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'Oleanna' By David Mamet

IB English Presentation
by

Felicity Lock

on 2 October 2012

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Transcript of 'Oleanna' By David Mamet

'Oleanna' By David Mamet Biography: David Mamet Key ideas Social & Political Environment Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill Political Correctness Feminism, sexual harrassment and gender politics 'Fabricated sexual harrassment charges used as a tool to gain power' Language and communication Misinterpretation of words and actions
The power of language is another facet of the examination of power in Oleanna. Not only does Carol gain proficiency in language in the course of the play, but she uses her words to accuse John, thereby gaining power over him. For his part, John's power of language diminishes, as his outbursts become less and less effective. In their last two meetings, Carol clearly and calmly discusses the conflict with him and demands his subordination, using the same big words that he used with her in Scene I. John's language deteriorates into fragments and curse words. His final act represents a complete loss of language. Power John thrives on gaining power over Carol (and other students) John John may have good intentions in Act One; however, he doesn’t seem be a very good or wise instructor. He spends most of his time talking about himself and very little time actually listening to Carol. The telephone Representation of the wife, lawyer.. Carol Mamet designs her character so that the most of the audience will ultimately loath her by Act Two. The fact that she interprets his touch on the shoulder as sexual assault shows that Carol may have some other issues that she does not reveal. Harriet, Elizabeth, Luke and Flick Literary Life / Career Personal Life (cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr (cc) photo by theaucitron on Flickr Thank you for watching! :) The End
Instructions:-
1) Use the e-resources site on the LRC portal page to research your topic
2) Search the internet for useful information / images / maps etc
3) Decide what form your presentation will take and what resources you will need
4) Designate specific tasks to members of your group
5) Create an email group (and include me on the list) to exchange resources and report to each other on progress
6) Email me if you need anything like a class set of a handout or some printing etc
7) Be fun – don’t bore each other rigid with a text heavy powerpoint but try to be original in style and challenging in content
Possibilities:
· Create a game.
· Write a powerpoint using sound / images / film clips.
· Use props or costumes (but no guns please!)
· Quiz using buzzers.
· Role play.
· Animation using lego figures.
· Spaced Learning (see me if you chose this option)
· Drawing task.
· Maps.
· Top trumps game.
· Test your learners using mini white boards.
· Anything you can think of….let your imagination run riot! The challenge
Your challenge is to research and present key contextual information about each of the texts: such as the social, political, cultural, historical environment in which the text was produced, where the text is set, key themes / ideas explored in the text, brief author biography, key features of the genre etc. Think of your session as which will help your learners locate the text and shape their responses to it. Major Characters an introduction / overview of the text if you want to change the colour of the fonts, do it in the "theme" section in the top left, dont change any individual text's fonts / colours !!! Born: 30th November 1947 American playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and film director. Pinboard - read for notices etc If you haven't read the commentaries in the front of the book, i would reccomend doing so, so much of all this stuff is in there. you can borrow mine (Luke's) to read if your copy doesnt have it :) Mamet's books include: The Old Religion (1997), a novel about the lynching of Leo Frank; Five Cities of Refuge: Weekly Reflections on Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy (2004), a Torah commentary with Rabbi Lawrence Kushner; The Wicked Son (2006), a study of Jewish self-hatred and antisemitism; and Bambi vs. Godzilla, a commentary on the movie business. David Alan Mamet Had two children with his first wife & two with Rebecca Pidgeon, his current wife, who is a British actress and singer-songwriter. Married twice Best known as a playwright, Mamet won a Pulitzer Prize and received a Tony nomination for Glengarry Glen Ross (1984). He also received a Tony nomination for Speed-the-Plow (1988). As a screenwriter, he received Oscar nominations for The Verdict (1982) and Wag the Dog (1997). The part for Oleanna was alegedly written specifically for Pidgeon, who played her in the first performance. He often uses italics and quotation marks to highlight particular words and to draw attention to his characters' frequent manipulation and deceitful use of language. Mamet's style of writing dialogue, marked by a cynical, street-smart edge, precisely crafted for effect, is so distinctive that it has come to be called Mamet himself has criticized his (and other writers') tendency to write "pretty" at the expense of sound, logical plots. His characters frequently interrupt one another, their sentences trail off unfinished, and their dialogue overlaps. "Mamet speak" Oleanna is a Norwegian folk song about Ole Bull's vision of a perfect society in America.
