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CONTEMPORARY & POST-MODERN DRAMA : Where is Meaning? DRA 4063 Fall Term, 2007 Tues. /Fri. 11:00--12:15

Prof: Dr. John Nassivera Office: Ackley 223 Phone: 8290 Off. Hrs. M/Th 4:00-5:00; T 1:30-3:00

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The shift from Modern to Post-Modern Theatre is one of the most interesting and controversial developments in theatre history. Western theatre, for more than 2000 years, has addressed the meanings of social and philosophical issues, but with the shift into Post-Modernism theatre now in addition also addresses the meaning of "meaning" itself, and how society constructs (or fails to construct) meaning--through our interactions with each other and our interactions with our history which lives through us. We will begin with the "last modernist and first post-modernist", Samuel Beckett, who wrote in both English and French and who received the Nobel Prize in 1969. We begin with Beckett because he has had such a huge influence on so many dramatists who have followed--whether in the British Isles, Europe, Africa, or the Americas. We'll move on to major English language playwrights whose plays have been and continue to be presented over the last 25-30 years--many of these playwrights are still living and writing right now, having received critical attention and major awards. The course will conclude with one of the most important works of contemporary theatre, Angels in America, which was recently awarded the Pulitzer Prize. TEXTS / PLAYS (in the bookstore now): WAITING FOR GODOT (Nobel Prize author born in Ireland, lived all adult life in France) (using film also) I AM MY OWN WIFE (Pulitzer Prize play, American author, written about a German historical figure) MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM (Pulitzer Prize author, African American) MASTER HAROLD...and the boys (international award winning author & actor from South Africa) THREE TALL WOMEN (Pulitzer Prize author, a giant of the American theatre) CLOUD NINE (award winning British woman author, play set in South Africa & London) TOPDOG/UNDERDOG (Pulitzer Prize play by American African American woman author) DOUBT (Pulitzer Prize play, American author) Other plays we will cover/view in the course: A BODY OF WATER (we see a live performance) THE ELEPHANT MAN (we will see a live performance) ANGELS IN AMERICA (Part I and Part II) (Pulitzer Prize play) (film version) OLEANNA (Pulitzer Prize author, play about sexual harassment) (film version, directed by author) COURSE WORK & METHOD: We will read the plays together and we will view live performances as well as film versions of some of the works. Professor will provide background information about the plays and the playwrights, but this is not a lecture type course; professor will facilitate discussions and expect active student participation in discussions. Class discussion of the plays will be a central part of the course. Toward that end, 1-page responses will be required and they will be used to help engender discussions in class. The mid-term and final exams will be in the form of "exams" that are written, detailed self-assessments of learning in the course. INTENDED OUTCOME OF THE COURSE: The education goal of the course to have students finish with a solid introduction to the contemporary theatre that is happening today, becoming familiar with a good number of the most highly regarded playwrights of the last 25 years. Another goal is for students to better understand the notion of "Post-Modernism" and how an understanding of this term/concept can assist us to better understand the world we are living in.

ACCOMMODATION OF DISABILITIES and/or ILLNESS and/or RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE: I am always willing to work with any accommodation plans that students have filed with the Calhoun Center in the Library. Absences due to illness and/or religious observances will be excused within a reasonable amount.

GRADING: Attendance & Participation: 40%

Written Responses: 30%

Exams/Self-Assessments: 30%

CONTEMPORARY & POST-MODERN DRAMA

Tues. 9/4 Fri. 9/7

(weekly class schedule)

Course, intro; syllabus; difference between modern/contemporary/post-modern as literary methods and as world views; discussion of post-modernism, intro to Samuel Beckett view WAITING FOR GODOT (very recently made film version made in England) Discussion of GODOT DUE/hand in: 1-page response for use in class discussion view Beckett short works, discussion of the birth of "performance art" as type of theatre Discussion of Beckett shorts DUE: 1-page response on the short(s) Introduction to Lee Blessing no class because: we go see live performance of A BODY OF WATER by Lee Blessing (in Bennington) Discuss A BODY OF WATER DUE: 1-page response to WATER Introduction to political theatre, theatre's involvement with issues; introduction to Athol Fugard no class because: we go see MASTER HAROLD...and the boys (at Castleton College, professional tour) Discussion of MASTER HAROLD DUE: 1-page response on HAROLD Read TOPDOG/UNDERDOG; we'll read sections of play in class together finish discussion of DOG; DUE: 1-page response on DOG no class--fall break DUE: mid-term "exam" self-assessment of learning MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM " " " "

Tues. 9/11 Fri. 9/14 Tues. 9/18 Fri. 9/21

Tues. 9/25 Fri. 9/28 Tues.10/2 Fri. 10/5 Tues.10/9 Fri. 10/12 Tues.10/26 Fri. 10/19 Tues.10/23 Fri. 10/26 Tues.10/30 Fri. 11/2 Tues.11/6 Fri. 11/9 Tues.11/13 Fri. 11/16 Tues 11/20 Fri. 11/23 Tues 11/27 Fri. 11/30 Tues.12/4 Fri. 12/7 Tues.12/11 Fri. 12/14 Week 12/17

(discussions of assessments in class)

Prof's intro to Wilson, jazz, etc. DUE: 1-page response to MA

I AM MY OWN WIFE to be announced (perhaps ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST) read THREE TALL WOMEN DUE: 1-page response on WOMEN in class discussion no class because: we go see THE ELEPHANT MAN (professional production in Cambridge, NY) view OLEANNA (film version of the play, directed by the author) discussion of OLEANNA DUE: 1-page response on OLEANNA read DOUBT DUE: 1-page response no class Thanksgiving break in class discussion of the play

read CLOUD NINE DUE: 1-page response further discussion of Cloud Nine, (Act II) view ANGELS IN AMERICA (part I) finish viewing ANGELS and discussion view ANGELS IN AMERICA (part II) finish viewing ANGELS and discussion FINAL EXAM session: self-assessment of learning DUE & final discussion/wrap up

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