Welcome to SPACE, our adult continuing education program which offers interactive monthly courses for personal enrichment! Learn more here.

Drama Portal

Creative Writing: Intro to Scriptwriting (10-Minute Scenes)

Learn the fundamentals of dialogue, action, and dramatic structure in this introduction to writing for performance. Working within the limits of one set, three actors, and ten minutes, participants in this class will learn the basic building blocks of script-writing by crafting short, stand-alone narratives for the stage. Though we will be looking at a few contemporary short plays as examples, the bulk of this class will focus on writing and workshopping your own original scripts.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Creative Writing: Oral Storytelling

Storytelling might just be our oldest art, crossing time, cultures, and continents. Crafting a story suitable for telling demands a heightened awareness of audience, medium, and meaning. Telling a story requires fluidity in a register both intimate and stylized. We'll learn, create, and tell our short tales in a month of cooperative fun and work. We will use a collaborative and encouraging mode of feedback. You will end the month with two or three new stories to revise and practice and a toolkit for exploring this art.
Precepted by Sparrow Alden.

Japanese Classical Theater: Noh, Bunraku, Kyogen, and Kabuki

In this module we will explore the historical origins and development of these forms of Japanese theater. We will situate them in their historical, cultural, religious, and economic contexts, as well as watching substantial video clips from each to spur discussion.
Precepted by Robert Steed.

Medieval Drama: Staging the English Bible

Late medieval English drama brought episodes from The Bible to life in days-long festivals of pomp and pageantry—but what these plays really show us is the day-to-day lives of ordinary men and women of the fifteenth century. With a mixture of lavish spectacle, slapstick comedy, and intimate poignancy, these plays populate the biblical world with familiar figures of the medieval city-life: shrewd workmen and cunning criminals; disgruntled wives and worried husbands; the friends, family, and neighbors of plays’ writers and performers.

This course looks at a sampling of plays from the great civic drama cycles of York, Chester, Coventry, and elsewhere, including Noah’s Flood, The Second Shepherd’s Play, Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents, The Crucifixion, The Harrowing of Hell, and The Last Judgement. The works presented here offer both a grand history of the world from Creation to Doomsday, and locally-rooted, vernacular versions of a text then otherwise available only in Latin. Knowledge of Middle English is not required since this course will use the modern-spelling edition by Prof. A. C. Cawley. Scholarly online Middle English versions, however, will also be made available for students wishing to practice their skills in that area.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Medieval Drama: The Towneley Plays

In this course, we will "perform" and discuss a group of medieval plays formerly known as the Wakefield cycle. These plays, which include the famous "Second Shepherds Play" are considered masterpieces of dramatic craft, designed to bring fifteenth century English audiences into raucous-yet-reverent contact with sacred history--in a time when there was as yet no "fourth wall." As we read and reenact these plays, we will practice our Middle English, talk about staging and affective piety, and learn about these plays' suppression in newly-Protestant England, as well as their rediscovery in the early twentieth century.
Precepted by Chris Pipkin.

Reader's Theater: The Tempest

In each module of the Reader’s Theatre sequence, we’ll read aloud and discuss in great detail one of Shakespeare’s genre-bending late plays. Participants will take characters, and we’ll read aloud one scene at a time, talking about how to express and interpret the text.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Shakespeare’s Forgotten Plays: The English Histories

This module examines two English history plays frequently overlooked in Shakespeare studies: King Henry VI, Part 1 and King John. The rollicking wartime melodrama, King Henry VI, Part 1, shows Joan of Arc from the English perspective as a foul-mouthed, lascivious witch. The virtuous milksop King Henry VI is all but overshadowed in his own play as Joan bedevils the English forces in France again and again—until her own downfall and death. Shakespeare’s most satirically comical history, King John, by contrast, shows a monarch neither competent nor virtuous! Between John’s corrupt and cowardly bungling of a war France, a war with the Pope, and rebellion at home, England’s only hope is the play’s unlikely (and ahistorical) hero—the wily and charming bastard son of the late King Richard the Lionheart. Unlike most of Shakespeare’s English histories, both of these plays are comfortably stand-alone; no prior knowledge of Shakespeare’s other history plays required.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare’s Forgotten Plays: The Late Romances

