Post-Show Questions for Discussion and Activities
Note to Educators: Use the following assignments, questions, and activities to have your students evaluate their experience attending the performance of She Stoops to Conquer, as well as to encourage their own imaginative and artistic projects through further exploration of the play in production. Consider that some of the pre-show activities might also enhance your students’ experience following the performance.
- She Stoops to Conquer: Performance Reflection and Discussion. Following their attendance at the performance of She Stoops to Conquer, ask your students to reflect on the questions below. You might choose to have them answer each individually or you may divide students into groups for round-table discussions. Have them consider each question, record their answers and then share their responses with the rest of the class.
Questions to Ask Your Students About the Play in Production
- What was your overall reaction to She Stoops to Conquer? Did you find the production compelling? Stimulating? Intriguing? Challenging? Memorable? Confusing? Evocative? Unique? Delightful? Meaningful? Explain your reactions.
- Did experiencing the play heighten your awareness or understanding of the play’s themes? [e.g., marriage and courtship; mistaken identity; how things appear to be versus how things are in reality; how falsehood can be used to reveal truth; culture clashes (e.g., country vs. city/urban, working class vs. middle class); generational conflicts (e.g., parent vs. child); and gender roles and the sexual double standard.] What themes were made even more apparent in production/performance? Explain your responses.
- Do you think that the pace and tempo of the production were effective and appropriate? Explain your opinion.
Questions to Ask Your Students About the Characters
- Did you personally identify with any of the characters in She Stoops to Conquer? Who? Why? If no, why not?
- What character did you find most interesting or engaging? Why were you intrigued or attracted to this particular character?
- What qualities were revealed by the action and speech of the characters? Explain your ideas.
- Did either character develop or undergo a transformation during the course of the play? Who? How? Why?
- In what ways did the characters reveal the themes of the play? Explain your responses.
Questions to Ask Your Students About the Style and Design of the Production
- Was there a moment in She Stoops to Conquer that was so compelling or intriguing that it remains with you in your mind’s eye? Write a vivid description of that moment. As you write your description, pretend that you are writing about the moment for someone who was unable to experience the performance.
- Did the style and design elements of the production enhance the performance? Did anything specifically stand out to you? Explain your reactions.
- How did the production style and design reflect the themes of the play?
- What mood or atmosphere did the lighting design establish or achieve? Explain your experience.
- How did the music and sound design enhance your overall experience?
- Did the design of the costumes and/or makeup serve to illuminate the characters, themes, and style of the play? How?
- “…We have banished humor from the stage, we should ourselves be deprived of the art of laughing”: Goldsmith on Eighteenth-Century Comedy. In 1772, Oliver Goldsmith penned “An Essay on the Theatre; or, A Comparison Between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy,” which characterized and criticized the type of comedy that had become the most popular of his day: sentimental comedy. Read Goldsmith’s short essay with your students in tandem with this excerpt from Richard Steele’s sentimental comedy The Conscious Lovers
- Ask students to define the characteristics of what Goldsmith refers to as “weeping” sentimental comedy and to provide examples from the excerpt of Steele’s The Conscious Lovers.
- Next, ask them to compare Steele’s brand of comedy with their personal experience of Goldsmith’s oppositional “laughing comedy.” Has Goldsmith succeeded in his quest to restore humor to the stage? Did he “excite [their] laughter by ridiculously exhibiting the follies” of his characters? In what ways, if any, did his comedy fail to amuse them?
- Invite students to consider the nature of today’s popular comic forms (on stage, in film, and on television) and compare them to the natures of both laughing and sentimental comedy. What contemporary forms, comic or otherwise, remind you of these eighteenth-century precursors?
- S/he Stoops…to Write a Review. Have your students take on the role of theater critic by writing a review of McCarter Theatre’s production of She Stoops to Conquer. A theater critic or reviewer is essentially a “professional audience member,” whose job is to provide reportage of a play’s production and performance through active and descriptive language for a target audience of readers (e.g., their peers, their community or those interested in the arts). Critics/reviewers analyze the theatrical event to provide a clearer understanding of the artistic ambitions and intentions of a play and its production; reviewers often ask themselves, “What is the playwright and this production attempting to do?” Finally, the critic offers personal judgment as to whether the artistic intentions of a production were achieved, effective and worthwhile. Things to consider before writing:
- Theater critics/reviewers should always back up their opinions with reasons, evidence and details.
- The elements of production that can be discussed in a theatrical review are the play text or script (and its themes, plot, characters, etc.), scenic elements, costumes, lighting, sound, music, acting and direction (i.e., how all of these elements are put together). [See the HYPERLINK Theater Reviewer’s Checklist.]
- Educators may want to provide their students with sample theater reviews from a variety of newspapers.
- Encourage your students to submit their reviews to the school newspaper for publication.
- Students may also post their reviews on McCarter’s web site by visiting McCarter Blog. Select “Citizen Responses” under “Categories” on the left side of the web page, and scroll down to the She Stoops to Conquer entry to post any reviews.
- Blog All about it!: She Stoops to Conquer. McCarter is very interested in carrying on the conversation about She Stoops to Conquer with you and your students after you’ve left the theater. If you are interested in having them personally reflect upon their experience of the play in performance, but are not interested in the more formal assignment of review writing, have them instead post a post-show comment on the McCarter Theatre Blog. To access the blog, click on this link McCarter Blog , then select “Citizen Responses” under “Categories” on the left side of the web page, and scroll down to the She Stoops to Conquer entry to find a place to post an inquiry or comment. [For structured responses, consider the following prompt: What expectations did you bring with you to She Stoops to Conquer and were your expectations met, not met, or exceeded by the performance?] See you on the blog!