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    English Camr. Advanced Playwriting: Workshop

    Instructor: Sam Marks
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students.

    This workshop is a continued exploration of writing for the stage, with an eye towards presentation.  The semester will culminate in a staged reading of each student's work for the Harvard Playwrights Festival. Each reading will be directed by a professional director.  Students will be encouraged to excavate their own voice in playwriting and learn from the final presentation. The class will examine the design of the stage, the playworld, and the page. Students will attempt multiple narrative strategies and dialogue techniques. They will bolster their craft of playwriting through generating short scripts and a completed one act. Readings will include significant contributors to the theatrical form such as Caryl Churchill and Samuel Beckett as well as contemporary dramatists such as Annie Baker, Jackie Sibbles Drury, Branden Jacobs Jenkins, and Jeremy O. Harris.

    Supplemental Application Information: Prior experience in writing the dramatic form is strongly encouraged. Please submit a 5-10 page writing sample (preferably a play or screenplay, but all genres are acceptable). Also, please write a few sentences about a significant theatrical experience (a play read or seen) and how it affected you.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline TBA)

    English 162bb. Broadway Bodies, or Representation of the Great White Way

    Instructor: Derek Miller
    Tuesday & Thursday, 10:30-11:45 am | Location: TBA

    To many of its fans, Hamilton poses a problem. How can a show that presents so many talented artists of color represent a white-washed American history? And how should we evaluate the show’s impact when sky-high ticket prices make it accessible primarily to a wealthy (read: white) audience? In its aspirational embrace of a multi-ethnic America and its failure fully to realize that promise, Hamiltonembodies the paradox of Broadway. This course examines that paradox since World War II, particularly as it pertains to multiple aspects of identity including race, gender, sexuality, and disability. We will examine how shows such as South Pacific, with its famous anti-racist anthem, or M. Butterfly, which explored the intersections of Orientalism, gender, and sex, temper their inclusive representations to appeal to wide commercial audience. Broadway is a particularly fertile ground for exploring these issues because theatrical performances always call attention to the performative nature of subjectivity: that is, who you are is a product of what you do. As we shall see, though, theatrical performatives risk being “infelicitous,” in the words of philosopher J.L. Austin: instead of affirming the subjects they represent, the performances can turn those subjects into mere theater. Our starting assumption is that many Broadway stake-holders genuinely desire broader representation in and for their work, but that the structure of the industry constrains how these shows challenge the status quo. To understand those constraints we will ask what stories Broadway tells, who sees them, and how they are marketed—while always attuned to “who tells your story.”

    English Calr. Advanced Screenwriting: Workshop

    Instructor: Musa Syeed
    Tuesday, 12:00-2:45pm | Location: TBA
    Enrollment: Limited to 12 students

    The feature-length script is an opportunity to tell a story on a larger scale, and, therefore, requires additional preparation. In this class, we will move from writing a pitch, to a synopsis, to a treatment/outline, to the first 10 pages, to the first act of a feature screenplay. We will analyze produced scripts and discuss various elements of craft, including research, writing layered dialogue, world-building, creating an engaging cast of characters. As an advanced class, we will also look at ways both mainstream and independent films attempt to subvert genre and structure. Students will end the semester with a first act (20-30 pages) of their feature, an outline, and strategy to complete the full script.

    Supplemental Application Information: Please submit a 3-5 page writing sample. Screenplays are preferred, but fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and plays are acceptable as well. Also, please write a short note to introduce yourself. Include a couple films/filmmakers that have inspired you, your goals for the class, as well as any themes/subject matter/ideas you might be interested in exploring in your writing for film.

    Apply via Submittable (deadline TBA)

    English 90hb. Five Shakespeare Plays

    Instructor: Marc Shell
    Thursday, 12:00-2:00pm | Location: Zoom
    Course Website
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    Please note that this course will be offered on Zoom and will meet remotely for the entirety of the Fall 2021 semester.

    Five Shakespearean Pieces: The seminar will focus on five plays (Hamlet, Measure for Measure, Henry V, The Tempest, and Merchant of Venice) with special attention to staging, literariness, and location.

    Note: This course satisfies the English Concentration "Shakespeare" requirement for the Class of 2022.

    English 90pw. Every Play Ever Written

    Instructor: Derek Miller
    Wednesday, 12:00-2:00pm | Location: TBA
    Enrollment: Limited to 15 students

    This course explores the history of dramatic writing in the US and Europe through the study of every play ever written. Of course, we cannot actually study all those plays—that’s the point. Our explorations of plays (or any other type of art or literature) necessarily include a small fragment of all plays. What does it mean that we learn cultural history this way? That we study drama and yet know nothing at all of most dramatic writing? How, as people invested in the theater and its history, should we think about such astounding ignorance? And what is the relationship between those plays we do see, act in, or read, and the vastly larger number of plays we will never encounter?

    This seminar puts theatrical texts in perspective by focusing on the relationship between the exemplary texts that we anthologize and study and the forgotten archive of everything else. We will approach this problem by comparing a set of exemplary texts to lists of plays, considering the relationship between the examples and the lists, and then extrapolating to hypothesize what we can and cannot truly know about the plays we have not read. In short, this course explores the limits of our knowledge of cultural history. We seek not to answer questions definitively, or even really to produce a set of viable hypotheses, so much as to understand better those things we do not and can not know about theater. We will learn, in other words, what we can never learn.