What is the historical relationship between theatre and social change? Augusto Boal called theatre “the rehearsal for the revolution,” but over the last half-century American theatre has been repeatedly proclaimed a dead art. In this seminar-style course we will take the pulse of today’s American theatre scene as we explore trends in social and political drama with special attention to the last 55 years. In order to understand how theatre can react to, reflect, and challenge sociopolitical conditions we will read plays by Lorraine Hansberry, Luis Valdez, Ntozake Shange, Wendy Wasserstein, Anna Deavere Smith, Tony Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks and others. After a brief introduction to the formal features and genre conventions of the American drama, our class work will focus on theatre history, close literary analysis, scene readings, student presentations, and critical discussions. Students will also write a take-home midterm essay and a final research paper. To help us think about the drama as a live, staged event, class work will include attendance at two theatrical performances, including one trip to an off-campus Birmingham theater. By studying both canonical and radical, vanguard theatres of the U.S., we will interrogate the most influential formal conventions of contemporary American drama while simultaneously piecing together a counter-history of experimentation. Ultimately, this framework will allow us to address larger questions about theatre’s civic and historical role in times of social and political unrest.
Contact Emily Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org