Theatre, History, Culture II:

Romantics, Realists, and Revolutionaries

Theatre Arts 102

Cary Mazer

Spring 2016


Mazer:  519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-2:30, and by appointment


January 14:  Introduction


January 19:  Romanticism:

Friedrich Schiller, “The Pathetic” (Canvas), Victor Hugo, “Preface to Cromwell” (Canvas).


January 21:  Romanticism (cont.):

Victor Hugo, The King Amuses Himself (Canvas).


January 26:  Pictorial Realism:

 Martin Meisel, “Preamble to the Picture Play,” from Realizations (Canvas), Georg II, Duke of Saxe-Meiningen, “Pictorial Motion” (Canvas), Richard Wagner, “The Art-Work of the Future” (Canvas).


January 28:  Domestic Realism:

T.W. Robertson, Caste (Canvas).

[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Jealousy, Infidelity, and Transfiguration, Theatre Arts Program with the Daedalus String Quartet, Arthur Ross Gallery, Friday, January 29.]


February 2:  Realism:

Henrik Ibsen, A Doll House; Gay Gibson Cima, “Discovering Signs:  the Emergence of the Critical Actor in Ibsen” (Canvas); watch the video of the Young Vic production, directed by Carrie Cracknell (only after you have read the play), at


February 4:  Realist Acting:

Robert Leach, “Constantine Stanislavsky,” in Makers of Modern Theatre, Konstantin Stanislavski, “Action, ‘If,’ ‘Given Circumstances’” in An Actor’s Work (Canvas).


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Theatre Arts Program, script-in-hand reading, Bruce Montgomery Theatre, Friday, February 5.]


February 9:  Realism (cont.):

Anton Chekhov, The Seagull.


February 11:  The Reaction Against Realism:

Edward Gordon Craig, “The Actor and the Über-Marionette” from On the Art of the Theatre (Canvas); Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragic in Everyday Life” (Canvas); Jean Cocteau, “Preface to The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party” (Canvas), Robert Leach, “Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold,” in Makers of Modern Theatre, pp. 69-92.


February 16:  Theatre of Cruelty:

Robert Leach, “Antonin Artaud,” in Makers of Modern Theatre; Antonin Artaud, “Metaphysics and the Mise en ScŹne,” “On the Balinese Theater,” “No More Masterpieces,” “The Theater and Cruelty,” and “Theater of Cruelty (first manifesto)” from The Theater and its Double (Canvas).


February 18:  Bertolt Brecht:

Robert Leach, “Bertolt Brecht,” in Makers of Modern Theatre; Bertolt Brecht, “The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre,” “Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction,” “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting,” “The Street Scene” (Canvas).


February 23:  Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle.


February 25:  American Expressionism:

Eugene O’Neill, “A Manifesto on Masks” (Canvas); Sophie Treadwell, Machinal.


[Theatre Arts Program/Writer’s House:  Penn Plays Project:  workshop/reading of Mirrors, by Michael Lobman.]


March 1:  American Political Theory (and realism):

Helen Krich Chinoy, “The Poetics of Politics:  Some Notes on Style and Craft in the Theatre of the Thirties” (Canvas); Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty (Canvas).


March 3:  American Stanislavskianism:

Lee Strasberg, “The Voyage Continues II:  The Actors Studio and My Classes,” from A Dream of Passion (Canvas), David Krasner, “Strasberg, Adler and Meisner:  Method acting” (Canvas).


[March 4:  First take-home assignment due.]


[spring break]


March 15:  Theatre of the Absurd.

Samuel Beckett:  Endgame, Martin Esslin, “The Theatre of the Absurd” (Canvas).


March 24:  Poor Theatre/Holy Theatre:

Jerzy Grotowski, “Towards a Poor Theatre,” “The Theatre’s New Testament,” and “He Wasn’t Entirely Himself,” from Towards a Poor Theatre (Canvas).


March 17:  60s/70s:

Julian Beck, “Meditations” and “Questions” from The Life of the Theatre (Canvas), Richard Schechner, “On Environmental Design” (Canvas), Joseph Chaikin, Chapter I from The Presence of the Actor (Canvas).


March 22:  Gender and Theatre:

Dolan, Jill, “The Discourse of Feminisms: The Spectator and Representation” (Canvas), Elin Diamond, “Brechtian Theory/Feminist Theory: Toward a Gestic Feminist Criticism (Canvas).


[March 24:  TBA]


March 29:  Gender and Drama:

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine, Rhonda Blair, “‘Not … but’/‘Not-not-me’: Musings on Cross-Gender Performance” (Canvas).


April 5:  Solo Performance:

Marvin Carlson, “Performance and Identity” in Performance: A Critical Introduction (Canvas).


April 7:  Post-Dramatic Theatre:

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play; Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis.


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Theatre Arts Program, The Eumenides, University Museum, April 7-9.]


[April 12:  Second take-home assignment due]


April 12:  Discussion of The Eumenides.


April 14:  New Acting Theory:

Phillip B. Zarrilli, “Introduction” in Acting (Re)considered (Canvas), “4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane” in Psychophysical Acting: An Intercultural Approach after Stanislavsky (Canvas), Royd Climenhaga, Simon Murrah, “Jacques Lecoq, Monika Pagneaux and Philippe Gaulier: Training for Play, Lightness, and Disobedience” in Actor Training (Canvas), and “Anne Bogart and Siti Company: Creating the Moment” in Actor Training (Canvas).


April 19:  Theatre of Images:

Elizabeth LeCompte, “An Introduction” (Canvas), and Spalding Gray, Rumstick Road (Canvas).

[REQUIRED THEATREGOING (if we can arrange it):  Machinal, EgoPo Theatre, The Latvian Society, 531 N 7th St, starting April 20.]

April 21:  Devised Theatre:

Guest:  Brooke O’Harra, co-founder and artistic director, The Theatre of a Two-Headed Calf (and new member of the Theatre Arts Program faculty); readings to be announced.


April 26:  catch-up and conclusions


There will be TWO take-home essay assignments (approximately 5 pages), plus a final term paper (approximately 10-12 pages), due by NOON on Monday, May 3.  The topic for the final term paper must MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE, in person, by April 22.


Grading Breakdown:

Preparation and Participation:  20%

First take-home assignment:  20%

Second take-home assignment:  20%

Final Paper:  40%




Please familiarize yourself with the rules of academic integrity, at  I will rigorously pursue violations of the code.


The following books can be purchased at the Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom Sts.:


Henrik Ibsen, Four Plays

Anton Chekhov, Four Plays and Three Jokes

Robert Leach, Makers of Modern Theatre

Sophie Treadwell, Machinal

Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Samuel Beckett, Endgame

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play

Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis


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