Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Theatre 597

Teaching the capstone course in censorship again; here's the syllabus; some 70 students are enrolled. I warn them that we will all be shocked during the course of the quarter-- some of us once or twice, others of us continuously.

Theatre 597: Issues of the Contemporary World:
Censorship as an Instrument of Public/Private Policy

5 cr hrs. U/G. Autumn 2010 TR 1:30-3:18 p.m. Parks Hall 0111
Lecturer: Dr. Alan Woods
1104 Drake Performance and Event Center 292-8238 woods.1@osu.edu Office hours: M 12:00 p.m. -1:00:p.m., T 11:00 a.m.– 12:00 p.m.
and by appointment
Instructors: Matthew Vadnais discussion section meets in University Hall 0086
Office hours: TBA
Ian Pugh discussion section meets in Baker Systems Engineering 0198
Office hours: TBA

Prerequisite: Senior Standing. GEC contemporary world course. Not available for graduate credit for graduate students in the Department of Theatre.

Course Description:
Exploration of the ways in which censorship has been employed by governmental groups in both western and Asian societies as an instrument of public policy, or in response to pressure groups within those societies.

Course Objectives
1. To discover how different contemporary societies perceive the role of government in controlling what information citizens can freely access

2. To study the interaction between cultures with differing (and often mutually exclusive) societal value systems

3. To explore the ways in which the cultures of contemporary societies have become interdependent, and some of the stresses that interdependence creates

4. To give students the opportunity to gain a richer comprehension of issues of censorship and governmental control in the contemporary world.

Background Statement:
As culture becomes global, one response has been an increasing nationalism, often expressed in efforts by governmental bodies to control or shape information. Those efforts frequently result in censorship (whether overt or covert), often justified on moral, cultural, political, or educational grounds. Worries about secular Western influences in fundamentalist Islamic countries which led to the banning of cable television in Iran, the concern about the imposition of American sexual freedom on Chinese youth which caused the Chinese government to ban a production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, a Wisconsin superintendent cancelling the musical Urinetown to protect student morals, or efforts to block pornographic websites (defined in radically diverse ways) in American libraries, schools and homes--all are recent manifestations of beliefs that governments must regulate expression. However justified, such efforts often are met with fierce resistance and at least some measure of public debate. The course will explore selected examples of censorship, or attempts to establish censorship, in a variety of western and eastern cultures, to examine the issues that such efforts expose.

Course Requirements:
Each student will write a personal manifesto regarding his/her own response to the larger issue of the role of government in regulating information; the draft manifesto is due October 7th, and the final version will be submitted December 2nd.
Small research teams of 5-6 students each will explore specific cases of censorship. The explorations will result in classroom presentations, a written report, and an annotated bibliography. Written reports may be submitted in whatever format best serves the material; however, the format must be approved by November 23rd. The final report is due by December 7th.
Research teams may explore any of the following cases of censorship or attempted censorship; other cases may be chosen with permission of the instructor:

Apple Stores and Ninjawords, 2009
Gay Mormons
Jerry Springer, The Opera, on stage and television, 2003-2007
Chocolate Jesus in New York, 2007
Pike Theatre, Dublin, Tennessee Williams, and the Roman Catholic Church, 1956
The War on Christmas, annually
Yale University Press and The Cartoons That Shook the World, 2009
Murray Hill for Congress, 2010
Wal-Mart: what to call the biggest shopping period of the year and who will be offended by doing so
Porgy and Bess and cultural diplomacy, Europe and the Soviet Union, 1952-56.
Texas representative asks Asian-Americans to change their names to “easier ones for Americans to pronounce”
“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” controversy continues
Colorado bans smoking in theatrical performances, 2009
Venus on the London Underground and elsewhere, 2008
Hebron painting banned in Temecula, 2009
Wonder Woman on tour
The “Ground Zero Mosque” 2010
Target Stores targeted
Rent in Corona del Mar, 2009
Political Tee Shirt ban upheld in Texas, 2009
Band Tee Shirts banned in Sedalia, Missouri, 2009
“Bastard Files” banned in Louisville, 2010
Classroom movie policy, Marysville, Ohio, 2010
Washington School bans “Emperor’s New Clothes” 2009
“Snow White” text altered to delete offensive references, Washington, 2010
No Pornography banned by Calvin College, 2010
Dr. Laura: censorable or merely clueless?
Andrew Breitbart/Keith Olbermann/Rachel Maddow/Stephanie Miller//Glenn Beck/Jon Stewart/Ann Coulter: pull the plug?
Google and China
“Adult services” on social networks sites

