Honors | Trials as Theatre
H204 | 6378 | Perry Hodges


Legal trials, like plays, have actors, dialogue, audiences, and
special spaces for their performances. More importantly, they both
expose and give shape to the tensions that exist within society (i.e.
between individual and state, parent and child, sacred and secular)
and let us watch as actors struggle to resolve these conflicts: to
transform negative energy into a positive, or to raise a voice
against oppression.

To understand how the two kinds of drama re-enact these tensions,
this course will begin with the idea of theater as "the arena where a
living confrontation takes place." We will consider the origins and
purpose of drama, how dramatic form constitutes meaning; how certain
experimental theater openly blurs the boundaries between text,
performance, and world.

Texts will range from Ancient to Modern ( Sophocles’ Antigone,
Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk
Circle, Miller’s The Crucible, Athol Fugard’s Island). Legal trials
will be read and viewed on film (possibly "the Chicago Seven" and
the 1692 Salem witch trials). Excerpts from leading theater directors
(Grotowski, Artaud, Brecht, Peter Brook) will also be included.

Close readings of texts will be emphasized to understand the critical
role of language in shaping individuals and their worlds. Short
response papers, two longer papers (about 5 pages) and a final paper
will be required.