The schedule below indicates when each play will be discussed in class; it is assumed that each play will have been read before the class discussion begins.
|Lec #||Topics||Key Dates||In-Class Discussion Questions|
|2-4||A Doll's House
Discussion of Chapter 2 of Volume 4 of A History of Private Life (in Lec #4)
|Paper on A Doll's House due in Lec #2||A Doll's House
What does the text tell you about character, setting, and time? What is the function of each of these elements: why are all the characters in the play; why is the setting described as it is; and why does the play take place at this time and no other? What does an acquaintance with society and culture at the time the play was written reveal about the issues it deals with? (This is reason for the reading and the oral reports on the selections from A History of Private Life.) How is the play structured, episode by episode, act by act? What is the central image or images? How are they connected to the issues of the play?
How does all of this information reveal what the play is about?
|5||Joseph Losey's film of A Doll's House|
|6||Wrap-up of A Doll's House||Paper on film and play due|
|7-8||Hedda Gabler||Paper on Hedda Gabler due in Lec #8||Hedda Gabler
How can the principles for reading a script, learned from A Doll's House, be used on another Ibsen play? What is the function of the characters, the setting and the time in defining the central issue of the play? What does the narrative structure tell you? What are forces between by which Hedda finds herself pulled? In what ways are those forces given theatrical expression in the play? How, for example, are props like hats and crowns of vine leaves connected to the basic issues of the play?
Why is the same incident, Heisenberg's greeting Bohr and Margrete at their home in Copenhagen, replayed three times over the course of the play? What is the difference between the replayings? How is each affected by the material in between? What is the climactic moment in the play? How is it related to the replayings? Who is the main character in the play? Why is that important and what does it tell us of the meaning of the play?
|11-12||The Substance of Fire||Paper on Copenhagen due in Lec #11||The Substance of Fire
How do you distinguish between the relative importance of all of the interesting material in this play? What is of primary importance, what of secondary (no matter how interesting)? What is the first act about? What is the second act about? How are the two connected? What is the "line through"? Why is Marge in the play? What is the climax of the second act and what actually happens there? How would you define Isaac's "journey"? How does the screen adaptation, which Baitz himself wrote, clarify the real issues of the play?
|13||Euripides' Medea||Paper on The Substance of Fire due||Euripides's Medea and Anouilh's Medea
How is each play connected to the history and the society from which it sprang? How is the Euripides's play connected to a decadent Athens riddled with "spin doctors" (the sophists)? How is the attitude of Euripides the moralist towards sophistry reflected in his Medea? How does it determine the way he treats the traditional story of Medea and the way he conceives of the characters in that story? How does the devastation of Europe after the Second World War affect Anouilh's treatment of the same story? How does existentialism color the conflict between his Medea and Jason? Though there are some differences - and significant ones at that - between the narratives of both plays, for the most part the story and structure are the same; but are the plays about the same thing?
|15-16||Joe Turner's Come and Gone||Paper on the two Medeas due in Lec #15||Joe Turner's Come and Gone
What is the significance of this play's taking place in a boarding house? Who are all the characters and what are their histories? What links their personal stories? What differentiates them? How are characters - and which ones - paired to facilitate comparison and contrast? What does such comparison and contrast show? Why is the historical time of the play important? What is the connection of each of the characters to slavery and emancipation? What is each searching for? How do the characters identify themselves?
How is the symbolic element of the play interwoven with the narrative, the poetic with the realistic?
Who is "Joe Turner" and what has he to do with the climax of the play?
|17||The Caucasian Chalk Circle||Paper on Joe Turner's Come and Gone due||Caucasian Chalk Circle
What is the alienation effect and what is Brecht's theatrical aesthetic, of which it is the centerpiece? How does that aesthetic influence the crafting of this play?
What is the ideology from which the play comes and how is that demonstrated in the presentation of the story?
How does the narrative structure of the play work? How does it set up a comparison between Grusha and Azdak? What is the point of that comparison?
What is the idea the story of Grusha and Azdak illustrates?
|18||Democracy (Final Project Play)|
|19||The Piano Lesson (Final Project Play)|
|20||The Good Person of Szechwan (Final Project Play)|
|21||The Cherry Orchard (Griffiths Translation)||The Cherry Orchard
How does Chekhov build his play? What are the materials and how are they employed to give subtle shape to what at first seems amorphous? How does he maintain a view of his characters simultaneously sympathetic and critical? What is at the heart of the play?
How is the material of the play modified, changed or colored when it passes through the prism of another playwright's sensibility? What do Griffiths and Mamet think the play is about and how is that reflected in their translations? How would each of these translations affect production of the play?
|22||The Cherry Orchard (Mamet Translation)|
|23-26||Julius Caesar||Final project papers due in Lec #23
Summary paper due in Lec #26
What is the complex vision Shakespeare gives of men caught in a political upheaval? How does that upheaval affect each character? What is revealed of each character's strengths and weaknesses? How? What of Brutus? What are his weaknesses and how do they affect the outcome of the play? What is the journey Mark Antony makes over the course of the play and what does that journey illustrate about politics? What do the language and the rhetoric of the play, and of each character, reveal? Does the play have heroes?