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Thr 360 History of American Theatre

Professor Richard Kalinoski



Fall 2010


University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Place: Arts and Communication North 231

Time : 9:40 AM to 11:10 AM Tuesday and Thursday

Office hours:  218 ACW   2:00 to 3:45 PM Tues. and Thurs. and by appt.    PHONE:  920 424 0937


Note: I am generally on campus 5 days per week. You are  welcome to stop by my office anytime you want. You can be sure I’ll be there for appointments made.


“The Educated differ from the Uneducated as much as the living from the dead.”


Theatre as a part of the Liberal Arts

The liberal arts engage students in the study of the human condition by exploring the disciplines broadly defined by the sciences, the arts, culture, literature and history.  THEATRE is a small component of these human endeavors but its reach is ambitious. Theatre has been historically dedicated to the act of imitating, replicating and representing our lives. In many ways it is the ultimate “liberal” art if one understands the word “liberal” to mean generous or broadly encompassing. In the Western world theatre

evolved from religious practice and story telling….and was afforded a place of reverence and respect by early civilizations: The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians.

Theatre’s mandate is to explore any and all facets of our lives. It demands intellectual rigor and multifarious artistic inspiration because theatre is primarily interested in uncovering the truth about how we live. It is this search for truth that puts theatre into the very core of liberal pursuits.  Theatre is a genuine liberal art.


About theatre history: History is especially engaging when it illustrates ‘how we got here’.  How did theatre practice in America evolve, establish its peculiar identity and survive into the Twenty-First Century? Before the U.S. was even established as a “modern” state,  theatre in Europe had existed in some form for hundreds of years—heavily influenced by the power and the reach of the CHURCH.  How theatre in the U.S. at first imitated, then separated from the theatre making models of England, France, Spain and others….is the study of American Theatre.  Theatre in America is still “new” compared to the esteemed work of so many in other countries…but the United States has New York—which has come to be regarded as the most significant place for the generation of new plays—a new CANON…perhaps in the world.



1. Students will be able to articulate (writing and speaking)  the cultural connections between the development of an American Theatre and the societal forces and movements emerging in a new country.

2. Students will be able to demonstrate a specific knowledge of a single event or period in American Theatre History through research and discussion regarding that event or period.

3. By studying a compendium of period plays students will gain and be able to demonstrate an increased sophistication about the emergence of an American theatre “identity”.



a. students will write a research paper on a subject of their choice

b. students will deliver an oral presentation based on that paper

c. students will respond to the reading orally and in written form

d. students will actively read plays aloud and explicate those plays in large and small groups



American Drama: Staging the Nation: Plays from the American Theatre 1787-- 1909 Donald B. Wilmuth---the plays:  The Contrast by Royall Tyler, Metamora by John Augustus Stone, Fashion by Anna Mowatt, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by George Aiken and THE CITY by Clyde Fitch

Required attendance: Two main stage plays: Censored on Final Approach by Phylis Ravel September 29, 30 Oct. 1,2 at 7:30 PM and October 3 at 2 PM in the Fredric March Theatre; My Soldiers by Richard Kalinoski, November 10 thru 14, 2010.


Notes about the class:

There will be five fundamental components of the class: 1. reading aloud

2. lecture  3. your presentation  4. your research  5. your writing/responding

On grading: Of course it is wise for you to come to class—the reasons should be obvious…but in the case of a history class your professor hopes that you will come to discover…to uncover…which should be the same impulse you should have in doing your research paper.

You will have chances for extra credit: 1. High School Theatre Festival November 19, 2010 and The Diary of Anne Frank, Oct. 21, 2010 at the Appleton Performing Arts Center (phone 920 730 3786 for tickets).



TESTS:  20%



QUIZZES 15%  play responses 15%





93 to 100  = A

90 to 92= A-

87-89    = B+

83-86    = B

80-82    = B-

77-79    = C+

73-76    = C

70-72    =  C-

65-69    =  D+

59-64    =   D

Below 59 = F



You are permitted two unexcused absences--upon your third unexcused absence your grade MAY be lowered by 1/2--your grade for the entire


Come to class. Don’t come late. Call my extension if you think you’re going to be late (0937).


The Schedule :

September 9 Introduction.  In class essay. Profiles of students. Discussion of syllabus. No assignment yet.

September 14 Lecture discussion on theatre history—its uses and its reasons. Discussion of research project. Assign: Pages 11 thru 19 in The Contrast

September 16 Reading from The Contrast. Discussion of same. Assign: pages 19-31.

September 21 (Tuesday) Quiz on ACT 1 and 2 of The Contrast.  Reading from The Contrast Assign: pages 31 thru 39.

September 23 Guidelines for responding to a performance (written). Reading aloud from The Contrast. Discussion of. Assign: pages 39 to 49.

September 28 Conversation about Censored on Final Approach. Reading from The Contrast and discussion. Assign: 49 thru 57.

September 30 (Thursday) Check on research project (update). Reading from The Contrast.  Assign: pages 59 thru 70, Metamora.


October 5 Review of THE CONTRAST. Written responses due re: Censored. Discussion of Censored.  Assign:  pages 70 thru 81.

October 7 TEST on The Contrast

October  12 (Tuesday) .  Reading from Metamora. Discussion of why the play could become the basis of a burlesque. Assign: pages 82 thru 90.

October  14 Reading from Metamora. Discussion of same. Assign: pages 90 thru 98.

October 19. Quiz on Metamora.  Discussion of Metamora in the larger context; review.

Assign: 181 thru 192 in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

October  21 Discussion of context for Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Reading from UTC.

Assign:  pages 192 thru 205. Extra credit: The Diary of Anne Frank, Appleton Performing AC 7:30 PM.

October 26 TBA

October  28 Deadline deadline deadline: declare subject area of research. Reading from Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Assign: 205 thru 225 in UTC.


November  2 (Tuesday) Discussion and reading of UTC.  Assign: pages 225 thru 240 in UTC.

November  4 QUIZ on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (thru page 240) Discussion and reading of the rest of the play—thru page 246. Special guidelines for seeing My Soldiers.

November  9 Notes on My Soldiers. Review of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

November  11 (Thursday) Test on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Assign: Fashion, pages 125 thru 135.

November  16 Discussion of My Soldiers (responses due). Discussion re: high school theatre festival. Reading from Fashion. Assign: pages 135 thru 145 in Fashion.

November  18 Discussion and reading from Fashion. Assign: pages 145 thru 162.

(weekend of high school theatre festival begin 19 November)  Selected readings assigned for next class.

November  23 (Tuesday) Individual readings presented.  Discussion of same. Assign: 162 thru 172.

November 25 (off—Thanksgiving) NO CLASS

November  30 ( Tuesday) Read Fashion aloud through page 179. followed by Quiz.  Assign: page 479 thru 500, THE CITY.


December 2 On The City—the beginning of modernity in theatre in the U.S. . Assign: 500 thru 536 in The City.

December 7 Quiz on THE CITY.  Discussion of THE CITY. Research papers due.

December 9 Oral presentations  (sharing of research)


December  16  ORAL PRESENTATIONS/ last class/ notes.

by Alderson, James M last modified Apr 17, 2011 12:07 AM