THETR 266:

Intro to Theatre:

20th Century  

Class meets Tuesday/ Thursday

9:30 - 10:45AM

Room: Sawyer 1130, Studio Theatre

Email to

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Professor Richard W. Chambers

Office: Sawyer 1228

Office Hours: By Appointment



Phone: 617-305-1722 (better to email me)     

Course Prerequisites: None

Course Description:

Picking up chronologically where THETR 265 leaves off, this survey course is designed to provide students with an understanding of modern Western theatre. Readings will include representative works of realism, naturalism, expressionism, epic theatre, and theatre of the absurd. Lectures and class discussions will explore how these concepts translate to acting and production techniques, as well as what they imply as artistic responses to a modern and post-modern world. Analysis of the plays will include explorations of theme, character, plot, symbolism, and metaphor.

4 credit hours

Class Structure:

This course fulfills a requirement in the Theatre Department and so has particular criteria to meet in the syllabus. It is also open to all students and fulfills the VPATH requirement. The course is an intensive survey of Western theatre from the late-nineteenth through the mid-twentieth century, focusing on the works of several representative playwrights and their response to the world in which they lived. The plays will be studied within the context of the history, theories, trends, and aesthetics of the past century. How these plays affect you, and how they affected the audiences of their time will be explored. This is an On Campus course. If a zoom link is approved, use ID#: 373 879 3171.

We will read thirteen plays during the semester. Rule number one is to read the plays on time and prepare for discussions. Rule number two is to come to class; I take attendance.

Most weeks there will be a lecture on the author, period, and style of the new play, a video excerpt of a performance of the play (or some other video), and student discussion of the play itself.

Writing is a major component of the class in the form of homework essay assignments. The importance of analytical reading, critical thinking, and historical context is stressed. The readings in the Brustein text are expected to further inform your responses regarding historical context and performance practices. I might address these readings in class, but they are assigned as independent parts of the course and are seen as necessary components for your best understanding of the plays.