E 314J • Literature and Theatre
2:00 PM-3:00 PM
What is the relationship between a dramatic text and a theatrical performance based on that text? What roles are played by directors, actors, designers, audience members, critics, and past productions in creating the meaning of a text in performance? How does drama interact with its cultural context and play a role in shaping the world outside the theater? How do dramatic texts change and exploit the form of drama itself?
This course will examine dramatic literature from a variety of critical and practical perspectives drawn from the disciplines of literary analysis and performance theory. Our inquiry will be divided into four main units: critical interpretation, social engagement, adaptation, and the role of the director. The first unit will focus on issues of race, class, gender, and form as they apply to plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Beckett. The second unit will explore the solutions proposed by Brecht and Artaud to the problem of what role drama should play in society. The third unit will focus on 20th century adaptations of older texts. The fourth unit will address the ways in which strong directorial choices in performance can influence or even permanently add to the meaning of a written text. Each unit is designed to build on and incorporate material from the previous units.
Students will be expected to write and revise two substantial papers in addition to periodic reading responses. Students will also be expected to prepare a short report for the class on a play or production, with emphasis on how it fits into one of our thematic units.
1-page response papers on readings, 5 times throughout course 10%
3-4-page report on a play for the class 10%
4-6-page short paper, submitted twice 35%
6-8-page longer paper, submitted twice 45%
Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard
Beckett, Collected Shorter Plays
Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children
Artaud, The Cenci