Theatre Arts 140



Professor Mazer

Spring 2002


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays: 1:30-3:00; Thursdays: 10:30-11:45; and by appointment


January 8:  Introduction.


January 10:  Commedia dell’Arte:  Background:

Reading:  John Rudlin, Commedia dell’Arte:  An Actor’s Handbook, pp.13-33; documents in Kenneth Richards and Laura Richards, The Commedia dell’Arte:  A Documentary History, pp. 19-31 (bulk-pack).


January 15:  Commedia dell’Arte:   the Stock Characters:

Reading:  Rudlin, pp. 67-154.


January 17:  Commedia dell’Arte:  Masks:

Reading:  E.T. Kirby, “The Mask:  Abstract Theatre, Primitive and Modern” (bulk-pack); Richard Schechner, Between Theatre and Anthropology, “Performers and Spectators Transported and Transformed,”  pp. 117-150; Rudlin, pp. 34-47.


January 22:  Commedia dell’Arte:   Companies, Patronage, and Audiences:

Reading:  John Rudlin and Olly Crick, “Commedia dell-arte all’improvisso,” in Commedia dell’Arte:  a Handbook for Troupes, pp. 1-49 (bulkpack)


January 25:  Commedia dell’Arte:  Improvisation, Lazzi, and Scenarios:

Reading:  Rudlin, pp. 48-63; scenario for Pulcinella, The False Prince (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


January 29:  The Commedia in France in the Seventeenth Century:

Reading:  Virginia Scott, The Commedia dell’Arte in Paris, 1644-1697, pp. 81-152 (bulk-pack); Molière,  Scapin (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


January 31:  Italian Commedia Transformed:

Reading:  Carlo Goldoni, The Venetian Twins (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


February 5:   Italian Commedia Restored:

Reading:  Carlo Gozzi, The Green Bird (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.




February 7:  Eighteenth-Century England:  Political Comedy:

Reading:  Henry Fielding, The Historical Register for the Year 1736 (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


February 12:  Regency England:  the Harlequinade:

Reading:  David Mayer, Harlequin in His Element:  The English Pantomime, 1806-1836, pp. 19-74 (bulk-pack); Thomas John Pitt Dibdin, Harlequin in His Element (multiple texts) and Harlequin Harper (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


February 14:  Comedy and French Romanticism:

Reading:  Robert F. Storey, Pierrot:  A Critical History of a Mask, pp. 93-138 (bulk-pack).


February 19:  Comedy and French Romanticism (cont.):

Film Screening:  Marcel Carné, Children of Paradise (to be arranged, either on video, or to be narrow-cast on RESNET).


February 21:  Victorian British Entertainments:  One-Act Farce:

Reading:  Joseph Stirling Coyne, How to Settle Accounts with Your Laundress (bulkpack); John Maddison Morton, Cox and Box (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


[REQUIRED THEATREGOING:  Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, Theater Arts Program, Studio Theatre, Feb. 21-23, March 1,2]


February 26:  Victorian British Entertainments:  Christmas Pantomime:

Reading:  David Mayer, “The Sexuality of Pantomime” (bulkpack); Michael Booth, Victorian Spectacular Theatre, 1850-1910, pp. 74-92, 161-171 (bulk-pack).


February 28:  Victorian British Entertainments:  Travesty, Burlesque, and Extravaganza:

Reading:  James Robinson Planché, Beauty and the Beast (bulkpack); H.J. Byron, The Gaiety Gulliver (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


March 5:  Victorian British Entertainments:   Operetta:

Listening Assignment:  W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, Patience (recording with full dialogue, on reserve in the Music listening room, 5th Floor Van Pelt Library).


March 7:  Victorian British Entertainments:   Music Hall:

Reading:  Dagmar Kift, “History” and “The Music-Hall Programme” (bulkpack), Peter Bailey, “Custom, Capital, and Culture in the Victorian Music Hall” (bulkpack).


[Spring Break]


March 19:  Victorian British Entertainments:   Theatre and Prostitution:

Reading:  Joseph W. Donohue, “The Empire Theatre of Varieties Licensing Controversey of 1894” (bulkpack); Tracy C. Davis, “The Geography of Sex in Society and Theatre,” Actresses as Working Women, pp. 137-163 (bulkpack).


[March 21:  TO BE ANNOUNCED]




March 26:  American Popular Entertainment:  Minstrel Shows:

Reading:  Minstrel sketches:  “Oh, Hush! or, The Virginny Cupids” and “Othello” (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


March 28:  American Popular Entertainment:  Minstrel Shows (cont.):

Reading:  Eric Lott, “Blackface and Blackness:  The Minstrel Show in Americn Culture,” and Alexandra Saxton, “Blackface Minsrelsy” (bulkpack).


April 2:  American Popular Entertainment:  Vaudeville:

Reading:  Reminiscences about Vaudeville, from American Vaudeville as Seen by its Contemporaries, pp. 6-59, 114-123 (bulkpack).

Video Screening, PBS documentary on Vaudeville, TBA.


April 4:  American Popular Entertainment:  Early Musical Theatre:

Reading:  Charles M. Barra, The Black Crook (bulkpack).

PREPARED STAGING: ___________.


April 9:  American Popular Entertainment:  Musical Theatre Transformed:

Listening Assignment:  Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, Show Boat (restored edition, on reserve in the Music listening room, 5th Floor Van Pelt Library)

AND/OR Film Screening:  (to be arranged, either on video, or to be narrow-cast on RESNET):  Show Boat (1936 version, dir. James Whale).


April 11:  American Popular Entertainment:  Burlesque:

Reading:  Ralph G. Allen, “At My Mother’s Knee (and Other Low Joints)” (bulkpack)


April 16:  Political Commedia:

Reading:  Theodore Shank, American Alternative Theater, “Theater of Social Change,”  pp. 50-90 (bulk-pack); Rudlin, pp. 211-219.


April 18:  Catch-up and Conclusions.


You are responsible for participation in ONE prepared scene, to be presented during the classes noted.  BRING YOUR SCRIPTS TO CLASS THAT DAY, even if you are not participating in the prepared in-class staging; if no one has signed up in advance to stage a scene, we might work through a scene and put it on its feet during the class hour.  There will be TWO take-home essay assignments, plus ONE final research project, due at a date to be announced, 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 one book to be pruchased for the course, John Rudlin (Commedia dell’Arte:  An Actor’s Handbook) can be purchased at the Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom Sts.


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


The listserv for this course is  You have been subscribed automatically.  If you do not seem to be on it, or if you drop the course and wish to be unsubscribed, please send a note to cmazer@english.


The syllabus for this course is available in electronic form through the world wide web, at  Make a bookmark on your web browser for this site.   In addition, we will be using an experimental web site for this course.  Make a bookmark on your browser for, click on Theatre Arts, and click on our course.  If you are registered, you are automatically subscribed:  your login will be your PennNet ID and your password is your PennNet password.  CHECK THIS SITE DAILY.  The web site will include daily announcements (including information about theatregoing assignments), and an electronic copy of the syllabus.  The site also includes a discussion group, with access restricted to members of the course.