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 support of a wide audience, and a passionate commitment by both theatre companies and audiences to engage vital social issues. 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 this very critical time in our history. This course will examine a range of new plays by acclaimed authors such as Paula Vogel, Sarah Ruhl, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Lynn Nottage, Christopher Durang, among others. Students will research major national theatre companies, both traditional and experimental, and individual theatre artists who continue to forge new work. The course will include attendance at local theatre companies such as The Wilma Theatre, Arden Theatre, and Philadelphia Theatre Company, and class visits by Philadelphia theatre professionals.