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Study Guide


SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

2010 / 2011 EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH SPONSORS

S

yracuse Stage is committed to providing students with rich theatre experiences that explore and examine what it is to be human. Research shows that children who participate in or are exposed to the arts show higher academic achievement, stronger self-esteem, and improved ability to plan and work toward a future goal. Many students in our community have their first taste of live theatre through Syracuse Stage’s outreach programs. Last season more than 30,000 students from across New York State attended or participated in the Bank of America Children’s Tour, Backstory performances, artsEmerging, the Young Playwrights Festival, and our Student Matinee Program. We gratefully acknowledge the corporations and foundations who support our commitment to in-depth arts education for our community.

Children’s Tour Naming Sponsor

ArtsEmerging

John Ben Snow Foundation, Inc. Student Matinees

Young Playwrights Festival, Children’s Tour, & Student Matinees supported by

General Educational Outreach supported by

Lori Pasqualino as “Annabel” in the 2010 Bank of America Children’s Tour: Annabel Drudge... and the Second Day of School. Photo by Michael Davis


Writing and Content Collection by Len Fonte Layout & Design by Michelle Scully

Timothy Bond

Producing Artistic Director Syracuse Stage and SU Drama

820 E Genesee Street Syracuse, NY 13210 www.SyracuseStage.org

STUDY GUIDE CONTENTS

Director of Educational Outreach

4. Production Information

Lauren Unbekant (315) 443-1150

5. Introduction

Manager of Educational Outreach

Michelle Scully (315) 442-7755

Group Sales & Student Matinees

11. Context & Connections

Tracey White (315) 443-9844

12. In the Classroom

Box Office

(315) 443-3275

14. Syracuse Stage Season Info

Syracuse Stage is Central New York’s premiere professional theatre. Founded in 1974, Stage has produced more than 230 plays in 38 seasons including numerous world and American premieres. Each season, upwards of 80,000 patrons enjoy an exciting mix of comedies, dramas and musicals featuring leading designers, directors and performers from New York and across the country, supported by a full-time and seasonal staff of artisans, technicians and administrators.

6. Teaching Theatre 8. Letter from the Education Director 9. About the Play

13. Sources and Resources

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH AT SYRACUSE STAGE The Bank of America CHILDREN’S TOUR brings high-energy, interactive, and culturally diverse performances to elementary school audiences. The BACKSTORY Program brings history to life as professional actors portray historical figures in classrooms and other venues. ArtsEMERGING takes students on an in-depth exploration of one mainstage season production using a multi-cultural, multi-arts lens. The YOUNG PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL challenges students to submit original ten-minute plays for a chance to see their work performed at Syracuse Stage.


SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

PRESENTS

By Tom Griffin DIRECTED BY Timothy Bond Scenic Design Michael Vaughn Sims

Costume Design Jessica Ford

Lighting Design Dawn Chiang

Sound Design Jeremy Lee Featuring

Mr. Hedges/Mr. Corbin/Senator Clarke Timothy Davis-Reed Mr. Klemper Carey Eidel Norman Sean Patrick Fawcett Lucien Ellis Foster Mrs. Fremus/Mrs. Warren/Clara Marie Kemp Arnold Michael Joseph Mitchell Sheila Alanna Rogers Barry Samuel Taylor Jack Demetrios Troy 4


“Theatre brings life to life.” Zelda Fichandler

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SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

Int

Founding Artistic Director Arena Stage, Washington DC

W

elcome! As you take your students on the exciting journey into the world of live theatre we hope that you’ll take a moment to help prepare them to make the most of their experience. Unlike movies or television, live theatre offers the thrill of unpredictablilty. With the actors present on stage, the audience response becomes an integral part of the performance and the overall experience: the more involved and attentive the audience, the better the show. Please remind your students that they play an important part in the success of the performance!

A few reminders... BE PROMPT

Give your students plenty of time to arrive, find their seats, and get situated. Have them visit the restrooms before the show begins!

