World Theatre I and II


Dr. Amy Seham
Fall 2003 M,W 10:30-12:20
Office: FAC 221, ext. 7460
Office Hours: Tues and Wed 1:30-2:30 or by appointment.

Required Texts:

HBJ Anthology of Drama Worthen
Living Theatre: A History Wilson and Goldfarb
The Laramie Project Kaufman

The Laramie Project Anderson Theatre
Footprints Anderson Theatre
Topdog/Underdog Mixed Blood Theatre, Minneapolis

Course Objectives:

To identify and explore periods of world-wide theatrical activity since 1800 and to study concurrent cultural values and ideologies.

To study selected playscripts as representative artifacts of the historical period and culture that created them.

To study, embody, and seek to understand the creative impulses and movements within theatre history in the areas of acting, design, and other collaborative arts.

To identify recurring questions, patterns, and ideas that appear throughout theatre history. To speculate on the significance of those questions both within their own culture and historical period and in the context of our own time.

Course Requirements:

1. Preparation and homework/participation : 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 historical material assigned for each class session. While we may not go over every aspect of the Wilson chapters in class, you will be responsible for this material and may be tested on it for the exams. Bring your opinions, thoughts, questions, and beliefs about the plays and other readings into class and share them with your colleagues! HOMEWORK will be assigned on a regular basis. These assignments will give you specific questions to answer, things to look for, or other preparation for the following class. HOMEWORK will be collected, and should be written neatly, but need not be typed.

Your partcipation in class discussions will be evaluated 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.

2. FINAL PAPER: History is an ongoing process very much influenced by what historians choose to document. In this 10-12 page research paper, YOU are the historian. In your research, strive to find and use PRIMARY sources (original writings, contemporary news reports, interviews) as well as secondary sources. You may even find that you can create and uncover new history. The best subjects for this project may be theatre/dance/or opera companies still in operation, or performance artists who are underappreciated. Strive to get in touch with living artists right away -- most are thrilled to give interviews, access to archives, self-publications, journals, letters, popular press articles and promotional materials. All this is the grist for any historian's mill. Contact the Gustavus librarians right away for help getting newspaper accounts, and alternative sources. Secondary sources are also very helpful in giving historical context, parallel examples, and supporting material. AT LEAST TWO NON-WEBSITE SOURCES MUST BE INCLUDED other than Wilson or Worthen.

An A paper will uncover new information, show your analysis of the historical artifacts, and make imaginative connections between your own original research and the movements and ideas of the material we have studied in class.

Get started early on this project -- it can't be done in one week! Pay attention to interim deadlines throughout the semester: 1. Topic choice 2. Bibliography and primary sources 3. Outline 4. Final paper. You will prepare and give a short oral report on your topic during the scheduled exam period for the class.

3. EXAMS: Two mid-terms will each contain two elements. A short objective section will test your knowledge of the basic material in The Living Theatre, in Worthen, in the assigned essay readings, and in the plots and characters of the plays. Essay questions will ask you to think and write about the patterns and meanings in the material covered, to relate the dramatic texts to the historical context, and to make connections and comparisons among the cultural movements we have studied.

4. Show and Tell: 15-minute presentations to the class that focus on the visual, aural, and spatial elements of a genre of theatre in its historic context. These reports may cover involvement or influence of visual artists in theatre of the period, music that evokes the era, design, technology and/or production elements of a particular period or other topic approved by the professor.

The presentation should go beyond a simple oral report, and should include visual aides (slides, pictures, video etc.), sound/music and/ or a participatory experience for the class. ** Presentations require a typed bibliography of AT LEAST three sources you have used in addition to Wilson or Worthen to expand your understanding of the topic. Hand in bibliography on the day of the presentation.

Be creative! Your goal is to bring a piece of theatre history to life, and to make us understand it in our artistic souls, not just our academic brains. Material from Show and Tell presentations will be on the Mid-terms!

5. Performances: The class will be expected to attend and to be prepared to discuss the two on-campus shows. In addition, a field trip to see a professional production of Topdog/Underdog at the Mixed Blood Theatre Minneapolis is scheduled for the second half of the semester.

Grade Break-down:

Show and Tell 10%
Mid-term #1 20%
Midterm #2 20%
Research Paper 30%
Participation/Homework 20% (+)

Course Schedule and assignments
(* indicates materials on reserve or Xeroxed for your use)

Week 1
Sept 3 Introduction and Orientation
Look at The Drunkard

Week 2
Sept 8 Theatre from 1800-1875/Romanticism
Wilson Chapter 11
Worthen 531-541
"Rules for Actors"*(hand-out)
Play: Hernani* (hand-out)

Sept 10 Play: The Octoroon (hand-out)
Minstrelsy and Melodrama
(early Show and Tell?)

Week 3
Sept 15 READING Zola "Naturalism" (Worthen)
Worthen 547-553
Wilson Chapter 12 -1875-1915
Play: A Doll's House

Sept 17 Suffrage movement
Play: Votes for Women (Worthen)
Worthen 541-551 and
READING-- G.B. Shaw's review of Doll's House
Brantley's review of Doll's House
*Show and tell – Suffrage and performance


Week 4
Sept 22 Symbolism and Realism
Play: Cherry Orchard (Worthen)
READING Stanislavsky (Worthen)

Sept 24 READING: “Against Naturalism in the Theatre” (hand-out)
Play: The Crystal Spider – (hand-out)
*Show and Tell-- Symbolism

Week 5
Sept 29 Chapter 13 1915-1945
READING: Futurist Manifesto and Futurist Short Plays (h/o)
The Gas Heart (hand-out)

Oct 1 German Expressionism
TRANSFIGURATION Ernst Toller (hand-out)
Guest speaker?

Week 6
Oct 6 New Approaches to Staging
READING: Meyerhold (hand-out)
Appia, Craig
Play: Machinal (Worthen)
Play: Trifles (Worthen)

Oct 8 Surrealism
Reading: The Surrealist Manifesto (hand-out)
*SHOW AND TELL: Surrealism

Week 7

Oct 13 Theatre of Cruelty
Artaud "Theatre of Cruelty" (Worthen)
Worthen 541-547
Jet of Blood (hand-out)

Oct 15 Midterm #1

October 17-20 Fall Break

Week 8

Oct 20 Total Theatre and Epic Theatre
Living Newspaper in Worthen p.956
Piscator and Brecht
Play: Mother Courage—part one
READING -- Brecht "Theatre for Pleasure" (Worthen)


Oct 22 Play: Mother Courage part 2
READING-- Brecht "Chinese Theatre" (hand-out)
*Show and tell – Chinese Opera

(Oct 22 Midterm grades due)

See Laramie Project

Week 9

Oct 27 Discuss Laramie Project script/production

OCT 29 Socialiist Realism/Totalitarianism
US Commercial theatre
Pirandello and Lorca
Six Characters in Search of an Author (Worthen)
*Show and tell --Socialist Realism

Week 10

NOV 3 Wilson Chapter 14 1945-1975
Worthen 951-959
Death of a Salesman
READING -- Miller "Tragedy and the Common Man" (Worthen)
Death of a Salesman in China (hand-out)


Nov 5
Glass Menagerie
*SHOW AND TELL: the American Musical
Week 11

Nov 10 Existentialism and Absurdism
Endgame (Worthen)
Not I (hand-out)
READING—Esselin (Worthen)
Camus, Sartre

Nov 12 Avant-Garde in the 60s
Happenings, environmental theatre, Grotowski
PLAY: Dutchman (Worthen)
Los Vendidos (Worthen)
READING: The Revolutionary Theatre (Worthen)
*Show and tell—1960s context


Week 12
Nov 17 Footprints
Indian Theatre
READING—Chadhuri Staging Place (Worthen)
Worthen 1341-1365

Nov. 19 Death and the King's Horseman (Worthen)
Read Worthen pp. 1197-1217
READING: Post Colonial Drama
*SHOW AND TELL—Yoruba ritual performance

See Footprints

Week 13

Nov 24 Chapter 15 1975-present
READING-- Jameson "Postmodernism and Consumer Society"
Postmodern directors/contemporary experiments
Intercultural theatre
PLAY: Hamletmachine

Nov. 26 Midterm #2


Week 14
Dec 1 Feminist Theatre
Cloud 9 (Worthen)
A Woman Alone (hand-out)
READING – Feminist essay (hand-out)


Dec 3 Information for Foreigners
Latin-American theatre
*SHOW AND TELL: Latin American context

Week 15

Dec. 8 New Voices in American Theatre
Top Dog/Underdog
Review of Topdog/Underdog
READING: Bhaba "Mimicry and Man"

Sally’s Rape
World Without End
*SHOW AND TELL – Performance Art context

FINAL EXAM time will be spent in GRADED oral reports on your own research. Final paper due by the end of exam period.

Back to List of Courses

Back to Index