Contemporary American Theatre, Drama, and Cultural Performance
This course will explore the current state of American theatre culture, with special attention given to local Philadelphia theatre, through the reading and discussion of selected plays, critical essays and reviews, and performance accounts. Students will also attend performances at two of Philadelphia’s premiere theatre companies, such as The Wilma and the Philadelphia Theatre Company. The particular focus of the course will be on plays that treat forcefully and honestly issues of political and social urgency: race, gender, ethnicity, and America’s national responsibilities in the aftermath of 911. Among the plays to be examined will be Doug Wright’s “I am My Own Wife,” Richard Greenberg’s “Take Me Out,” John Patrick Shanley’s “Doubt,” Tony Kushner’s “Home Body: Kabul,” and Suzan-Lori Park’s “TOPDOG/UNDERDOG.” This course will also assess the performance of America’s commercial and public culture through an examination of the Times Square/42nd Street redevelopment project and the “theatre” of Ground Zero and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. In addition to play reading and discussion, students will do oral presentations on contemporary playwrights and theatre companies, and write responses to theatre performances.