Margaretchristian’s Blog

Blog prompts: Day 1 // Rent

Posted on: March 3, 2009

1)     Find several “talking points” or bits of information that speak to the context of Rent, similar to what we did with The Stranger—things you need to know in order to understand Rent. [list a dozen or so of the most important to you]

·       The author Jonathan Larson was born on February 4, 1960 in White Plains, New York and died of an aortic aneurysm, January 25, 1996

·       He died on the evening of the final dress rehearsalà makes the play that much more poignant in its focus on the diseased and drug-addicted young people of New York’s East Village

·       Larson’s family was loved the arts and therefore supported/ encouraged Larson to be involved in them

·        Much like the characters in the book, Larson lived in poverty and waited tables to earn money, while working on this play

·       Rent is a celebration of life and the heroic struggle to survive

·       This play is loosely based on the Italian composer Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème

·       La Bohème is an opera that focuses on the experiences of bohemian artists living in Paris at the end of the 19th century

·       The title “Rent” is important because it is derived from the idea in the play that the main characters are united in a strike against the landlord of the tenements where they live

2)     Building on work you did in sequence 1 & 2, discuss gaps and borders you might face in reading and watching and writing about Rent. If you’ve already seen Rent, either the musical and/or the film version, you can approach this from the standpoint of how you could better understand the film—or from the standpoint of someone who has never seen it. [at least 300 words]

Gaps and borders are prevalent in any piece of literature, whether it a novel, film or play. I know when I watched this movie; I faced a number of gaps and borders. Therefore, I know when I now have to read and write about Rent, I will encounter more of these obstacles. However, each time I watch the movie again or discuss various elements of the play with someone, I learn something new and gain better incite. This helps me to fill in these gaps and borders.  I am excited because I know that class discussions will help me to recognize the elements of the play that I did not pick up the previous times and answer further questions I have about the text.

This movie is especially difficult to understand the intended meaning because the story is told as a musical, it does not follow a traditional movie style where the audience creates meaning through the characters dialogue. This forces the audience to make assumptions about different characters and passages within the text.

Additionally, one border that I faced when I first watched this film was that I was very unaware of the issues discussed in it. This film opened me up to a different world. I would have understood the film better the first time, if I had some background knowledge on the context prior to watching it. Therefore, learning more about the author’s life and the historical context will help me to better comprehend the major themes within the play.



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