American Drama 1900-1960

THETR 3360

T/R 2:55 – 4:10 pm

Schwartz 125

Fall 2010




Professor Sara Warner

Making Contact: or 254-2727

Office: Schwartz Center 429

Office hours: Tuesdays 4:30-6:00 pm and by appointment



Course Objectives:



Course Policies:



Academic Integrity:

Each student is expected to abide by the Cornell University Code of Academic Integrity.  Any work submitted by a student in this course for academic credit will be the students' own work. All outside assistance should be acknowledged, and the student's academic position truthfully reported at all times.  Please refer to the Code of Academic Integrity and Acknowledging the Work of Others in the Policy Notebook for the Cornell Community, or online at:




20% Live Performance Reviews          

20% Oral Presentation                            

30% Paper 1                                  

30% Paper 2                                  


Live Performance Review: You will be required to attend 2 performances during the semester and to write a one page review of each event (as if you were a theater critic). You will receive handouts guiding you in watching live performances critically and writing reviews of them.  A list of suggested events can be found at the end of this syllabus. 


Oral Presentation: You will be required to give a critical presentation of the material slated for one of the class meetings.  Your dynamic report should last between 10 and 15 minutes (no more, no less). Ideally, you will provide a context for the work and summarize the main elements of the text(s) in question, highlighting the major themes, techniques, and tropes. Presentations should be clear, concise, and interactive. Performative enhancements are encouraged. The possibilities for presentation are limited only by your imagination. You can act out a scene from a performance, create a powerpoint presentation, lead the class in an activity, design costumes, etc. The goal of this exercise is not to exhaust a text, but to bring to life one or two key elements of the work. The presentation should include a handout for the class that encapsulates your presentation. You are strongly encouraged to consult with me at least one week prior to your presentation.


Papers: A short paper of 5 pages will be due at the beginning of class on September 30 and December 2. The short papers do not require outside research (though this is certainly an option).  These essays should use texts from the syllabus to respond to one of the questions I will distribute 2 weeks prior to the due date.  The short paper should be written in MLA format and contain a bibliography and proper citation of sources.


Course Calendar: (O = online article; password required)


August 26




August 31


September 2


September 9


September 14


September 16


September 21




September 23


September 28


September 30


October 5


October 7


October 12 – No Class: Fall Break


October 14


October 19




October 21


October 26 – No Class (Professor Conference)


October 28 – No Class (Professor Conference)


November 2


November 4


November 9


November 11


November 16


November 18 – No Class (Professor Conference)


November 23


November 25 – No Class: Thanksgiving


November 30


December 2


Text Books:

Available at Buffalo Street Books

215 North Cayuga Street (DeWitt Mall on the Commons, next to Greenstar Co-op)

Tel: (607) 273-8246 Fax: (607) 275-9221

Please order books by Monday at noon, and they will be delivered to you in class on Tuesday.  You may also go to the store in person. 







Online Articles:


Performance Review Event Options:


Cornell Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts


   The Myopia, an epic burlesque of tragic proportion by David Greenspan – Monday, September 27 @4:30 in the Schwartz Center Class of '56 Dance Theatre


   Big Love by Charles Mee September 29-October 2

Based on The Suppliant Women by Aeschylus, Big Love follows the rebellion of 50 brides against their arranged marriages to 50 grooms. Dishes crash, wedding cakes fly, chandeliers swing, riots ensue and body counts rise as Obie Award-winning playwright Charles Mee explores the power and passion between the sexes in this bold and physical play.


   Our Town by Thornton Wilder November 17-20

In times of crisis, the message in Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play reminds us to experience joy in simple wonders as it chronicles everyday life in a small, American town. A mix of history and myth, Our Town evokes nostalgia for humanity and community in today's isolating society.


Kitchen Theater (State Street)


   The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney – October 27 - November 7, 2010

An extraordinary story about two African American brothers whose hopes and dreams are pinned on the actions of the other. Set in contemporary small-town rural Louisiana and infused with Yoruba mythology, the play explodes with familial secrets. Strong language and situations.


Hangar Theater


   Jason St. Little as Tits Fisher with Kitten's Kiss: A Cabaret Voltaire - October 30th at 8:00 PM and October 31st at 2:00 PM.

This performance is a mad triptych through the mind of one of our most beloved show biz figures. Taking a cue from Tristan Tzara and the New York Dolls, Tits Fisher attempts to decipher the current state of our lost world with bravery, bon mots and a healthy dose of synth and bass. Radical chic exists and the party is over circa 1985."

Ithaca College

   Chicago October 19 – 30

Get ready to be razzle-dazzled by the jailhouse jazz and courtroom comedy of Kander and Ebb's Chicago (coauthored by choreographer Bob Fosse). Velma Kelly and Roxie Hart get away with murder as they vie for top billing as Chicago's most famous celebrity murderess. Aided and abetted by the hotshot (and high-priced) lawyer Billy Flynn, they prove that in Prohibition-era Chicago, $5,000 buys all the justice even the guiltiest defendants need.

   How I Learned to Drive by Paul Vogel November 30-December 10 [in special circumstances only due to date]

As the 1998 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, this boundary-pushing play takes an unflinching look at a girl forever damaged by those who love her most. "Li'l Bit" moves between ages 11 and 35 and insists on telling her story of abuse and survival with humor and honesty while blurring the lines between victim and perpetrator.