One semester course
Open to 10, 11, 12
Range of difficulty 2-4
This course is designed to concentrate on the study of literature through drama, as well as to offer some elementary instruction in theater arts. It is a World Literature course, although some American and British plays will be used. The main idea of Ideas in Drama is to acquaint students with some selections from major dramatic literature through use of reading, discussion, papers, presentations, and theater exercises.
2. Topics and Themes Emphasized
Ideas in Drama is meant to be offered, when possible, in conjunction with any productions of local theaters and with LSB Players productions being staged during the semester the course is offered. The main theme of the course is what makes a successful play; this includes topics such as the study of text, character, setting, special effects, and staging devices, including various acting styles.
3. Methods and Sample Assignments
Class discussions and activities will also center on what makes a successful play; sample assignments include:
• A director’s notebook about a scene from a play being studied in class, meaning a set of notes about how a student would direct a production of part of that play, including gestures, blocking, and primarily interpretation of the scene.
• A technical notebook about a scene from a play being studied in class, meaning a set of notes about how a student would visualize a production of part of that play, including sets, lights, costumes, special effects, and music.
• “Review” of hypothetical or real productions of the plays being taught in the course–real productions, if possible, such as LSB players productions.
• Traditional literary essays about the plays, concentrating on analytical issues (see appendix for Approaches to Analysis).
• Presentations by small groups of students of scenes from plays studied.
• Creative writing assignments — writing scenes, often in the style of the play being studied.
Students are not expected to be accomplished actors. However, they are expected to be willing to be involved in theater games. class discussions, staging scenes, and improvisations.
4. Expectations for Students
As one can see from the list above, students are required to approach plays not only as literature but also as scripts to be performed. This requires some elementary instruction about blocking, stage directions, special effects, and acting and directing techniques. Theater games are used, and any current productions are discussed in some detail. Students are also given nightly reading assignments and long-term paper and presentation assignments; there are frequent reading quizzes and some reading tests as well.
5. Reading List and Other Materials
The reading list will vary some from year to year, depending on availability and productions. The following is a possible list from which a semester’s plays might be selected:
Starting Drama (text)
“The Virtuous Burglar,” Fo
The Visit, Durrenmatt
The Venetian Twins, Goldoni
“Picnic on the Battlefield,” Arrabal
Lady Windemere’s Fan, Wilde
Marching for Fausa, Bandele
Fires in the Mirror, Smith
The Investigation, Weiss
Doll’s House, Ibsen
Modern One-Act Plays, ed.Cassady (basic text)
Ten Little Indians, Christie
The Little Foxes, Hellman
“The Real Inspector Hound,” Stoppard
Four Plays by Ionesco
Kongi’s Harvest, Soyinka
“Zoo Story” and “The American Dream,” Albee
Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Fo and Rame
Pretty Fire, Woodard
The Shape of Things, LaBute
Spring Awakening, Wedekind
Miss Julie, Strindberg
“No Exit,” Sartre
Six Characters in Search of an Author, Pirandello