Taylor McDonald: Notes Reflection

When I’m reading a play text the way I like to take notes in the margins of the page but if there is insufficient room in the margins I will sometimes take notes on a separate page instead. As I read I underline the literary devices the author uses and then in the margins I write down my thoughts as to what the author meant to do with said literary devices. I also try to mark down points that I feel are important to the overall text. If there are parts I don’t understand or feel are significant I will usually reread them two or three times to ensure I’m gleaning as much information as I can from the text.

After I have read the entire text I will go through my notes. After finishing the text I have more information about the story and what the author was trying to express. I will add to the notes I already have using the information I learn from the rest of the text and sometimes amend things that I no longer find relevant to the text.

When watching a film I approach it in much the same way despite the different medium. As I watch the first time I will write in a notebook, taking note of scenes or dialogue that seem important, as well as aspects of the film like camera work and music choice that seem to hint to something greater.

Watching a film for a second time will always yield much more than the first screening. After you know the ending and the direction a story will take aspects of the film take on a whole new meaning. you notice subtle foreshadowing that you didn’t understand the first time. Dialogue or actions that seemed unimportant become laced with meaning you were unable to understand the first time you watch. Watching a film a second time is much more rewarding than the first viewing and it adds to the notes you have already taken while introducing new points at the same time.

Both text and film are similar in the sense that many subtle hints left by the author/director only become visible when you already know the path a story will take.

Team C: Team Project

When considering what aspects of Shakespeare’s King Henry V we wanted to portray in film, we asked ourselves: what must Katherine have felt when she was told she was to meet King Henry and marry him? She might have been happy and indifferent, or upset and dismayed about her situation. We focused on the opposite reactions Katherine may have displayed and how they would be portrayed in film. Lines from within the Chorus and Scene 3 of Act 3, and Scene 2 from Act 5 were used.

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To tell the difference between our film adaptations, we used our acting, costumes, editing, and music to best portray Katherine’s emotions. When acting happy, she reacted indifferently, with a smile towards what others had to say. When acting unhappy, she would show despair and sadness. Our costumes also reflected Katherine’s conflicting emotions by using a white dress for her wedding when she was happy, and a black dress with a veil covering her face for her wedding when she was not pleased.

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We used a green screen to best recreate the Renaissance times. None of us having made a large film before, we learned a lot about good lighting and creative camera angles. In order to make the green screen work it took us over an hour just to construct our set for the best possible shots! We also used filtering techniques of light and dark to pander to Katherine’s emotions in both adaptations. To finish off our editing, we used different styles of classical music in each adaptation to match the emotions of Katherine, using more uplifting and spirited songs when Katherine was happy, and slower and darker toned songs when Katherine was unhappy.

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All-in-all, Team C was a great success!

Team D: Team Project

In our first re-enactment of Act 3: Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, we focused on the dramatic aspects of the situation – despite the play’s comedic nature. Our actors produced serious tones and facial expressions, rarely looking directly at the camera, but instead gazing melodramatically off camera. Rather than a vibrant outdoor setting, our setting was an echoing, grey stairwell, which helped create many unique shots that dramatize Shakespeare’s text. We used several camera shots that hide the character’s facial expressions from view to invoke more curiosity and suspense, while also using close-ups for the sake of less ambiguous facets. The combination of echoing with our melancholy and urgent music emphasizes the subtly suspenseful mood in our depiction of the scene, while the piece at the finale of this film conveys Beatrice’s shock and underlying happiness at discovering Benedick’s romantic interest in her.

In our second re-enactment of Act 3: Scene 1, we chose to take a comedic approach in order to stay true to the nature of the play. Intending this depiction to be less ambivalent than the previous, our group maintained simplicity with straightforward shots, focusing more on dialogue than cinematography. As we also aimed to modernize the piece, we resolved to film in a nearby Denny’s restaurant, which proved to be difficult in its own regard. The loud music, clanging of cutlery, and other conversations took its toll on the sound quality, but in the end this leant to the comedic outcome. Minor ‘slip-ups,’ such as the scripts behind the menus or actors looking directly at the camera, demonstrated an accidental aura of slapstick comedy that we believe actually enhances the film. The scene’s overall light-hearted nature was brought forth through farcical tone, overtly dramatized segments, and cheerful music.

Team B: Team Project

 

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Our team chose to do our film project on Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Scene 3, Act 1, Lines 15-115.  The scene includes three characters, Beatrice, Ursula and Hero.  We chose for both interpretations to have Cai Samphire, a male, act the character Beatrice.  Hilary James acted as Ursula and Brydie Thomas played Hero.

