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TH100: Ritual, Theatre and Performance

This course surveys the history of theatre in the context of Western artistic and literary traditions. Students should expect to read and watch plays, but also to examine how theatre relates to philosophy, poetry, politics, and religion. Along the way, there are film screenings, field trips to attend performances, and interactive workshops led by department faculty on creative aspects of the discipline. In Block 1, the course begins by studying sacred rituals that influenced the origins of theatre in ancient Greece. It then considers forms of drama developed in succeeding eras, including medieval pageants, Renaissance masques, Shakespearian plays, and Restoration comedy. In Block 2, we look at a combination of contemporary and historical plays that address changes in the 18th and 19th centuries leading to the development of realism in modern theatre. It pays special attention to how modern playwrights and choreographers use or subvert realism in order to challenge ideas about gender, race, and nationality in art and popular culture, such as ballet, Disney’s animated musicals, and stand-up comedy. Works to be read include Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, Henrik Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly.