Course Detail

195:261: Introduction to Theatre

Introduction to Theater is a semester-long discovery of the great works and legacies of Western drama, theater, and performance. We will explore the major genres of tragedy and comedy and their evolution (devolution?) into melodrama, farce, satire, realism, naturalism, surrealism, and fantasy. A play is an assemblage of languages—spoken, written, and embodied; of social histories and material structures; of human thought and imagination; of conflict, desire, power, and passion. Plays are created to be seen, heard, and felt, and part of our task will be to imagine their performance, from the perspective of both the characters and the audience. All plays emerge from--and put in question—complex social, political, cultural, and philosophical worlds, and we will constantly ask what we can learn from those worlds and those questions. What does it mean to be human? Who is in/excluded from society? How does change happen? How do we connect? What do we fear? Cultural questions of the end of last century, when most students of today were born, were focused on issues of race, class, gender, and national belonging. These questions, we will discover, are not new, only differently imagined through time.
We will try to go to the theater at least once during the semester. This course will be taught in tandem with 358:240 Introduction to Dramatic Literature.