The Promposal (an interpretation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”)

Introduction:

The Promposal is a short play about four high school students trying to ask one another to the prom. This play is based on our interpretation of lines 124-355 of Act 3 of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare.*SPOILER ALERT* In the play, both Lysander and Demetrius ask Harry (the male version of Shakespeare’s Helena) to the prom and Hermia complains to Lysander about him ditching her by asking someone else to the prom.  Harry, however, thinks they are all pulling an elaborate prank on him.

Individual Roles:

Charlotte, who plays Hermia, handled the staging and the script.

Bill, who plays Demetrius, designed the costumes.

Lars, who plays Harry, chose the music and edited the video.

I chose the props and arranged the set, and I also play Lysander.

Video:

 

Director’s Notebook:

Click here for the Director’s Notebook for The Promposal

 

 

For the Director’s notebook, I contributed the props and arranged the setting. The props included 2 prom tickets and 2 phones etc. My group mainly focused on the theme that love cannot be won by force, which theme was shown through Hermia failing to get Lysander’s love back after he fell in love with Harry and shown through Lysander and Demetrius both falling in love with Harry and both failing to win Harry’s love.  My character, Lysander, furthers the theme by falling in love with Harry and trying to let Harry love me while Demetrius tries to win Harry’s love, but both ultimately failed. Furthermore, Lysander rejects Hermia when she is trying to win his love back by force, thus strenghening the theme that love cannot be won.

 

The setting is in high school where the characters are new to love.  They have a lot to learn about it means to truly love someone.

 

 

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The Matrix(C.R.E.A.T.E. rationale)

Click here for the video(you may need to log in).

Ever since 7th grade (or earlier), all the books required to be read by the ISB curriculum have something in common: The Hunger Games, Fahrenheit 451, Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, and The Book Thief all have apocalyptic themes or are set in an apocalyptic time.  This is the reason I chose to make my project about an apocalyptic movie. I decided to use The Matrix because I was inspired by some of my classmates’ analysis of The Matrix for our cinema analysis project. Finally, as to the format, my partner and I chose to do a music video because we had a lot of fun last year making a music video parody of “Let it go” for the drug awareness project for the Health class. In this video, I used figurative language (“master of your fate” & “I have the force”) and visuals to enhance understanding of the lyrics by providing context.  Without the context from The Matrix movie, some of my classmates actually misunderstood the lyrics to be a love song.

 

 

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I am like Bottom…

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bottom volunteers to play many parts “… let me play Thisby too… Let me play the lion too…”.  His enthusiasm shows that he enjoys acting.  Like Bottom, I enjoy acting and performing, having performed with a national and internationally known choir and the China National Opera at various venues in Beijing.  Bottom’s enthusiasm also shows that he likes to help out others.  “Flute: Nay, faith, let me not play a woman; I have a beard coming…Bottom: An I may hide my face, let me play Thisby too…” Like Bottom, I like to volunteer to help out others.  For example, last year, in PE, I volunteered to coach a classmate who was not very good at Badminton.  Also frequently, when the class divides into groups, I voluntarily wait to be one of the last to join a group so that I can pair up with those who had none to join.

 

However, unlike Bottom, I do not take things to the extreme, nor do I wear out others’ patience. “Bottom: Let me play the lion too: I will roar, that I will do any man’s heart good to hear me; I will roar, that I will make the duke say ‘Let him roar again, let him roar again.’  Quince: An you should do it too terribly, you would fright the duchess and the ladies, that they would shriek; and that were enough to hang us all.”. Here Bottom has taken his enthusiasm to the extreme and ended up being rejected. “You can play no part but Pyramus…”, here he has completely worn out Quince‘s patience.  I am always sensitive to the other’s needs so I only offer what the other’s need and nothing beyond that.  I do not show off like Bottom does unless particularly instructed to do so on stage.

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Which Choice was Better?

