Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Designing the Villain Part 3: The Righteous Villain

Hello again Gang!

After a bit of time in Milwaukee this past weekend (which was fun, thanks for asking!) I am ready to continue this exploration of darkness by talking about a villain we all are intrigued to study. Also, to those of you who have been showing your support via twitter and facebook, thanks so much! We really appreciate it!

Now I begin.

We know that villains can be lost in sorrow or engulfed in revenge, but what about the villains that are encouraged by a strong sense of justice? Villains are easy to hate, but not when you understand that their intentions are noble... at least in their minds. Villains who think they are doing right also believe that they must achieve justice by any means necessary. Unlike vigilantes or anti heroes, the righteous villain has no real moral code. There are exceptions to this. Sometimes the righteous villain has a close friend, lover or confidant that they will refuse to indoctrinate in their world view. In fact, it is because of their love for this person that allows them to convince themselves that they actually agree with them even if, technically, they can be their greatest adversary.

Typically, The Righteous Villain archetype is a King who has just recently obtained power. Usually, by force.

One important thing to note is that the audience does not necessarily have to agree that what the villain is attempting to change about the world is right. In fact, the story can be a lot more interesting when the audience is unsure of whether or not they support the villain's ideas. The villains ideas must have glimmers of truth, because not only must the audience be conflicted, but it must be a bit painful for the protagonist to stop them.

Enter Magneto.

The epitome of what a Righteous Villain is.

When looking at the character Magneto's history of violence, one can clearly see that he is not a terribly evil. He is simply the product of an evil and hateful world. Because that is the only thing he knows, it is only natural that his mind would be twisted into believing that this is how the world is run. Now, he seeks only to make sure that his race is the dominant one so that there will be no discrimination, but perfection and peace. How is this done? Terrorist attacks. Plots to wipe out humanity as a whole. All this is done in the name of justice. A skewed version of it. Who is to say that certain evil should not be eradicated. How do you do that, however? The righteous villain believes that he/she knows. Defeat evil by playing evil's game and defeating it one on one. There are those who would agree, but when we view the protagonist, we see that the villain is wrong and that while life is not fair, that does not give evil liberty to do what what it will. That is typically the conclusion that the protagonist will reach in the end and if the protagonist and antagonist were friends, this means the end of everything between them. Unless of course, the antagonist and protagonist respect each other and mean so much to each other that they can never agree with the others ideas, but can respect them. They both know that there could be a day that they may have to destroy the other to achieve what they want, but until that day they are content with being rivals. For a writer, this can create an interesting story line between your protagonist and antagonist.

Professor X and Magneto view their struggle like a game of chess. If one could defeat the other then perhaps they can convince that their way of thinking is stronger. Neither, however, denies that things need to change.

Yes, the Righteous Villain is a fascinating creature because he/she makes us question our own morals when we must decide what is right and what is wrong. For a moment we even given in to their way of thinking and think for ourselves "What IF evil could be controlled..." By then end of the story, if the author or playwright is good enough, our ideas are not so limited to one train of thought. Perhaps you understand why the antagonist must be defeated, but his ideas have changed you into thinking that perhaps he could right.

The Righteous Villain who sinks too far into their darkness can end up alone and hated by all.

Thus ends our look at the Righteous Villain. Please comment to show us your support and if you REALLY like it, retweet or share it with a buddy! Thanks so much gang! Part 4 will feature a villain that you might not think about too often, but know all too well: The Tragic Villain.

Some villains were never given no other choice than to become evil...


-P.O. Marc

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Designing the Villain Part 2: The Sorrowful Villain

Welcome back to the Nightmare!

Hello gang!
I'm so excited that so many people are taking to this series of blog post! For those who are just joining us, I have decided to blog about my exploration and conclusions about Villains since I take pride in the fact that I am usually cast as villains. Mind you, there are several types of villains in the world and I wish to blog about the ones that I have either played or recognized on stage or on film. I've taken my time to plan out part 2 for you guys by going into what I like to call: the Sorrowful Villain.

Now, I imagine that you are wondering exactly how dangerous can this villain be? Or maybe you believe there is no way this villain could ever exist? I respectfully disagree. I believe the Sorrowful Villain is one that is alive and well and can even be a formidable foe to any protagonist. One thing to note about the Sorrowful Villain is that he or she does not follow an ideology and is not out for revenge like The Vengeful Villain. The Sorrowful Villain is consumed by the sadness that they were subjected to in the past. Unlike The Vengeful Villain, the Sorrowful Villain's pain stems from only one traumatic event as opposed to a lifetime of hate that has built up.

Two-Face turns to evil after the death of his fiancee and no longer sees an issue with killing. He shows signs of being both the Vengeful Villain AND the Sorrowful Villain.

He or she was probably a good person at one point, but perhaps the death of someone close to them or even the destruction of something in their life has made it so that they can no longer see the good in the world. They are so blinded by their sadness that it makes them do evil things. It is important to note that since this villain is not inherently evil, they probably recognize what they are doing as wrong and that just torpedoes them to do even more evil. It is hard for this villain to stop since their acts are usually so heinous that they cannot be forgiven by society. I would like to take an opportunity to give you an example of someone who exhibits the Sorrowful Villain:
For those of you who don't recognize him without his trademark helmet, I reintroduce you to another one of the greatest villains ever written: Anakin Skywalker or, rather, Darth Vader. By the end of episode 3 we see that Anakin is driven from the Light Side after he is not only seduced by power, but, more importantly, that he is so consumed by the thought that he is too weak to save anyone he loves. Now, there are other factors that attribute his turn to the Dark Side such as a strong misguided sense of justice, arrogance and pressure from outside forces. However, it is clear that the underlying cause for him to turn over to the Dark Side was that he is consumed by the sadness of losing those he loves dearly. When he is encased in the black suit that we all know and love, it is symbolic of Anakin's sadness that is now consumed by evil. He embraces it like a cloak and will follow it blindly with hopes that it will bring him happiness one day. However, with every life he takes and every crime he commits, a piece of him is torn away from his bones until even that little bit of his humanity is at its smallest.