Oleanna was actually the name of one of Ole Bull's settlements in the New Norway colony of Pennsylvania.
His society failed, and all of the immigrants moved away since the dense forest made it hard to settle there. The lyrics concern the singer's desire to leave Norway and escape to "Oleanna", a land where:
"wheat and corn just plant themselves
then grow a good four feet a day
while on your bed you rest yourself" the Name "Oleanna" Luke I actually love this ^, it's hilariously awesome :) Critical Response One faction of critics censures Mamet for what they perceive to be a gross simplification of gender relations and harassment suits, while the other defends the play as an important and complex statement about the abuse of power in academic circles Many feminists charged that Mamet unfairly depicted women as manipulative, and protested that the characterization of Carol as devious alienated her from the audience—who often cheered when John started beating her Some commentators claimed that the play is less about sexual harassment than about higher education's prevalent patriarchal mentality and the abuse of power by professors over their students Although many expressed extreme dislike for the play's themes and characterization, most reviewers commended Mamet's use of language to signify power, pointing to John's mastery of language in the beginning of the play set against Carol's mumbling, followed later by John's incoherent sentence fragments and Carol's adept use of vocabulary. These commentators read Oleanna as an effective critique of the interplay of gender, power, and language in modern society. Scene 3 Scene 2 Scene 1 Plot He flaunts his academic power, and he unintentionally demeans Carol by shouting, “Sit down!” and by physically trying to urge her to stay and finish their conversation. He doesn’t realize his own capacity for aggression until it is too late. Many audience members believe that he is completely innocent of the charges of sexual harassment and attempted rape. In the final scene, she tells the professor not to call his wife “Baby.” This is Mamet’s way of showing that Carol has truly crossed a line, prompting John to cross a line of his own. Sexual harassment? Or self-righteous Political Correctness? Carol comes into John's office to seek help after receiving a failing grade on a paper. John is busy on the phone with his wife and their real estate agent. He is being considered for tenure and plans to buy a new house once he receivesthe approval of the Tenure Committee. John grudgingly agrees to talk to Carol and she then pleads for him to help her understand his class. She states that the books he assigns (one of which is a textbook he himself has written) and the class discussions are over her head and she can't grasp the subject matter. He condescendingly listens to her and interrupts her questions with personal anecdotes, using large complicated words and by answering the continually ringing phone. Interupts Carol every time she is about to tell John something important. When Carol finally breaks down and begs him to help her understand, he "sympathetically" puts his arm around her shoulder to calm her and offers to tutor her. John's link to the rest of his life, in book the only set is his office at the university. The telephone is the only way the audience get an update on the situation from the outside, rather than just what Carol or John suggest/tell each other is going on. Education system and Teacher-student relationships The second scene of the play shows
a shifting of the balance of power
between John and Carol. Carol has accused John of
sexual harassment, jeopardizing
the granting of tenure to him. John again begins in a condescending tone
and tries to calm Carol down by describing her
misinterpretation of the events that transpired in their
previous meeting. His speech is halting and jumbled
and his appearance is disheveled. She, on the other hand,
is dressed smartly and her
command of the language
has improved. She informs him that she is being
supported by “The Group,” which
is assisting her in her complaint. John cannot dissuade her from continuing
the sexual harassment charges, and he grabs
her arm to get her attention and keep her from
leaving while he pleads his case with her yet again.
She screams for him to let go of her and the second
scene ends. Condescending... Patronizing... In the final scene John's
appearance is shockingly disheveled and his speech
is erratic. Carol is ready to file attempted rape
charges against him for his actions in Scene
II. She is dressed in an almost manly style
and her grasp of language is complete. Carol offers to drop all charges,
