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Theatre as Protest

Full Name

Sybil R. Williams

Course Name

Theatre As Protest

Course Number


Describe your course. What will the students be studying and learning?

Artists frequently use their art to express ideas that are revolutionary, provocative, catalysts for change and even dangerous - often as swords and sometimes as balm. This course will explore various manifestations of that perspective through reading and analyzing modern/contemporary plays and interaction with professionals in the field. Students will also view excerpts of productions that have been recorded and attend selected relevant professional productions in Washington, D.C. that wrestle with difficult and significant issues in various cultures. Students will interview playwrights, authors and individuals connected with theatre as protest. Assigned readings will include book excerpts and articles that provide a context for the course, as well as those that correlate to the given play text and the life and times of a given playwright. The course will be divided into units focusing on oppression that stems from race, class, gender, and political/social issues. The first unit will provide context for the work and the final unit will involve student demonstration of cumulative understanding and synthesis.

Why would a first-year student want to take this course? Discuss its uniqueness as part of the University College, your teaching style, and any special opportunities the students may have.

One of the many wonderful things that students in the past have an opportunity to do is to create their own protest performance works ranging from dance to short films. I have found that students taking this class undergo a profound personal transformation. They grow to recognize their own voice as a "change agent", and collectively become unafraid to use that voice. The students who take this class become socially and politically committed on their own terms as artists with causes and issues that resonate most deeply with them as individuals. It is powerful to witness such transformation.

What do you like best about teaching first-year students?

I love the energy and curiosity of first year students! It is always so new and exciting!

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