. Like a curtain closing on a stage, the crowed quickly buried his view of the family. The world returned to normal. He lessened his grip. He would never see that family again.

“People have defining moments, I suppose.” Vic turned to see an older man suddenly standing behind him. “Especially when they’re children. That was his.”

The man had on a worn sport coat. He bore the look of a a father that hadn’t slept in months. He had an air of toughness around him. But yet, his eyes still shined with a true kindness. He smiled at Vic.

“Remember the first time we met, Solis?” he asked.

“Of course, Hans. The train station.” Vic replied. “I always will. You know that.”

Hans smiled. “I know, kid. And I’m glad you do too.”

“You have it?”

“Yes.”

Vic held out a discreet hand. Hans passed him a small paper package. He quickly stowed it under his jacket. Hans simply looked at Vic for a few seconds, and let out an effortful breath. He was clearly exhausted.

“You know, kid,” he said. “The first time you had me doin’ this, I honestly thought you were kiddin’.” He patted Vic lightly on the chest where the package was. “But you know why I did it?”

Vic looked at him questioningly.

“Because I had trust in you, Victor Solis. And I would have done anything else if you had asked it of me. Because you were like a son to me. You still are, kid.”

Vic smiled. He put a hand on Hans’s shoulder.

“And you’re the closest thing I’ve had to a father.”

“Come here, kid.”

Hans wrapped Vic in a tight embrace.

“What’s up?” Vic said, letting go. He squinted imploringly.

“What do you mean? Everything’s fine.”

“I know you, Hans.” he said, smiling. “I know when you’re holding something back. One of the disadvantages of having raised me so well. I can read you. So… what is it?”

Hans let out a slow, sad breath.

“I wanted to see you, kid. Once, at least, before…” his sentence broke off into a  wistful silence.

“Before what?”

“Look, Vic. I gotta go away for while. I don’t know for how long.”

Vic frowned and tilted his head. “What happened? Why do you have to leave?”

“It’s just… There’s some people after me. People I owe some money to. And I don’t have any of that right now.”

Vic grabbed Hans’s arm. “So you’re gonna just leave like that?”

“I have to, kid. They’re not nice people.”

“Come on, Hans. You can talk to me like I’am an adult. And I can help you out. Why didn’t you ask me? I can give you the money.”

“No. No way, Vic. No way I’m draggin’ you into this too. It’s dangerous.”
Vic scoffed. “Come on, Hans. I can—”

“Don’t even think about it, okay? I couldn’t live with myself.”

“Fine.” Vic sighed. He let go of Hans’s arm. “Where will you go?”

“I don’t know yet.” Hans said. “But I do have people that can help hide me for the time being. Don’t you worry about me, kid. I’m comin’ back. It’s not forever. I just… I didn’t wanna just disappear on you without sayin’ anything, you know?”

Vic didn’t reply. Instead, he just turned back to the streets and stared at the massed of life before him. Hans sighed. He clamped a tight hand on Vic’s shoulder.

“I’m gonna miss you, Victor.” he said. “When I’m gone, don’t do anything too stupid. Be the good kid you’ve always been.”

Vic turned back to face him. “I will… I promise. I just can’t believe you’re—”

His sentence was cut short, and they were suddenly ripped away. Vic felt the gloved hands of a Blackcoat holding him in his painful grip. A jolt of pain rang through his body as he was slammed hard into the cement. He heard the sound of his wrists being zip-cuffed together.

He struggled to turn his head enough to see Hans. His adoptive father had a bloody nose. His leg was bent at an unnatural position. His face was scrunched in pain. He mouthed something to Vic.

“Don’t trust anyone.”

Vic nodded desperately. He could hear a Blackcoat speaking, booted foot on Hans’s shoulder, keeping him at bay.

“Hans Overfeld, age sixty-five. Social status 6 of 25. Affiliations, none. Crime, alleged possession and transport of a book of pre-Federation publication origins, classified as illegal contraband…”

His sentences faded underneath a poignant ringing that took over Vic’s consiousness. He hardly even felt it when the Blackcoat wrenched him upwards by the collar and crudely snatched the little brown package out of his jacket. His eyes followed, but his mind was elsewhere.

The package was tossed onto an already sizable pile of contraband that had been sitting there on the pathwalk, waiting for extermination. He looked to Hans, who seemed to be passing out from the pain.

Vic felt a wave of helplessness inside of him. He struggled to break free, but his futile attempts were forcefully pushed down by the strength of the Blackcoat constricting his movement. He felt tears rising up to his eyes.

