Theatre and Politics
The theatre is a public forum where politics is both represented and enacted. In this seminar we will examine four theatrical artists who have wrestled with urgent political questions of their time and ours: William Shakespeare, Georg Büchner, Bertolt Brecht, and Anna Deveare Smith. nnQuestions we will consider include: How does Shakespeare¿s Hamlet raise questions about a sovereign¿s right to rule? What might a play such as Büchner¿s Danton¿s Death¿set during the one of the bloodiest periods of the French Revolution¿suggest about the relationship between terrorism and reason? What does a musical such as Brecht¿s Threepenny Opera demonstrate about strategies of mass manipulation? And how could a performance piece such as Smith¿s Twilight: Los Angeles help us better understand the dynamics of police brutality and urban riot? nnIn this course, we will read seven plays, delve into their cultural contexts, and watch film and live versions of them, including field trips to at area theatres. We will also try our hand at staging some scenes in class, in order to get a better sense of the sorts of choices these plays require. Your assignments will include short papers and regular postings on an online discussion board. All readings and discussions will be in English, and no prior theatrical experience is necessary.