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 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.

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.

Anthony Hawboldt: Argument Reflection

Confession: I’m not an English Major. I’m an Anthropologist and Archaeologist by training. When it comes to creating an argument for a paper, I tend to use these disciplines to help me stay organized. Within the Anthropology and Archaeology department, An(th)arky has become our created word for any thing that blends the two, so that will be the title of my style. Here’s a breakdown of my process:

STEP ONE: HYPOTHESIS

Most assignments are easy in that they give you the thesis that they expect you to write about. When the assignment is more open-ended, I tend to choose a topic that I think would be interesting. The hardest papers to write are ones that are boring, so I try to avoid those topics.

STEP TWO: OBSERVE
In Archaeology we look at a list of various traits on all artifacts. Books or films are really no different then any other artifact. The diagnostic traits that I tend to focus on are things like repetition, symbolism, text structure. I’ll write these down in the left hand side of my notebook.

STEP THREE: ANALYZE

Now that I have the primary data that I think is necessary, I’ll look at it and see if there are any trends that appear. Also, I’ll look to see if any of the features that I was looking for seems to be connected to another feature. Anything that I think is important will be written down in the middle of my notebook.

STEP FOUR: THEORIZE

Now that I’ve refined the data into something that I can use to make my arguements, I’ll start looking for any theories that I feel I could use, and write them down on the right hand side of the notebook. This enables me to quickly organize a theoretical perspective, evidence and specific examples for my arguements, as well as the way in which they are all related.

STEP FIVE: WRITE

Now that I have everything that I need, i’ll just sit down until I’ve got everything that I want to say down on the page.

STEP SIX: EDIT

I’ll often print out a copy of my arguement and read it out loud. I feel that this is a more effective way to notice any mistakes or sentances that seem oddly written. I alway do a primary edit, and I’ll do another round of editing if I have enough time before it’s due.

Let’s see all of this in action:

From Throne of Blood, Washizu is terrified of the incoming arrows

From Throne of Blood, Washizu is terrified of the incoming arrows

Let’s assume that we’re being asked to create an argument that Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jō) relies on Japanese cultural motifs more than Shakespeare.

For the Left Column: Removal of major characters from text. Old Hag is taken from other Noh plays. Washizu’s face and dynamic motion taken from Kabuki. Symbolism of the forest and the animals on Washizu and Miki’s flags. Kabuk/Noh instruments instead of cinematic score

For the Middle Column: Emotional moments are created with sound, not by incorporating characters from Macbeth. Old Hag (Onibaba) and the flags taken from Buddhist theology. Spider’s Web Forest creates a dichotomy with the castle (Man-Nature)

For the Right Column: I’d probably incorporate theories about concepts like the Sacred-Profane dichotomy, Liminality, Environmenal Determinism.

After, I’d combine it all together into a thesis statement. This would be organized along the lines of “How Throne of Blood relies on Japanese theatrical traditions to help explain a man vs. nature story, and the role of destiny (pre-determination) instead of attempting to be a cultural translation of the Macbeth story”.
There may be a more effective way to write for English, but I’ve never been taught how. This Anthro/Arky style of argument writing is the way that I feel most confident writing in, and that’s why I keep using it, even if it’s more work.

Anthony Hawboldt: Argument Reflection

Confession: I’m not an English Major. I’m an Anthropologist and Archaeologist by training. When it comes to creating an argument for a paper, I tend to use these disciplines to help me stay organized. Within the Anthropology and Archaeology department, An(th)arky has become our created word for any thing that blends the two, so that will be the title of my style. Here’s a breakdown of my process:

STEP ONE: HYPOTHESIS

Most assignments are easy in that they give you the thesis that they expect you to write about. When the assignment is more open-ended, I tend to choose a topic that I think would be interesting. The hardest papers to write are ones that are boring, so I try to avoid those topics.

