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Theatre in the Age of Television [DRAM 205]


DRAM 205/3.0 Theatre in the Age of Television

(Offered by Arts and Science Online)


Find out more about this course at Arts and Science Online



An exploration of theatricality and theatrical communication via an examination of how some major trends in theatre since the 19th century have been represented by film and electronic media. The course will study examples of theatrical works on film and other theatrical responses to social, cultural, and political issues presented in mass media.

Topics covered in this course include:

  • Holding the Mirror Up to Nature
    • Mimesis
    • Distance
    • Suggestion
    • Ritual
  • Exploring Theatricality
    • Theatricality
    • Liveness
  • Theatrical Mirrors
    • Gaze and Performativity
    • Masks and Abstracting the Human
    • Drag
    • Carnivalesque


Course Overview:


We use stories to make sense of our world, and the theatre has long been one of the main ways in which we’ve shared those stories with each other. Since the arrival of film and other televisual media, however, the theatre has experienced something of an identity crisis. Forced from its traditional position as the dominant mode of performance-based storytelling, theatre has had to re-examine not only how it tells stories, but also how it can tell stories.

DRAM205 is an investigation of theatre storytelling conducted in the context of the arrival of these new media technologies. We will discuss theatre relation to filmed media as a means of identifying some of the conventions and communicative languages that are unique to theatre and theatrical storytelling. Put another way, we will explore what it is that makes theatre theatrical, and we will look at how some theatrical modes of expression have been used in televisual media to enhance the storytelling experience.The course is structured in 3 units. The units are assembled according to the overall journey of the course. We will begin by establishing a baseline discussion about realism and its alternatives as strategies for dramatic storytelling. Then we will explore the concept of theatricality. Finally, we will look at how theatricality and departures from realism are being used in some contemporary theatrical works to tell us stories about each other and ourselves.

Course Trailer: