2017-2018 Drama Course Descriptions

NOTE: The course descriptions on this webpage are subject to change at the course instructors’ discretion; they are intended to give students choosing courses a clearer idea of the reading material and the kinds of assignments they might expect in each course.

Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window REGISTRAR'S COURSE TIME TABLE (Opens in a new window).


Course Title: Traditions of Theatre and Drama

Course Code: DRE121H5F

Instructor: Holger Syme

Course Description: This class introduces students to some of the key moments in the history of Western theatre. We will read a selection of plays ranging from Ancient Greek tragedies to works of social realism from the late nineteenth century, and study the theatrical contexts for which these scripts were written: the kinds of theatres they were acted in, the performance styles they take for granted, the audience attitudes they anticipate. But we will pay equal attention to the life of these canonical works from the distant past in more recent theatre history, asking how old plays remain vital in modern theatre and what it means to stage a text from a different historical era on a modern stage. Screenings of recordings of five modern productions will be arranged. A key goal of this course will be to familiarize students with the basic techniques of analyzing written drama and its staged performances.

Selected Major Readings: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Euripides, Medea; The York Play of the Crucifixion; Shakespeare, Macbeth; Molière, Tartuffe; Lessing, Emilia Galotti; Ibsen, A Doll’s House.

First Three Texts to be Studied: Aeschylus, Agamemnon; Euripides, Medea; The York Play of the Crucifixion

Method of Instruction: Lecture, discussion- and performance-based tutorial

Method of Evaluation: Regular in-class quizzes; two short papers; in-class performance; informed participation; final exam.

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Course Title: Modern and Contemporary Theatre and Drama

Course Code: DRE122H5S

Instructor: Jacob Gallagher-Ross

Course Description: Picking up where DRE121 left off, this course is an introduction to selected plays, aesthetic theories, and performance techniques from the late nineteenth century to (roughly) the present. We’ll watch theatre artists contend with the dominant philosophical ideas, aesthetic values, and socio-political realities of their time, as they attempt to create artworks capable of responding to—or even creating—a modern world. While doing so, they transformed the molecular structure of theatre, pulling apart traditional ways of understanding narrative, illusion, and character—destroying the old, to make way for the new.

Selected Major Readings: A range of modern and contemporary plays, manifestos, and contextual materials.

First Three Texts to be Studied: Ibsen, A Doll's House, TBA

Method of Instruction: Lecture, class discussion, discussion and performance-based tutorial sessions

Method of Evaluation: Midterm and final exams, two short papers, performance project, class participation.

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Course Title: Canadian Theatre History

Course Code: DRE200H5F

Instructor: Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window Nancy Copeland

Course Description: This course will give an introduction to the history and historiography of theatre in Canada, mainly in the 20th and 21st centuries. The course will focus substantially, though not exclusively, on Toronto. Toronto has been a theatre hub since the nineteenth-century, important historical sites are still extant and accessible, and significant companies are still active. We will investigate significant events, institutions, companies, and individuals; we will also critically examine the materials and methods used to construct Canadian theatre histories. Important themes will be changing definitions of “Canadian” theatre and of “theatre” itself. Readings will consist of primary documents and critical articles, supplemented by selected, historically-significant plays.

Selected Major Readings: Most readings will be made available through Blackboard. Plays: TBA.

First Three Texts to be Studied: A. Filewod, "Named in Passing: Deregimenting Canadian Theatre History"; R. Knowles, "Just the High Points? A Canadian Theatre Chronology"; R. Massey, "Theatregoing, Christmas 1913".

Method of Instruction: Lecture/ discussion; in-class presentations

Method of Evaluation: Group presentations; final essay; test; participation; final exam during examination period.

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Course Title: Shakespeare

Course Code: DRE221Y5Y

Instructor: Holger Syme

Course Description: This course will focus on Shakespeare’s dramatic works. We will read a broad selection of 11 plays, ranging across the decades of his playwriting career and across all major genres. Lectures will situate the plays in their historical moment, with particular attention to questions of gender and sexuality, governance and rule, and justice and the law. We will also spend a good deal of time coming to terms with (and discovering the pleasures of) Shakespeare’s deliberately difficult language, both in lecture and in weekly discussion-based tutorials. And we will explore at length the function of these texts as scripts for live performance — a function that sometimes seems at odds with the intricacy of their poetry. DRE221Y shares its lecture component with ENG220Y, but it includes a separate two-hour tutorial limited to Theatre and Drama Studies Specialists. This tutorial has a practical focus and explores historical and contemporary approaches to staging Shakespeare through performance exercises and assignments.

Selected Major Readings: Titus Andronicus, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, Measure for Measure, The Winter’s Tale, The Tempest.

The recommended text for this class is The Norton Shakespeare, Third Edition (2016). Other editions may be acceptable, though you should consult with the instructor; using an annotated text is a requirement.

First Three Texts to be Studied: Titus Andronicus, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard II

Method of Instruction: Lecture and practice-based tutorial

Method of Evaluation: Regular in-class quizzes; one short paper; two mid-length papers; scene study assignment; informed and active participation.

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Course Title: The Performance Text

Course Code: DRE222H5S

Instructor: Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window Jacob Gallagher-Ross

Course Description: In this class, we’ll investigate the relationship between dramatic texts and theatrical performance. Every play is both a literary work and a blueprint for potential productions. They can be read closely like other texts; but reading plays also demands special skills. We’re not just reading what’s there, but for what could be there: the performance possibilities that might be realized onstage. No production can ever capture every shade of a play's meaning, or every potential interpretation—but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to see as much as we can. This class will be an exercise in noticing the telling details that lead to original readings—whether in a paper or a production—and in testing those readings with performance. We’ll therefore approach dramaturgical analysis and performance on parallel tracks. As scholars, we'll read, interpret, and write critically about a range of modern and contemporary plays. As performers, we'll stage theatrical investigations that bring those critical readings to life.

Selected Major Readings: Plays by Buchner, Ibsen, Brecht, Beckett, Churchill, Birch.

First Three Texts to be Studied: Fuchs, "EF's Visit to a Small Planet"; Buchner, Woyzeck; Ibsen, Hedda Gabler.

Method of Instruction: Lecture, class discussion, workshop sessions

Method of Evaluation: Performance projects, three short essays, participation.

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Course Title: Studies in Twentieth Century Performance Styles

Course Code: DRE342H5S

Instructor: Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window Stephen Johnson

Course Description: This course examines some of the major teachers, writers and practitioners who have influenced the art of the actor in the twentieth century, with a focus on theories of actor training and the preparation for performance, the ways in which audiences (contemporary acting students in particular) assess acting as an art form, and the rise of the actor as an artist of equal status in North American and European theatre. Writers include in particular Konstantin Stanislavsky, his followers and interpreters in Europe and America (including the Actors Studio and Lee Strasberg), along with alternatives to his ‘System,’ including Epic Theatre, Clown, and more.

Selected Major Readings: The course will be divided into ‘Learning Units’ (one or two topics covered per class). ‘Readings’ will include: secondary sources written about the subject; selections of primary documents and writings generated by the practitioners of the ‘theory’ under review; a list of supplementary readings for future reference; and excerpts from play scripts and media recordings that provide examples of the theory in practice. Class recommendations for examples of ‘acting’ to examine will be encouraged. :

First Three Texts to be Studied: Mel Gordon, The Stanislavsky Technique: Russia: A Workbook for Actors (Applause Books, 2000). Excerpts.
Konstantin Stanislavsky, An Actor Prepares, Chapters 3 & 9 (Taylor & Francis, 1989)
Note: All readings will be provided in excerpt or by link on a dedicated course website. All will comply with appropriate copyright and permissions for fair use in an educational environment.

Method of Instruction: Classroom discussion and rotating presentations, based on readings and video excerpts. Presentations involving performance are encouraged.

Method of Evaluation: Regular journal-writing; Seminar Presentations; Final Essay; Participation.

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Course Title: Studies in Theatre and Drama 1: Performing Canada

Course Code: DRE344H5S

Instructor: Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window Nancy Copeland

Course Description: How has the history of Canada been represented in the theatre? This course will look at plays that challenge conventional accounts of Canadian history. Plays will be selected from the works of Indigenous, Asian-Canadian, African-Canadian, and women playwrights among others. The course will include the work of such playwrights as Marie Clements, Daniel David Moses, Lorena Gale, David Yee, Sharon Pollock, Michael Hollingsworth, and Colleen Murphy.

Selected Major Readings:TBA

First Three Texts to be Studied: Selections from Michael Hollingsworth's The History of the Village of the Small Huts.

Method of Instruction: Lecture/discussion.

Method of Evaluation: Responses to readings; test; final essay; participation.

