Contemporary American Drama and Social Change

 

3rd year American Studies Major

Fall Semester 2016

Description

This course offers an introduction to contemporary American drama through the lens of various thematic and formal developments emerging on the American stage in the last three decades. The corpus of primary texts includes canonical works by major contemporary playwrights, as well as recent theatrical forms, such as community-based drama and documentary theater. Analyzing the ways in which the plays address some of the most pressing concerns and debates of our times (in particular, the complexities of negotiating American identity at the intersection of social, political, and cultural forces), the course emphasizes the role of contemporary drama in constructing a vital space for critical reflection and its specific contributions as a vehicle for social change.

Syllabus

Week 1: Introduction. Objectives and Requirements. Introduction to Performance Analysis.

            In-class screening: Theater of War, dir. John Walter, 2008 (excerpts) 

Week 2: Theoretical Foundations: Drama and Social Change. Epic Theater. The Theater of the Oppressed.

Boal, Augusto. “Poetics of the Oppressed.” Theater of the Oppressed. New edition. Trans. by Charles A. and Maria-Odilia Leal McBride and Emily Fryer. London: Pluto Press, 2008. 95-98; 108-135. Print.

Brecht, Bertolt. “Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction.” Trans. by John Willett. Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski. Ed. Bernard F. Dukore. Forth Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1974. 849-854. Print.

---. Extracts from A Short Organum for the Theater. Trans. John Willett. The Applied Theater Reader. Eds. Tim Prentki and Sheila Preston. London and NY: Routledge, 2009. 28-32. Print.

Week 3: Experimental Theater Groups of the 1960s [Introduction]

Saddik, Annette J. “Avant-Garde Theater Groups: Revolutions in Performance.” Contemporary American Drama. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007. 108-128. Print.

 

CLUSTER #1: Gender/ Sexual Politics in Contemporary Drama (weeks 4-6)

Week 4: Tony Kushner, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes (1993). 

Reinelt, Janelle. “Notes on Angels in America as American Epic Theater.” Tony Kushner. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005. 59-68. Print.

Savran, David. “Ambivalence, Utopia, and a Queer Sort of Materialism: How Angels in America Reconstructs the Nation.” Tony Kushner. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2005. 15-41. Print. 

Week 5: Paula Vogel, How I Learned to Drive (1997)

Pellegrini, Ann. “Repercussions and Remainders in the Plays of Paula Vogel: An  Essay in Five Moments.” A Companion to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Ed. David Krasner. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. 473-485.

Vogel, Paula. “Driving Ms. Vogel. An Interview with David Savran.” American Theater Reader: Essays and Conversations from American Theater Magazine. Ed. American Theater Magazine Staff. NY: Theater Communications Group, 2009. 459-467. Print.

Week 6: Documentary Theater [Introduction]

Moises Kaufman and the Tectonic Theater Group, The Laramie Project (2000).

Dolan, Jill. “The Laramie Project: Rehearsing for the Example.” Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005. 113 – 138. Print.

Martin, Carol. “Bodies of Evidence.” Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. London, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 17-26. Print.

Shewey, Don. “Town in a Mirror.” American Theater Reader: Essays and Conversations from American Theater Magazine. Ed. American Theater Magazine Staff. NY: Theater Communications Group, 2009. 206 – 213. Print.

 

CLUSTER #2: Race and Ethnicity in Contemporary Drama (weeks 7-10)

Week 7: Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities (1992)

Forsyth, Alison. “Performing Trauma: Race Riots and Beyond in the Work of Anna Deavere Smith.” Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. London, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. 140- 150. Print.

Smith, Anna Deavere. “Introduction.” Fires in the Mirror: Crown Heights, Brooklyn and Other Identities. NY: Dramatists Play Service, 1998. Print.

Week 8: David Henry Hwang, Yellow Face (2007)

Boles, William C. “Understanding David Henry Hwang,” “Wrapping Up, Beginning Anew: Yellow Face and Chinglish.” Understanding David Henry Hwang. University of South Carolina Press, 2013. 1-12; 102-124. Print.

Hwang, David Henry. “Fun with Race and the Media. American Theater 25.4 (2008): 60. Print.

Week 9: Saviana Stanescu, Aliens with Extraordinary Skills (2008)

Clinton Eisner, John. “Introduction: A Writer in R/Evolution.” Stanescu, Saviana. The New York Plays. NY: NoPassport Press, 2010. 7-37. Print.

Stanescu, Saviana. “Eurotic I (A Curriculum Vitae).” Alter Ego: Twenty Confronting Views on the Eastern European Experience. Ed. Guido Snel. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2004. 95-102. Print.

---. “Interview with Cristina Modreanu.” Scena: Revista de Artele Spectacolului 25 (2014): 31-32. Print.

 Week 10: Community-Based Performance [Introduction]

Ping Chong, Undesirable Elements (1992-)

Cohen, Cruz, Jan. “Introduction.” Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the United States. Rutgers University Press, 2005. 1-8. Print.

Solomon, Alisa. “Introduction.” Undesirable Elements: Real People, Real Lives, Real Theater. Ed. Sara Zatz. NY: Theater Communications Group, 2012. ix – xvi. Print.

Zatz, Sara. “Methodology: An Overview.” Undesirable Elements: Real People, Real Lives, Real Theater. Ed. Sara Zatz. NY: Theater Communications Group, 2012. 207-210. Print.           

 

Week 11: Comparative Approaches: Recent Trends in Romanian Theater

Carbunariu, Geanina. “I’m a sort of guide in a forest where I’ve never been before.” Interview with Iulia Popovici. Sfarsitul regiei, inceputul creatiei colective in teatrul european/ The End of   Directing, The Beginning of Theater-Making and Devising in European Theater. Ed. Iulia      Popovici. Cluj-Napoca: Tact, 2015. 295 – 303. Print.

Popovici, Iulia. “Changing the Paradigm of Reality: From Authorship Theater to Minimalism and Documentary.” Trans. Marius-Bogdan Tudor. Noi practici in artele spectacolului in Europa de Est/ New Performing Arts Practices in Eastern Europe. Ed. Iulia Popovici. Chisinau: Cartier, 2014. 228 – 237. Print. 

Week 12: Conclusions. American Drama and Social Change.

Dolan, Jill. “Introduction: Feeling the Potential of Elsewhere.” Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005. 1-34. Print.

Schinina, Guglielmo. “Social Theater and Some Open Questions about Its Developments.” The Drama Review 48.3 (2004): 17 -31. Print.

Week 13: Final Exam

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

General Reference Books:

Balme, Christopher B. The Cambridge Introduction to Theater Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.

Krasner, David, ed. A Companion to Twentieth-Century American Drama. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2005. Print.

Middeke, Martin, Peter Paul Schnierer et al., eds. The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary American Playwrights. London, NY: Bloomsbury, 2014. Print.

Richards, Jeffrey H., and Heather S. Nathans, eds. The Oxford Handbook of American Drama. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014. Print.

Saddik, Annette J. Contemporary American Drama. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2007. Print.

Specialized Studies:

Cohen-Cruz, Jan. Local Acts: Community-Based Performance in the U.S. New Brunswick, New Jersey, London: Rutgers UP, 2005. Print.

---. Engaging Performance: Theater as Call and Response. NY: Routledge, 2010. Print.

Dolan, Jill. The Feminist Spectator as Critic. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991. Print.

---. Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope at the Theater. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005. Print.

Forsyth, Alison, and Chris Megson, eds. Get Real: Documentary Theater Past and Present. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. Print.

Martin, Carol, ed. Dramaturgy of the Real on the World Stage. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010. Print.

Maufort, Marc, ed. Staging Difference: Cultural Pluralism in American Theater and Drama. NY: Peter Lang, 1995. Print.

Pao, Angela C. No Safe Spaces: Re-Casting Race, Ethnicity, and Nationality in American Theater. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010. Print.

Wilmer, S.E. Theater, Society and the Nation: Staging American Identities. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. Print.

 

RECOMMENDED THEATER/ FILM PRODUCTIONS:

  • Performances:
  • Ingeri in America (Kushner), dir. Victor Ioan Frunza, Teatrul Metropolis  
  • Cum am invatat sa conduc (Vogel), dir. Eugen Gyemant, Teatrul De Comedie – Sala Noua
  • Viza de Clovn (Stanescu), dir. Alexandru Mihail, Teatrul Odeon
  • Film versions:
  • Fires in the Mirror (1993, dir. George C. Wolfe) – available on YouTube
  • Angels in America – HBO Mini-series (2003; dir. Mike Nichols)
  • The Laramie Project (2002; dir. Moises Kaufman) - available on YouTube
  • How I Learned to Drive, MLT Theater (recorded performance) - available on YouTube

 

 

Pagină actualizată la 23 Octombrie 2016.