Audience

Etiquette

RESPECT OTHERS

Please remind your students that their behavior and responses affect the quality of the performance and the enjoyment of the production for the entire audience. Live theatre means the actors and the audience are in the same room, and just as the audience can see and hear the performers, the performers can see and hear the audience. Please ask your students to avoid disturbing those around them. Please no talking or unnecessary or disruptive movement during the performance. Also, please remind students that cellphones should be switched completely off. No texting or tweeting, please. When students give their full attention to the action on the stage, they will be rewarded the best performance possible.

GOOD NOISE, BAD NOISE

Instead of instructing students to remain totally silent, please discuss the difference between appropriate responses (laughter, applause, participation when requested) and inappropriate noise (talking, cell phones, etc).

STAY WITH US

Please do not leave or allow students to leave during the performance except in absolute emergencies. Again, reminding them to use the restrooms before the performance will help eliminate unnecessary disruption.

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A T

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SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

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heatre

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ACTIVITY

At its core, drama is about characters working toward goals and overcoming obstacles. Ask students to use their bodies and voices to create characters who are: very old, very young, very strong, very weak, very tired, very energetic, very cold, very warm. Have their characters interact others. Give them an objective to fulfil despite environmental obstacles. Later, recap by asking how these obstacles affected their characters and the pursuit of their objectives.

Most (but not all) plays begin with a script — a story to be told and a blueprint of how to tell it. In his famous treatise, The Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle outlined that playwrights are mindful of to this day:

Plot

What is the story line? What happened before the play started? What does each character want? What do they do to achieve their goals? What do they stand to gain/lose?

Any piece of theatre comprises multiple art forms. As you explore this play with your students, examine the use of:

WRITING VISUAL ART/DESIGN MUSIC/SOUND DANCE/MOVEMENT

INQUIRY

How are each of these art forms used in the play? Why are they used? How do they help to tell the story?

Theme

What ideas are wrestled with in the play? What questions does the play pose? Does it present an opinion?

Character

Who are the people in the story? What are their relationships? Why do they do what they do? How do their ages/status/etc. affect them?

Language

What do the characters say? How do they say it? When do

they say it?

Music

How do music and sound help to tell the story?

Spectacle

What visual elements support the play? This could include: puppets, scenery, costumes, dance, movement, and more.

Other Elements:Conflict/Resolution, Action, Improvisation, Non-verbal communication, Staging, Humor, Realism and other styles, Metaphor, Language, Tone, Pattern & Repetition, Emotion, Point of view. 6


SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

The atr e

Most plays utilize designers to create the visual world of the play through scenery, costumes, lighting, and more. These artists use

ELEMENTS OF DESIGN to communicate information about the world within the play and its characters.

LINE can have length, width, texture,

direction and curve. There are 5 basic varieties: vertical, horizontal, diagonal, curved, and zig-zag.

SHAPE

is two-dimensional and encloses space. It can be geometric (e.g. squares and circles), man-made, or freeform.

FORM is three-dimensional. It encloses space

and fills space. It can be geometric (e.g. cubes and cylinders), man-made, or free-form.

SPACE is defined and determined by shapes and forms. Positive space is enclosed by shapes and forms, while negative space exists around them.

COLOR

has three basic properties: HUE is the name of the color (e.g. red, blue, green), INTENSITY is the strength of the color (bright or dull), VALUE is the range of lightness to darkness.

TEXTURE refers to the “feel” of an object’s surface. It

can be smooth, rough, soft, etc. Textures may be ACTUAL (able to be felt) or IMPLIED (suggested visually through the artist’s technique).

APPLIED LEARNING

Have students discuss these elements BEFORE attending the performance and ask them to pay special attention to how these elements are used in the production’s design. Whether your students are observing a piece of visual art (painting, sculpture, photograph) or a piece of performance art (play, dance), allow them first to notice the basic elements, then encourage them to look deeper into why these elements are used the way they are. 7


SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

A LETTER FROM THE EDUCATION DIRECTOR

Dear Educator, Live theatre is a place for people to gather and experience the joys, triumphs, and sorrows life has to offer through a shared experience. Syracuse Stage Education Department is committed to providing the tools to make learning in and through the arts possible, to address varied learning styles and make connections to curriculum and life itself. It is our goal in the education department to maximize the theatre experience for our education partners with experiential learning and in-depth arts programming. Thank you for your interest and support!

