Theatre and Society
|Theatre and SocietyTHEA 236FALL 2003
Dr. Amy Seham
Office hours -- Tuesday/Wednesday 1:30-2:30 and by appointment
Every performance, if it is intelligible as such, embeds features of previous performances: gender conventions, racial histories, aesthetic traditionspolitical and cultural pressures that are consciously and unconsciously acknowledged. Whether the performance of ones gender on a city-street, an orientalist impersonation in a Parisian salon, or a corporation-subsidized, "mediatized" Broadway show, each performance marks out a unique temporal space that nevertheless contains traces of other now-absent performances, other now-disappeared scenes. Which is to say. . .it is impossible to write the pleasurable embodiments we call performance without tangling with the cultural stories and political contestations that comprise our sense of history.
Elin Diamond, Performance and Cultural Politics
Playwrights of Color. Ed. Meg Swanson
Angels in America parts I and II Tony Kushner
Laramie Project Kaufman
Last Summer at Bluefish Cove Chambers (optional)
Additional hand-outs or readings on reserve in the main library and music library. Additional readings include: Sally's Rape, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, Belle Reprieve, and a dozen essays. Plan any reserve readings ahead of time!
The Laramie Project Anderson Theatre
Footprints Anderson Theatre
Interior Design Theatre Mu, Minneapolis
&Mac183; To study representations of social identity, culture, and ideology in contemporary American theatre and performance, with special attention to issues of race, gender, class, and sexual identity. To investigate the role of performance in creating social identities.
&Mac183; To gain an understanding of the relationship between theatre production and theatre reception. To investigate the role of the audience in the making of theatre.
&Mac183; To acquire a basic understanding of principles of dramatic style, structure, genre and production values as elements of theatre's production of meaning.
&Mac183; To identify systems of culturally encoded stereotypes in the dramatic text and dramatic performance.
&Mac183; To identify and evaluate strategies for marking, recognizing, subverting, and reworking the conventional codes of power and ideology.
ATTENDANCE: Because Theatre is BEING THERE, attendance is crucial for the successful completion of this class. Your participation, interaction and shared ideas are key to the process.
Leaving early or returning late from October or Thanksgiving breaks are NOT excused absences. Tell your families now not to plan on it!
Preparation and Participation (15%):
This class is designed as a seminar, rather than a lecture class, and thus depends on YOUR PARTICIPATION. You are responsible for keeping up with the syllabus and being prepared to discuss both the plays and essays assigned for each class session. Bring your opinions, thoughts, questions, and beliefs about the plays and other readings into class and share them with your classmates!
Your participation grade may include pop quizzes on the material assigned and an evaluation of your part in class discussions as follows: D= Rarely or never speaks in class; C= occasionally contributes to discussion, but shows only quick, casual reading of the texts; B= contributes to every class discussion, shows careful reading and thought about the material, listens to others comments and adds or responds to them; A= shows thorough reading of all assignments, contributes thoughtfully and creatively to class discussion, brings additional, outside insights and information to the discussion, makes connections between various elements of the material, adds positively to the class's knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Journal pages/"thoughts on" (10%): Five one-page papers (out of six possible listed) in which you engage with the issues or topics being discussed. These may be informal typos and spelling count, style does not count toward grade. No late "thoughts on" papers will be accepted.
Discussion Leader (10%): Alone or with one other student, you will be responsible for leading the class discussion of one of the articles or chapters assigned for the course. Read the relevant play, prepare three or four provocative discussion questions that connect the essay to the play. Hand in a typed version of the questions and typed summary or outline of the article on the assigned day -- not afterward .
Show and Tell with 5-page paper (20%): Working with one other student, research, write and prepare a 15-minute presentation on the historical and cultural stereotypes of an identity position not covered by our texts and contrast the stereotypical image with images from their own cultural productions. You will be assigned to cover one of the following: East Indian, Jewish, Irish, "white male", Arab, people with disabilities, and others (make a suggestion if you like). Your presentation should include visual aids showing the stereotyped use of these identities (film clips on video, magazine ads, cartoons, books, etc.) and should include visual aids showing a contrasting cultural production (play, religious ceremony, film) that combats the stereotype. Each student will hand in a separate 5-page paper with citations to be graded individually. Work together on the presentation to be graded jointly.
Scenes with program/study guide (20%): With two or three other students, prepare a scene or other theatrical interpretation from one of the plays we are reading this semester. Make conscious choices about what aspect of the play to emphasize. Consider the meaning of your embodiment of an identity different from your own (across gender, race, etc.) in this cultural production. Prepare a program/study guide for the scene that includes informative historical and theoretical material used in the preparation of your scene, "directors notes" explaining the production concept, and any other production information (cast, time, place, etc.).