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For our first performance we chose to do a time appropriate rendition of the scene.  We shot this version at the Rundle Ruins in downtown Calgary.  Our team felt the location provided an appropriate background to continue with the chosen theme.  In this version, true to how the play was written, Beatrice is a woman.  We felt that a male playing a female role was appropriate with the fact that in Shakespeare’s time, all the roles would have been played by men. Cai as a man being drawn into an intrigue with another man is a way of taking a classic representation of a love story and making it consistent with modern romance. Our choice to have one long camera shot for this interpretation as well is a nod to how the play would have appeared.  We also chose to continue with the time appropriate interpretation by using classical music.

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The second performance is a modern take on the scene.  We chose the university for this version and used multiple shots at different angles.  The multiple cuts allowed us to play more with the space and have the film become more intimate as we could easily control what was in the shot versus the first version, which was shot outside.  Having Cai portray Beatrice as a male in this version helped distinguish between our two chosen themes.  As well, gender is more of a topic of discussion nowadays and having a male/male dynamic isn’t as taboo as it once was.  We chose to use modern popular music for this version as well to maintain the present-day theme.

 

Team A: Team Project

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Shakespeare’s portrayal of Henry V is concerned with the nature of power and how it influences one’s morality. Henry must grow in his role as king, acting in a way that his newfound leadership demands of him. Our film reflects on Shakespeare’s suggestion that morality becomes obscured in relation to power. The first interpretation of Henry’s actions depicts him as remorseful of his obligatory punishment of the traitors, the second as ruthless and unapologetic. We drew inspiration from mobster movies, like The Godfather, and explored how cinematic elements can influence the viewer’s perception of the same characters.

Henry V: Act II, Scene II

In each interpretation, we altered lines to manipulate characters’ motives and the scene dynamic. In Take A, Henry is disappointed that Scroop and Cambridge are unforgiving toward the criminal. He wishes to show them mercy regardless of their betrayal but is duty-bound. In Take B, however, Henry is dark and ruthless towards the traitors, paralleled to his cold rejection of former companions. Actors also interpreted these script alterations. Henry is visibly sad, emotional and conflicted in Take A while being indifferent in B. Westmorland and Exeter also set a distinct tone for each take.

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We used lighting, costumes, camera-angles, and sound to contrast character-traits and consequently, the mood of each scene. Take A’s lighting is bright and open; Henry is positioned against a glass background. B is contrasted using stark, closed-off paneling with heavy shadows. Costume changes depict characters as light or dark, which also containing visual symbols of their betrayal or virtue. We made use of camera angles to manipulate a power dynamic between Henry and the traitors. Low and high angle shots establish dominance and exchange of power. Melancholic or dangerous soundtracks evoke danger, emotion or a sense of injustice within the viewer.

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Team E Blog Post

For our team project we have chosen Act 2, Scene 1 of Henry V. The reason for choosing this particular scene was because everyone of the group except our director had the chance to act, as it is composed of five different roles.

 

We figured out quickly which versions would work with regard to the content. Our first version is a stakeout detective scene, as a modern screen adaptation. We did not change the text because we wanted to create a film with a modern setting but with the original text. The second version is a Western version for which we have changed the script a reasonable amount. Both adaptations are not supposed to be very dramatic because the scene itself provides more material for a humoristic montage. As group we foregrounded for an example that Bardolph is an old drunkard and created a funny depiction of the quarrel between Nym and Ancient Pistol.

 

Many of the elements used reflected upon both film adaptations. The props that were used furthered and almost exaggerated the characters that Shakespeare created for example, Bardolph being a drunk with his whisky in the old west version or flask in the stakeout version.

 

As noted by our director, our choices behind the camera were designed to emulate a TV show than Film. I chose quick cuts and no fancy shots to make the film have a faster feel. I feel that this highlights the verbal battle between Pistol and Nym without needing to alter the dialogue to showcase this. Also the inability of the camera to provide a shallow depth of field meant that we couldn’t put to much focus on the actor’s faces. Also we needed to keep the camera towards the middle in order to deal with the audio recorder.

Team F Blog Post

Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is a romantic comedy that focuses on the confounding relationships between two Renaissance couples. Despite its lighthearted nature, the play makes use of deceit often. For example, Beatrice and Benedick’s relationship begins with friends deceiving them into thinking they love each other. The focus of our interpretations was then to explore the effect of time period/era on film, specifically the method by which Benedick is made to think Beatrice is in love with him. This in mind, we decided to direct and record both a modern and a 1920’s version of Act II Scene III.

textEveryone has had an experience where a text message is ambiguous, or one in where we misunderstand the tone of a text. Our modern version of the play makes use of technology to fuel misunderstanding and deceit. Rather than overhearing a conversation while walking in a garden, modern day Benedick stumbles upon an unattended message box that happens to detail Beatrice’s undying love for him. Furthermore, instead of Beatrice calling Benedick to dinner in person, she does it through a text message. The alternating shots and voiceovers are then used to highlight contrast between Benedick’s over-interpretation of Beatrice’s messages and the actual tone of her voice.