Sincerely,

Lauren Unbekant Director of Educational Outreach

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Pla

y

SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

is a two act comedy-drama about four intellectually disabled men who live together in a small apartment and Jack, their caring social worker who is on the verge of career burn-out. The Boys Next Door takes place over the course of two months. The play offers scenes and vignettes illustrating the daily lives of Jack and his four mentally challenged wards.

Author

About the

Tom Griffin’s plays include The Boys Next Door, Amateurs, The Taking Away of Little Willie, Mrs. Sedgewick’s Head, Pasta, Will the Gentlemen in Cabin Six Please Rise to the Occasion, Workers, and Einstein and the Polar Bear. His work has been produced on Broadway, Off-Broadway, OffOff-Broadway, on London’s West End, in scores of regional theatres, and in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. The Boys Next Door has been seen in over 3500 productions in the United States and Canada, and has had openings in Paris, Tokyo, Oslo, Berlin, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Sydney, Johannesburg, et al. His work has been premiered at The Mark Taper Forum in L.A., The McCarter Theatre at Princeton, Trinity Rep, The Long Wharf in New Haven, The Alley Theatre in Houston, and The Hartford Stage Company. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a CBS/Dramatists’ Guild Award, a McCarter Commission, a “Playboy” editorial award, an Edinburgh “Fringe First,” and an O’Neill fellowship. His short fiction has been published here and in Europe, and he has written sixteen screenplays. From 1974 to 1987, he was a member of the Tony Award-winning resident acting company at Trinity Rep in Providence, Rhode Island. The Boys Next Door was written in the early 1980s. Originally titled, Damaged Hearts, Broken Flowers, the play was renamed and revised for a 1987 production at the Berkshire Theatre Festival.

Break Down That Fourth Wall! The theatrical style of The Boys Next Door.

Arnold Wiggins: He is the first character whom the

audience meets. Arnold exhibits several OCD traits. He is the most articulate of the group. More than the other roommates, he tries to function in the outside world, but sadly many people take advantage of him.

Norman Bulansky: He’s the romantic of the group. Norman works part-time at the doughnut shop, and because of all the free donuts he has gained a lot of weight.

Barry Klemper: The most aggressive of the group, Barry

spends most of his time boasting about being a Golf Pro (although he does not yet own a set of clubs). At times, Barry seems to fit in with the rest of society. For example, when he puts up a sign-up sheet for golf lessons, four people sign up. But as the lessons continue, his pupils realize that Barry is out of touch with reality, and they abandon his class.

Lucien P. Smith: The character with the severest case of

mental disability among the four men, Lucien is the most child-like of the group. His verbal capacity is limited, like that of a four-year old.

Jack: The caring social worker who looks after the four men who live in the apartment. He is on the edge of burnout.

Sheila: Norman’s love interest, a mentally handicapped woman. Twice during the play, Norman meets Sheila at a community center dance.

Mr. Klemper: Barry’s father, who he hasn’t seen since early childhood.

Adapted from http://plays.about.com/b/2010/05/29/the-boys-next-door-by-tom-griffin.htm

The Boys Next Door unfolds in series of short interlocking episodes in the lives of its protagonists. While the characters and situations are true to life, at times a character will step out of the realistic setting and speak directly to us. This is called breaking the fourth wall, the invisible barrier between the characters onstage and the audience. At other times, we see characters not as they are, but as they want to be seen, gliding gracefully across a dance floor or speaking eloquently to the state senate. In The Boys Next Door, these little side trips from realism give us unique glimpses into the richness of the characters’ world. 9


SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

t nec Con

It’s n t just a w rd.

s ion

The Boys Next Door was written in 1980’s when the term “retarded” was a clinical term used to describe someone with mental disabilities. Since that time, the word has taken on a derogatory meaning. The website notjustaword.wordpress.com presents some interesting thoughts on the subject. How many times have you walked through the halls, whether at school or at work, and heard “That was retarded” or “Don’t be a retard”? It’s probably something you’ve heard a few times and maybe even used a few times. More than likely, you thought nothing of it, responding as if they said “That was stupid” or “Don’t be stupid.” But “stupid” and “retard” are not synonyms and they are not interchangeable. When you say something or someone is stupid, you are not referring to someone or a group of someone’s. However, that is exactly what you’re doing when you use the word “retard.” You are likening the “stupid” event or person to those individuals with developmental disorders and that is not fair to them. Special Olympics has launched a campaign to remove the word “retarded” from all language, whether it be in conversation or in a medical context. Spread the Word to End the Word is collecting pledges on r-word.org. They have also held rallies from Florida to Alaska. Politicians have signed the pledge as well. Arnold Schwarzenegger (former California Governor) and Brad Henry (Oklahoma Governor) have signed pledges already. Because of Special Olympic and ARC’s involvement, 48 states have started to remove the term “mentally retarded” from law books and legislation.

