*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the musical Fiddler On The Roof. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie or any of the stage adaptations.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Fiddler On The Roof to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
These days, it’s not uncommon to date or marry outside of one’s culture or religion. But we don’t have to travel back too far in history to a time when the worst thing a person could do was choose a spouse who was not part of their religion or culture. In Fiddler On The Roof, Chava is the third of Tevye and Golde’s five daughters. While her older sisters take baby steps when it comes to choosing their spouses, Chava takes a giant leap above her sisters. Not only does she marry a Christian boy, Fyedka, without her parent’s knowledge or approval, but also converts away from Judaism in the process.
Her father reacts as one would expect him to react. He pushes her away while she pleads for his blessing. In the end, Chava receives her father’s blessing for her marriage, if only reluctantly.
To sum it up: Some characters take baby steps toward who they will be. Others take giant steps toward that future persona. Neither is right or wrong, it is determined by the narrative and character arc. What the writer has to do is make sure that the arc for that particular character is organic and natural. If the character’s journey feels forced and inorganic, the reader/audience will know it. The last thing any writer wants is for their narrative and characters to feel forced and inorganic, it is a surefire way to push away the audience or reader. That is the last thing any writer wants.
Saturday Night Live has been a political and cultural touchstone for over forty years. When it premiered in 1975, no one could have predicted that this upstart comedy show with a cast of unknowns would become part and parcel of pop culture.
Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests is the story of how SNL came to be SNL. Written by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales, the book contains interviews with members of the cast/writing team/creative team, in additional to interviews with hosts and musical guests who have found their way to the SNL stage.
Originally published in 2002 and then updated in 2014 ahead of the then 40th anniversary of the show, this book is a must read. It is a must read for fans who want to delve into not just the history of the show, but also the behind the scenes effort to make SNL look effortless.
I recommend it.
Grease is one of those movies. We’ve all seen it at least a dozen times. We’ve sung along to the songs during karaoke. Grease has been the go to musical for high schools, colleges and local community theater groups for decades.
On June 16th, Grease will be celebrating its 40th anniversary.
On the surface, it’s just the simple will they or won’t they story set in high school. Danny (John Travolta) and Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) have a brief relationship one summer. After the summer ends, they don’t expect to see each other again. Then Sandy transfers to Danny’s high school. Danny is the bad boy, Sandy is the good girl. Their relationship, such as it is, is not easy.
This narrative is the blue print for many high school romance movies that have come down the pike since 1978. While the movie is cute and predictable, I have a few issues with it.
- The actors do not look like they are high school. While some creative teams who are also working on films/television shows set in high school have cast actors who look young enough to be in high school, it’s clear that most of the cast were way past their teens when they made this movie.
- The amount of sexism is astounding. Granted, the film is set in 1950’s, but still hard to ignore the sexism coming out of the script.
- Danny tried to force himself on Sandy and Marty (Dinah Manoff) is nearly given a roofy by Vince Fontaine (Edd Byrnes).
- Rizzo (Stockard Channing) has more depth than Sandy. How is it that Sandy is the lead female character, but Rizzo has the better character arc?
- Sandy changes for Danny. While Danny tries to change, he really doesn’t.
- I hate to say it, but Danny and Sandy are not going to last. While they do ride off into the sunset at the end of the movie, that sunset is short-lived at best.
Regardless if the bullet points above, Grease has something going for it. It’s been popular for 40 years for a reason.
Happy 40th birthday, Grease.
For some writers, the science fiction/fantasy genre is akin to playing G-d. He or she can create the world, the characters and the narrative as they wish.
From 1999-2002, Beastmaster was on the air. Both a spinoff and a reboot of the 1982 film, The Beastmaster, the title character Dar (Daniel Goddard) is the last living member of his tribe. Known for his ability to talk to communicate with his animals, he and his best friend Tao (Jackson Raine) are on a mission. While looking for Dar’s missing girlfriend, he comes up against wizards, g-ds and sorceresses who would be happy be rid of him once and for all.
Around the turn of the millennium, one of the trends in television were science fiction/fantasy programs that took place in alternate realities where g-ds and wizards ruled. BeastMaster was on the air for three years. While it was a semi-decent show, it really didn’t stand out among the similar shows that were on the air at that time.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.