Theatre Arts 215


Professor Mazer

Fall 2005

519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours: Tuesdays: 3:00-4:30; Thursdays: Noon-1:30: and by appointment

September 8: Introduction

I. Classical definitions:

September 13: Plato, excerpts from The Republic (bulkpack)

September 15: Aristotle, The Poetics.

II. Classical Definitions Revisited:

September 20: The Italian Renaissance (slides)

September 22: French Neo-Classicism: Pierre Corneille, Le Cid (bulkpack); excerpts from the controversy over Le Cid (bulkpack).

III. Romanticism: Reaction and Redefinition:

September 27: Friedrich Schiller, excerpts from “The Stage as a Moral Institution,” “On the Tragic Art,” “The Pathetic” (bulkpack); Victor Hugo, excerpts from the “Preface to Cromwell” (bulkpack).

September 29: Richard Wagner, excerpts from “The Art-Work of the Future” (bulkpack).

[October 4: NO CLASS]

October 6: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy.


IV. Naturalism and Realism:

October 11: Naturalism: Emile Zola, excerpts from “Naturalism on the Stage” (bulkpack); August Strindberg, “Preface to Miss Julie” (bulkpack).

[October 13: NO CLASS]


October 20: Emotionalism and the Actor: Beginnings: Constant Coquelin, Henry Irving, and Dion Boucicault, a debate on acting (bulkpack); Constantine Stanislavsky, “Tommaso Salvini,” from My Life in Art (bulkpack); G. Bernard Shaw, two theatre reviews from The Saturday Review (bulkpack).

October 25: The System: Constantine Stanislavsky, “The Beginnings of My System,” from My Life in Art (bulkpack); “When Acting is an Art,” and “Action,” from An Actor Prepares (bulkpack).

V. Against/Beneath/Beyond Realism:

October 27: Maurice Maeterlinck, “The Tragic in Everyday Life” (bulkpack); Edward Gordon Craig, “The Actor and the Über-Marionette,” “The Art of the Theatre (1st Dialogue),” “The Art of the Theatre (2nd Dialogue)” from On the Art of the Theatre (bulkpack); Adolphe Appia, “Ideas on a Reform of our Mise en Scène,” (bulkpack).

November 1: Vsevolod Meyerhold, “The Fairground Booth,” ”Biomechanics,” “The Reconstruction of the Theatre” (bulkpack).

VI. The Epic Theatre:

November 3: 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).

November 8: Brecht, Mother Courage.

[November 10: NO CLASS]


VII. The Theatre of Cruelty:

November 15: 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)” (bulkpack).

VIII. The Great Synthesis:

November 17: Peter Brook, The Empty Space.

November 22: Film viewing (time and place TBA): Peter Weiss, Marat/Sade, directed by Peter Brook.

IX. Back to Basics:

November 29: Joseph Chaikin, excerpts from The Presence of the Actor (bulkpack); Peter Brook, “The International Centre,” “Structures of Sound,” “Life in a More Concentrated Form,” and “Brook’s Africa” (bulkpack);

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

X. Performance and the New Inter-Culturalism:

December 6: Richard Schechner, “Restoration of Behavior” (bulkpack); Eugenio Barba, “Theatre Anthropology” (bulkpack).

December 8: Catch-up and Review.


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.

There is also a required 15-minute IN-CLASS PRESENTATION, on a subject and at a relevant date to be determined. The report can be on an actor (e.g. David Garrick, Eleanora Duse), director (e.g. Jacques Copeau, Harold Clurman, Etienne Decroux, Augusto Boal, Ariane Mnouchkine, Tadeuz Kantor, Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson), designer (Norman Bel Geddes, Robert Edmond Jones, Josef Svoboda), theatre group (The Group Theatre, The Living Theatre, Bread and Puppet, The Open Theatre, The Wooster Group), or performance artist (e.g. Yoko Ono, Vito Acconci, Laurie Anderson) who embodies some of the theoretical principles we are studying; individual noteworthy productions by theorist-artists we are studying (e.g. Gordon Craig’s Hamlet at the Moscow Art Theatre, Artaud’s The Cenci, Meyerhold’s The Magnanimous Cuckold, The Open Theatre’s The Serpent; Grotowski’s The Constant Prince, Schechner’s Dionysus in 69, Peter Brook’s The Mahabharata, Mnouchkine’s 1789) or on a theoretical approach to theatre or performance that we are not covering in our readings (e.g. semiotics, phenomenology, feminist theory). Topics must be approved in advance.


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

Aristotle, The Poetics

Nietzsche, The Birth of Tragedy and The Case of Wagner

Bertolt Brecht, Mother Courage

Peter Brook, The Empty Space

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

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