Theatre Arts 112/English 98

Theatre, History, Culture III:

Modernism to Post-Modernism

Professor Mazer

Spring 2013


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

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



January 10:  Introduction.


I.  Against/Beneath/Beyond Realism


January 15:  Anton Chekhov, The Seagull.


January 17:  The Seagull (cont.); Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragic in Everyday Life,” and The Intruder.


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Endgame, by Samuel Beckett, Arden Theatre, January 17-March 10.  (Please see it before we discuss the play in class on February 26)]


January 22:  Edward Gordon Craig, “The Actor and the Über-Marionette” from On the Art of the Theatre; Adolphe Appia, “Ideas on a Reform of our Mise en Scène”; William Butler Yeats, At the Hawk’s Well and Purgatory.


II.  Dada and Surrealism


January 24:  Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi; Guillaume Apollinaire, The Breasts of Tiresias.


III. The Theatre of Cruelty


January 29:  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.


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Chimera, Annenberg Center, January 30-February 2.  To purchase a ticket for $10, go directly to the box office, and give them the code “THARTS” by JANUARY 16]


IV.  Expressionism


January 31:  Kenneth Macgowan and Robert Edmond Jones, “Beyond Realism,” “The Living Stage,” and Masse-Mensch—Mob-Man,”from Continental Stagecraft; Ernst Toller, Man and the Masses.




V.  Constructivism and Bio-Mechanics


February 5:  Robert Leach, “Vsevolod Emilievich Meyerhold,” in Makers of Modern Theatre; Mel Gordon, “Meyerhold’s Biomechanics”; Vsevolod Meyerhold, “Observations on the Play” and “Meyerhold at Rehearsal.”


VI.  The Epic Theatre


February 7:   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.”


February 12:  Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle.




VII.  American Expressionism


February 14:  Eugene O’Neill, “A Manifesto on Masks”; Sophie Treadwell, Machinal.


VIII.  American Political Theatre, American Realism and Beyond


February 19:  Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing!


February 21:  Awake and Sing! (cont.); Lee Strasberg, “The Voyage Continues II:  The Actors Studio and My Classes,” A Dream of Passion.


IX.  Theatre of the Absurd


February 26:  Samuel Beckett, Endgame.


February 28:  Endgame (cont.); visit from Ed Sobel (Penn ‘87), director of the Arden Theatre production.




X.  The Actor and the Body


March 12:  Jerzy Grotowski, “Towards a Poor Theatre,” “The Theatre’s New Testament,” and “He Wasn’t Entirely Himself,” from Towards a Poor Theatre.


X1.  Synthesis


March 14:  Peter Brook, The Empty Space.


March 19:    Film viewing, on reserve in Rosengarten:  Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade, directed by Peter Brook.




XII.  Post-Colonial Theatre


March 21:  Brian Crow and Chris Banfield, “Introduction,” from An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theatre.


Marc 26:  Girish Karnad, Naga-Mandala.


March 28:  TBA


XIII.  Performance Anthropology and the New Inter-Culturalism


April 2:  Interviews and articles on The Mahabharata, from Peter Brook:  A Theatrical Casebook, ed. David Williams; Gautam Dasgupta, “Peter Brook’s ‘Orientalism’”; Maurya Wickstrom, “Commodities, Mimesis, and The Lion King:  Retail Theatre for the 1990s,”; slides, and video clips about Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and Ariane Mnouchkine’s Shakespeare and Aeschylus.


XIV.  Feminist Theory and Performance 


April 4:   Jill Dolan, “The Discourse of Feminism:  The Spectator and Representation,” from The Feminist Spectator as Critic; Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine.


April 9:  Cloud Nine (cont.);  Rhonda Blair, “‘Not … but’/‘Not-not-me’: Musings on Cross-Gender Performance.”


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


April 11:  Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play; Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis.


April 16:  discussion of Chimera.


April 18:  Richard Foreman, “Foundations for a Theater,” “Directing the Actors, Mostly,” “Visual Composition, Mostly,” from Unbalancing Acts; slides and video-tapes of productions by Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman.


April 23:  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 at NOON on MONDAY, APRIL 29, 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 11; 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 noon on the 29th, YOU HAVE JUST CHOSEN TO TAKE THE EXAM.




Grade:            Final term-paper or exam:  40%

                        First take-home:  25%

                        Second take-home:  25%

                        Participation (minus attendance problems):  10%


Please familiarize yourself with the rules of academic intergrity, at  I will rigorously pursue 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, Endgame

Peter Brook, The Empty Space

Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine

Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play

Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis


All other readings are on the Blackboard site.