Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Topics in Drama: Political Theatre

ENGL 271.402
instructor(s):
TR 10:30-12

In this course we will explore how, through language and spectacle, playwrights from classical Athens to modern America have both depicted their own societies and struggled to change them. We will look at examples of "state" theater (or theater produced by the state for political purposes) and the "popular" theater (ranging from the public stages of Renaissance England to the socialist theater of Brecht's Germany), as well as recent efforts to produce a theater of protest in Eastern Europe and South Africa and a feminist and a black theater in America and Britain. Our readings will take into account the influential theories of political art produced by Brecht, Artaud and selected post-modern writers. Plays to be read will include: Euripides' The Bacchae, Sophocles' Antigone, Anouilh's Antigone, Fugard's The Island, Soyinka's Bacchae, Ibsen's Enemy of the People, Odets' Waiting for Lefty, Brecht's Galileo, Genet's The Balcony, Havel's The Memorandum, Jonson's The Masque of Queens, Jones's The Dutchman, Soyinka's Bacchae, and Marlowe's Tamburlaine.