Each student will also evaluate other members of the research team, covering such elements as timeliness of contributions, ability to accomplish assignments, the usefulness of contributions, value of contribution to the overall project, willingness to participate in group project.
Each student will also evaluate six presentations by other research teams, research team presentation evaluations are due no later than one week following the presentation.
Production evaluations: each student will evaluate one of the following Department of Theatre productions, analyzing which aspects of the production might or have caused efforts to censor performances. One evaluation is required; additional evaluations may be submitted for additional credit (requires permission of recitation instructor in advance). Productions include: On The Shore of the Wide World by Simon Stephens, performed in the Roy Bowen Theater, Drake Center, November 4th through 16th; Aida by Elton John, Time Rice, Linda Woolverton, Robert Falls, and David Henry Hwang, performed at the Southern Theatre November 18th through the 21st. Ticket information will be distributed in class.
Guidelines for all evaluations are available on Carmen.

Alpert, Hollis. The Life and Times of Porgy and Bess: the Story of An American Classic. New York: Knopd, 1990.

Angelou, Maya. Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas. New York: Random House, 1976.

Barish, Jonas. The Anti-Theatrical Prejudice. Berkeley: U of California P, 1981.
Bolton, Richard, ed. Culture Wars: Documents from the Recent Controversies in the Arts. New York: New Press, 1992.

Hamilton, Marybeth. When I’m Bad, I’m Better: Mae West, Sex, and American Entertainment. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
Heins, Marjorie. Not In Front of the Children : "Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth. New York : Hill and Wang, 2001.

Hunter, James Davison. Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America. New York: Basic Books, 1991.

West, Mae. Three Plays by Mae West, ed. Lillian Schlissel. New York : Routledge, 1997.

Individual students will also write a peer evaluation of their colleagues on the research team, covering such elements as timeliness of contributions, ability to accomplish assignments, the usefulness of contributions, value of contribution to the overall project, willingness to participate in group project. Each student will also evaluate six presentations by other research teams.

Attendance Policy
Attendance is expected, and will be taken. Missing more than two class sessions will result in the loss of ten points. Each session missed after two will result in an additional ten point loss.

Additional Course Guidelines:
1. All written work must be submitted in processed form or via e-mail. Handwritten work will not be accepted.

2. Course material will be available online on Carmen, via the course webpage.

General texts will be available online on Carmen, on the course webpage; hard copies will be available on reserve through the Ohio State University Libraries.
Research projects will require the use of primary source materials which may have limited availability, due to their nature. The types of research materials each topic entails, and their availability, will be made clear at the beginning of the term.

Grading Scale
Your grade will be based on a combination of the following:
Midterm examination: 30 points
research project oral report: 41 points
research project written report: 45 points
research project annotated bibliography: 10 points

peer evaluations: 10 points
play production evaluation: 10 points

personal manifesto: preliminary draft 10 points

personal manifesto: final version 15 points

Evaluations of research teams: 6 @ 4 points 24 points
Atttendance: 5 points
Grading Points:
A 185 and above A- 180-184 B+ 174-179
B 166-173 B- 160-165 C+ 154-159
C 146-153 C- 140-145 D+ 130-139 D 120-129 E 119 and below
Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Please contact the Office for Disability Services at 614-292-3307 in room 150 Pomerene Hall to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. Fax: (614) 292-4190 TDD: (614) 292-0901 Email: ods@studentlife.osu.edu.

