Topdog Underdog

Topdog Underdog

This week we have been spending time looking at Susan Lori Parks play, Topdog Underdog. This Pulitzer prize winning play deals with the lives of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers living on the fringe of life, trying to survive, and showing us a lot about the state of street life in urban centers.

Parks play’s are always filled with terrific imagery, symbolism and metaphor. She is extremely adept at using literary allusions and connotations within her work to drive social connections, storytelling context and the thematic foundation for her plays in the worlds given circumstances that she creates.

The irony is that Parks would say that she does not employ these elements and that the play is simply about relationships. While every play is about relationships, one cannot ignore the rich use of symbolism and metaphor in her play’s

Now that you have read her play, spent time with the pod cast, interview and support material, I would like you to identify Three of these theatrical devices that the playwright uses in her play to move her story along and provide emotional and intellectual dramatic tension.

A few examples could be:

– The characters name, Booth and Lincoln

– What they do for work

– How they live

– Specific images, or literary allusions that they speak to

Part One:

Once you have identified your Three examples, explain why the image, symbol, metaphor, analogy or allusion is important to the play, the playwrights intention and how you react to it as a reader/audience member. How does the playwright use this to engage the story in a stronger way? What does the image, symbol, allusion or metaphor help to express in terms of Parks ideas about the play? Lastly, how does her play Topdog Underdog become more powerful when seen within these various literary lenses?

Part Two:

Please summarize in your own words what you believe to be the overriding themes, issues and idea that Parks is speaking to in this play. What do you feel or believe she wants the audience to react to, think or feel about when the play is finished? What was your own reaction when you finished the play?

Your paper should be a minimum of Two pages . Woman in Theatre: Suzan-Lori Parks, playwright:

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