Academy Awards

Question1: Both Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances in the film Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, as Best Actor and Best Actress respectively. Although Ma Rainey is the eponymous character, it could be argued that Levee is the protagonist. Discuss whether the direction of the film by George C. Wolfe emphasizes one character over another as the “carrier of the action,” and specifically how this might be done.

Your responses should be brief, 1.5 pages in length, but detailed and thorough.

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Writing a successful critique means going beyond simply deciding whether the film adaptation was “good” or “bad”. Value judgments like “it was great” are impossible to support with any real evidence. Instead, carefully consider the effectiveness of the film adaptation, and how the creative choices made by the director, actors, and designers inform your understanding of the play. You may begin by simply asking yourself your general emotional response to the film (I loved it, I only liked certain aspects of it, I thought it would never end…) but that is merely scratching the surface. Your task is to determine critically and then articulate intellectually why you believe the film succeeds or fails in its adaptation of the play you read.

Justification of your opinions is key. There is no “right” or “wrong” response to a work of art. However, if your perspective lacks justification your opinions will lack validity. Stating “this film was effective because the acting was good” will not suffice. Why was the acting good, and what do you mean by “good”? Explain and use examples.



Among the cast, performance styles varied. Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Mother  Courage also appeared inordinately funny.


Among the cast, performance styles varied; rather than fragmenting the production, however, this collage of techniques complemented the evocative and eclectic setting and highlighted the way that Kushner’s script spoke across specific historical moments. Meryl Streep’s interpretation of Mother Courage also appeared inordinately funny, thereby turning preconceived notions of the tragic character on their head and allowing the contemporary audience to see them play with fresh eyes.

(Excerpt from Theatre Journal 2007).

The non-underlined portions merely state the author’s observations. The underlined portions explain and justify why these observations matter.

Use these general guidelines to inform your approach to writing your critiques. Each critique will have its own specific prompt.

Question 2: This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and/or respond with your reaction to Mark O’Brien & Cheryl Cohen Greene’s story about sexual surrogacy.

Alternately, you can respond to the following prompts:

  • In a society that demonizes and outlaws trading money for sex, should sex surrogates for the disabled be perceived differently? Is their “trade” different? Is it therapy? And if so, should it then be paid for by health insurance as physical or behavioral therapy would?
  • Does the existence of sexual surrogates further stigmatize and/or pity disabled people? Does it play into the notion that disabled people can’t have sex unless they pay for it? Or is this a useful therapy that allows disabled people an opportunity to learn and explore their own bodies and gain experience sexually that they can then utilize with a partner?

Question 3:Watch

  • Where do you stand on disability devotees? Does it matter what the source of their fetish is (the look of an amputated limb versus watching someone “vulnerable” struggle)?
  • Is it good that devotees find people with disabilities sexually attractive or are they preying on and dehumanizing them? Do they need to disclose their fetish if they are dating someone with a disability?
  • What about people with disabilities who make money by serving devotees (through videos for example) – are they encouraging and supporting a harmful activity or just smart businesspeople?

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