American Drama


It goes without saying that we are living in a uniquely divided, politically fraught period in our nation's history. This course is intended as an opportunity to reflect on ways that the theatre has historically responded or reflected such turmoil and anger in decades past, and how it might do so today. Using the theoretical ideas formulated by Bertolt Brecht and others as our point of departure, the course asks how theatre examines social unrest and discord. Should the stage function as a form of Agit-prop protest? Or should it serve as a forum for rational debate? What ought to be the function of theatre at a time like ours, and what do representative works from the past teach us about political theatre today? Included in our syllabus will be political plays by many of America's finest playwrights (Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, August Wilson, Suzan-Lori Parks and others), as well as works from the late 1960s and 1970s that sought to engage or confront the audience directly through improvisation and ritual (The Open Theatre), or even a direct assault on the audience itself (The Living Theatre). The course concludes with a series of scenes created and performed by the students themselves.
Course Attributes: EN H; AS HUM; FA HUM; AR HUM