Essay on Topdog/Underdog

Question 1:

This question has three parts:

1. Identify the super objective for both characters in Topdog/Underdog

2. Identify which character is the protagonist and which is the antagonist

3. Compare which role would be more fun to act.

Support each of these three parts with examples

Lincoln’s super objective is to change his life for better quitting three-cards monte and finding a good job. After the murder of his friend, he cannot do three-cards monte. Instead, he looks for a good job but fails and lives in poverty. For instance, he plays the role of Abraham Lincoln for a low-wage but he does not quit it for gambling, where could have earned much more money.

Booth’s super objective is to become proficient in three-card monte and to live from this cheating. He is a shoplifter and becoming proficient in three-cards monte would be a considerable progress for him that would bring him more money. Whatever he does, he always returns to shoplifting.

Lincoln is the protagonist of the story. He was a bad guy, as he earned for living through three-cards monte, but he has managed to change his life, to find a job and to become a good citizen. He gives up illegal activities and starts doing legal but poorly-paid job. Booth is the antagonist of the story. Even though he follows the lead of Lincoln, he does not want to do a routine job, instead, he is eager to earn for living by cheating and deceiving people. He is a shoplifter, who dreams of replacing Lincoln in three-cards monte. For instance, even at the end of the play, he again goes to do shoplifting.

Booth part seems to be more fun to act as he tries to change his life but he is not very good in doing a routine job or three-cards monte. Nevertheless, he tries and that makes him an interesting character, who tries to change throughout the play and perform different roles.  Instead, Lincoln is just a good guy, who is fun but it is not really interesting to play his part compared to his brother Booth. At any rate, it is funnier to play the character, which changes throughout the play because an actor has to try different roles as he plays this character. For instance, Booth tries playing three-cards monte but he fails, he tries to do legal job but this job is of no interest for him. Hence, he makes shoplifting his main job.

Question 2:

Designing the set, costumes and lights for Six Characters in Search of an Author offers unique challenges. Identify these challenges and describe how you would solve them.

The play takes place in the theatre and scenes are staged, as if they are performed in the real theatre. The actors play parts of the director, technicians, actors and characters of the play. The light is typical for a theater and imitates the real theatre lights, although the director occasionally remains in a shadow. Costumes of the actors are costumes of the early 20th century average persons. Men wear trousers and shirts, while women wear long dresses. The fashion of the costumes dates back to the early 20th century.

Question 3:

Choose any show you have read following the mid-term (except Angels in America) that lends itself most successfully to being turned into a musical. Describe why you think this show could be made into a musical, and describe the style and changes you might make when turning it into a musical.

Topdog/Underdog is the best show to turn into a musical. The play is a comedy that may be interesting for the audience, while tragic stories are not always successful, when turned into musicals. Furthermore, the play has a lot of actions. The situation changes unexpectedly and the audience keeps interested in the plot of the story till the last minute that is very important for the success of the musical. The musical can attract the audience as the plot of the play allows depicting two main characters in absolutely different situations as Booth mirrors Lincoln but, if Lincoln is a positive character, Booth is negative one. In such a way, the musical can use such juxtaposition to develop two plot lines that develop in parallel two each other. At the same time, turning the play into musical will require certain changes. For instance, more characters may be introduced two make the musical more vivid and attractive. Long monologues and dialogues should be replaced by music and lyrics. Decorations will also need changes to provide the room for dancers which may accompany songs of the main characters.

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