He yelled Hans’s name.

And suddenly, right in front of him, the Blackcoats began the drag Hans away.

Vic screamed and struggled, but nothing would budge. His fingers dug into the cement. His heart was weighed down by a feeling of pure dread and hatred. He kept screaming.

As Hans was forced further and further away, Vic saw him start to mutter something to himself, over and over again. He kept screaming his name. The tears flooded down his cheeks.

And then, just as Hans was about to be dragged out of his sight, he realized what it was he had been saying. It wasn’t to himself, like it had seemed. Rather, it was to his son. A final message for Vic.

“I love you.”

And with that, he was gone. The man that had been his mentor, his guide, his teacher, and most importantly, his father, for all his life, was simply gone. Vic bit back a final scream building in the back of his throat.

“Trooper 3-1, ready!” he suddenly heard to his left. A Blackcoat stood before the pile of contraband holding a massive black pipe. A narrow nozzle poked out the front, and a tube snaked out from the back.

A flamethrower.

Vic looked through the pile of contraband. Mostly weapons, pistols and dilapidated rifles stacked on top of one another. Some thick wads of counterfeit money, and couple sheets of anti-States propaganda posters.

But then he saw it.

Sitting near the bottom of the lot, it just lay there. A small brown package with the wrapping slightly torn.

Inside, there lay a book. An illegal book. One from the old world. A work of literature that the carried and conveyed a message too powerful and too dangerous for anyone to have. Hans’s final gift to him.

The cover was exposed just enough for Vic to see the title.

“The Book Thief” it read in simple black letters.

How ironic, Vic thought calmly to himself.

He decided  to stop resisting. His grip softened. His brain began to fall asleep from exhaustion. He let out a slow breath.

“I love you too, Hans.” he whispered as the world dimmed around him. His grip on his consiousness faded. He just wanted to sleep. And if it was going to be in the middle of his own crime scene, then so be it. He couldn’t handle the reality of anything just then.

“Fire up!” someone somewhere shouted. There was a subtle metallic click of a trigger, and then there was a searing flash of heat.

As Vic closed his eyes, the flames roared.

24 Mar 2016

Hey, Saumensch

Author: Max | Filed under: English

Hey, Saumensch.

Below is a monologue, written from the perspective of Liesel Meminger, spoken for a deceased Rudy Steiner, from The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Hey, Saumensch. So you’re dead. Alright then. I don’t believe it. I can’t believe it. But alright.21 There’s so much I needed to tell you. You know that. You’ve always known me. You’ve always known what was best for me. Even if I didn’t. I thought I would have forever to tell you everything. But now, I realize, I’ve been lying to myself too, Rudy. I took you for granted…

I know its stupid, me, sitting here, talking to you like this. You’re gone. I can’t change that. You can’t hear me. But… I can’t live with myself ever, if I just walked away. I’ve known you for so long, you were almost like a brother to me. But I loved you. I don’t know why I never told you before. And… to know I’ll never kiss you again while you’re alive. It… Sorry. For so much, Rudy. You stupid little Saumensch… You’ve asked me so many times for a kiss. I always refused you. Why did I refuse you? You loved me. I tried to fight that I loved you too. But you jumped into a river for me. A cold, unyielding river. For my book… A damn book, Rudy.

Remember the first time we met? That soccer game, right there, on Himmel Street. I was goalie. I blocked your shots with my elbow. And then you hit me with a snowball. Why am I saying this? I don’t know. But you’re gone now. And these memories is all I have left. It’s so hard to swallow, Rudy. How can you be gone? How is that possible? You can come back! I believe that. Please. COME BACK! For me…

Remember the first time we stole together? It was scary. But at the same time, it seemed so simple. Everything did. We did. I never thought I would lose you like this, or Hans, or anyone I loved. Why could Death take you all away? Come back Rudy! I need you to COME BACK! I can’t do this alone… I’m not strong enough. But you’re RUDY STEINER. You had the courage to do anything. And everything. When you painted yourself black… That was… well, interesting. But I loved you for it. Deep down. You know why? You were never scared to express yourself. You were you. You were you when everyone was scared of who they were. I needed someone with that kind of bravery. I still do. I need you to come back!

It’s worth a try, isn’t it? It’s always worth a try. Can you come back to me, Rudy? Please. Please come back. Surely, this can’t be the end, right? I need to keep going. I need you here in my life. COME BACK, RUDY STEINER! Come back to me! Please… I don’t know what I am going to do without you.

