Spring 2012

Three, Two, One: Reading Small Drama

Listed in: English, as ENGL-231


Christopher A. Grobe (Section 01)


How small can drama get while remaining “dramatic”?  During the first half of the twentieth century, it was not unusual for a stage in America (or anywhere in the English-speaking world) to be filled with dozens of actors.  Over the last sixty years, though, the crowds onstage have thinned.  Today, three-, two-, and even one-person plays are as common as twenty-person plays once were.

In this course, we will study plays by American, British, Irish, and South African writers–from Eugene O’Neill and Samuel Beckett to Athol Fugard and Sarah Kane–who have found new inspiration within these tight constraints.  In doing so, we will not only closely analyze dramatic texts, we will also look through those texts to imagine how they might shape our sense of space, sound, movement and image in the theater.  Plays, after all–from the most “realist” to the most avant-garde–both reflect reality and compress or distort it in beautiful and strategic ways.  We will also pay particular attention to the way in which drama creates and deploys character differently than novels or poems do.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Grobe.

If Overenrolled: Over-enrollment will be handled on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2016, Spring 2022