In this course, we will examine closely three playwrights -- Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee and Sam Shepard -- whose writing both reflected and shaped five decades (and counting!) of the American theatre. While their plays may initially seem disimilar, all three use the paradigm of American realism as a point of departure in creating works that incorporate magic realism, absurdism, performance art, and any number of other prominent 20th Century theatre movements. Above all, these are writers whose voices are grounded in deeply personal, poetic language and imagery -- and whose dramas both form and inform the canon of modern American theatre. Plays to be studied will likely include CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH (Williams); WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and TINY ALICE (Albee); and BURIED CHILD and TRUE WEST (Shepard).