14 Mar 2016

Propaganda

Author: Max | Filed under: English

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 7.02.29 AM

Context

  • WWII-era American soldiers
  • Standing in a “united” pose
  • Strong patriotic feel
  • Advertisement/propaganda for sale of war bonds

Audience

  • American people

Pathos/Techniques/Purpose

  • Pathos
  • Transfer
  • Pinpointing the Enemy
  • Advertise sale of war bonds

Body: Point A

Pinpointing the Enemy:

The intended enemy in this case is made clear; the Nazis, as seen in the slogan “Help Them Break the Nazis”. “Them” refers to the American soldiers depicted on the poster, planting the flag of the United States, cutting a Nazi emblem in half. This is effective because the patriotic out of the American people already view these soldiers as their heroes, and their statement that the Nazis must/will be defeated, as well as the many forms of American depiction of strength in the poster (i.e., the backdrop, the flag) are further extensions of making sure the people know their enemy, proclaiming these Nazis as the “shadows”, and the soldiers as “heroes”, in archetypal context.

Body: Point B

Transfer:

With the transfer technique, American victory against Nazi Germany is waved around (as mentioned before) as a boost in patriotism. Those already patriotic (which in this case, would be most of the American people) will ubiquitously accept this slogan: “Help them break the Nazis”. This idea then transfers its positive connotation and patriotic motive and initiative and links it to the sale/buying of war bonds, suggesting to the people that the victory of America depends of the sale of war bonds.

11 Dec 2015

A Dark Watery World

Author: Max | Filed under: English

To deepen our understanding of our topic at hand (environmental issues), my partner Anthony and I focused on developing a simple comic strip/graphic novel style piece. Between the two of us, the topics were divided as such: I focused my comic on Water Pollution in China, which Anthony focused on Air Pollution. As these are probably the two most prominent issues in this country, we felt that they were a good pair to focus on. With my section of our final piece, my comic focuses less on the causes of water pollution, but rather more on how this country’s Communist Party (the government) is seen to be dealing with such issues. The opening grid depicts a simple way in showing how the people of China are upset at such conditions: “Why is our water DIRTY???” (1). The one-sided response from the government official represents, in a way, how much, yet how little the nation is actually addressing these issues: “Because of all the POLLUTION!!” (1). A statistic is included into the dialogue, further showing the dangers of water pollution : “… 60% of water is not safe for people!!” (1). This is followed by a response from the official saying that the Communist Party “knows everything”, which shows a reality in China; a know-it-all government that refuses (or at least is somewhat unwilling) to deal with major issues in a serious manner. The amused and nonchalant expressions drawn onto the official’s face also helps to represent this point. The government official then goes on to talk about something called the “Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention”. The unamused face the Chinese citizen gives in response shows a popular opinion; that these so called major action plans are nothing more than a government facade effort created to keep the people somewhat happy. The final few passages in the comic go on describe what the Action Plan is in itself, as well as explain what future efforts are desired in the nation’s joint action as a whole. Which, again, subtly depicts the actual government’s idleness in its actions.

Citations:

Huang, William E. “60% of China’s Underground Water ‘not Fit for Human Contact’ – Beijing.” Rt.com. N.p., 5 June 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

Kong, Lingyu. “Inside China’s Grand Plan to Fight Water Pollution.” marketwatch.com. N.p., 4 May 2015. Web. 9 Dec. 2015.

National Academy of Sciences. “Safe Drinking Water is Essential.” koshland-science-museum.org. N.p., N.d., Web. 8 Dec. 2015

Rationale

This screenplay (titled “Death By Crazy: A Play on “Lamb to the Slaughter”) carves out every detail of what would happen in the film if it had been made. Outside of the base storyline, the camera angles and physical details for for scenes are also described.

The story itself is a play on “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl. It focuses on a similar storyline with some important details incorporated. In “Lamb to the Slaughter”, Mary Maloney kills her husband out of spite and vengeance. In “Death by Crazy”, similar details are described through Dr. Oliver’s murder of Elisa Warner: “… also cost my brother his life. I want to express my gratitude for helping me settle my vendetta” (10).

Another theme depicted in “Lamb to the Slaughter” is betrayal, as shown in Patrick Maloney’s sudden decision to abandon his wife. This theme is transferred over to “Death By Crazy” through the character of Dr. Raymond, a seemingly immature forensics expert in the NYPD, who [SPOILER ALERT] later turns out to be Mr. Kaplan, the cannibalistic fanatic whom was responsible for goading Dr. Oliver into pursuing bloodlust: “I’m sorry. I didn’t think that kid could’ve … betrayed us” (15).