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Our 1920’s version was more true to Shakespeare’s original stage directions in that a hiding Benedick happens upon a conversation between Leonato and Don Pedro. Diction and idioms were changed to suit the time period, and Claudio and Leonato’s lines were combined in order to streamline the script. This allowed for more fluidity, cutting back and forth between two characters instead of three. Don Pedro and Leonato’s deceit through word of mouth serves as a sharp contrast to our modern version’s use of technology to deceive.

 

Daniel, Lawrence (Dan), Carly, Andre, Zhen (Jennifer) 

Tekla McIlhargey: Notes Reflection

My approach and habits for taking notes have similarities and differences when it comes to play-text versus watching a film version of a Shakespeare play.  The better the notes, the easier it is for me to find what I’m looking for quicker, look back and understand what I was interpreting and remember the most important details.

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When I am watching a film interpretation of a Shakespeare play, I will have the script of the play with me as well as my notebook to take notes.  While watching I will pause the film whenever I feel something essential has happened that I should be noting.  I will find the scene in the book and will scan or re-read the scene, depending on how well I remember it, then will compare the language:  Is it an exact replica of the language in the Shakespeare script?  Were word and/or lines omitted or changed?  Characters: How are the characters visually interpreted in the film?  How do the actors portray the character versus how I felt the character would look while reading the play?  Setting: Is it time appropriate?  Modern?  What location choices did the director decide would suite this play and their interpretation of it?  Music:  Is the film score original to the film?  Is it modern music easily recognizable?  Is it loud music?  Soft music? Continuous or in and out?  I will also write down the scene and act from the play as well as the time on the film so that I can easily find it later, if needed.  Once I feel I have written down what I will need to remember and what I feel is essential I continue with watching the film will again pause and do the same when pertinent.   I do not annotate directly on the script while I do my notes for film-review.  This is an area where I see I can improve.  If I wrote directly on the text I would have had an easier time understanding my notes written in my notebook and where exactly in the play I could draw connections.

While reading a Shakespeare play my first and most important habit is to use a version of the play which includes definitions on the page.  I will lookout for words I don’t understand and write them directly over the word in the text.  I will look for word-play and grammar specific to Shakespeare: his use of puns, double-meanings, metaphors and personification.  My main technique for note taking is by annotating while I read.  I find this keeps me more involved in the text and less likely to lose my train of thought.  If I run out of room in the margins, I add post-it notes to the pages to continue with my annotating.  I find this can become very overwhelming when I go back to review my annotated notes and I have been trying to use my notebook more for notes when reading a Shakespeare play.  Another habit I have recently been trying to change is to use a pen to annotate instead of a pencil.  The pencil smudged and it creates a messy and sometimes unreadable annotation.

I find the habits I have developed throughout my education have for the most part helped me, however, they can become messy and in that sense I do require improvement.  As Shakespeare can often be perplexing to read or watch I believe the best habit is patience and to know it will require some interpretation.  Good note taking is imperative to obtaining an understanding of Shakespeare.

Daniel Leong: Notes Reflection

As a result of being a quick thinker, a visual learner, and generally forgetful person, I much prefer electronic note taking when watching films, but find colored pens to be invaluable when analyzing text. I also find it beneficial to assume that everything done in a film or text is entirely intentional and, as though I were interviewing the director/author, I often ask myself: “What does this mean, and why is this way?”

This kind of thinking does limit my ability to take notes on film somewhat, as there is simply too much information about music, lighting, angles and shots for me to question and write about while viewing. For this reason, I often choose to focus primarily on choices pertaining to music and lighting as (Owing to my background in orchestra and video advertising) they are the simplest for me to understand. In terms of what I actually write down, I find that because of my forgetful but thorough nature it’s often in my best interest to write down words or phrases that help me remember what I was thinking at the time of viewing, rather than writing down exactly what I’m thinking. For example, with regards to music, while viewing the Crispin’s Day speech of Branagh’s Henry V I might write something along the lines of:

  • High diss shots +tymp = fear (Odds–)
  • Henry! low chord+add inst. + cresc chords=hope(Voice++)

As opposed to writing out:

  • The director chose dissonant shots from the high strings coupled with the steady tympani beat to indicate grim prospects for Henry’s soldiers.
  • When King Henry appears, the music switches from shots to major chords from the low strings. Their crescendo, coupled with the addition of many more instruments is matched by the volume of Henry’s voice and gives a hopeful, inspiring tone to the rest of his speech.

