Lectures: 7:30–9:00 pm, Wed., Sept. 4, 11, 25, Oct. 16, 23, Nov. 6, 20, 7 sessions
Performances: Wed., Sept. 18, Gloria: A Life; Thurs., Oct. 17, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; final performance date and title, TBD
Meaning in all written work is shaped by both the author’s intention and what the reader brings to the text. Plays are unique in offering a third dimension of meaning: that created by the director, actors, and designers. This course will focus on the two plays offered this fall at McCarter Theatre, as well as an additional production either at another regional theatre or broadcast through the National Theatre Live initiative. We will discuss each play and its meaning before each performance; see the play as a group, if you wish; and then explore what has been revealed by the production.
The plays to be included are: McCarter Artistic Director and Resident Playwright Emily Mann opens her final season at McCarter with her stage biography of legendary American writer, socio-political activist, and feminist organizer, Gloria Steinem, titled Gloria: A Life. The first act consists of Steinem’s story told by a dynamic and diverse all-women cast, while the second act features a talking circle involving the entire audience’s reflections on how their own stories resonate with Steinem’s story. Emily Mann will restage Diane Paulus’ original Off-Broadway direction of the play for McCarter’s regional audience. Celebrated Chicago Lookingglass Theatre Company—not seen at McCarter since Lookingglass Alice in 2007—brings their exciting and “impossible to stage” story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, written and directed by ensemble member David Catlin. Catlin weaves the nonfiction narrative of the author Mary Shelley with that of her fantastical monster and his creator in an eerie, ghost-story telling of a tale of love, power, and unholy experimentation. A third play and performance/screening will be selected by the instructor—in consultation with members of the class—for study, screening, and discussion to round out the semester.
Tickets and Texts: Manuscript copies of Gloria: A Life and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein will be provided to students in hard copy form by the instructor; they will be collected after study of the play is completed. Information about how to purchase the text of the third play will be provided by the instructor. In addition, the students will purchase discounted tickets for Gloria: A Life and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein during the first class. These tickets can purchased online or in person at the Box Office (two per student for the same performance) at a cost of $40 per ticket. (Handling and facility fees will be applied to online ticket purchases. A facility fee of $1 per ticket will be applied to in-person Ticket Office purchases.) Students who already have reserved tickets for these plays may exchange them if they wish. An additional charge for the viewing/screening of the third non-McCarter play will be incurred by students.
NOTE: This class will meet in the President’s Lounge Board Room on the lower level of McCarter’s Matthews Theater. It is accessed through the 91 University Place Administrative Services entrance. Copy costs for the first and second play are included in the cost of the course.