In “Lamb to the Slaughter”, something else that I felt was prominent was the “raw animal instinct” that washed over Mary as she murdered her husband. This idea is dramatized, but portrayed nonetheless in “Death By Crazy”, from the disturbingly gory way Dr. Oliver murdered her victims.

Finally, one other specific detail is brought into “Death by Crazy”. The final line of “Lamb to the Slaughter” reads something akin to “in the next room, she began to laugh”.

In “Death By Crazy”, this conclusion is also utilized through Dr. Raymond’s laughing uncontrollably after Kerr discovers him as the murderer: “… back to Dr. Raymond, whom begins to laugh softly” (15).

—————————————————–

Production:

Death by Crazy:

A Play On “Lamb to the Slaughter”

Writer(s): Max Fu

SCENE ONE

INT. Camera focuses. Establishing shot remains still on a name plaque that reads Capt. J. Kerr. Shot swaps over to a middle aged man in a grey suit, sitting at a desk in a police office, calmly going over some papers.

The phone rings. Man picks up call.

KERR: Joseph Kerr.

LINE: Captain. We have a 3-12 at apartment 3B, Building 8 on Francino and 5th. We need a med-vac team and a coroner’s van here ASAP.

KERR: I’m on it. Why wasn’t I contacted before?

LINE: Apologies sir, radio connections went dark inside the building. Tech team just restored power.

KERR: All right. I’ll call for dispatch. Hold right, we’re on our way.

LINE: Copy that.

END SCENE

SCENE TWO

INT. Shot focuses on a busy street. Sign overhead reads “Francino Blvd.” A dozen police vehicles are gathered outside. Officers tape off the apartment building.

Shot moves to the side of the street. A black sedan pulls up. Capt. Kerr steps outside. An officer rushes over to greet him.

OFFICER: Officer Daily, sir. I was told to brief you.

KERR: What’s the word on this?

OFFICER: Far as we’re concerned, homicide case. Body found inside a locked apartment, assumed killer left no traces anywhere. Might have been a pro.

KERR: Take me inside.

OFFICER: Of course, sir.

Capt. Kerr and Daily wave their IDs at uniform cops and detectives hailing the entrance to the building. They are allowed to pass. Climbing up three flights of stairs, Kerr and Daily enter an open apartment with a dozen investigators inside.

Kerr gasps.

KERR: Jesus Christ.

Shot moves over to pan over the apartment, showing the gore left behind in wake of the homicide. Blood is smeared over the walls, part of an arm dripping with red is hanging from a lamp. Close up shot moves upward on a severed upper torso, and slows down to focus on the face of the body, which is covered in the remnants of organs. The eyes are still open.

KERR: What the hell happened here?

OFFICER: Unsure, Cap. Nothing close by could’ve done anything remotely like this. This is some Jack the Ripper crap right here. You’d think we’d have found something by now, especially given the situation, but nothing. Whatever killed the woman left with the killer. Like I said sir, no traces.

Kerr looks around, takes a deep breath.

KERR: This woman? What’s her profile look like?

OFFICER: Here’s everything we have on her. *A file folder is handed to Capt. Kerr.* Elisa Warner, 28. Graduated Berkley two years. On her way to becoming an attorney in New York. Low profile, nothing special. If someone sends a pro to do a job, they have a reason. None that we can see from here though.

KERR: Ok… Get the body off the scene… or whatever’s left, at least. Leave the street taped off. We need a second look at this. Get your units back, Daily. Get some rest. We’ll look at this again in the morning.

OFFICER: Thank you sir.

*Shot shows Kerr patting Daily on the shoulder and back shot of him walking out”

KERR: *mutters* Getting to old for this ****.

END SCENE

SCENE THREE

INT. Shot moves to focus on a man in a neat suit faced with his back to the shot, sitting at a desk. A knock is heard on his door. Close up of his finger pushing an button, buzzing the door open. Shot moves/blurs to focus on the woman who enters.

ENTER DR. OLIVER

Blonde hair, blue eyes, glasses. Looks to be no older than 25. Her name tag reads “DR. OLIVER.”

DR. OLIVER: The job has been done, Mr. Kaplan. I still need payment.

MR. KAPLAN: Patience, young woman… Patience. You still have a part to play.

