According to the UGA Bulletin, English 3650 is a study of “Drama in English. Focus may be historical development of the genre, representative themes, the relation between theory and practice, or the relation between text and performance. The course will include critical writing.” This section will explore plays of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that include fantasy elements in either their plots or production values. Some have been drawn under the umbrella of theatrical realism while others are labeled “experimental,” but all of them force their directors to think fantastically.
Reader-Response/Writing Exercises Journal
As part of each night’s reading, students should compose a brief reader response to one key passage from the reading assignment. My preference is that students compose these responses in longhand and collect them in a single, marble-cover composition book (with unperforated pages), which they should bring to every class meeting. The procedure for completing each reader response is as follows:
Before beginning each journal entry, the student should identify a particular passage from the night’s reading assignment (a single line is enough, up to one or two sentences) that is particularly striking: perhaps the passage is particularly beautiful to read or presents a particularly effective encapsulation of the story’s theme (in short, a WOW!), or perhaps it is particularly difficult to understand or presents an ideological claim that is challenging or impossible to accept (put simply, a HOW?). The student should copy this WOW! or HOW? passage onto the top of a fresh page of the journal and then write a brief (300-500 words) journal entry exploring why this passage stood out particularly; if the passage was difficult to understand, the response should explore what it might mean.
Students are expected to complete a reader-response journal entry for each reading assignment and there will also be frequent in-class writing assignments which students should complete in the same journal. The Reader-Response journal factors into the final course grade in two ways: First, students should share an insight from the day’s journal entry with the class at least once each week. These once-weekly journal shares are factored into the Class Participation average (see above). Second, at the conclusion of the semester, I will collect the reader-response journals for a Final Journal Check. In preparation for this check, students should flag the three (3) journal entries they feel best represent their performance in the journal this semester. I will collect journals on the last class meeting day of the semester, review each student’s three flagged journal entries, and return the journals at the final exam period with comments and a letter grade worth 15% of the final course grade.
Responses to UGA Theatre Productions
This semester, there will be four productions as part of the Department of Theatre & Film Studies’s 2018-2019 season. You will be required to see all four of these productions, the dates, locations, and student ticket prices for which are listed below. After seeing each play, students should write a brief (about 500-word) response to it, which could focus on the play as written, the production, or the student’s personal experience of attending the play, which I will collect in class the Tuesday after the show closes (all closing performances are Sunday matinees). Responses should be typed, double-spaced, and submitted in hard-copy; they should thus be specific enough to serve as your documentation that you attended the play, and should refer to characters, actors, and members of the creative team by name as appropriate (be sure to keep your program!). I will not accept late responses.
Please note that this is not the only class that requires its students to attend UGA Theatre plays, and that productions do tend to sell out. Having tickets sell out on the day you had planned to attend a performance does not excuse you from attending, so be sure to get your tickets early! You can purchase tickets online at < pac.uga.edu/calendar/event-list.aspx> or save yourself the “convenience charge” and buy them in person at the Performing Arts Center box office. The PAC does accept Bulldog Bucks. Each play response will be assessed a grade out of ten (10) points, and the average of the four response grades is worth 10% of your final grade for the course.
Because theatre is both a performative and a collaborative process, several of your assignments this semester will be individual and group performances. One of your solo performances will be to lead class discussion for a portion of one day of the semester. All discussion leader days will be the first day that we discuss a new work in class (dates, mostly Tuesdays, are noted in the Schedule of Readings and Assignments at the conclusion of this syllabus), and should cover the following topics: (1) present some background information about the playwright, the play, and the theatrical movement to which it belongs (about ten to fifteen minutes, not fewer than seven or more than twenty) and (2) be prepared with a set of questions to facilitate class discussion for at least twenty minutes of class, but using the remainder of the class period if desired (not fewer than twenty minutes; if you questions take us to the end of the period, that’s great, but once you get to the thirty-five-minute mark for the presentation as a whole, I’m happy to jump in and facilitate the remainder of the class). We will determine who is to present on what playwright/on what date during the first week of class. I will grade each discussion leader holistically, considering content and delivery, and this grade will be worth 10% of the final grade.
Midterm Exam: Audition Monologue
Your other solo performance this semester will be a 1-2 minute monologue performed during Week 8 of the course as your midterm exam. You may select any monologue from a play we discuss during the first half of the semester, as long as the monologue meets the same requirements that a director would expect you to meet at an audition: (1) the monologue must be 1-2 minutes long, (2) it MUST be memorized and you should look up the pronunciations of any unfamiliar words or names, and (3) it should be for an actor of your age and gender (as you self-identify), unless you have a particular reason for breaking these conventions, which your performance should justify. Students are expected to report to class each day of Week 8 to serve as an audience for their classmates’ monologues and complete other class activities, and negative participation during this week will count against a student’s midterm exam grade. This performance will be worth 10% of the final grade.
Final Paper: Production Proposal
Your major critical writing assignment this semester will be a paper of six to nine (6-9) pages (typed, double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman or similar font, about 1,500-2,250 words, hard-copy ONLY, conforming to 8th edition MLA style for margins, headings, pagination, source acknowledgement, etc.), engaging one of the plays we will discuss in class this semester by presenting a formal proposal for your dream production of it. For the paper, you are to select any ONE (1) play on the syllabus for the semester (excluding the very short Rivera and Chavez pieces from Week 1) and to write a scholarly, analytical essay in three phases: (1) give basic historical background, with secondary source-based support, about the playwright, the play, and the theatrical movement to which it belongs; (2) discuss at some length, again drawing on secondary source material (e.g., reviews and theatre company web sites), one STAGE (not film) production of the play that has taken place that you HAVE NOT SEEN; and (3) spend the bulk of the paper discussing how YOU would produce the play, identifying the concept you would use for your production and explaining how you feel that this concept foregrounds an important theme or themes of the play, and also explaining how you would weave this concept into the design elements of the play (set, costume, sound, lighting, props), the actors’ performances, etc. In particular, since each of the plays we’re discussing this semester either has overtly fantastic elements or has particular, experimental (ie., difficult-to-produce) production values, talk about how you would address the more fantastic elements of the play in your production. Please bear in mind that you are encouraged to be as “high-concept” as you choose in your production, but that you are NOT permitted to alter the text of the script you select for your paper; the alteration of scripts is generally not permitted when licensing a play, so when high-concept directors work with plays, their great challenge is to make the concept succeed within the constraints of the blueprint provided by the playwright’s script. (You have some more leeway with stage directions than with dialogue, but if you write on The Glass Menagerie, you MUST address the projections!) In your paper, whenever you refer to specifics from your primary source (the play script) or from your secondary sources, in the form of summaries, paraphrases, or direct quotations, you should include an in-text citation for the reference, and your paper should conclude with an 8th edition MLA-style list of works cited on its own page with continuous pagination. The Final Paper is due at the START of CLASS on our last class meeting day before Thanksgiving Break. Late papers and electronic copies of papers will NOT be accepted. Because this is a large project, you will be expected to complete two component assignments in order to ensure that you stay on track. The first will be a 200-300 word “pitch” due (typed, hard-copy ONLY) in week 9 of the semester, and the second will be an annotated working bibliography (AWB) due in week 12. A detailed assignment for the Final Paper and all component assignments is available on eLC. The pitch and AWB will each be awarded a completion grade out of 5 points worth 5% of the final course grade; the paper itself will be worth 15% of the final course grade, so that the production proposal assignment is worth a combined 25% of your grade for the course.
Final Exam: Group Play
For your final exam this semester, the class as a whole will be responsible for the work of writing, directing, designing, and acting an hour of theatre that incorporates fantasy elements. It is the responsibility of the group to determine who will act, who will design, who will direct, etc., and it is expected that each group member will have to wear more than one hat, as is usually the case in environments that develop and produce new works. The group should submit a roster of who will perform what duties in the final play shortly after the course withdrawal deadline for the semester in week 10 of the semester. The class will decide the shape the hour should take – one longer piece or several shorter ones, how the play(s) should incorporate fantastic, etc. – and will be responsible for branding the event and inviting an audience (and coordinating refreshments, if desired). I am content for the event to take place in our regular classroom (this is a SMALL space, so the audience and production values would likewise need to be small!), but the group may also schedule an alternative space on campus if they prefer and a free space is available (some rooms in the Tate center have been available to students for free in the past). The production of this hour of theatre will take place during the class’s University-assigned final exam period, and students should bring for me on that day a typed hard-copy of the script(s) in Dramatists Guild manuscript format to refer to during the production, as well as a stage manager’s report, detailing what roles each group member fulfilled during the project, how rehearsals went, etc.. The group may take up to fifteen minutes for set-up, but the content of the performance, EXCLUDING set changes (if applicable), should be a MINIMUM of fifty minutes long, and preferably, should run sixty to seventy minutes. The class will be evaluated collectively on content – particularly how clearly and creatively the play incorporates elements of the fantastic – and delivery (production values and performances); however, if any red flags in the stage manager’s report suggest it’s necessary, I may elect to factor participation during the writing/rehearsal period into a student’s grade. The Final Exam will be worth 15% of the final grade.
