Theatre 399/605/Women's Studies 340

Lady in the Dark: Gender, Performance, Theory, and Practice

Winter 2006

TTH 12-1:30

Dr. E.J. Westlake

Office Phone: 764-3118

Office: 2540-F Frieze Building








Required texts:

readings as posted to CTools





Course Objectives: In this course, we will explore the concepts of drag, gender, and sexuality, in all of its various manifestations, and what it means in the context of "performance."  We will examine various theoretical texts that attempt to explain or examine transvestitism and transgender performance, and the myriad expressions of sexuality that accompany them. We will look at theatre, dance, music, television, and film performances and try to ascertain how they reinforce and disrupt current dominant concepts of gender and sexuality.  If I seem to use hesitant language in this paragraph, it is because these are slippery ideas to try to nail down, and to discuss them will take an approach that is both phenomenological (because only making its rough outline will make it apparent to us) and materialistic (because only its material consequences, its artifacts, can give us insight into the nature of it).  We will engage in reading, watching, and creating performance to explore and discuss them and we will work together on one performance to put our new understandings to work.









100 points





100 points



The Big Show


200 points



Group Project


200 points



Final Project/Paper


200 points



Final Exam


200 points





1000 points




Facilitation: I believe many of you will be going on to graduate study. Part of your training involves presenting your ideas to your peers and facilitating the discussion that follows. You will pair up with someone else in the class and you will take a class period where you will facilitate the discussion on the readings for the day.




Lady in the Dark: During the semester, we will stage a cross-gendered production of Kurt Weill's Lady in the Dark.  We will be working towards staging the production.  I will facilitate early discussions of the production, but it will be directed by a guest director, Claudia Wier.  You will have at least two jobs as you work towards staging the show, one on the creative or scholarly team that helps create the spine of the production, and two on the production team (acting, managing, and crew) that stages the show.  As we work, we will apply the reading towards generating ideas.  The work will be largely collaborative. However, the director will have the final say on concept and staging.




Group Project: As we read other plays and generate ideas you will find yourself wanting to experiment with the material.  I will assign groups to stage performances of scenes from plays we read, scenes inspired by plays we read, or scenes of original material.  You are not required to perform.  Each member of the group is encouraged to contribute in a way that feels comfortable but with a mind toward stretching yourself.




Final Project/Paper: You will either do a final solo performance or write a final research paper.  The performance should be 10-15 minutes in length.  The paper should be 2300-2800 words and conform to MLA or Chicago style guidelines.  Please check with me for approval on the performance or the paper topic.




Take Home Final Exam: a take home final with several essay questions will be posted on April 17th.  It will be due on April 21st at 6 pm.




Plagiarism: If you don't know what constitutes plagiarism, please consult the MLA Handbook. There are grey areas which even advanced students shouldn't take for granted.  Do not use a paper you have used for another course without consulting me.




Disability Accommodations


Students who need accommodations should arrange a meeting with me during my office hours the first week of classes. If you have a conflict with my office hours, we can arrange an alternate time. To set up this meeting, please contact me by email. Bring a copy of your documentation to the meeting.




A note about the way I teach advanced classes:


Please do not expect me to lecture.  This class will be taught like a seminar or workshop.  That means that you will do the reading, discern its meaning, and construct your own thoughts and questions about it.  It means you will be ready to share your insights with your colleagues and be ready to engage in meaningful debate about the issues that are raised.  My job is to facilitate this process of constructing new ideas and creating new knowledge. You will only get out of this what you put into it.




** I reserve the right to alter this syllabus and schedule to meet the needs of this class. **