Choose ONE of the following two questions in Part One to answer.
Your response should be about 500 words.
For each question, I am asking that you address two GIVEN quotations in your answer. You can also quote from other parts of the play, but you must address what is going on in these two specific quotes.
Be sure to situate the quotations within the overall play, explaining what is going on when each person speaks. Analyze key ideas, images, and/or words.
Option 1A: Waiting for Lefty Stage Directions
QUESTION: How do the stage directions in Waiting for Lefty help to convey important information? Be specific in your answer and refer to the following quotations.
Edna: My arm’d be up my sleeve, darling, if I had a sleeve to wear. (Puts neatly folded apron on back of chair.) (11)
(Throughout this whole speech AGATE is backed up by the other six workers, so that from their activity it is plain that the whole group of them are saying these things. Several of them may take alternate lines out of this long last speech.) (30)
Option 1B: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
QUESTION: August Wilson considers the blues and storytelling as a “way of passing along information.” How does music and storytelling function in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom? Explain how the characters pass on information to one another and to the audience. In your answer, refer to the following quotations.
Levee: My daddy wasn’t spooked up by the white man. Nossir! . . . So you all just back up and leave Levee alone about the white man. I can smile and say yessir to whoever I please. I got time coming to me. You all just leave Levee alone about the white man.
(There is a long pause. Slow Drag begins playing on his bass and sings)
Slow Drag: (Singing)
If I had my way
If I had my way
If I had my way
I would tear this old building down. (70-71)
Ma Rainey: The blues help you get out of bed in the morning. You get up knowing you ain’t alone. There’s something else in the world. Something’s been added by that song. This be an empty world without the blues. I take that emptiness and try to fill it up with something. (83)
PART TWO (25 points): Connections Between Plays
For Part Two, answer ONE of the following questions.
Your response should be approx. 1000 words and must analyze TWO PLAYS.
It will be important that your response COMPARES or CONTRASTS the two plays. That is, you cannot simply analyze the two plays separately. What do we learn from looking at the plays together? Create a transition that CONNECTS the two plays.
***Remember to quote from the plays and to ground your discussion in specific moments. For this 1000-word response, you should have at least five or six quotations from the plays.
Option 2A. Strength and Transformation in Waiting for Lefty and Real Women
Both Waiting for Lefty from the 1930s and Real Women Have Curves from the 1980s depict stressful working conditions. Each play also involves acts of personal and social transformation. How do the characters find the strength and inspiration to make changes in their lives? Be very specific in your response. Identify obstacles that SPECIFIC characters face and describe how they manage to overcome those obstacles. Do these two plays suggest similar ways of overcoming adversity? What are important differences between them?
Option 2B. The End of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Real Women Have Curves
What constitutes a good ending to a play–one that makes the audience think? Feel? Take action? All of the above? Which ending do you like best, or which one do you think works most effectively? Explain your answer by providing a thoughtful analysis of the concluding scenes. First, connect the final scene to the overall play. What happens and why is it important? Have we been prepared for the ending? What are we supposed to learn from the ending?
(You might keep in mind that Ma Rainey is a tragedy and Real Women is a comedy. While the form of each play has an impact on the ending, we see humor and tragedy in both plays.)
PART ONE: Connections Within A Play
1. One analysis of two quotations from the same play, Option 1A or 2B (approx 500 words)
PART TWO: Connections Between Plays (25 points)
2. One analysis of two plays, Option 2A or 2B (1000 words)
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