This syllabus is available in alternative formats upon request.
USG ESCORT SERVICE: 292-3322. http://www.ps.ohio-state.edu/sss/escort_info/
Class Schedule:
R 9/23: backgrounds: definitions of types of censorship, discussion of reasons for efforts to censor; governmental and public policy issues.
T 9/28: governmental and public policy issues; have read Hunter, introduction; Bolton, Chapter 1;.
R 9/30: the impact of public media; have read Heins, Conclusion.
T 10/5: history of censorship in the west, Classic through early Medieval periods; formation of research teams; assignment of research project topics; Barish, chapters 1-3
R 10/7: discussion; Barish, chapter 4. Personal manifesto preliminary draft due.
T 10/12: history of censorship in the west, Medieval through Renaissance periods
R 10/14: discussion
T 10/19: history of censorship in the west, post Renaissance
R 10/21: discussion
T 10/26: censorship in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; have read Hunter, Prologue
R 10/28: Midterm examination
T 11/2: history of censorship in the east; nationalism, cultural/class identity.
R 11/4: discussion
T 11/9: case study: Mae West. Have read West: Sex, The Drag.
R 11/11 Veterans’ Day celebrated; no class
T 11/16: case studies: the Lord Chamberlain in England, 1747-1968; Socialist Realism in the Soviet Union.
R 11/18: discussion
T 11/23: case study: the Motion Picture Code in the United States, 1934-1955, final report format approval by this date.
R 11/25: Thanksgiving Day. No class. Eat too much.
T 11/30 censorship in the present: what buttons are now being pushed? Play production evaluations due.
R 12/2:. Discussion; personal manifesto final version due
T 12/7: final reports submitted or mounted on webpage
R 12/9: 3:30 p.m. Final Examination scheduled; peer evaluations due

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thinking About next fall

when Theatre H101 will be offered again. So we'll be looking for interested playwrights, able to correspond with students as the course progresses--

--more anon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Playwrights for the seminar in spring

The following writers have graciously consented to participate in Theatre 802.07 in the spring term; much thanks!

Monica Bauer
Ludmilla Bollow
George Brome
Hindi Brooks
Janis Contway
Lillian Cauldwell
Sandra de Helen
Sandra Dempsey
Carolyn Gage
Nancy Gall-Clayton
Paddy Gillard-Bentley
Mary-Ann Greanier
Andre Hogan II
Sandy Hosking
Karen Jeynes
Maureen Brady Johnson
Judy Juanita
Kathleen Coudle King
Shirley King
Jean Klein
Rachel Rubin Ladutke
mara lathrop
Jenny Levison
Robin Rice Lichtig
Susan Middaugh
Rebecca Nesvet
Tammy Ryan
Jewel Seehaus-Fischer
Shane/Sharyn Shipley
Faye Sholitan
Donna Spector
Mary Steelsmith
Molly Tinsley
Shay Youngblood

and check back; there'll be more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Graduate Seminar to Explore Contemporary Playwriting

Theatre 802.07, to be offered at Ohio State Unversity's Department of Theatre in the Spring Quarter 2009, will explore contemporary playwriting in North America; graduate students will be assigned a current writer, and look at how that writer produces work, gets it produced, and manages a career. Writers will be drawn from playwrights whose work is archived in the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute at Ohio State, particularly from the archives two groups, the International Centre for Women Playwrights and the African-American Playwrights Exchange. There will also be writers whose work is collected individually, and work from the Eileen Heckart Senior Drama Collection. More about the Lawrence and Lee Institute at http://library.osu.edu/sites/tri/.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dorothy Fadiman, Award winning filmmaker to visit Theatre Class

Dorothy Fadiman, award-winning documentary filmmaker, will be visiting the OSU Columbus campus on Tuesday, September 30th, for a screening of portions of her newest film, “Stealing America: Vote By Vote.” The film is being shown at the Landmark Gateway Theatre, 9/26 through 10/2.

