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Card-index course

What Can Theater Do? Thinking with Caryl Churchill

Responsible Faculty: Faculty of Arts

Teacher(s): Kevin Curran

Validity: 2019 -> 2019

Course Timetable (Weekly)

Date Location Notice Topics Lecturer(s)
2019/2020 : Monday 14:15-16:00 (Weekly) Anthropole/5196     Kevin Curran


Spring semester
2 hours per week
28 hours per semester
Teaching language(s): English
Public: Yes
Credits: 5.00


Caryl Churchill is without a doubt one of the most influential and prolific dramatists of our time. Her career so far spans about fifty years and at the age of 81 she is not only still writing plays, but also continuing to lead the way in terms of formal experimentation. Churchill's astounding intellectual and aesthetic range is apparent in the wide variety of themes her plays address. These include, most prominently, issues of gender and sexuality, colonialism, the body, class, identity, money, war, time, genetic engineering, environmental disaster, apocalypse, murder, childhood, and the nature of theater itself. Serving this broad gamut of interests, Churchill has distinguished herself by taking a particularly elastic and inventive approach to theatrical form. Churchill's plays jump from time period to time period and sometimes seem to be set in no time at all; they can be long and structurally complex or incredibly short and minimalist; they can be naturalistic or highly expressionistic; they can be plot-driven or float freely in the realm of pure ideas. Sometimes Churchill's plays catch viruses and get stuck in loops with language breaking down mid-dialogue. A committed collaborator and artistic polyglot, Churchill also challenges theatrical form by exploring how dance, music, and song allow ideas to be presented in new ways. At the heart of Churchill's career, then, is a simple and persistent question: what can theater do? She returns time and time again to a basic consideration of how theatrical events form unique moments of collective and embodied critical thinking. In this seminar, we will think alongside Caryl Churchill, reading plays she produced between the 1970s and the present day and asking ourselves regularly, "what can theater do?" By the end of the seminar students should have gained a renewed sense of what theater makes possible in the world - intellectually, emotionally, and experientially.

Required Texts
Caryl Churchill, Cloud 9 (Nick Hern Books)
Caryl Churchill, Plays: 2 (Bloomsbury)
Caryl Churchill, Plays: 3 (Nick Hern Books)
Caryl Churchill, Plays: 4 (Nick Hern Books)
Caryl Churchill, Plays: 5 (Nick Hern Books)

Available at Books, Books, Books in Lausanne

Additional information


Use contextFaculty codeStatusCredits
Master of Arts (MA), Specialisation "Dramaturgy and History of Theatre" (2013 ->) ›› Theaters, literatures and cultures - MA-SPEC-DHT-02Optional5.00
Master of arts, English (2015 ->) ›› English Literature - MA-ANG-3010Optional5.00
Master of arts, English (2015 ->) ›› Oral examination based on a research file - MA-ANG-2020Optional5.00
Master of arts, English (2015 ->) ›› Writing essay based on a research file - MA-ANG-2010Optional5.00
Master of arts, Reinforcement programme (2015 ->) ›› English Literature - MA-RENF-ANGOptional5.00
Canton de Vaud
Swiss University
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