but she and the Group have conditions:
he must remove certain texts from his
lesson plan, including his own book. 'Feminist Nazi'..? In an act of helplessness and
rage, John begins to beat Carol. In the last moments of the play he stands over her cowering form holding a chair over his head, ready to bring it down on her. He stops short of this final act, puts the chair down, returns to his desk, and begins to shuffle papers while Carol says, “Yes. That's right. … yes. That's right.” Slowly, scene-by-scene, we see the regression of John into a nervous wreck, and the progression of Carol into a 'feminist Nazi'. This is also represented in an interesting way through the costume changes of both characters, with John slowly being stripped of articles of clothing, while Carol adds layers. Continuously interupts Carol with personal anecdotes and by answering the phone Narrator Carol represents the American political correctness movement in quite a negative way. Mamet allows the audience to witness how frustrating political correctness can be; the plotline, although dramatised, may actually be possible in today's society, leading to the end of a person's career, or even his or her life. "With fiendish persistence, Mamet uses the constantly ringing phone to advance the plot and to delay, if not destroy, understanding between the characters."
-http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/02/07/david-mamets-oleanna-raises-the-tension/ John: What I am trying to tell you is that some, some basic..
Carol: I..
John: …one moment: some basic missed communi…
Carol: I’m doing what I’m told. I bought your book, I read your..
John: No, I’m sure you…
Carol: No, no, no. I’m doing what I’m told. It’s difficult for me. It’s difficult..
John: …but…
Carol: I don’t…lots of the language
John: …please
Carol: The language, the ‘things’ that you say… Miscommunication The hearings ended with with no clear resolution of the differences between Hill's and Thomas' accounts. Clarence Thomas was President George Bush's nominee to replace a retiring Judge on the Supreme Court. However, his appointment seemed jeopardized by 6 October reports of alleged acts of sexual harassment toward a co-worker from 1981 to 1983. These charges, made by Anita Hill, were leaked to the press just days before the Senate's final vote on Thomas' appointment. Responding to demands from feminist organizations, the Senate delayed the vote in order to hear more about Hill's allegations. Observers in the press labeled the hearings an example of "He Said, She Said," with both parties offering such vastly differing recollections of events that many wondered if the hearings could ever reveal the truth. Clarence Thomas was eventually voted in, but only by 52-48. Unlike John in Oleanna, he was Lucky enough to keep his job/promotion. Student Anxiety Oleanna was first performed in 1992, in the midst of the Political Correctness movement. Several American universities had introduced speech codes for staff & students, banning any form of offensive or derogoratory language. before this court battle, Mamet thought of Oleanna as "a little farfetched", but after hearing about it, decided to "take it out of the drawer and start working on it again" Much like in Oleanna, changes to college reading lists were demanded by protestors, who argued that "The traditional curriculum teaches all of us to see the world through the eyes of privelesged, white, European males and to adopt their interests as our own" "They wonder why they are in college, what they're going to do when they get out, what has happened to society. Nobody;s looking out for them, and there's nothing for them to go into. It's no wonder they're tring to take things into their own hands" Discussing Carol, and college students in general, Mamet said: Unfortunately forstudents like Carol, who expect to just gain a degree like a commodity, this process is actually one of learning and understanding. American College education is entirely private, with students paying tens of thousands of dollars.
Students go throught the system, expecting that if they work hard, they will get a well paid job and pay back those debts. Changes her clothes and language from act 1 to act 3 - gets more corporate and eleoquent in her speech throughout the play Academic
Language
Sexual In the final scene John equates rape with sexual desire rather than physical violence and resorts to objectifying Carol by using a crude epithet, reducing her to just a body part, not a full person John's language deteriorates into fragments and curse words Most reviewers agree that John's behavior in Scene I was not sexually harassing, and believe it was misconstrued by Carol 'take off the Artificial stricture of 'Teacher' and 'Student'.. 'take off the Artificial stricture of 'Teacher' and 'Student'.. 'Systematic hazing' Discussion Points
Who Is Right? Who Is Wrong?
Can a verbal assault be construed as rape? What does Carol mean at the end by 'Yes, that's right....that's right'?
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