A small sampling of carefully chosen dramas lets us trace how plays and stories begat other plays both like and unlike their ancestors. In this class we will take a close look at a small sampling of Western plays in order to better understand contemporary drama. We will begin by reading a one-act play from early in the 20th century, Susan Glaspell’s 1916 play, Trifles, and its companion short story, “A Jury of Her Peers.” These two works make clear how a play differs from a story. Trifles also questions, “Who is a hero?” Next, we will read Oedipus Rex, Everyman, and Death of a Salesman to see how three famous plays from the classical, medieval and modern worlds descend from each other. By our last meeting we should be ready to recognize their relatives on today’s stage.
Helen Whall received her PhD from Yale University in 1976 and immediately joined the faculty of the College of the Holy Cross. There, until she retired in 2017, Professor Whall taught courses in Shakespeare, the Renaissance, Renaissance Drama, Law and Drama, and Dramatic Comedy. She has published a book on Pre-Shakespearean drama and written numerous essays on Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well modern playwrights.
REQUIRED BOOKS: Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell, Hannah Wilson (Editor). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle, Translated by Fitts and Fitzgerald (Mariner Books). Everyman and Other Miracle and Morality Plays, Dover Thrift Editions. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017.
FOR THE FIRST CLASS: Trifles and “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell
Worcester Institute for Senior Education (WISE)Assumption University, 500 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA 01609