First-Year Studies: Power Plays: Theatre as Politics


This course examines how periods of social unrest and political upheaval can yield profoundly influential works of dramatic literature. Referencing specific historical events and political movements, including those of the late 20th century in America (the AIDS crisis of the 1980s; the antiwar, women’s, and civil rights movements of the 1960s), we will investigate how a play can come to be a record of its times and a lasting call to arms. Studying a large number and cross-section of plays that range from the classical to the modern and contemporary canons (from Lysistrata to Hair to Angels in America), we will determine how style, form, content, and the intent of the playwright shape audience response and why certain plays continue to inform the way we think and live. Students are expected to participate fully in class discussions and conferences and to create individual and group projects that are the expression of their own particular interests and areas of theatre study; i.e., acting, directing, design, playwriting. For the purposes of discussion, students will be asked to read aloud from selected assigned plays. Class work will include text and comparative analysis of selected plays and discussions of the political and historical contexts from which our plays emerged. In addition to plays, students will be assigned to read nonfiction support material. A series of documentary films and film adaptations of plays will be shown. In choosing this class, you are choosing to be a Theatre Third. This means that, in addition to this course, you will be automatically enrolled in Theatre Techniques: Technology and you will need to enroll in one other theatre component of your choice.  As a Theatre Third, you are also required to attend all theatre meetings and colloquiums as listed below, as well as complete 25 hours of technical work each semester.   This class meets twice a week.