ENG 624: Modern and Contemporary Drama
This course will focus on dramatic works from the late nineteenth century to the present. We will begin by examining the innovative realism of plays by August Strindberg, Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov as a prelude to the rise of several other ‘isms’ – the absurdism, surrealism (epic theatre), and existentialism of mid-twentieth century European playwriting in the works of authors like Luigi Pirandello, Eugene Ionesco, Bertolt Brecht, Samuel Beckett, and Jean-Paul Sartre. We will spend the second half of the semester focusing on contemporary theatrical works in Britain and America; these may include texts by authors such as Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, Tom Stoppard, Caryl Churchill, Harold Pinter, Mike Leigh, Sarah Kane, Suzan-Lori Parks, and Tony Kushner. We will be reading these plays in concert with excerpts from theoretical works on performativity and performance theory, such as Richard Schechner’s Performance Theory, Peggy Phelan’s Unmarked: The Politics of Performance, Judith Butler’s Bodies That Matter, and Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed.