Spring 2023

Three, Two, One: Reading Small Drama

Listed in: English, as ENGL-231


Christopher A. Grobe (Section 01)


Theater can boil things down to their essence, subjecting ideas and social issues to what one critic has called “great reckonings in little rooms." This course introduces you to the craft of play-reading by focusing your attention on exactly these sorts of “great reckonings.” Centered on the work of BIPOC, femme, and queer playwrights, this course features plays that tackle big issues but require few actors (three, two, one, or even none!) to produce.

As a foundational course in drama, this course will teach you the special skills involved in reading plays. As texts meant to be interpreted and staged by theater-makers, plays are radically under-determined things. As a reader, you cannot sit back and play the role of audience. You must also do the imaginative work of all those people–actors, directors, designers, etc.–who turn a play into a performance. This course will teach you the habits of mind that make this imaginative work possible.

Assessment in the course will be based on three things: (1) active participation in class discussions, (2) completion of regular reading responses, and (3) writing and revision of three mid-sized projects, one at the end of each four-week unit. These three projects will be modelled on the sort of documents routinely created as part of theater practice (and arts practice in general) today: a literary manager's reading reports, a dramaturg's research summaries, and community engagement or audience education/outreach plans.

Readings may include:

Yvette Nolan, The Unplugging
Tarell Alvin McCraney, The Brothers Size
Cherríe Moraga, Giving Up the Ghost
Paula Vogel, Baltimore Waltz
Lauren Yee, in a word
Antoinette Nwandu, Pass Over
Jen Silverman, The Roommate
Lloyd Suh, The Chinese Lady
Suzan-Lori Parks, Topdog/Underdog
Jasmine Lee-Jones, seven methods of killing kylie jenner
Caryl Churchill, A Number
Young Jean Lee, We're Gonna Die
Hannah Gadsby, Nanette
Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror
David Greenspan, The Myopia
Nassim Soleimanpour, White Rabbit Red Rabbit
Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Grobe.

How to handle overenrollment: First preference to English majors who need a 200-level course; next preference to students who have not declared a major but have taken a 100-level course in English; others admitted by seniority, with preference to Theater & Dance majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, group work, visual analysis, aural analysis

ENGL 231 - LEC

Section 01
M 3:00 PM - 4:20 PM NEWP 102
W 3:00 PM - 4:20 PM NEWP 102


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023