COMM330 - Fox

Personal Narrative Assignment

Storytelling

            "When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I managed to survive at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: the happy childhood is hardly worth your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood."  Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes 

            The personal narrative, as in the Pulitzer Prize winning Angela's Ashes, provides a way to preserve our heritage and culture. It also allows us to dramatize defining events in our lives, therefore, clarifying and illuminating them.

            In this assignment, you will work with a group (or as an individual, if requested) to discover a narrative that lends itself to a presentational theatrical performance. Once you have worked with your group, you may divide into smaller units to develop and stage your narrative.

Suggestions for narrative:

Requirements:

  1. Choose either a narrator or character driven story. A narrator driven story is staged in the epic mode, chamber theatre style. The character driven story is more like a play in that all is revealed through dialogue. In a character driven story, there must be a central character or protagonist, just as in a play.
  2. Dialogue may be created, as it is doubtful conversations from the past can be remembered word for word.
  3. Organization will feature: a. set up, b. climax, c. conclusion
  4. There must be conflict/tension.
  5. The work will be scripted as per p. 323 of your text. Be sure to include a title and list of Dramatis Personae.
  6. Time limit of 8-15 minutes (Individual performances 5-10 minutes). Overtime or under time violation -10 points.
  7. Submit a secretary's rehearsal time sheet indicating members present and work accomplished. Group members missing scheduled rehearsal will be deducted 10 points from the performance grade for each absence. Credit each member with contributions, i.e., directing, script writing, securing props.                
  8. Focus may be totally off stage as in traditional Readers theatre, a combination of on and off stage, or totally on stage as in a play.
  9. The work will be staged with movement blocked and entered in the final script.
  10. Group analysis will be submitted the day of performance.
  11. Full page stage manager's performance script will be submitted by the group after the performance.
  12. Prepare a program to be given to your audience prior to the performance.

In addition to the above required elements, your performance will be graded on:

Creativity
Variety
Creation of mood
Vocal interpretation
Use of sense memory (p. 48)
Use of movement, gesture, posture, and facial expression
Overall clarity and entertainment value of performance

Example of a story before scripting:      

From Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt, Scribner.

            Every morning Grandma cooks Bill's dinner and takes it to him at the lime kiln. Mam wonders why he can't take it with him in the morning and Grandma says, Do you expect me to get up at dawn and boil cabbage and pig's toes for his lordship to take in his dinner can?

            Mam tells her, in another week school will be over and if you give Frank sixpence a week he'll surely be glad to take Bill Galvin his dinner.

            I don't want to go to Grandma's every day. I don't want to take Bill Galvin his dinner all the way down the Dock Road, but Mam says that's sixpence we could use and if I don't do it I'm going nowhere else.

            You're staying in the house, she says. You're not playing with your pals.

            Grandma warns me to take the dinner can directly and not be meandering, looking this way and that, kicking canisters and ruining the toes of my shoes. This dinner is hot and that's the way Bill Galvin wants it.

            There's a lovely smell from the dinner can, boiled bacon and cabbage and two big floury white potatoes. Surely he won't notice if I try half a potato. He won't complain to Grandma because he hardly ever talks outside of a snuffle or two.

            It's better if I eat the other half-potato so that he won't be asking why he got a half. I might as well try the bacon and cabbage too and if I eat the other potato he'll surely think she didn't send one at all.

            The second potato melts in my mouth and I'll have to try another bit of cabbage, another morsel of bacon. There isn't much left now and he'll be very suspicious so I might as well finish off the rest.

            What am I going to do now? Grandma will destroy me, Mam will keep me in for a year. Bill Galvin will bury me in lime. I'll tell him I was attacked by a dog on the Dock Road and he ate the whole dinner and I'm lucky I escaped with being eaten myself.

            Oh, is that so? says Bill Galvin. And what's that bit of cabbage hanging on your gansey? Did the dog lick you with his cabbagey gob? Go home and tell your grandmother you ate me whole dinner and I'm falling down with the hunger here in the line kiln.

            She'll kill me.

            Tell he don't kill you till she sends me some class of a dinner and if you don't go to her now and get me a dinner I'll kill you and throw your body into the lime there and there won't be much left for your mother to moan over.

            Grandma says, What are you doin' back with that can? He could bring that back by himself.

            He wants more dinner.

            What do you mean more dinner? Jesus above, is it a hole he has in his leg?

            He's falling down with hunger below in the lime kiln. Is it coddin' me you are? He says send him any class of a dinner. I will not. I sent him his dinner. He didn't get it. He didn't? Why not? I ate it. What? I was hungry and I tasted it and I couldn't stop. Jesus, Mary and holy St. Joseph.

            She gives me a clout on the head that brings tears to my eyes. She screams at me like a banshee and jumps around the kitchen and threatens to drag me to the priest, the bishop, the Pope himself if he lived around the corner. She cuts bread and waves the knife at me and makes sandwiches of brawn and cold potatoes.