In the 18th and 19th century, when the European and American traders backed by their governments came knocking on the doors of China and Japan to sell their goods, they encountered similar “closed country policy.” [p.547] Japan would only trade with the Dutch and the Chinese. While with China, the Europeans faced a much tougher situation.  Not only did they have to jump through all kinds of hoops for permission to trade, they also faced a very lopsided trade imbalance—Europeans and Americans had quite an appetite for Chinese silk, tea, spices, ceramics etc., but China had no desire for any European or American goods, resulting in European and American silvers streaming into the Chinese treasury while none flowed back in the opposite direction.   As the Europeans and Americans backed by their governments started various forceful means to open up trade with China and Japan, the leaders of those two countries chose to respond very differently to the imperialistic demand, resulting in totally different consequences for their country.

 

Two young emperors had similar responses to the imperialistic demand:  times had changed and their countries needed to change as well.  However, only the one with the absolute power managed to make changes in his country (Japan). [p811] The other was overruled by a power superior to his and his country lost the opportunity to change and to keep up with the world (China).  Japan modernized its society, changing its educational system, its military, its technologies etc. to bring itself up to par with the Europeans.  China, on the other hand, reversed whatever modernization its young emperor was able to implement and went back to its traditional ways, delaying its modernization until it was too late to keep up with the world.  [p811]We could speculate whether the Dowager Empress reversed the modernization because she was an old woman who failed to understand or grasp the significance of Europe after its industrial revolution or whether her Manchurian roots made her believe that her tribe had accomplished more than it deserved in conquering China and that all that was left to do was to maintain its power over China.  Regardless, she delayed China’s modernization.

 

The consequences of the two choices were quickly evident.  Japan became an imperialistic power in Asia, defeating China and Russian militarily and invading and occupying Taiwan, Korea, and Manchuria. [p812-3]  Then when World War II rolled around, Japan considered itself on par with the rest of the world and took on United States after invading and occupying most of Asia.  China, on the other hand, by sticking to its traditional ways, missed the opportunity to modernize and became a victim of imperialists, not just European and American imperialists but Japanese ones as well.  China did not always want to close its doors.   Emperor Yonglo of the Ming dynasty who sent Zheng He around the world was quite curious about the world and quite willing to start a discourse with the outsiders.1 [p537]Alas, he was born in the wrong century.  Had he been the ruler instead of Dowager Empress when the Europeans and the American came knocking, things might have turned out very differently for China.

 

The Chinese have learned the historic lessons thoroughly;  the lesson of the two different responses being one of them.  Once the iron curtain lifted, the Chinese were off to learn as quickly as possible the new technologies either through education or mergers:  at first so that it could be the factory to the world and then so that it could be at par with the world and participate in the inventing of new technologies.  Another lesson the Chinese has learned thoroughly as well:  trade imbalances should not be maintained too long.  While China was factory to the world, hard currency streamed into the Chinese treasury as it did at one time in history while not much flowed in the opposite direction.  However, this time the Chinese are not hoarding the currency.  Periodically, a senior government official would go and visit several countries and buy all kinds of big-ticket items before returning home, each time reducing the trade imbalance somewhat.

 

While the Chinese have learned from the historic lessons, the same cannot be said of the Japanese.   The Japanese cling stubbornly to their World War II war criminals as one would national heroes.  Each year there are news reports of how the Japanese military and senior government officials would go to worship at those war criminals’ graves.  What is worse, the Japanese government deliberately lies to its citizens, doctoring the textbooks about their imperialistic misdeeds during the World War II and about the atrocities they committed throughout Asia.  Occasionally, a brave soul brings out his diaries written during his soldiering days and attest to all those atrocities that his government denied and denies totally.  Their citizens have to go outside Japan to learn the atrocities their fathers and grandfathers committed during World War II.  One wonders if such total disregard of its mistakes would doom its citizens to repeating them when the consequences of such mistakes would not be tolerated in a world that no longer has tolerance for such atrocities.

 

When the European and American traders came knocking on the doors of China and Japan to sell their goods in the 18th and 19th century, China and Japan each chose a different road:  Japan to modernize, while China stayed with its traditional ways.  As history has shown, Japan chose correctly and China incorrectly.  However, history is not static; it continues to force us to choose and to learn.  China has learned its history lessons well.  As soon as the Iron Curtain lifted, China raced to catch up with the rest of the world technologically and to behave responsibly in the financial world.  Japan, however, in its stubborn refusal to admit to the atrocities it committed throughout Asia and to its imperialistic ambitions, is refusing to learn its history lesson.  One hopes that such denial does not doom its citizens to repeat its historic mistakes.

