Summer 2004

HUMS 639 (AMST; THST)
The Great American Play: Literature Revealed Through Performance

Rubinstein,Kim S

07/19/2004 - 08/05/2004
Monday-Thursday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Fisk Hall 413

Some of the greatest American literature of the 20th century was written for the theater by playwrights such as Eugene O'Neill, Tennessee Williams, Tony Kushner, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, Lorraine Hansberry, and Anna Deaveare Smith. We will read these plays as literature and as blueprints for performance. As a class, we will carefully scrutinize the play like detectives, ferreting out the details of action and reaction, conflict, character needs and tactics, and theme repetitions and variances. In every play, there are secrets, mysteries to be discovered, and some to remain forever elusive. In every play, there are transformations and revelations. We will listen for underlying rhythms and take clues from the choreography of the playwright's unique language. We will perform solo and duet readings from every play we study, in order to more deeply understand the world of the play, its characters, themes, and journey.

Great American plays required great American acting techniques, and we will study some of these techniques as tools to understand each playwright's styles and demands of performance. Working from character need or objective, and the specific use of language and musicality, we will learn in action how a theatrical text differs from other forms of literature.

In addition to the plays by the authors above, students will read the following texts: Joseph Chaikin, THE PRESENCE OF THE ACTOR; Sanford Meisner, ON ACTING; Uta Hagen, RESPECT FOR ACTING; Marc Robinson, THE OTHER AMERICAN DRAMA; and articles on the playwrights.

Film clips from the plays will be viewed in class. Students will be responsible for giving a class presentation on one of the playwrights and will give dramatic readings of three scenes or monologues. There will be a final presentation of scenes, along with a 12-15 page final paper.

By student petition, this course may count toward the arts concentration.

Please read the following in advance of the first class meeting on Monday, July 19, 2004: Angels in America--both Millenium and Perestroika.


Kim Rubinstein (B.S. Northwestern University) is the artistic associate at the Long Wharf Theatre. She has directed more than 25 plays including the world premieres in Chicago of Pan and Boone (Carey) and Eloise and Ray (Fleishmann); seven Shakespeare works; and she was national tour director for Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millenium/Perestroika. She has taught acting, directing, and text analysis for more than 15 years at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. She continues to teach in the Steppenwolf Ensemble School for Professional Actors.


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Edward Albee, WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (Signet), Paperback

Maria Irene Fornes, FEFU AND HER FRIENDS (Performing Arts Journal), Paperback

Tony Kushner, ANGELS IN AMERICA: A GAY FANTASIA ON NATIONAL THEMES: PART ONE: MILLENNIUM APPROACHES: PART TWO: PERESTROIKA (TCG), Paperback

Arthur Miller, DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Penguin), Paperback

Eugene O'Neill, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT, 2nd Edition (Yale University Press), Paperback

Suzan-Lori Parkes, THE AMERICA PLAYS (TCG), Paperback

Tennessee Williams, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (Signet), Paperback

READING MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323

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