The on campus visit, showing excerpts, will be in Theatre 777, Studies in Documentary, 2038 Drake Performance and Event Center, 1:30 p.m. Guests are welcome to join the class. She is available that morning for other classes or visits. Please contact Alan Woods, Department of Theatre (woods.1@osu.edu, 292-6614) for more information. A brief bio is attached, and the film’s website is

Dorothy Fadiman, Producer/Director
Dorothy Fadiman has been producing media with a focus on social justice and human rights since 1976. Her film subjects have ranged from progressive education in WHY DO THESE KIDS LOVE SCHOOL? (produced with KTEH-TV) and progressive change for women in some of the least developed villages of India in WOMAN by WOMAN: New Hope for the Villages of India (produced with KQED-TV); to a three-film series on reproductive issues and a five-film series on AIDS in Ethiopia including From RISK to ACTION: Women and HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia. Fadiman has won more than 50 major awards, including an Emmy for her 1995 production FROM DANGER to DIGNITY: The Fight for Safe Abortion, and an Oscar nomination for Best Short Subject, as well as the Gold Medal from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for her 1992 production WHEN ABORTION WAS ILLEGAL: Untold Stories. Her films have been broadcast on PBS, and have been screened in many international venues. Fadiman’s new book, PRODUCING with PASSION: Making Films That Make a Difference was released in June, 2008.

The syllabus for the course is below:

Theatre 777: Studies in the Documentary
3 cr hrs. U/G. Autumn 2008 TR 1:30-3:18 p.m. DR 2039
Instruc Instructor: Dr. Alan Woods 1433 Lincoln Tower 292-6614 woods.1@osu.edu Office hours: MW 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., T 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. and by appointment
Course Description:
Conceptual, aesthetic, critical, social, ethical, practical issues in the practice of documentary and docudrama production of cinema and video works. The course will examine relatively contemporary documentary films which deal with political issues, exploring the role of the citizen in shaping a democratic society.
Course Objectives:
1. To examine the history of the political documentary film in the American cinema, and the cinematic languages developed as the visual conventions of the documentary have shifted and changed over time
2. To explore, both practically and theoretically, the perception that documentaries are fact-driven and essentially neutral, and the reaction when some viewers become convinced of bias on the part of a filmmaker
3. To survey the subject matter of recent political documentaries, and how they reflect areas of societal concern
4. To study the ways in which the manipulation of the ostensibly neutral form of the documentary film influences viewer perceptions and may shape the national agenda
5. To explore how critical theorists organize the discussion of the documentary form, and the extent to which formal analysis how different contemporary societies perceive the role of government in controlling what information citizens can freely access .
Course Requirements:
Each student will examine a single documentary film, taken from the list below, and will give a research presentation to the class on the film and its creative staff, focusing on the topics above. In addition, presentations should also cover a consideration of the filmmakers’ careers, the critical and economic reception the film received, how and where the film became available to audiences, and a critical assessment how well the film succeeded in fulfilling the filmmakers’ purpose. The research presentation in class will be preceded by a preliminary outline, submitted in written form on Tuesday, October 14th, and will be the basis for a formal research document due at the end of the quarter. The format of the final research document may take whatever shape the researcher feels is most appropriate; the format must be approved in advance, and a format proposal is due on Thursday, November 20th.
Background texts are on reserve in the Ackerman Library, as are copies of the texts from which readings are required,
Aitken, Ian, ed. Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film. New York: Routledge, 2006.
Barnouw, Erik. Documentary : a history of the non-fiction film, rev. ed. Oxford [Oxfordshire] ; New York : Oxford U. P., 1983.
Bullert, B. J. Public Television: politics and the battle over documentary film. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers U. P., 1997.
Chanan, Michael. The Politics of Documentary. London: British Film Institute, 2007.
Girgus, Sam B. America on film : modernism, documentary, and a changing America. Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge U. P., 2002.
Juhasz, Alexandra, and Jesse Lerner, eds. F is for Phony: fake documentary and truth's undoing. Minneapolis : U. of Minnesota P., 2006.
Nichols, Bill. Blurred Boundaries : questions of meaning in contemporary culture. Bloomington: Indiana U. P., 1994.
-----. Introduction to documentary. Bloomington: Indiana U. P., 2001.
Renov, Michael. The Subject of Documentary. Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota P., 2004.
Rhodes, Gary D., and John Parris Springer, eds. Docufictions : essays on the intersection of documentary and fictional filmmaking. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006.
Ward, Paul. Documentary : the margins of reality. London: Wallflower, 2005.
Warren, Charles, ed. Beyond Document : essays on nonfiction film. Hanover, NH: U. P. of New England, 1996.
Zimmermann, Patricia Rodden. States of Emergency: documentaries, wars, democracies. Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota P., 2000.
Additional Credit:
Theatre 777 is available for a total of 5 credits, with two additional hours of Theatre 693 or 893 (directed research); there will be an additional assignment, either written or practical, to be determined through consultation between the instructor and student.
from http://www.documentary-film.net
Bagdad ER
Fallujah White Phosphorus
A Few Inconvenient Facts
The Great Global Warming Swindle
Iraq For Sale
Loose Change