10-page paper or performance text (25%)-- Choose one:
® An in-depth analysis of a play or plays by one of the authors in our anthology or other source approved by the professor that makes use of ADDITIONAL theory, historical context, and criticism beyond that presented in class. Have a THESIS that you support with critical and historical research. Citations and bibliography required. Prepare an oral presentation of your findings.
® A performance text, play or performance art piece that explores the issue of identity position/cultural location/performance of identity with which you have personal experience. Make use of critical and historical research in preparation of the piece. Bibliography required. Prepare performance (may be a staged reading).
A proposal, bibliography and preliminary research results will be required at mid-term for these projects. A rough draft will be required at least two weeks before the final presentation. DO NOT DASH THESE OFF IN THE LAST FEW DAYS.
Presentations will be held during the schedule exam period of this class.
Schedule (subject to change)
Week 1 Sept 4
Thursday Introduction. Go over "Performance" and "Drama Performance" Hand-outs.
Week 2 Sept 9-11
Tuesday Swanson "Introduction" pp ix-xix and Davis hand-out.
Write and hand in Identity Position statement (1-2 pages typed).
Thursday Read Fischer-Lichte and Cima hand-outs
Facilitation #1 Cima
Present performance piece.
Week 3 Sept. 16-18
Tuesday Chapter 1 Swanson (with Day of Absence) and
Omi Essay (hand-out) Facilitation #2.
Ethnic Notions video
Thursday Chapter 2 Swanson (with Los Vendidos)
Brecht Reading (hand-out)
BOAL Reading (hand-out) Facilitation #3
*THOUGHTS ON STEREOTYPES
SEE INTERIOR DESIGNS AT THEATRE MU SEPTEMBER 21
Week 4 Sept 23-25
Tuesday Raisin in the Sun video
Read Last Mama on the Couch play ( hand-out)
Thursday Chapter 3 Swanson (with Winnetou) and
Essay on Spiderwoman by Rebecca Schneider (on reserve)
Facilitation #4 Schneider
! Scene #1 Winnetou
Week 5 Sept 30-Oct 2
Chapter 4 Swanson (with Yankee Dawg)
Moy essay (hand-out).
Facilitation # 5 Moy
Read Chapter 6 on Japanese-American/internment camps
Thursday Chapter 5 Swanson (Wedding Band) and Cult of True Womanhood (hand-out) Dickerson
Facilitation #6 Dickerson
Week 6 Oct 7-9
Thursday Sallys Rape Robbie McCauley (hand-out)
World Without End Holly Hughes (hand-out)
Essay (hand-out) Facilitation # 7
Week 7 Oct 14-16
Tuesday Last Summer at Bluefish Cove Chambers (play on reserve)
Celluloid Closet video
THOUGHTS ON QUEERNESS
Thursday Laramie Project
Harvey Milk video
Week 8 Oct 21-23
Tuesday Show and Tell presentations First Half
Thursday Show and Tell presentations Second Half5 PAGE PAPER due Friday.
(Oct 22 midterm grades due)
SEE LARAMIE PROJECT
Week 9 Oct 28-30
Tuesday Chapter 7 Swanson (Pow Wow)
Bennett reading (hand-out) Facilitation #8
Thursday Chapter 8 Swanson (Broken Eggs)
THOUGHTS ON "SOCIAL CLASS" (UPPER, MIDDLE, WORKING, LOWER CLASS, etc.)
Week 10 Nov. 4-6
Tuesday Streetcar Named Desire video
THOUGHTS ON "GENDER PERFORMANCE"
HAND IN FINAL PAPER/PROJECT PROPOSAL
Thursday Belle Reprieve Split Britches and Bloolips (play on reserve)
Essay on Camp (reserve) Kate Davy Facilitation #9
Week 11 Nov. 11-13
Tuesday Angels in America Millenium ApproachesI Kushner
Facilitation #10 --Roman essay on AIDS performance
THOUGHTS ON "PERFORMANCE AS ACTIVISM
Angels in America II Perestroika
!Scene #4 Angels
OPTIONAL SEE TOPDOG/UNDERDOG
AT MIXED BLOOD THEATRE NOV. 13?
Week 12 NOV 18-20
Tuesday Footprints and talk with playwright
Thursday Chapter 9 Swanson (The African Company)
Make REQUIRED appointment to talk with me about final project. Bring complete rough draft.
Week 13 Nov. 25
Tuesday Chapter 12 Swanson (Letters to a Student Revolutionary)
THOUGHTS ON "PERFORMING RACE"
Week 14 December 2-4
Tuesday Conduct of Life with included material (hand-out)
Thursday Chapter 13 (with According to Coyote)
Week 15 December 8-10
Tuesday Chapter 15 (Swanson) and Tiger Tales (hand-out)
Thursday Video -- Anna Deveare Smith/Fires in the Mirror
Essay (on reserve) Facilitation TBA (last day of class)
EXAM DAYpresentation of final performances and oral presentation of final