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 dissimilar, 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 include A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and A Delicate Balance; and Curse of the Starving Class and Buried Child. We will also examine and discuss the performance history of these works, and their celebrated interpreters (including Elia Kazan, Marlon Brando, et al).