This course offers a continuing introduction to the history and development of world theater and drama. We will experience the vibrant pageant of theater history through an exploration of its conventions and aesthetics, as well as its social and cultural functions. Starting in the nineteenth century, we will read representative plays ranging from the advent of stage Realism and Naturalism with Ibsen and Strindberg, through modern and contemporary drama (from both Western and non-Western canons). As we study theatrical movements including Symbolism, Expressionism, Epic Theater, and Theater of the Absurd, we will also read key critical and theoretical texts illuminating the plays. Looking at theater history as “living theater,” the course encompasses not only the study of plays as dramatic texts, but also their contexts of theater architecture and stagecraft, performance conventions, debates of art and commerce, and shifting relationships to the audience.
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