What Can Y u Do?

You can make a pledge on r-word.org and encourage others to do the same

• You can work to eliminate the word “retard” from your vocabulary and encourage your friends to do the same • If you hear someone use “retarded” in a derogatory way, say something! Politely explain your point of view and why you find it offensive. More likely than not, they didn’t realize what they were actually saying. One person not saying the word won’t change the use of the word in every day language. You can step up and tell others how you feel when they say the word. It’s hard to do, but by being brave and explaining to others that their use of the word “retard” is offensive, you can have a huge impact on your school, workplace, etc. If many people do this and make a positive difference, then it could begin to affect the derogatory use of this word in a much larger sense. Adapted from http://notjustaword.wordpress.com/ 10


ion s

SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

A voice from Central New York . . .

Con nec t

Chris P., an Arc of Onondaga program participant, resident and advocate states that it’s important for people to remember that even though someone has a developmental disability, they still have feelings, and being called names hurts. She is very proud of advocating for revising OMRDD (Office of Metal Retardation and Developmental Disabilities) to OPWDD (Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities). Chris also stressed that people usually say, “retard” without thinking or caring about the effect it may have on others. Also, her advocacy group through SANYS, Self-Advocates of New York State, has done presentations at SUNY Oswego and Fayetteville-Manlius High School. SANYS may be a helpful resource for further education information for teens. The contact is: Cindy Colavita, Center for Human Policy at SU, 443-3851.

Getting Involved Arc of Onondaga offers a variety of opportunities for students to work with people with developmental disabilities. They can volunteer to work at the annual Arc Race or at Parkside Children’s Center. Volunteering for recreational activities is a great way to have fun and help at the same time. It’s also a terrific way to fulfill volunteer hours for community service projects. To become a volunteer with Arc of Onondaga call Sara Abbott- 476-7441, ext. 1103. Within the community, Catholic Charities, YMCA and Boys and Girls Club also have inclusive programs.

Questions for discussion 1) What is the effect of having some characters speak directly to the audience? How do these monologues change ou opinion of Arnold, Norman and Jack? Think about the play without them? What is lost? 2) Barry is not developmentally disabled. Jack doubts that he should be living in the apartment. What do you think? 3) How does the humor in The Boys Next Door affect the theme of the play? 4) We can clearly see why Jack’s supervision of his four clients is important. Is it important that they live with each other? What does the play say about the nature of friendship? 5) What are ways that students can help foster understanding of people with mental disabilities in their own school? 11


SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

TEACHING THEATRE/ARTS

es

c our

ArtsWork.com http://artswork.asu.edu/arts/teachers/resources/theatre1.htm

Res

LEARN MORE... ChildDrama.com http://www.childdrama.com/lessons.html Educational Theatre Association http://schooltheatre.org/ Kennedy Center http://artsedge.kennedy-center.org/educators/lessons.aspx Viola Spolin http://www.spolin.com/ Princeton Online Art Lesson Plans http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/Files/elements.htm

SOURCES AND ADDITIONAL RESOURCES “What Is The Issue?” Not Just A Word. It is much more than that. Blog. http://notjustaword.wordpress.com/ “The Boys Next Door” by Tom Griffin, By Wade Bradford, About.com Guide http://plays.about.com/b/2010/05/29/the-boys-next-door-by-tom-griffin.htm Arc of Onondaga http://www.arcon.org/ Rword.org http://www.r-word.org/ Special Olympics http://www.specialolympics.org/

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SYRACUSE STAGE THE BOYS NEXT DOOR STUDENT STUDY GUIDE 2011-12

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The Boys next door  

The boys next door-Study Guide

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