Writing Performance Assignment #3: Comparative Review Essay

Essay #3 – 5-8 page comparative review essay of a professional performance seen live, read against a relevant other performance (by the same artist, or on a similar subject) as researched and viewed on video at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Develop an argument that offers some new insight that you gained from watching these two performances together, and use description-as-evidence to show how the two pieces ‘speak’ to each other in meaningful ways. (Instructor will choose performances based on availability of affordable live performance at QC or in NYC that semester, and then give students one or more viable options of performances they could research and screen at the library.)


Incorporating the skills we have rehearsed already this semester, and employing your new skill of rich comparison, craft a review essay that discusses performance A in light of performance B, using description-as-evidence to build an argument about how the two work relate, or “speak” to each other.


The intelligent general readers of publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, New York Magazine (no geographical bias here!) who are likely to be interested in the artists’ work but have not seen the performances in question.

Versions submitted

Two, first draft and final, with peer review after first draft.

Learning goals

Crafting a rich comparison; making use of the research resources of the New York Public Library; continuing to build argument from description-as-evidence and devising a lede and structure to support that argument.

Pre-draft assignments

  • In-class exercise on key words for rich comparisons
  • In-class freewrites comparing two performance video clips (eg: excerpts of the same scene from two different productions of Chekhov’s The Seagull; excerpts of an early-career and later-career solo from choreographer Ralph Lemon).
  • Class visit to the New York Public Library to learn how to access video resources in the Research division
  • Two blog assignments on “my strongest reaction to this piece.”

Source materials

  • Chekhov, Anton.  The Seagull.  [video, x2]
  • Lemon, Ralph.  Solo from Folkdance and Tree.  [video, x2]
  • Live performance and selected NYPL video performances, TBD based on the available live performances this semester.
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