Historically, great civic and national cultures have been identified with, and at times defined by, their great theatres. Today, in America, theatre is thriving due to the immense creativity of our playwrights and other theatre artists, the enthusiastic engagement of a wide audience, and a passionate commitment to critical social issues and political debate. This course will investigate the contemporary American theatre as an indispensable asset in helping our country sustain a vigorous public culture. It will also enable us to create a collective portrait of who we are as a culture at a very critical time in our history. This course will examine a range of new plays by authors such as Neil LaBute, Sara Ruhl, August Wilson, Tracy Letts, among others. Students will research major theatre companies, both traditional and experimental, and individual theatre artists who are continually forging new work. The course will include attendance at local Philadelphia theatres and a New York theatre trip at the end of the semester.