Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Variety of Arts

ENGL 271.601
MW 5-6:30

What do Lily Tomlin, Frank Sinatra, Dame Edna Everage, and THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT have in common? All incorporate aspects of "variety arts" movements -- theatre in which striking visual and auditory elements are even more important than the traditional story and script.

In this course, we will investigate some of these traditions, including Grand Guignol, the French "theatre of fear and terror," where shocking images are used to stimulate and frighten the audience; tableaux vivants, in which actors create stage pictures based on famous paintings and other visual icons; concert song and ballad, where performers interpret character and story through vocal means; American musical theatre, in which music and dance become the highest form of expression; German cabarets, where artists use a combination of song and text to create politically and culturally controversial theatre; contemporary performance art, a genre that mixes comedy, the visual arts, dance, music and text.; and more. Finally, we will explore how these visual and auditory elements might be used by actors, directors, and designers to enhance and enrich our more traditional, text-based theatre.

fulfills requirements