Oil, Smoke & Mirrors
In OSU library:
Fahrenheit 9/11
Iraq For Sale: The Profiteers
Michael Moore Hates America
72 hours to victory: Behind the scenes with Bill Clinton
Uncovered: the whole truth about the Iraq War
War in Iraq : road to Baghdad
The War Room

At Grandview Heights:
Journeys With George: A Home Movie
The War Room

Through Ohio Link:
Point of Order
Senator Obama Goes to Africa
Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections

Preliminary research outline: 15%
Research presentation: 40%
Final research report: 45%:
Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact the Office of Disability Services at 292-3307, room 150 Pomerene Hall, www.ods.ohio-state.edu/welcome.htm to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities. This syllabus is available in alternative formats upon request.
Class Schedule:
R 9/25: introduction; course requirements and expectations; backgrounds
T 9/30: Traditional definitions; “Stealing America: Vote By Vote” with visit by filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman..
R 10/2: History: origins of the documentary.

T 10/7: History: early development
R 10/9: History: the recent past

T 10/14: Realism/objectivity/subjectivity . Research project preliminary outline due.
R 10/16: Visual conventions, past and present
T 10/21: Business concerns: distribution, festivals
R 10/23: Audiences: who goes to see these films?

T 10/28: Research Presentation
R 10/30: Research Presentation

T 11/4: No class; Election Day
R 11/6: Research Presentation

T 11/11: No class; Veterans’ Day
R 11/13: Research Presentation

T 11/18: Research Presentation
R 11/20: Research Presentation Research Report Format proposals due

T 11/25: Research Presentation
R 11/27: Thanksgiving Day; No Class

T 12/2: Summary: state of the documentary
R 12/4: Conclusions: can we predict the future of the form?

T 12/9: Final Research Reports Due

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Theatre H101 and Theatre 871

The syllabus for Theatre H101: Introduction to Theatre Through Primary Sources, a course for honors students, is available at http://theatreh101.blogspot.com

Here's the syllabus for Theatre 871, a graduate seminar on Greek, Roman, and Medieval Theatre.

Theatre 871 Greek, Roman and Medieval Theatre Autumn Quarter 2007
Instructor: Dr. Alan Woods, 1433 Lincoln Tower
Office Hours: M 1 3 p.m. T 9 - 11 a.m. and by appointment.
Phone: 292 6614 or 4 8238 e mail: Woods.1@osu.edu
Class Meetings: MW Time: 3:30 5:18 p.m. Room: 2068 Drake
Ashby, Clifford. Classical Greek Theatre: New Views of an Old Subject (Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 1999).
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy (New York: Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt, 2006).
Familiarity also is assumed with Bieber's History of the Greek and Roman Theatre (second edition, 1961). A detailed bibliography will be on reserve in the Lawrence & Lee TRI and in the Reserve Room at the Thompson Library. Copies of both Ashby, Ehrenreich, and Bieber and plays to be read are on reserve in the TRI and at the Ackerman Library.
Learning Objectives: To survey current theories and available research materials documenting the theatre of the Greek, Roman and Medieval periods in Western Europe through exploration of its artistic, social, and cultural dimensions. By the end of the quarter, the student should have familiarity with the conventions of theatrical style of each period.
Teaching Method: Lecture/discussion.
Grading: Grading will be based on the following:
midterm examination: 30%
final examination: 35%
a research paper of publishable quality 30%
class involvement: 5%
total: 100%
Attendance Policy: Absences are permitted only in cases of extreme illness or personal emergencies. In a Theatre Department, the latter does not include production duties.
This syllabus is available in alternative formats upon request.
Academic Misconduct:
It is the responsibility of the Committee on Academic Misconduct to investigate or establish procedures for the investigation of all reported cases of student academic misconduct. The term Aacademic misconduct@ includes all forms of student academic misconduct wherever committed; illustrated by, but not limited to, cases of plagiarism and dishonest practices in connection with examinations. Instructors shall report all instances of alleged academic misconduct to the committee (Faculty Rule 3335-5-487). For additional information, see the Code of Student Conduct (http://studentaffairs.osu.edu/info_for_students/csc.asp).

Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact the Office of Disability Services at 292-3307, room 150 Pomerene Hall, www.ods.ohio-state.edu/welcome.htm (a text only version is at www.ods.ohio-state.edu/textonly/index.htm) to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Theatre 871: Greek, Roman and Medieval Theatre, Autumn 2005 p. 2
Class outline:
W 9/19 Introduction and parameters; background to Greek culture

M 9/24 theories of origin both Greek and non Greek/barbaric; Ehrenreich, chapter 1.
W 9/26 Research materials: textual evidence: manuscripts & scholia; Ashby, chapter 1

M 10/1 Research materials: archaeological evidence; Ashby, chapter 2
W 10/3 Research materials: Iconographic evidence

M 10/8 Research materials: Iconographic evidence, continued
W 10/10 Textual materials: plays. Familiarity is assumed by this date with all the surviving
texts of Aeschylos, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes

M 10/15 Textual materials: fragments and inscriptions; Ashby, Chapter 3
W 10/17 Textual materials: fragments and inscriptions; Ashby, chapter 4

M 10/22 Hellenistic archaeological remains; MIDTERM EXAMINATION PAPERS DUE
W 10/24 Hellenistic archaeological remains, continued; Ashby, chapter 5

M 10/29 Hellenistic textual fragments; have read: the surviving play and fragments of Menander
W 10/31 Roman theatre: festivals and productions; Roman historiography; Vitruvius, Pollux, Livius Andronicus, and other exercises in hegemonic discourse; Ehrenreich Chapter 2.

M 11/5 Roman textual materials; familiarity is assumed by this date with all surviving texts of Plautus, Terence, and Seneca
W 11/7 Imperial entertainment patterns: mimes, pantomimes, gladiatorial contests

M 11/12 The impact of political, social, religious change; Augustine and the Church Fathers;
Concept of the "Dark Ages" and the survival of theatrical traditions; Winchester and liturgical drama, and the "Millenium Psychosis" ; Ehrenreich, Chapter 3.
W 11/14 Fleury and 12th century liturgical drama

M 11/19 Secular forms and the Arras Plays; Passion and Corpus Christi Plays; have read by this date: Winchester Quem Queritis trope; Fleury Play of Herod; Adam de la Halle: The Play of Robin and Marion
W 11/21 Cycle drama; have read the York play of Noah's Fludde; The Anyplace play; professional troupes; have read Mankind; Pierre Pathelin

M 11/26 Folkdrama and entertainment forms; pre Shakespeare or post triumphal entry? How many times does the Renaissance dawn?; Ehrenreich, Chapter 4
W 11/28 PAPERS DUE. Conclusions and summary. Evaluation.

M 12/3 3:30 5:18 p.m.: Final Examination

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Theatre 675.01
Summer 2007 M-F 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
July 9-20 2038 Drake Performance and Event Center
Instructor: Dr. Alan Woods woods.1@osu.edu
1433 Lincoln Tower 292-6614
office hours: MW 3-5 p.m. and by appointment

Title: Crones, Curmudgeons, and Living Treasures--Theatre and Aging.

Description: The History, Theory, and Literature of the Senior Theatre Movement.

Senior Theatre--performance by and for those over 55 years old--is the most rapidly growing sector of recreational and avocational theatre in North America and Europe, with fully professional performance groups now emerging. This course explores the history of the emerging international Senior Theatre Movement from its beginnings in the post World War II era to the present, the application of studies in gerontology to the developing theory of Senior Theatre, and the growing literature of dramatic texts created for Senior Theatre from oral history, life narratives, and traditionally scripted drama.