STEP TWO: OBSERVE

In Archaeology we look at a list of various traits on all artifacts. Books or films are really no different then any other artifact. The diagnostic traits that I tend to focus on are things like repetition, symbolism, text structure. I’ll write these down in the left hand side of my notebook.

STEP THREE: ANALYZE

Now that I have the primary data that I think is necessary, I’ll look at it and see if there are any trends that appear. Also, I’ll look to see if any of the features that I was looking for seems to be connected to another feature. Anything that I think is important will be written down in the middle of my notebook.

STEP FOUR: THEORIZE

Now that I’ve refined the data into something that I can use to make my arguements, I’ll start looking for any theories that I feel I could use, and write them down on the right hand side of the notebook. This enables me to quickly organize a theoretical perspective, evidence and specific examples for my arguements, as well as the way in which they are all related.

STEP FIVE: WRITE

Now that I have everything that I need, i’ll just sit down until I’ve got everything that I want to say down on the page.

STEP SIX: EDIT

I’ll often print out a copy of my arguement and read it out loud. I feel that this is a more effective way to notice any mistakes or sentances that seem oddly written. I alway do a primary edit, and I’ll do another round of editing if I have enough time before it’s due.

Let’s see all of this in action:

From Throne of Blood, Washizu is terrified by the incoming arrows

From Throne of Blood, Washizu is terrified by the incoming arrows

Let’s assume that we’re being asked to create an argument that Throne of Blood (Kumonosu-jō) relies on Japanese cultural motifs more than Shakespeare.

For the Left Column: Removal of major characters from text. Old Hag is taken from other Noh plays. Washizu’s face and dynamic motion taken from Kabuki. Symbolism of the forest and the animals on Washizu and Miki’s flags. Kabuk/Noh instruments instead of cinematic score

For the Middle Column: Emotional moments are created with sound, not by incorporating characters from Macbeth. Old Hag (Onibaba) and the flags taken from Buddhist theology. Spider’s Web Forest creates a dichotomy with the castle (Man-Nature)

For the Right Column: I’d probably incorporate theories about concepts like the Sacred-Profane dichotomy, Liminality, Environmenal Determinism.

After, I’d combine it all together into a thesis statement. This would be organized along the lines of “How Throne of Blood relies on Japanese theatrical traditions to help explain a man vs. nature story, and the role of destiny (pre-determination) instead of attempting to be a cultural translation of the Macbeth story”.

There may be a more effective way to write for English, but I’ve never been taught how. This Anthro/Arky style of argument writing is the way that I feel most confident writing in, and that’s why I keep using it, even if it’s more work.

Samuel Martyn: Notes Reflection

My notes are awful. They are sparse and happen relatively infrequently. Particularly for reading a play or watching film. They are nondescript for the most part. If anyone aside from me was to look at my notes, they would not gain much, if anything at all.

Most of my annotation when it comes to going through the text of a play, does not consist of writing words between the lines or in the margins. I circle, highlight, and underline words or phrases of significance. I usually read the scene/passage out loud, and make these annotations during or after. This is so I can gauge the emotion, flow, and emphasis of the passage. The few words I write in are only to describe the emotion or tone of the speaker.

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The reason for my style of note-taking (or lack thereof) is that once I read or hear the text a couple of times through, I can process it quite easily. I also find it more beneficial to return and re-read the entire passage to remember or understand the text than to try and interpret what the annotation I wrote in at a prior time means. Following a single story-line with the same characters throughout the text, I can very easily process and engage in what is happening without taking many notes.

This sentiment is even further experienced when I watch a film. I rarely take notes while watching film. By actively pairing the narrative with faces and voices, and literally having the text played out in front of my eyes, I almost immediately process and internalize what is happening. Film is my favourite medium (aside from music) for the sole fact that I can recall its information so quickly and accurately. The only time I will write down a note from a film is when there is a line that I want to remember, or a song on the soundtrack that I want to download at a later time.