DR. OLIVER: The police have the body. Or what’s left of it. There’s no way they’re find anything. You know my reputation.

MR. KAPLAN: Yes of course. But you need to wait. When I say you’re done, you’re off with your cash. That, I can promise.

Dr. Oliver nods hesitantly.

DR. OLIVER: So what do you want me to do now?

MR. KAPLAN: What happens every time, darling. Go back. Get the body. And then, we can proceed.

Dr. Oliver giggles nervously, begins to chew on her nails, which are very long.

Camera proceeds to pan over to Mr. Kaplan’s desk, where a photograph of Eliza Warner is framed and propped up. Shot focuses on this photograph, then blurs and cuts to black.

END SCENE

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27 Nov 2015

Lennie Small Interview: Multimedia

Author: Max | Filed under: English

26 Nov 2015

Interview With Lennie Small: Rationale

Author: Max | Filed under: English

In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, characterization and contrast are clearly shown between the head characters of Lennie and George. The story, which takes place during the Great Depression in the United States, shows the acquainted pair trying to make a life and path for themselves by travelling from ranch to ranch, dreaming the “American dream”.

With Lennie, who is characterized as an innocent, unknowing, unintelligent, yet gentle, man, Steinbeck demonstrates a representation of those in society who are handicapped, those who are weaker and depend on others to have a place or a presence in the world. The interview that we have conducted with Lennie Small shows this weakness, as well as demonstrate both his love for and dependance on George.

The interview tries to help the audience better understand the character of Lennie, introducing him both physically and emotionally, primarily demonstrating his large, manly stature, and moving deeper into his emotional traits as the interview progresses. These emotional traits are explored both on “surface” (for example, the way he talked, or the language he used) as we’ll as more in depth (for example, the context of what he said, mainly focusing on his dependance on others, especially George). Other, more specific traits are shown of this character through individual details during the interview. One example is the fact that he is generally characterized as forgetful,, not seeming to remember details of his distant and near past. This can be seen as Lennie says ““‘I kinda forgot what ‘appened that day” in a response to a question.

However, Lennie’s character and personality are not the only thing that is represented in the interview. Because not everyone in this day and age may be familiar with the standards of life during the Great Depression (the 1920s and 1930s), historical context in also included to help further and deepen an understanding of this era. For one, the interview has Lennie talking about how him and George have this “American dream”, where their one and only wish was to someday own their own land, and can finally settle down. This example demonstrates the nomadic nature of many residents of the United States during this time. As well as the poverty seen throughout most of the nation during this time, with most having barely enough to obtain a living. For the most part, able bodied men like Lennie work as helpers of farms or ranches, yet still having to move from job to job, from home to home, more often than they would like. Specifically, Lennie said he wanted to “earn enough money so that [they] can buy a farm and tend those rabbits.” This again shows his dim, yet still driven nature, with his determined attitude put into the face of a rather impossible dream.

8 Oct 2015

“Sanctuary”: Rationale

Author: Max | Filed under: English

After three decades upon the face of a dying planet, Joe Ritcher has never known any alternative to his dystopian world of a fascist North America. But when “Sanctuary”, a commercial effort to relieve the depression, rises to popularity, Joseph, alongside billions of others, get the privilege of a brief glance at the world before theirs, a whole different world. One with blue skies and ice cream parlors. One with yellow cabs and night clubs. A world that could have been. In the end, Sanctuary is about never taking anything for granted, despite how commonplace, how ubiquitous it may seem.

The world of Sanctuary is set up with a description of a crippled society. In the second sentence, it is conveyed that this is a world that has withstood the beating of mankind. This idea is persevered in the line “… pollution covered the tips of thousands of skyscrapers, and low altitude hover planes danced upon … storm clouds”. In this sentence, the image of a gloomy, damaged world is reenforced with the phrase “… pollution covered the tips of thousands of skyscrapers …”. Additionally, “low altitude hover planes” directly reference the future, with the inclusion of non-existent technology.

Sound devices further help to develop a complete image of this world. Towards the end of the story, the line, “Somewhere, screams of an execution echoed into a void of nothingness”, shows this idea. The “screams” and the negative connotation associated with the world “execution” strengthen the image of this world’s brutality. This line simply, but effectively, echoes and contrasts an earlier line, “He heard the joyous scream of a child running being chased by her older brother”. Here, both usages of the world “screams” explore a fine line between worlds, one full of love of joy, and the other, very much less so.