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Course Title: Production Dramaturgy

Course Code: DRE348H5F

Instructor: Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window Jacob Gallagher-Ross

Course Description: This course is an introduction to the sweet science of dramaturgy: criticism for use, in its many theatrical manifestations. Beginning by immersing ourselves in the practical concerns of classical play dramaturgy, we’ll go on to consider the problems posed by more modern “classics,” by postmodern or postdramatic dramaturgies, and by the processes of new play development. Throughout, we'll employ a case study approach: in dramaturgy, theoretical questions are also practical questions. The best way to learn about dramaturgy is to do it. Along the way, we’ll also consider the evolution of dramaturgy as both job and ideal in Europe and North America. Dramaturgs play many roles in today’s theatres: historian, theoretician, researcher, adaptor, literary manager, translator, curator, producer—and even performer. Readings in dramatic and post-dramatic history and literature will broaden your knowledge; skill-developing exercises will hone your ability to distill theory into practice. Whatever your theatrical discipline, cultivating dramaturgical thinking will help you to see a potential theatrical production more clearly as it emerges from the collaborative process.

Selected Major Readings: TBA

First Three Texts to be Studied: TBA.

Method of Instruction: Lecture, class discussion, class presentations, workshops

Method of Evaluation: Participation, short written assignments, class presentations, final creative project.

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Course Title: Brecht - playwright, theorist, director

Course Code: DRE422H5S

Instructor: Martin Revermann

Course Description: Brecht was, is and will continue to be a controversial figure, despised by some as cerebral, doctrinaire left-wing and lifeless while being adored by others as committed, original and transformative. He is the only playwright in the history of theatre so far whose name is strongly associated with one specific ‘new’ type of theatre, that infamous and somewhat mysterious entity ‘epic theatre’. He is a ‘school author’ who populates handbooks, anthologies and introductorylevel undergraduate syllabi, but only rarely seen on stage in interesting and stimulating productions - a notable exception being the Caucasian Chalk Circle that was done by Theatre Erindale in the autumn of 2016. To most, however, Brecht is nothing but a label and a prejudice.

This course sets out to change that, for the TDS specialists at least: let’s discuss Brecht’s work (or at least some of it), carefully and in detail. What does he have to offer to us, as scholars, theatre practitioners and thinking individuals in the incipient 21st century? And what is Brecht’s place in theatre history, seen with some distance and from today’s vantage point? The course will cover Brecht’s four ‘classics’ (The Life of Galileo, The Good Person of Sezuan, Mother Courage, The Caucasian Chalk Circle) and other plays: the opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, The Threepenny Opera, The Measure and Antigone. Key theoretical writings will be discussed, and we may also take a look at some of Brecht’s lyrical work (his love poetry, for instance). We will certainly zoom in on Brecht’s very important work as a director, including specific actor-training and rehearsal techniques which he used. Toronto-based theatre practitioners who have been working on Brecht will be invited to participate in select sessions. Every attempt will be made to provide opportunities to integrate practical work into the learning experience.

Selected Major Readings:
-The four ‘classics’ mentioned above
-Brecht’s Small Organon for the Theatre

First Three Texts to be Studied::
-The Life of Galileo
-The Caucasian Chalk Circle
-The Good Person of Sezuan

Method of Instruction:
-Focused group discussion guided by lead questions (both instructor- and student-generated)

Method of Evaluation:
30% Participation
30% “Journal”, i.e. written statements on the set weekly “lead questions” + formulation of one or two own lead questions (marked journals will be returned at the beginning of the subsequent session).
40% Research paper

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Course Title: Senior Seminar III: Performance and Popular Culture: History and Contemporary Practice

Course Code: DRE463H5F

Instructor: Image indicates that adjacent link to the right opens a new window Stephen Johnson

Course Description: This course will examine performance practice in popular culture, drawing examples from the traditions of such 'illegitimate' forms as the dime museum, circus, vaudeville, burlesque, the medicine show, musical comedy, pantomime, and dramatic forms such as melodrama, farce, and grand guignol. The course will examine, in particular, the contemporary iterations of past practice, in such forms as 'nerdlesque,' 'new vaudeville,' the 'hell house' phenomenon, the revival of circus and magic, and busking. Specific topics will be decided in consultation with the class. This is a seminar course. All students will be involved in primary-research explorations of one or more of these forms. On-line and web-based reading and research are a part of this course. A research project run by the instructor will be used by way of example. Guest artists will be invited to some classes.

Selected Major Readings: All readings will be provided in excerpt or by link on a dedicated course website. All will comply with appropriate copyright and permissions for fair use in an educational environment. Students in the course will be consulted on topics to be explored, and readings assigned accordingly.

First Three Texts to be Studied:: Not applicable.

Method of Instruction: Student seminar and discussion.

Method of Evaluation: Weekly journal submissions; seminar presentations; final out-of-class essay; participation.

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