All theatre practitioners need to do research before they direct, perform or design a play. Each play is a world unto itself and it has customs, mores, styles, behaviors, and personalities—rules, if you will—that govern the characters and their environment. These elements require research to flesh the play out effectively and believably.
Plays that have a distinct historical perspective especially need research to understand the characters and the world in which they lived. A teacher once said to me, “just because you don't know something doesn't mean that nobody else will”. I've lived down that humbling critique many times in my career. How the historical setting informs the themes, actions, and characters of a play is essential to understand.
The form of your research paper can be flexible, but you must:
-Explore the main characters, at least. Think about how their world affects their behaviors.
-Investigate how social, psychological, cultural, and design elements are affected by history.
-If the historical setting or location is significant to the themes and action, explore why the author has used that historical setting or location. Be sure to connect your research with your understanding of the themes and actions in the play.
-In the case of an historical character, be sure to note that character's effect on history and how it may have changed over time.
-Be specific in your references to the text.
- As with all research papers, you must include a bibliography and cite all internal references.
The paper need not be exhaustive and should be two to three pages for our purposes. (In the case of the Dream Boston Plays, it could be more, since there are four plays.)
The paper should have an MLA header in the top left of the paper, be typed in 12 pt font, with one-inch margins, have page numbers, and be in WORD format. It should be edited and proof-read before submission.
Playscript Research Paper