Choice and Consequence – Alternative History (DRA2277.01)

Sherry Kramer

We are our choices.

Plays and films are empathic art forms that seduce us into imaginatively making choices and suffering consequences along with their characters. Every day in the real world, we watch as people make choices whose consequences are truly ours to share—some global, some local. What if we could rewrite those choices and change what happens to our lives, our world? We will read plays, novels, and watch films and streaming series to explore how the cascade of choice and consequence organizes dramatic event, and spend time on the workings of tragedy and the fact that characters don’t change. Works we will study include Ruined, The House of Sand and Fog, Antigone, Fleabag, Breaking Bad, The Underground Railroad, Underground Airlines, and Groundhog Day.

Students will choose a public figure born after 1935 (politician, author, scientist, civil rights activist, etc.), research their life, and identify a series of their choices and resulting consequences. Students will then write a 30 to 90 minute play where their public figure makes a substantially different choice, and the world, as defined by the world of the play, changes.

In the end, what we are really talking about when we talk about character is choice.

Learning Outcomes:
By the end of this class, students will be able to track choice in plays and film and see how it is the heart of what we call drama. We have been habituated to see reveal as a primary event of timebound narrative work, but this obscures the way that choice structures all events that matter to the audience. This class will attempt to make writers more adept at recognizing the organizing power of choice, and at using choice to create strong, unforgettable characters in their work across platforms.

Delivery Method: Remotely accessible
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
M 1:40PM - 5:20PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 12
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: All courses , Drama , Remotely Accessible
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