Historically, great civic and national cultures have been identified with, and at times defined by, great theatre. Today, in America, theatre is thriving due to the immense creativity of our playwrights and associate theatre artists, the enthusiastic engagement of a wide audience, and the passionate commitment of artists and audiences to an engaged political discourse. This course will investigate the contemporary American theatre as an indispensable asset in helping our country sustain its vigorous public culture. It will also enable us to create a collective portrait of who we are as a people at a critical time in our national history. This course will examine a range of new plays by authors such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Sara Ruhl, Lynn Nottge, David Mamet, and Tracy Letts, among others. Students will research major theatre companies, both traditional and experimental, and individual theatre makers who are continually forging new work. The course will include attendance at performances by local Philadelphia theatre companies and visits by Philadelphia theatre artists.