Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Dramatic Tensions: Theater and the Marketplace
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.