Personal tools
You are here: Home > Classes > Thr 404 Theater History

Thr 404 Theater History

Professor Richard Kalinoski

Fall 2008

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Arts and Communication Building South 147

Tuesday and Thursdays 8 AM to 9:30 AM



1:30 PM to 3 PM  Tuesdays and Thursdays in office at 218 Arts and Communication West

Other hours by appointment


Phone:  920 424 0937

CLASSROOM: A and C South 147


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.

Theatre’ mandate is to explore any and all facets of lives—it demands intellectual rigor and multi-farious artistic abilities 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 geniune liberal art.



The nature of modern theatre is to expose, to provoke, to question and to entertain.

The notion of modernity certainly had its foundation in the Elizabethan era—largely because the secular monarch herself (Elizabeth) embraced the idea of theatre as entertainment—not just an extension of religious practice.  This class will examine carefully how theatre evolved from the constraints placed upon it by the ethos and culture of the Medieval period in English history. This is a course about both Elizabethan history and Elizabethan THEATRE HISTORY—the two are profoundly interconnected. The course will not examine in detail the complex and sometimes

confusing political intrigue of the era---but the class will explore the political dimensions of the era as those dimensions impacted the production of theatre and the

advent of theatres and theatre companies.

The concept of secularity is fundamental to the course. Examining the ways in which

people in England in the Elizabethan era found ways to embrace theatre as an

entertainment away from the church and the constraints of the church is

a critical part of the discussion in this course.


The study of theatre history is the study of a very gradual historical

movement away from the religious toward the secular. It is vital that students understand the role of RITUAL in the long evolution of the theatre.

Theatre history is the study of civilization—that is, a study of people organized enough to be able to conduct themselves civilly with each other—the idea of a social contract.  Much of history is about war and chaos and theatre does not thrive when chaos reigns. Ironically theatre (and plays specifically) appear to be invented (or to have evolved) by people in order to help explain the chaos of their lives.

People in Elizabethan England were some of the first people on earth to experience theatre as entertainment—not just an extension of worship.


Main text: Elizabethan Drama edited by Gassner and Green, Applause Theatre Books, 1967, 1990.



1.   Students will demonstrate (in writing) an understanding of the relationship between rulers and theatre practice in the Elizabeth era.

2. Students will be able to articulate (through writing and speaking) the        influences of the church on the evolution of theatre in the era.

3. Students will articulate important details  of theatre practice in the era—including elements of design, playwriting, theatre management,

the business of theatre and acting.

4. Students will demonstrate through speaking, writing and testing

knowledge of the uniqueness of the Elizabethan Era as a distinct

facet of theatre history.


OTHER TEXTS You will be responsible for attending 4  productions: 1.True West by Sam Shepard, September 24—27  2. Hamlet by William Shakespeare, Fox Cities Performing Arts Center, October 1, 2008 3. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, November 12—15  4. Odell and Myrna by Amelia Wolff.  You will  be expected to write a thoughtful response to each of these productions.



Major assignments : You will be expected to make 3 oral presentations on subjects and/or plays from the Elizabethan Era.  a full length play OF YOUR OWN SELECTION will be the basis for one of those presentations.  The PLAY YOU SELECT should be from the Elizabethan Era—or immediately before that Era. This will be an oral presentation and will last up to 20 minutes.

Attendance policy:  Come to class and participate. If you miss more than two classes with no legitimate excuse your grade will be lowered by ½ whole point for each unexcused miss beyond 2 .  Come to class-- it automatically enhances your credibility as a student and common sense dictates that you will learn more by attending class

than you will by skipping it (painfully obvious).





Critical responses (reflections) ……20%

Oral presentations…………………25%

Class participation/ in class projects………………..15%


The schedule for Fall 2008:

Sept. 4 Introduction. Discussion of Liberal Arts. Examination of the syllabus.  Discussion of the Medieval mind/ medieval era.   Profiles of students in the class (twenty questions) Assignment: read ix, x, xi, xii in Eliz. Drama for September 9. Announcements—auditions, Hamlet (PAC).

Sept.  9 In class writing in response to reading assignment. Discuss              Elizabeth’s rule—the long reign. Assign xiii thru xxii.

Sept. 11 Discussion of the Magna Carta—a charter of liberty. Quiz on preface ix thru xxii. Assign Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus—pages 237—249.(assign reading and explication to each student).

Sept. 16 Reading from Dr. Faustus.  Discussion of ACT 1. Notes on theatre

companies of the Elizabethans. Assign Act11.

Sept. 18 Reading from ACT 11. Discuss challenges of acting.  Assign True West. Hand out guidelines for seeing a play. Assign Act 111.

Sept. 23 Quiz on Acts 1 thru 3; discussion and reading from 1-3.Assign Act 1V. 

Sept. 25 Discussion of the costumes/properties of the era. Discussion of Act IV.

Assign Act V

Sept. 30 Collect responses to True West. Discussion of TRUE WEST. Assign first oral presentation (hand-out—possible subjects: hierarchy of theatre artists, theatre buildings of the era, influence of classics on the playwrights.  Discuss Hamlet—Oct.1 at the PAC—attendance protocols. Discuss all of Dr. Faustus.


OCTOBER 2 Hamlet discussion---challenges to the Elizabethans for staging. Assign The Shoemaker’s Holiday—pages 479 to 490.  Test on Dr. Faustus.

Oct. 7 Discussion of first act of SH. Reading from SH. Assign: Act 11, SH (491 to 500).

Oct. 9 Reading from SH; discussion of same. Notes on coming Oral Presentations. Assign: Act 111 500 to 517 in SH

Oct. 14 Oral presentations—20 minutes each and discussion.

Oct. 16 Assign 2nd oral presentations; quiz on first three acts of  Shoemaker’s. Assign Acts 1V and V.

Oct. 21 Discussion of all of Shoemaker’s Holiday. Assign King Lear—first scene only.

Oct. 23 Test on The Shoemaker’s Holiday

Oct. 28 Read all of first scene in class and discuss (KL) Assign first act

Oct. 30 Discuss first act of King Lear.Read from same. Assign second act of KL


NOVEMBER 4 Quiz on first and second acts of KL. Discussion of same. Assign Act 3 of KL. Reading from KL.

Nov. 6 Assign Pygmalion (12-15 of Nov.)handout. Reading from KL. Assign Act 4 of KL.

Nov.11 Reading from Act 4 from KL; discussion of same. Assign Act V of KL.

Nov.13 Second oral presentations. Assign last oral presentations; choose a

play from the Era.

Nov. 18 Responses to Pygmalion due. Discussion of Pygmalion. Reading from KL.

Nov. 20 Reading and discussion of all of KL. . Assign Odell and Myrna (handout) .

Nov. 25 Test on KL. Handout on Shakespeare—students to read.

December 2 Shakespeare in Love—the film.

Dec. 4 Shakespeare in Love—the film.

Dec. 9 Discussion of Odell and Myrna; collect responses to O and M. Discussion of Shakespeare in Love and Shakespeare handout.

Dec. 11 Last oral presentations.

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