Modern and Contemporary Drama

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Essential Questions: 
  • How can we best define the idea of a Modern dramatic tradition?
  • Where might the roots lie?
  • In what ways have these roots been developed, modified, or usurped by later playwrights?
  • In what ways do the texts reflect the historical and cultural contexts in which they are constructed?
Content: 
  • Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, The Seagull
  • August Strindberg's Miss Julie
  • Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler and A Doll's House
  • Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and her Children
  • George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man
  • Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Endgame
  • Harold Pinter's Betrayal
  • Tennessee William's Night of the Iguana
  • Suzan Lori-Parks' Topdog/Underdog
  • Anna Deveare Smith's Twilight, Los Angeles: 1992
  • Handouts and selected texts
Skills and Processes: 
  • Prepare and present class meetings, both in collaborative groups and as individuals.
  • Apply principles of peer reviewing and metacritical self-review for both content and style
  • Develop critical abilities as readers and patrons of drama
  • Acquire the vocabulary and skills required for literate discussion of drama
  • Active reading
  • Improve skills as writers of critical prose about drama
  • Class note-taking
  • Fine tune guidelines for collaboration in written work and class participation
  • Memorizing text
  • Acting and directing
  • Set and scene design
Assessment: 
  • 2 analytical essays, assessed for content and style in individual conference
  • 2 performances, evaluated for memorization, commitment to the style of play at hand, ambition of production, engagement with the material, and cooperation with scene partners
  • Tests emphasize reading comprehension and synthesis
  • Peer reviews
  • Metacritical writing
  • Discussions about critical analysis and persuasive writing
  • Presentations are evaluated for persuasiveness, novelty, unity, ability to involve the entire group, and effectiveness in achieving the student-instructor’s stated goals