The fault in this method of note taking is that it is entirely dependent on my ability to recall what I was thinking. That being said, I find that though I’m occasionally unable to recollect my initial thought process, taking these kinds of notes gives me the opportunity to pay closer attention to the structure of scenes/sequences as a whole and how the elements I focus on (Music and lighting) fit into the larger picture. I know I’ve taken good notes when I look at them at home and remember instantly what I was seeing and why I thought what I thought.

 

Of course, no such problem of forgetting exists with text, as I can read and re-read to my heart’s content. With regards to note-taking, I often prefer to reformat and print out my own versions of passages so as to have ample room for annotation using colored pens. I’ve tried highlighters in the past, however, since I ask myself both “What does this mean?” and also “Why is it this way?” when reading, I find colored pens to be better for allowing me to precisely articulate my thoughts on specific words or phrases.

As a result of this method of thinking, I primarily look for meaning in specific diction, word connotations, and consonance/assonance as I find that the choice of words and how they sound are often the building blocks for the larger meanings of passages. Using the same example of the Crispin’s Day speech, I would underline every word pertaining to the idea of fellowship or brotherhood in blue, circle every example of alliteration in orange, every repetition of “Crispin” or “Crispian” in green, every word pertaining to ideas of battle in red and every word pertaining to ideas of remembrance in purple. Any thoughts I have regarding any of these themes I could then write down in their respective color and immediately connect them tangibly to the text. Having a general understanding of a particular play’s themes as a whole then enables me to quickly categorize and assign meanings to the specific use of these words/literary devices.

This does mean, of course, that I sometimes miss out on literary devices such as allusion, foreshadowing, metaphor, personification, etc. However, if the themes of the overall play are consistent throughout, I hardly think that a thorough analysis of diction will cause me to miss out on significant meaning coming from another literary device when considering plays as a whole.

Overall, my strategy of note taking hasn’t evolved much with respect to text since high school, however, the film-focus of this course has allowed for significant development in my note-taking for film.

Caitlyn Molstad: Notes Reflection

I am an extremely visual learner so my annotation and notes are all done by hand. I find that when I write things down- sometimes more than once- I can retain a large amount of information. I take a lot of notes, jotting down everything I can think of at first, then going back over them to pick out the most important points and emphasize what is most significant. I often re-write my notes after a lecture to better retain the information.

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When close reading a play-text, I begin by creating a list of the characters. I find it helpful to do some external research and write a brief description of each character’s place within the narrative, connection to other characters, and some of their personal qualities and motives within the text. I refer back to this list often during my readings. I have found my readings of texts in which the language is more difficult than usual to be most successful when I seek external information and summaries before diving into a close reading. Sparknotes is often viewed negatively in higher academic settings but I think that it can be an effective addition to traditional close readings. annotation-2I paraphrase each scene of every act in a play, writing down the general plot line so that when I start my close reading, I can focus on the more nuanced details of the text instead of struggling to grasp the basic storyline. I find I am more successful in analyzing Shakespeare’s elevated language when I already have a strong grasp of what’s going on in a particular scene.

Once I have my list of characters and a paraphrase of each scene, I begin the close reading process. annotation-1I like to look over the footnotes and briefly annotate or translate anything I think is significant next to the lines on the top half of the page so I’m not constantly breaking away from the text to read the notes. Then, I mark off the meter of the text, which not only helps me to understand the meaning behind the poetic devices at work, but also focuses me on the rhythm of each line and slows my reading down. In a very detailed close reading of a scene, I underline and highlight different things that jump out at me, like any alliteration or variation on syllables. I found using the glossary of terms provided to us by Dr. Ullyot to be helpful and I take note of which poetic or linguistic elements I notice in a particular passage.

My annotation and notes when analyzing a film are a little less formal than when reading a play-text, but perhaps more time-consuming. I watch the film all the way through, taking a first set of notes that are more like a stream of consciousness. I write down any thoughts and ideas I get while watching the film, important symbols, cinematic techniques at work, the effect of score or soundtrack, and any important quotes that stand out to me. I also take note of any scenes or sequences that I found to be particularly interesting and write down the time at which they occur in the film. I then go back to those scenes and take notes with more detail and attention than the first set. After I’ve seen the whole movie, I write down any final thoughts or conclusions about the film and any arguments I might make.

I think it’s also interesting to note that I use these different viewing and reading habits to compliment one another in my understanding of a text. Reading the play-text can help to accentuate meanings I perhaps didn’t pick up on in a film, and watching scenes on film can help me better understand a particular scene from the play. When I engage in different mediums and methods of understanding a text, I am successful in uncovering deeper meaning and more diverse interpretations that I may not have with a one-dimensional approach.

I determine my success in annotating by talking to someone about the text once I’m finished studying. I find that if I am able to explain meaning, details, and engage verbally by teaching someone else about the material, I generally have a good understanding of the text. This way, not only do I feel confident in my own knowledge, but those closest to me become well-educated on the texts I engage with!