The only other time in which I will write something down while watching a film or reading a play text, is when I want to be looking for categorical or symbolic representations within the medium. However, these will not be specific things I write down, it will be more like “watch for: lighting shifts, change in tone, music”, etc. I do this instead of in depth, specific notes, because I want to be engaged with the text medium itself, rather than try to keep up with both note taking and observation and then end up missing something significant within the text.

My notes are typically not successful in the sense that they should be. When I do annotations, I typically look back a few days later and have absolutely no idea what it means. When it comes to the final exam however, I do realize that this choice of extremely limited annotation may cause some issues for me. I take notes in my history classes, when there are not necessarily story lines or narratives, or consistent characters that make the material a linear, thematic text. Annotations done on my part do not help me comprehend English literature any better.

My notes may come across as “insufficient” to others or, it may seem as if I am not engaging in the text, but that could not be farther from the truth. Notes are just not how I find I can actively engage the text.

Pavneet Pahwa: Notes Reflection

Shakespeare is seen as a challenge by most English students all over the world. His language is flowery and pleasant to hear, but also rather daunting to try and understand. Archaic vocabulary, historical context, bizarre sentence structure, and an abundance of literary devices further contribute to a much denser layer of complexity in his work. Exposure to this madness over the years, however, has resulted in the development of my own method of comprehension which I will be discussing in this blog post.

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My journey of a play-text begins with a list of roles which I translate into a character tree. Details are added as more of the play’s context is revealed through online research, footnotes, as well as the advancement of the plot. Keeping this tree chart available as a guide throughout, I read an online summary of each act just prior to engaging with the text. I follow along the play using an unbiased, non-dramatized LibriVox-Audiobook recording to stay on track while keeping the words open to interpretation. Already having a gist of the plot enables me to focus on Shakespeare’s interpretive choices as I highlight all the textual features that make a strong first impression, taking notes in the margins. A dictionary is kept accessible at all times.

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Monologues and exchanges that seem most important to plot and character development are marked with sticky-notes, to be analyzed more closely once the whole play has been read. Then, the chosen lines are read aloud and more slowly to attend to details. I divide the text into sections, if possible, based on apparent shifts in form, language and/or semantics, as recommended by Dr. Ullyot. The use of literary techniques is further categorized using a table that I created based on Dr. Ullyot’s expectations for close reading, to ensure that no significant aspect is overlooked. Keeping patterns in mind, I utilize the table to jot down the effects of the literary features used, in addition to categorizing them. This highlights the importance of their employment while also actualizing the awareness that one is being manipulated by Shakespeare (accidentally and/or deliberately) in the subtlest of ways.

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In contrast, influence over the audience is much more deliberate, pronounced, and yet easily discounted by the untrained eye when it comes to cinema. Having freely interpreted the words of the author from my own perspective, I then allow directors to sweep me into their narrower adaptation of the same. Impactful scenes are paused, rewound and replayed several times with a table of key elements, a pen, and a notebook at my disposal, in order to implement disciplined focus, given the much faster pace of films. The first thing I note down is a brief description of the setting being portrayed in the film, how similar or different it is from what Shakespeare or I may have imagined, and how it enhances the story as a whole. I usually have the book in front of me to get a sense of the proportion of text that has been shown, as opposed to being told.

4

Direction and camera are arguably the most crucial components of the visual aspect of cinema. I take note of the general type, pattern, and point of view of the film shots. The strategy behind editing and splicing the same is noted along with the genre, pace and rhythm of the music being employed. Similarly, I look for iconic moments created by actors based on their individual interpretations of the characters, intertwined with those of the director. The chemistry between, and the (gradual or sudden) shifts in these cinematic elements (Crowl, 2007) is an important aspect of my film analyses. I follow up with reading the recommended critiques, learning about the director’s signature style, and watching interviews, further unveiling the thought processes behind some of the creative decisions witnessed on screen.

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After having collected, categorized and described the evidence from both literature and film in a segregated manner, I begin to seek patterns across my notes for strong, recurring themes and well-supported arguments. The success of my inductive analyses is determined by the abundance of quality evidence alluding to each claim or concept. Having clusters of data (though subjective in interpretation), as opposed to outliers, reduces the likelihood of arriving at far-fetched conclusions, paving the way for an effective piece of argumentative writing.

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Works Cited

Crowl, Samuel. Shakespeare and Film: A Norton Guide. New York: W.W. Norton, 2007. Print.

Mirabelle Harris-Eze: Notes Reflection

“We all do ‘do, re, mi,’ but you have got to find the other notes yourself.”

~ Louis Armstrong

Introduction

While most notes include summaries and interpretation of data, the way these occur on the page differ from person to person. My marketing textbook describes analysis as the conversion of data into insight, and this analysis is always made easier for me through taking notes. Today, I want to look at textual data and visual data, especially in regards to play-texts and films. My annotation practices when reading and observing both art forms differ and converge in methodology.

Annotation Practices – Play-Texts

An aversion to manipulating physical copies of a text, due to the majority of the texts that I have ever read being library loans, means that my copies of Henry V and Much Ado About Nothing are void of  highlighting, underlines and scribbles. I hope to grow out of this aversion, as I have to come to understand—over taking two English classes this semester and talking to classmates—that margin notes taken in the physical copy of a text have numerous benefits such as ease of reference and direct linking of ideas without having to write them all out. Currently, with my aversion still present, I write detailed notes about play-texts in a separate notebook.

As Play-Texts are a form of Literature, I am very conscious of literary devices when taking notes. I note:

  1. Literary Devices (Symbolism, Simile, etc.)
  2. Quotes or words I enjoy/I don’t understand
  3. Context I might need to look into further

I also try to go beyond simply addressing the existence of the above but: in the case of literary terms, discussing the effects of the devices used; with words I can’t decipher, looking them up; and context I am clueless about, researching more. All of this additional information is jotted down.

Annotation Practices – Film

When watching film, there are numerous aspects to keep in mind as I write my notes in a notebook. Unlike with textual works, I have less academic experience with writing notes when watching films. This class has been a large factor in my better understanding of interpreting film. When writing notes during the various films we’ve seen throughout ENGL 311, there are specific things I look for:

  1. Film Techniques (such as type of shots, editing cuts, etc.)
  2. Actors (A-List, relationship to director/producer, etc.)
  3. Lines or words I enjoy/don’t understand
  4. Context I might need to look into further

After numerous English classes that taught how to read literature, the process of annotation and interpretation of texts flows quickly and lengthily. The same cannot be said for film. These notes tend to be more sparse, especially because when watching scenes from a film in a classroom or theater-like setting, it is not possible/too time-consuming to pause to write down lengthy observations.

General Note Taking and Inquiry and Determining Success

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An example of my note-taking.

I like to see how several small ideas connect over large chunks of text or video. Thus, when I write notes, my handwriting tends to be very minute and cramped. The more text I can cram on a page, the more ideas I can relate and compare. I also utilize arrows, models, and different text colors to relate ideas, differentiate headings or highlight important words and concepts. For taking notes for texts and films, I try to develop a character map listing out the cast of characters, along with their characteristics, and how they relate to each other.

There are two different things I look at when trying to tell if I’ve had a successful note-taking session:

  1. I understand the material better and this understanding resonates across all additional analysis.
  2. When I look back at my notes, I can understand them in nearly the same capacity as when I wrote them down.

Conclusion

My note taking is often intensely meticulous, cramped, colorful and done in a specific notebook with lined paper. My approach when taking notes when reading play-texts and when watching film differ and converge. Notes on play-texts tend to be lengthier and more in-depth. Both require brief summaries, analysis of textual and visual devices, and, later on, external research.

 


mira-shadowMirabelle Harris-Eze is an 18 year-old student based in Calgary, Alberta. Sometime in the near future, she wishes to publish a book written entirely in the language of her ancestors, Igbo. One day she hopes to fill this bio with writing credentials, and accolades. For now, this will have to do.