            Take these sandwiches to Bill Galvin and if you even look cross-eyed at them I'll skin your hide.

            Of course she runs to Mam and they agree the only way I can make up for my terrible sin is to deliver Bill Galvin's dinner for a fortnight without pay. I'm to bring back the can every day and that means I have to sit watching him stuff the food into his gob and he's not one that would ever ask you if you had a mouth in your head.

            Every day I take the can back Grandma makes me kneel to the statue of the Sacred Heart and tell Him I'm sorry and all this over Bill Galvin, a Protestant.

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COMM330 - Fox

Personal Narrative Adaptation of
Angela’s Ashes
by Frank McCourt


Dramatis Personae:

Frank, a young boy at the time of this incident. Very poor in Limerick, Ireland.

Grandma, Frank’s Grandmother

Mam: Frank’s mother

Bill, a worker in the lime kiln

(With kitchen set behind, Frank comes forward and addresses the audience)

Frank: (to audience) Every morning Grandma cooks Bill's dinner and takes it to him at the
lime kiln.

(in kitchen)

Mam: Why he can't take it with him in the morning?

Grandma: Do you expect me to get up at dawn and boil cabbage and pig's toes for his lordship
to take in his dinner can?

Mam: In another week school will be over and if you give Frank sixpence a week he'll surely be
glad to take Bill Galvin his dinner.

Frank: (to audience) I don't want to go to Grandma's every day. I don't want to take Bill Galvin
his dinner all the way down the Dock Road.

Mam: That's sixpence we could use and if you don't do it you’re going nowhere else. You're
staying in the house. You're not playing with your pals.

Grandma: (warningly to Frank) Take the dinner can directly and don’t be meandering, looking
this way and that, kicking canisters and ruining the toes of your shoes. This dinner is hot
and that's the way Bill Galvin wants it.

Frank: (to audience) There's a lovely smell from the dinner can, boiled bacon and cabbage and
two big floury white potatoes. Surely he won't notice if I try half a potato. He won't
complain to Grandma because he hardly ever talks outside of a snuffle or two.
(eats hungrily)
It's better if I eat the other half-potato so that he won't be asking why he got a half. I
might as well try the bacon and cabbage too and if I eat the other potato he'll surely
think she didn't send one at all.
The second potato melts in my mouth and I'll have to try another bit of cabbage,
another morsel of bacon. There isn't much left now and he'll be very suspicious so I
might as well finish off the rest.
What am I going to do now? Grandma will destroy me, Mam will keep me in for a
year. Bill Galvin will bury me in lime.

(at quarry)

(to Bill) I was attacked by a dog on the Dock Road and he ate the whole dinner and I'm lucky I escaped with being eaten myself.

Bill: Oh, is that so? says Bill Galvin. And what's that bit of cabbage hanging on your gansey?
Did the dog lick you with his cabbagey gob? Go home and tell your grandmother you ate
me whole dinner and I'm falling down with the hunger here in the line kiln.

Frank: She'll kill me.

Bill: Tell he don't kill you till she sends me some class of a dinner and if you don't go to her
now and get me a dinner I'll kill you and throw your body into the lime there and there
won't be much left for your mother to moan over.

(back in kitchen)

Grandma : What are you doin' back with that can? He could bring that back by himself.

Frank: He wants more dinner.

Grandma: What do you mean more dinner? Jesus above, is it a hole he has in his leg?

Frank: He's falling down with hunger below in the lime kiln.

Grandma: Is it coddin' me you are?

Frank: He says send him any class of a dinner.

Grandma: I will not. I sent him his dinner.

Frank: He didn't get it.

Grandma: He didn't? Why not?

Frank: I ate it.

Grandma: What?

Frank: I was hungry and I tasted it and I couldn't stop.

Grandma: Jesus, Mary and holy St. Joseph.

Frank: (to audience) She gives me a clout on the head that brings tears to my eyes. She screams
at me like a banshee and jumps around the kitchen and threatens to drag me to the priest,
the bishop, the Pope himself if he lived around the corner. She cuts bread and waves the
knife at me and makes sandwiches of brawn and cold potatoes.

Grandma: Take these sandwiches to Bill Galvin and if you even look cross-eyed at them I'll
skin your hide.

Frank: Of course she runs to Mam and they agree the only way I can make up for my terrible sin
is to deliver Bill Galvin's dinner for a fortnight without pay. I'm to bring back the can
every day and that means I have to sit watching him stuff the food into his gob and he's
not one that would ever ask you if you had a mouth in your head.

Every day I take the can back Grandma makes me kneel to the statue of the Sacred
Heart and tell Him I'm sorry and all this over Bill Galvin, a Protestant.
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