Theatre Arts 112/English 98

Theatre, History, Culture III:

Modernism to Post-Modernism

Professor Mazer

Fall 2011


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

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



September 8:  Introduction.


I.  Against/Beneath/Beyond Realism


September 13:  Anton Chekhov, The Seagull.


September 15:  The Seagull (cont.); Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragic in Everyday Life,” and The Intruder (bulkpack).


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Look/Alive, Theatre Arts Program, Bruce Montgomery Theatre, Annenberg Center, September 15-17, 7PM]


September 20:  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


September 22:  Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi (bulkpack); Guillaume Apollinaire, The Breasts of Tiresias (bulkpack).


III. The Theatre of Cruelty


September 27:  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).


September 29:  NO CLASS


IV.  Expressionism


October 4:  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


October 6:  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


October 13:   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).


October  18:  Brecht, The Caucasian Chalk Circle.




VII.  American Expressionism


October 20:  Eugene O’Neill, “A Manifesto on Masks”  (bulkpack); Sophie Treadwell, Machinal.


VIII.  American Political Theatre, American Realism and Beyond


October  25:  Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty and Awake and Sing!


October 27:  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


November 1:  Samuel Beckett, Endgame.


X.  Synthesis


November  3:  Peter Brook, The Empty Space.


November  8:   Film viewing, on reserve in Rosengarten:  Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade, directed by Peter Brook.


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Endgame:  Gate Theatre, Harold Prince Theatre, Annenberg Center, Nov. 8-13]


XI.  The Actor and the Body


November 10:  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 15:  Brian Crow and Chris Banfield, “Introduction,” from An Introduction to Post-Colonial Theatre (bulkpack); Girish Karnad, Naga-Mandala (Blackboard).


November  17:  TO BE ANNOUNCED


XIII.  Performance Anthropology and the New Inter-Culturalism


November 22:  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’” (Blackboard); Maurya Wickstrom,  “Commodities, Mimesis, and The Lion King:  Retail Theatre for the 1990s,” (Blackboard); slides, and video clips about Peter Brook’s Mahabharata and Ariane Mnouchkine’s Shakespeare and Aeschylus.




XIV.  Feminist Theory and Performance


November 29:  Jill Dolan, “The Discourse of Feminism:  The Spectator and Representation,” from The Feminist Spectator as Critic (bulkpack; Caryl Churchill, Cloud Nine; Rhonda Blair, “‘Not … but’/‘Not-not-me’: Musings on Cross-Gender Performance” (bulkpack). 


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


December 1:  Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play; Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis.


December 6:  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.


December 8:  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 WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 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, DECEMBER 1; 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 Wednesday, December 14, 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


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.