Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Dramatic Tensions: Theater and the Marketplace

TAPS 11N
This seminar explores the current state of the American theater and its artists. Much conventional wisdom tells us that theater is a dying art, and something of a lost cause, especially in an age of multimedia entertainment. But the roots of the drama are very old and very deep, and there are more young playwrights, actors, and directors entering the field today than at any other time in American history.
 
We'll get to know the work of today's theater artists, with an emphasis on an emerging generation of playwrights that is still finding plenty to say from the classic platform of the living stage. Students will read a cross-section of plays from writers currently working in the United States and the United Kingdom, covering a broad spectrum of subjects and styles from serious to comic, from the musical to the straight play. We'll look at the hits and misses from recent seasons of the New York and London stages and examine some of the differences of artistic taste across the Atlantic.
 
In the second part of the course we will explore, hands-on, the arts and skills necessary to make a play succeed. Students will get the chance to develop their own areas of interest, in guided projects in design, direction, or performance. Class visits will be arranged to allow for conversations with playwrights, designers, and directors. Labs and master-classes will allow students to solve problems posed in areas of creative production. And finally, we'll meet some of the literary managers and producers who are on the frontlines of underwriting new talent.
 
Students completing this seminar should come away with an informed appreciation of the state of the arts in America today, and some excitement about the possibilities that lie both within the field and in themselves. Class trips will include two plays at major Bay Area stages.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Amy Freed

Amy Freed

"I have been involved in theater for most of my life. Theater is my greatest pleasure and passion. No two projects are the same, so you are always growing. Although I am a playwright, I trained as an actor. Along the way, I started directing and also began to teach. Like theater, teaching is live, unexpected, and full of shared human experience. It provides the opportunity to pass down what you've been given, and that's what I hope to do with this seminar.

Some of my produced works are The Monster BuilderYou, Nero, The Beard of AvonFreedomlandThe Psychic Life of Savages; and Restoration Comedy. I've had plays produced off Broadway and at most of the major regional theaters in the United States. One high point in my career was becoming a Pulitzer finalist for my second play, Freedomland. There have been plenty of low points, too, because life in the theater is an up-and-down experience. I am an artist-in-residence in the TAPS department, where I teach acting and playwriting and occasionally direct. I have had a long-term relationship with a regional theater, South Coast Rep, which will be producing my play, The Monster Builder, in the 2016-2017 season. And at present I am working on new commissions for South Coast Rep and for Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I am married to the San Francisco Chronicle's film critic, which provides me with a more analytic view of contemporary arts."