Theatre Arts 112/English 98

Theatre, History, Culture III:

Modernism to Post-Modernism

Professor Mazer

Fall 2007


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11-11:50, and by appointment



September 6:  Introduction


I.  Against/Beneath/Beyond Realism


September 11:  Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragic in Everyday Life” (bulkpack); Anton Chekhov, The Seagull.


[September 13:  NO CLASS]


September 18:  Edward Gordon Craig, “The Actor and the Über-Marionette” from On the Art of the Theatre (bulkpack); Adolphe Appia, “Ideas on a Reform of our Mise en Scène (bulkpack)”; William ButlerYeats, At the Hawk’s Well (bulkpack).


II.  Dada and Surrealism


September 20:  Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi (bulkpack); Guillaume Apollinaire, The Breasts of Tiresias (bulkpack).


III. The Theatre of Cruelty


September 25:  Antonin Artaud, ”Metaphysics and the Mise en Scène,” “On the Balinese Theater,” “No More Masterpieces,” “The Theater and Cruelty,” and “Theater of Cruelty (first manifesto)” from The Theater and its Double (bulkpack).


IV.  Expressionism


September 27:  Kenneth Macgowan and Robert Edmond Jones, “Beyond Realism” and “The Living Stage,” from Continental Stagecraft (bulkpack); Robert Edmond Jones, “A New Kind of Drama” from The Dramatic Imagination (bulkpack); Georg Kaiser, From Morn to Midnight (bulkpack).


V.  Constructivism and Bio-Mechanics


October 2:  Robert Leach, “Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold” (bulkpack); Mel Gordon, “Meyerhold’s Biomechanics” (bulkpack); Vsevolod Meyerhold, “Observations on the Play” and “Meyerhold at Rehearsal” (bulkpack).


VI.  The Epic Theatre


October 4:  Piscator and Brecht:  Bertolt Brecht, “The Modern Theatre is the Epic Theatre,” “Theatre for Pleasure or Theatre for Instruction,” “Alienation Effects in Chinese Acting,” “The Street Scene” and “A Short Organum for Theatre” (bulkpack).


October 9:  Readings:  Brecht, Mother Courage.




VII.  American Non-Realism and Realism


October 11:  Eugene O’Neill, “A Manifesto on Masks  (bulkpack); Sophie Treadwell, Machinal




VIII.  Post-War American Realism and Beyond


October 18:  Lee Strasberg, “The Voyage Continues II:  The Actors Studio and My Classes,” A Dream of Passion (bulkpack); Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman.


October 23:  Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire.


IX.  Theatre of the Absurd


October 25:  Samuel Beckett, Endgame.


X.  Synthesis


October 30:  Peter Brook, The Empty Space; film viewing, on reserve in Rosengarten:  Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade, directed by Peter Brook.


XI.  The actor and the Body


November 1:  Jerzy Grotowski, “Towards a Poor Theatre,” “The Theatre’s New Testament,” and “He Wasn’t Entirely Himself,” from Towards a Poor Theatre (bulkpack).


XII.  Post-Colonial Theatre


November 6:  Brian Crow and Chris Banfield, “Introduction, from An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theatre (bulkpack); Wole Soyinka, Death and the King’s Horseman; Soyinka, “The Fourth Stage” (downloadable for the Blackboard website).


XIII.  Performance Anthropology and the New Inter-Culturalism


November 8:  Gautam Dasgupta, “Peter Brook’s ‘Orientalism’” (Performing Arts Journal, Vol. 10, No. 3. [1987], pp. 9-16)(downloadable for the Blackboard website); slides, and video clips about Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and Ariane Mnouchkine’s Shakespeare and Aeschylus.




XIV.  Feminist Theory and Performance


November 13:   Jill Dolan, “The Discourse of Feminism:  The Spectator and Representation,” from The Feminist Spectator as Critic (bulkpack).


[POSSIBLE THEATRE-GOING:  Villanova University Theatre’s production of Brecht’s Mother Courage and her Children, Nov. 13-18, 27-Dec. 2]


[November 15:  TO BE ANNOUNCED]


November 20:  Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine.




XV.  Performance and Performance Art


November 27:  Marvin Carlson, “Performance and Identity,” from Performance:  A Critical Introduction (bulkpack).


XVI.  Camp, Queer Theatre


November 29:  Susan Sontag, “An Essay on Camp” (bulkpack); Split Britches and Bloo Lips, Belle Reprieve (bulkpack).


XVII.  Post-Modernism and The Theatre of Images


December 4:  Richard Foreman, “Foundations for a Theater,” “Directing the Actors, Mostly,” “Visual Composition, Mostly,” from Unbalancing Acts (bulkpack); slides and video-tapes of productions by The Wooster Group, Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman.


December 6:  Catch-up and Conclusions



There will be TWO take-home essay assignments (approximately 5 pages), plus ONE final paper (approximately 10-12 pages), due at a date to be announced during reading and exam period, on a topic that must MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE.  Attendance in class is crucial; CHRONIC ABSENCE OR LATENESS WILL BE COUNTED AGAINST YOU.


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


Anton Chekhov, The Seagull

Sophia Treadwell, Machinal

Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire

Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage and Her Children

Samuel Beckett, Engame

Peter Brook, The Empty Space

Wole Soyinka, Death and the King's Horseman

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine


The bulkpack can be purchased at the Campus Copy Center, 39th and Walnut.


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The syllabus for this course is available at­mazer/112f07.html.  Make a bookmark on your web browser for this site.  There is a “Blackboard” web site for this course, to which you are automatically subscribed, which includes an electronic copy of the syllabus, and (under “Course Documents”) downloadable PDF files of several of the course readings.  We may discover other uses for this web site over the course of the semester.