Theatre Arts 112/English 98

Theatre, History, Culture III:

Modernism to Post-Modernism

Professor Mazer

Spring 2009


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-3:00, and by appointment


January 15:  Introduction


I.  Against/Beneath/Beyond Realism


January 20:  Anton Chekhov, The Seagull.


January 22:  The Seagull (cont.); Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragic in Everyday Life,” and The Intruder (bulkpack).


January 27:  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 and Purgatory (bulkpack).


II.  Dada and Surrealism


January 29:  Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi (bulkpack); Guillaume Apollinaire, The Breasts of Tiresias (bulkpack).


III. The Theatre of Cruelty


February 3:  Robert Leach, “Antonin Artaud,” in Makers of Modern Theatre; 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


Feburary 5:  Kenneth Macgowan and Robert Edmond Jones, “Beyond Realism,” “The Living Stage,” and Masse-Mensch—Mob-Man,”from Continental Stagecraft (bulkpack); Ernst Toller, Man and the Masses (bulkpack).


V.  Constructivism and Bio-Mechanics


February 10:  Robert Leach, “Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold,” in Makers of Modern Theatre; Mel Gordon, “Meyerhold’s Biomechanics” (bulkpack); Vsevolod Meyerhold, “Observations on the Play” and “Meyerhold at Rehearsal” (bulkpack).


VI.  The Epic Theatre


February 12:  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” (bulkpack).


February 17:  Readings:  Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle.




VII.  American Expressionism


February 19:  Eugene O’Neill, “A Manifesto on Masks  (bulkpack); Sophie Treadwell, Machinal.


VIII.  American Political Theatre, American Realism and Beyond


February 24:  Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing!


February 26:  Awake and Sing! (cont.); Lee Strasberg, “The Voyage Continues II:  The Actors Studio and My Classes,” A Dream of Passion (bulkpack).


IX.  Theatre of the Absurd


March 3:  Samuel Beckett, Endgame.


X.  Synthesis


March 5:  Peter Brook, The Empty Space.


[Spring Break]


March 17:  Film viewing, on reserve in Rosengarten:  Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade, directed by Peter Brook.


XI.  The actor and the Body


March 19:  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


March 24:  Brian Crow and Chris Banfield, “Introduction,” from An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theatre (bulkpack); Aimé Césaire, A Tempest.


XIII.  Performance Anthropology and the New Inter-Culturalism


March 26:  Interviews and articles on The Mahabharata, from Peter Brook:  A Theatrical Casebook, ed. David Williams, pp. 353-390 (bulkpack); 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


March 31:   Jill Dolan, “The Discourse of Feminism:  The Spectator and Representation,” from The Feminist Spectator as Critic (bulkpack).


April 2:  Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine; Rhonda Blair, “‘Not … but’/’Not-not-me’: Musings on Cross-Gender Performance” (bulkpack).


XV.  Performance and Performance Art


April 7:  Marvin Carlson, “Performance and Identity,” from Performance:  A Critical Introduction (bulkpack).


[April 9:  TBA]


XVI.  Performance and Performance Art


April 14:  Deb Margolin, “To Speak Is to Suffer and Vice Versa;” Jill Dolan, “Seeing Deb Margolin: Ontological Vandalism and Radical Amazement”; Gwendolyn Alker, “Why Language Fails:  Deb Margolin's Reclamation of Silence”; Constance Zaytoun, “Smoke Signals: Witnessing the Burning Art of Deb Margolin and Hannah Wilke,” TDR 52:3 (T199), Fall 2008 (downloadable from the Blackboard site).


XVII.  Post-Modern Drama, Post-Dramatic Theatre,  and The Theatre of Images


April 17:  Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play; Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis.


April 21:  Richard Foreman, “Foundations for a Theater,” “Directing the Actors, Mostly,” “Visual Composition, Mostly,” from Unbalancing Acts (bulkpack); slides and video-tapes of productions by Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman.


April 23:  Philip Auslander, “Live Performance in a Mediatized Culture,” from Liveness:  Performance in a Mediatized Culture ();  William B. Worthen, “Hamlet at Ground Zero: The Wooster Group and the Archive of Performance,” Shakespeare Quarterly 59 (2008) 303-322 (downloadable from the Blackboard site).


April 28:  Catch-up and Conclusions



There will be TWO take-home essay assignments (approximately 5 pages), plus a choice of A FINAL TERM PAPER (approximately 10-12 pages), due on MONDAY, MAY 4, the first day of the exam period, OR A FINAL EXAM, to be scheduled by the registrar.  The topic for the final term paper must MUST BE APPROVED IN ADVANCE, in person, by THURSDAY, APRIL 23; if you have not received approval for the topic by the date, YOU HAVE JUST CHOSEN TO TAKE THE EXAM.  Late term papers will not be accepted; if you do not turn in your paper by 5PM on Monday, May 4, YOU HAVE JUST CHOSEN TO TAKE THE EXAM.




Please familiarlize yourself with the rules of academic intergrity, at  I will (and have) rigorously pursued violations of the code.


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


Anton Chekhov, The Major Plays

Robert Leach, Makers of Modern Theatre

Sophia Treadwell, Machinal

Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays

Bertolt Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle

Samuel Beckett, Engame

Peter Brook, The Empty Space

Aimé Césaire, A Tempest

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play

Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis


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


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The syllabus for this course is available at  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.