Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Your own character's journey: Comment here, and we can discuss!

I'm collecting some good character journeys to use as examples for a free character journey class. If you'd like some free brainstorming of your own characters' journeys, comment here! I will disguise the details if I use the example in class. I'm more interested in the category of journey (like "alienation to affiliation") than plot details.

So comment here, and I'll brainstorm with you in an actual post, if I can figure out the magazine template. :).

Here's my overview of how the character journey will work over the three acts of the plot.

Monday, March 14, 2016

EXAMPLE: Journey from Fear to Forgiveness: August Wilson's Fences

I just saw the Indiana Repertory Theatre performance of Fences, one in the cycle of ten plays in August Wilson's magisterial retelling of the 20th Century through the lives of African-Americans in a Pittsburgh neighborhood.

Part of Wilson's greatness is that while there's always definitely a protagonist in his plays, every character has a journey, whether or not it is completed. So in Fences, the father Troy makes a journey from hyper-responsibility to alienation (that is, a negative journey), while his wife Rose moves from apology to self-assertion. Even the more minor characters, such as the sons, have journeys to make through the events of the plot.

Cory, the younger son, moves from fear of his father to forgiveness of his father. Here's how that works out in the three main parts of the play:
Act 1: Cory is a buoyant young athlete, who is being recruited by a college scout. He fears that his charismatic but tyrannical father Troy will refuse to let him take the scholarship. He is right to be afraid, as his father uses anger and authority to command his son's obedience.
Act 2: When Troy's need to be in control escalates into violence, Cory rejects and defies his father and escapes, but he has to leave his beloved mother behind.
Act 3: When Cory returns (now a US Marine corporal) years later, he starts once more to reject Troy by refusing to attend his father's funeral. But the love of his mother and little sister help him to find the strength to forgive the father who wanted to control him but couldn't love him.

So Cory moves from Fear to Forgiveness through the events of the drama.

(August Wilson's plays are characterized by a classically elegant structure and a depth of characterization. If you get a chance to see any of them in performance, go! Here's a video of a performance a couple years ago with Dale R Mcglonn as Troy. Denzel Washington, btw, is currently planning a film.)

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