Learning Objectives: By the end of the course, the student will have gained a detailed knowledge of the growth, development, and current status of Senior Theatre, awareness of performance as both artistic and recreational activity, and familiarity with the Senior Theatre=s dramatic texts, both original and adapted for the particular needs of Senior Theatre practitioners. With Theatre 675b, The Practice of Theatre and Age, this course constitutes a concentration in senior theatre as part of the area of specialization in aging.

Teaching Method: lecture/discussion.


Each student will complete two short research reports, with the results presented orally in class. The oral reports will focus on (1) an analysis of three plays (ten minute, one act, full length) written for Senior Theatre groups, and (2) an existing professional, avocational or recreational Senior Theatre company. Each report should last about 15 minutes, and must include appropriate handouts.


Grades will be determined by the quality of work completed, with individual assignments contributing as listed below
Research Report 40%
Research Report 40%
Participation 10%
total 100%


This syllabus is available in alternative formats upon request. Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss specific needs. Please contact the Office of Disability Services at 292-3307 in room 150 Pomerene Hall to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Class outline

M 7/9: introduction and theoretical background; gerontology and the realities of aging in America in the second half of the twentieth century; representation of older characters in plays; plays assigned
T 7/10: Stumbling/road blocks: strengths and limitations of performance by and for the aging ; have read Strimling, Introduction; Basting, chapter 1.
W 7/11: history: avocational/recreational beginnings; drama as therapy; have read Greenblatt, chapter 1, Vorenberg, introduction; survey of companies; companies assigned
R 7/12: history: Senior pride and the gray panthers; theatre as empowerment; consciousness raising; have read Basting, chapter 3; excerpts from I Was Young, Now I=m Wonderful
F 7/13: history: Senior drama recognized; American Theatre Association focus group; have read Cornish and Kase, Introduction. Play reports.

M 7/16: history and literature: development of first strains of professionalism, development of oral history and self generated texts; have read Kaminsky, Introduction, in Myerhoff
T 7/17: history and literature: professional senior companies growth and maturity; efforts to expand repertory; have read Basting, Chapter 4; have read Lonergan
W 7/18: history and literature: senior centers and entertainment; the >dancing grannies=; international connections and contexts; Basting, chapters 2 and 8.
R 7/19: history and literature: specialization and niche groups; cross cultural and diversity issues; the market emerges; conferences, festivals, emergence of a professional association
F 7/20: history, theory and literature: have read Basting, conclusion; company reports.

Basting, Anne Davis. The Stages of Age: Performing Age in Contemporary American Culture. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1998.
Cornish, Roger, and C. Robert Kase, eds., Senior Adult Theatre: The American Theatre Association Handbook. University Park and London: Pennsylvania State U P, 1981.
Greenblatt, Fred S. Drama With the Elderly: Acting at Eighty. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1985.
Lonergan, Kenneth. The Waverly Gallery. New York: Grove Press, 2000.
Myerhoff, Barbara. Remembered Lives: The Work of Ritual, Storytelling, and Growing Older. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1992.
Strimling, Arthur. Roots & Branches: Creating Intergenerational Theatre. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2004.
Vorenberg, Bonnie L. Senior Theatre Connections. Portland: ArtAge Publications, 1999.


Ten minute:

Sandra Dempsey: Rosa’s Lament
Jim Gordon: A Good Deed
Kathy Coudle King: Brittle Bones
Douglas Stewart: Final Exam
Nicholas Tasi: Boxer
Justin Warner: Lunch Boat

One Act:

Martha Boesing: Song of the Magpie
Jay D. Hanagan: Welcome Home
Maureen Brady Johnson: Limbo
Robert L. Kinast: Salt in the Pepper Shaker
John Lordan: Friendly Skies
Mary Steelsmith: List of Honor

Full length:

Donald Drake: The Passage
Joe Feinstein: The Last of the Aztecs
Judy Juanita: Theodicy
TheodicyJulia Perlstein: PLINKO!; or, the Goddess of Static Cling
Lynn Snyder: Older Than Dead
Nancy Zaman: To Heir is Human