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The Evolution of the One-Child Policy

I combined a script and animation to produce a video about my topic:  China’s one-child policy, its change, and its ramifications for the future.  The script is in my own words but the information came from the seven sources that I found online.  Those sources (academic articles and news articles reporting experts’ opinions or events surrounding certain enforcement of the policy) paint a fairly comprehensive picture of the policy and the predicted effects of its recent change.  I used animation to accompany my script because I believe it drives home the main points in my script.

Here is my animation.

One-Child Policy by honkhik on GoAnimate

Click here if the video does not play. It may take a while to load.

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My Hawaiian Beach: C.R.E.A.T.E. Project

Early morning, glorious sunshine, the air

Washed clean by a quick morning rain.

“Want to go to the beach?” Mom asked.

Across the street, the white Waikiki beach stretched

Far as the eye could see on the left;

On the right outrigger canoes stacked neatly in rows;

Beyond stood a statue wearing an interesting hat

And a shining, yellow cloak surveying his domain.

The beach was quiet, empty of people.

Roaming free in all directions were birds of all kinds,

Particularly iridescent pigeons, nodding and cooing as they went.

“It is my beach,” I yelled,

And off I went to defend what was mine.

I dashed to and fro; birds of all kinds took flight or short hops;

I ran as fast as I could all around the beach I claimed.

Birds seemed to dispute my instant claim,

Stubbornly refusing to clear my domain.

I ran faster and faster till my domain was almost free of birds.

The moment I stopped, they came back,

And off I went again.

Mom stood on the edge of my claim,

Laughing till she could stand no more.

Her six-year-old had taken on an impossible task:

Birds are native to the beach; people are the invaders;

The invaders can never clear the beach of the natives.

But for a while, this invader claimed the beach;

The natives stayed on the edge of my domain nervously looking in.

Until breathlessly, I, master of my domain,

Decided to go for breakfast.

This poem describes a true event that happened when my mother and I went to Hawaii for the first time. It was a happy occasion. We stayed at a hotel across the street from the Waikiki beach and visited the beach every day. The poem attempts to describe the happy abandonment I felt on that morning.

I chose a narrative form for the poem to best set the scene and describe my happy abandonment.The goal of the poem was to describe the happiness and the freedom I felt on that morning. The poem is modeled after “A Good Play” by Robert Louis Stevenson in using simple words to describe what happened and ending with a twist. I wish I had the skill to rhyme this poem from the beginning to the end as Mr. Stevenson did his.

In the first stanza, the goal was to set a quiet scene before I disrupted it noisily and wildly. I personified the objects in my description wherever possible to enliven the mental picture I presented.

The second stanza used verbs to describe a blur of action, indicating the happiness and the freedom I felt as I ran freely and wildly around the beach. The two lines that rhymed helped the action along:

“Birds seemed to dispute my instant claim,

Stubbornly refusing to clear my domain.”

The first part of the last stanza turned a little philosophical to set up the scene for the twist in the end.

The goal of the poem was to describe the happiness and the freedom I felt that morning on the Waikiki beach. I used narrative from to set up the scene and describe my actions through which I expressed the happiness and the freedom I felt.

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Lennie (Of Mine and Men)

The following is a found poem that I made for Lennie from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men. The poem describes Lennie’s physical appearance, how Lennie treats to George, and how Lennie is treated by George. This shows what type of people Lennie and George are.

 

*SPOILER ALERT*

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Respect

 

Respect, respect, respect,

That is all I hear;

Respect your elders;  respect them for their age;

Respect, respect, respect.

 

Should age by itself deserve respect?

Should one lucky to defy death be suddenly draped in respectability?

What happened to respecting one’s personality, characteristics, or achievements?

Or, wait, is age demanding politeness from me,

And instruction of such demand somehow garbled into demand of respect?

 

Should we be taught to be respectful out of politeness,

Not simply paying homage to age for age’s sake?

Should children ever be taught the truth, uncluttered by garbled messages based on tradition and social norm?

God, no!

Such instruction would be too clear and uncluttered;

How could children learn if they are not taught tradition and social norm.

 

 

 

My poem “Respect” describes the Chinese cultural ritual of showing respect to the elders and the younger generation’s frustration with the ritual and with the lack of clear, sensible explanation about the ritual.

The first stanza describes the ritual.  The repetitive use of the word “respect” simulates how that concept was drummed into the younger generation.

The second stanza describes the younger generation’s confusion about the explanation of the ritual and its trying to come to grips with the ritual using a plausible, sensible explanation.  The tone is challenging, rebellious, and contemptuous.  Rebellious challenge reaches its peak with the third line:  “What happened to respecting one’s personality, characteristics, or achievements?”  In addition, the use of the word “draped” invokes an imagery of death and contempt.  Finally, the use of the phrase “somehow garbled” re-enforces the concept that the people explaining the ritual are out of touch with the modern age.

The third stanza juxtaposed truthful and clear explanation against tradition and social norms.  Children should be given the clear message that they should be polite to the elderly and not the traditional explanation that the elderly deserves respect, so says the third line:  “Should children ever be taught the truth, uncluttered by garbled messages based on tradition and social norm?”  The last three lines are mockery about social norms and traditions which are frequently not adequately explained and yet forcefully drummed into the younger generation.

 

 

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Examination of social aspects the Spice Trade

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Geography, history, economics, and cultural anthropology are four aspects of social studies. One could use these aspects’ interaction to illustrate how to the European spice trade impacted both European countries as well as the countries where those spices were produced.

 

Economics and Cultural Anthropology interact and show us that cultures changed because economic activities, such as trading, generated money for the economy; the money so generated helped enrich respective governments; and such enrichment of the governments, in turn, increased those governments’ reach and power. For example, the merchants participating in the Spice Trade were getting wealthy; the Portuguese government saw how much money the merchants were making and decided that it wanted to control the supply of spices; to exert such control, it decided to colonize and have trading posts in coastal cities along the Indian Ocean near Africa and force the merchants’ ships to purchase cartaz or else those ships could not trade in the coastal cities that Portugal controlled. So instead of colonizing the source of where the spices came from (because there were not enough Portuguese to carry out such colonization), the Portuguese government decided to act like pirates and extorted the merchants to give it a piece of the spice trading profit. According to Green, the cartaz allowed the Portuguese government to control the merchant trading. This example clearly shows that money influenced the Cultural Anthropology of Portugal by turning it into a colonist country, a trading post empire.

 

Geography and Economics interact to show how economic activity or the lack of influenced how the natives lived or behaved. For example, Batavia had natural surroundings perfect for growing coffee, pepper, and sugar etc. According to George Early, a British merchant seaman, Batavia located in Dutch East Indies and Dutch India used that city as a clearinghouse for all it produced in that chain of islands (see map above). It monopolized the trade on coffee and pepper; buying at extremely low prices and heavily penalizing those not selling to it, Dutch India managed to drive the natives to burn their plantation and become beggars rather than sell coffee or pepper to it (Gullick 1995) This example clearly shows that extremely oppressive government with no regard for the welfare and prosperity of those over whom it rules will fail in the end.

 

History and economics intertwine to show how economic activity patterns led to other countries also jumping on the colonization wagon. For example, Spain saw how the Portuguese made money off the Spice Trade, and it sent Columbus to scout out alternative trade routes so that it also could make money through colonization(green). Other countries followed Spain’s lead and the race is on to colonize the Americas, the Indies, and Asian countries. This example shows that, wherever there is a pattern for making money for one government, other governments will jump in.

 

Bibliography:

http://www.japanfocus.org/-elizabeth_van-kampen/3002/article.html

J.M. Gullick, Adventures and Encounters: Europeans in South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995.

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The Bewitching Winter Wonderland

The following is a description of my dream when I fainted from a heat stroke. Which starts out in the blazing hot summer which becomes what anyone would dream of in this situation.

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