THTR T583 Sec. 4221 A. Wertheim

Jewish-American Drama

2:30p-3:45p TR 3 cr. hrs.

This course, which has never been given before at Indiana University, should be an exciting and illuminating exploration of American-Jewish playwriting in the twentieth century; and should be of interest to students regardless of their own religious or ethnic backgrounds. It is extraordinary how much the excellence of American drama has been enhanced by the talents of major playwrights who have written about Jewish subjects and themes. We shall, therefore, be reading and discussing not just some obscure American plays in which Judaism or Jewishness plays a part but some of the very finest dramatic writing of our time. The Jewish themes addressed in the plays we shall cover include the Hebrew Bible and mysticism, immigration, intermarriage, the labor movement and the Depression, American anti-Semitism, the Holocaust, Jewishness and feminism, Jewishness and homosexuality, and Jews in regional America.

The course readings will include a wide range of plays , among which will likely be one by Arthur Miller (Broken Glass and Incident at Vichy), Tony Kushner (Angels in America), Wendy Wasserstein (The Sisters Rosensweig), (Clifford Odets, Awake and Sing!), Arthur Laurents (Home of the Brave), Martin Sherman (Bent), Paddy Chayefsky (The Tenth Man), Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy and The Last Night of Ballyhoo), Donald Margulies (Sight Unseen), David Mamet (Goldberg Street), Barbara Lebow (A Shayna Maidel), Elmer Rice (Counsellor-at-Law), and Jon Marans (Wicked Old Songs).
ASSIGNMENTS AND EXAMS: T583 will be run as a combination of lecture and discussion, so active participation will be both encouraged and expected. There will be two papers, a midterm and a final. The important thing, however, will be for participants to enjoy the range, depth and importance of the material and to be enriched by what they learn about Jewish-American plays and playwrights. A prior knowledge of Judaism is neither required nor expected.