Your final grade in this course will be based on your completion of the following requirements:
- Participation and Journal Shares
- Final Journal Check
- Attendance at UGA Theatre Productions
- Leadership of One Day’s Discussion
- Midterm Exam: Audition Monologue
- Final Paper: Production Proposal (incl. drafts)
- Final Exam: Group Play
Plus and minus grades are assigned only to a student's final average for the course. For the course grade, the grade-point average and the numerical range for each plus/minus grade is as follows (see Course Requirements above for assignment weights):
A 4.0 (92-100); A- 3.7 (90-91);
B+ 3.3 (88-89); B 3.0 (82-87); B- 2.7 (80-81)
C+ 2.3 (78-79); C 2.0 (70-77); C- 1.7 (68-69);
D 1.0 (60-67); F 0.0 (<60)
A large portion of the work in this course is both collaborative and performance-based, which means that attendance is vital not only for your own success, but also out of respect your group-mates. Students will be permitted four (4) absences from this class for any reason (i.e., excused or unexcused). Beginning with the fifth (5th) absence, I will assess a penalty of one letter grade (10 points) per absence against a student’s final average. If a prolonged illness or special circumstance will cause you to miss more than four class meetings, it is your responsibility to arrange a meeting with me to discuss how this will affect your class performance and to bring documentation of your circumstance to that meeting. You are also strongly encouraged to bring such circumstances to the attention of the Office of the Dean of Students (see Additional Resources below).
This is a class in which we will study drama, and thus a large portion of your assessment in this course will be performance-based. Energetic, prepared, and respectful participation in class discussion is expected. There will be some formal performance- and presentation-based assignments (see below), but in addition, your engaged and lively participation during regular class discussion and during your classmates’ presentations and performances is a vital component of your success, and thus your grade, in this course.
A Note Regarding Portable Electronics: While some classrooms ban the use of personal electronics during class time, I find that increasingly, there are legitimate uses of laptops, tablets, and yes, even *gasp!* smartphones that enrich class discussion and broaden the accessibility of class materials. For this reason, I encourage students to feel free to bring electronics to class and use them in ways that benefit our study of the course material. However, as the word “respectful” above suggests, your timely arrival to class and staying until the class is formally dismissed, as well as your attentiveness not only to my remarks but also – and really, especially – to those of your classmates (i.e., listening when others speak, present, or perform, without the distraction of conversation with others whether digital or face-to-face), do factor into your participation grade. I trust my students to use course materials – whether paper or digital – appropriately, but I reserve the right give a weekly participation grade of zero (0) to any student sleeping, doing outside work, or using portable electronics for non-class purposes during class. This is especially important in a class like this, where so much time is devoted to student performance; this class must be a safe place for all participants.
Each week, students will each receive two grades out of ten (10) points. The first, for in-class participation and comportment, will be based on the student’s attendance, punctuality, and professional comportment in class. The second, a completion grade of either ten (10) or zero (0) points, will be awarded when the student shares (or neglects to share) aloud in class an insight from their journal each week (see more discussion of the Journal below). The average of all these participation grades, roughly 30 altogether, is worth 15% of the final course grade.
For English 3650H this semester, you are required to purchase the following texts:
Buchner, Georg. Woyzeck. New York: Samuel French, 2010. (ISBN-13: 9780573692550)
Chase, Mary. Harvey. New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1951. (ISBN-13: 9780822205005)
Churchill, Caryl. Mad Forest. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1996. (ISBN-13: 9781559361149)
Guirgis, Stephen Adly. The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Dramatists Play Service, 2006. (ISBN-13: 9780822220824)
Haddon, Mark, and Simon Stephens. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Methuen Drama, 2013. (ISBN-13: 9781408185216).
Hwang, David Henry. M. Butterfly. Dramatists Play Service, 1998. (ISBN-13: 9780822207122)
Nguyen, Qui. Six Rounds of Vengeance. Samuel French, 2016. (ISBN-13: 9780573700569)
Rowling, J. K., Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 & 2. Arthur A. Levine, 2016. (ISBN-10: 1338099132)
Wilson, August. The Piano Lesson. Plume, 1990. (ISBN-13: 9780452265349)
The above-listed texts are available for purchase at the Campus Bookstore; however, I encourage you to purchase (or rent or borrow or share) the most cost-effective editions, digital or print, that are accessible to you. Some additional readings also appear on the class schedule, and I will make these available to you via our course web presence on eLC. In addition to these books, each student needs to purchase one notebook, preferably with unperforated pages, in which to complete daily writing exercises (described in more detail below).
- Makeup Policy
Because a backward focus on past work tends to harm the quality of upcoming work and because many of our assignments lose their instructional value once their deadlines have passed, I will not accept late assignments or grant make-up assignments in this course except in the case of extreme and well-documented extenuating circumstances. Your absence from class on the day an assignment is due does not, in itself, constitute an extreme extenuating circumstance. If you feel you have a life circumstance that justifies the acceptance of a late or make-up assignment, please schedule a meeting with me to discuss this circumstance, bringing appropriate documentation with you to the meeting. Please note that because of the nature of the final exam, NO make-ups or alternate exam dates will be permitted for the Group Play. If you are experiencing life circumstances that adversely affect your student experience at UGA, I strongly encourage you to make contact with the Office of the Dean of Students (see Additional Resources below), a valuable resource for students facing life challenges.