But Anakin is not without hope and neither is any Sorrowful Villain. It is until three movies later that we see that someone so lost in sorrow can be brought back by pure goodness. Sure, arguably, Luke now has a firm understanding of what both the light and dark side are, but he is still pure enough to show Darth Vader that he does not need to continue on this path. To lay down his arms and repent, he may be able salvage his soul even if he would never be accepted by society. This is an important plot twist at the end of the Sorrowful Villain's journey that should be considered when writing. Unlike most, the Sorrowful Villain is not without redemption as far as his or her's soul is concerned. They may still be able to show people that in the end, they are just as tortured as others.

As always, these are my opinions. Others may disagree or even have different opinions on the matter. I believe what I want people to take from these posts is not that there is one way to create a villain, but that villains are not simple and can add an extra layer of spice to your writing!

In Part 3, I believe it is time to look at one of the villains I personally enjoy playing: The Righteous Villain.
Is it really Evil when the Villain truly believes that what he does is Justice?

-P.O. Marc

Monday, March 12, 2012

Designing the Villain Part 1: The Vengeful Villain

Hello Gang!

P.O. Marc Laroy here and read to deliver a new blog post! *Cues canned Laughter* Thank you! Thank you! On behalf of the Play Orphans I must apologize for our absence. We have been hard at work on a variety of things. Some of us just started teaching, others have been steadily looking for work, and everyone is busy editing each other's work! We ask your pardon and vow to always have at least one blog post a week!

Now that we have established that, let's get cracking on a topic I have thought long and hard about. As an actor, I understand the concept of types and know that typically I am cast as the villain. Which is fine, because I love playing villains. I feel there is great challenge when you have to play someone completely opposite of yourself and make it believable. That is the big reason I enjoy playing villains. But these monsters that haunt our imagination are not so easy to create. We run the risk of making them generic and boring and possibly cartoonish (unless cartoonish is what you are going for). Over the next couple of blog posts from me, I want to investigate a number villains that are featured in plays and literature and look at what makes them so fascinating and fun to watch. I don't claim to be an expert in creating villains or in playing villains, but I know what I like and I know what works for me.

So let's get to it.

Do you ever wonder what makes these guys so popular?

The first type of villain we should look at is the vengeful villain. This villain was possibly a good person at one point or at least good enough to be a decent member of society. However, a death in the family or a spurned love has twisted this persons ideas on life. Now, they seek to bring everyone to their level of hate in order to make themselves feel better. I believe that typically we see this with a variety of villains. In my opinion, this is the stock villain. This is the villain that writers put into their work when the hero needs a bit of outside to match up with the larger internal struggle that their going through. A lot of times, this villain is probably going to come from a similar background as the hero and will show the reader or audience member, just how easy it would be to fall into darkness. However, that's not to say that this a boring character or that it can't be complex. As an avid fan of Harry Potter, I would like to point out that Lord Voldemort falls under this category.

Yes, the Dark Lord himself. I will not give you a full account of Lord Voldemort's (Or rather, Tom Riddle's) life, but those who read it know that he started in a similar situation as Harry's. His mother and father gone from his life, unwanted and unloved by many. There is a distinct flaw in his character, which separates him from Harry: he is a fearful, narcissistic psychopath. Adding those three qualities is what takes a villain from being just a stock villain to being arguably one of the greatest villains in literature. It is important to note that these qualities are not restricted to the realm of the Vengeful Villan. These are traits that can be used to supplement all villains and make them more interesting to those who see them.

A writer must think about these things as he is writing his villains especially in a play. Often, we do not get 7 books worth of back story that help us understand a villain. In plays, we are given 2 hours and even then we must hear more about the story and, of course, about the protagonist. But as an actor who loves to give into the darkness on stage, I for one really appreciate when the playwright makes a villain I can really sink my teeth into. Though this is not my favorite type of villain, I cannot deny the appeal of it. These villains definitely have a bit of human
ity in them and it is clear that under the right circumstances they could redeem themselves by the end of the play if they choose. It is my challenge to other playwrights to think about ways they could make their own vengeful villain an interesting part of their story.

That ends my thoughts on The Vengeful Villain. None of what I said is set in stone, but it is the conclusion that I have come to about villains myself. Part 2 coming shortly with the Sorrowful Villain!

A villain run by sadness is a dangerous adversary indeed...

-P.O. Marc

Saturday, March 3, 2012

What's Up at the Play Orphanage


Just a note to let you know what's up at the Play Orphanage. The first round of the Grimm Challenge is closed. We turned in the rough drafts of our fair-tale inspired plays on February 18th, and now we are critiquing them for each other for the second round of the challenge.

For our amusement in the meantime, I drew us as the characters from our chosen fairy tales.

Until later,
P. O. Anna