This module looks at two late plays frequently overlooked in Shakespeare studies: Pericles, Prince of Tyre and Cymbeline. In Pericles, Shakespeare and collaborator George Wilkins present a medievalist fairy-tale of adventure on the high seas, set in the ancient Mediterranean and narrated by Middle English poet, John Gower. In Cymbeline, a princess’s attempt to rid herself of the suitor she loathes and reunite with the man she loves leads to a tangle of escapes, pursuits, and mistaken identities. Decried by some critics for their eccentric and eclectic plots, both plays feature grand voyages across land and sea, benevolent magic, and the loss and recovered of true love.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare’s Forgotten Plays: The “Problem” Comedies

This module looks at two of Shakespeare’s darkest comedies (often described as “Problem Plays” and frequently overlooked in Shakespeare studies): Troilus and Cressida and Measure for Measure. Half an adaptation of Chaucer’s tragic romance, and half a reworking of Homer’s Iliad, Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida presents both the lovers and the warriors with a mixture of biting satire, comic buffoonery, and genuine pathos. Likely never staged in Shakespeare’s lifetime, this comedy-history-tragedy has puzzled readers since its first appearance in print. In Measure for Measure, a duke’s attempt to clean up his city’s seedy night-life quickly leads to the attempted sexual blackmail of a nun by duke’s chief deputy. In the chaos of bed-swapping and (threatened) head-chopping that follows, the play narrowly avoids outright tragedy, but whether the final ending could be called “happy” has been debated for centuries. These may actually be the strangest two play Shakespeare ever wrote.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare’s Forgotten Plays: The Tragedies

This module looks at two tragedies frequently overlooked in Shakespeare studies: Titus Andronicus and Timon of Athens. Shakespeare’s earliest tragedy, Titus Andronicus, is also his bloodiest—a rollicking schoolboy burlesque of Roman history, Ovidian poetry, and Elizabethan revenge tragedy that eventually devolves into gory slapstick. Shakespeare’s late tragedy, Timon of Athens, by contrast, offers a scathingly misanthropic view of humanity in the financial and psychological ruin of Timon—an eccentric socialite turned embittered philosopher-hermit. With the first a box-office hit in its own day and the second never staged in Shakespeare lifetime, both plays have stood as two of the bard’s most challenging and provocative works to editors, directors, and readers ever since.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare’s “Henriad”

This module looks at Shakespeare’s trilogy of coming-of-age history plays depicting one of England’s most popular medieval monarchs—King Henry V. Beginning with Henry IV, Part 1, we see the young Prince Hal change from wastrel, drunkard, and companion of highway robbers into the royal figure his war-torn country needs. After relapsing in Part 2, we finally see him lead his subjects on the battlefields of France as the mature king in Henry V. Charting his course between the demands of his kingly father, the peculiar philosophy of his friend and mentor, the exuberant Sir John Falstaff, and the dangers posed by a series of political and military rivals, Henry finally learns what it means to “act” the part of a king in the ways that matter most.
Precepted by Liam Daley.

Shakespeare's King Lear

This module looks at arguably the greatest of Shakespeare's Tragedies--King Lear. Resolving to divide his kingdom between his daughters, the aged king banishes his closest allies from court, leaving himself and his realm prey to the self-interest and cruelty of those who remain. The course examines this tragedy of betrayal, madness, and family grudges act by act but also supplements these close studies of Shakespeare's text with discussions of the two variant early editions (in Quarto and Folio formats), a brief overview of Shakespeare's sources (Geoffrey of Monmoth's "History of the Kings of Britain" and Holinshed's "Chronicles"), and an examination of Nahum Tate's infamous happy-ending adaptation (the only version of the play staged for next 150 years). Expected weekly reading/listening: approx. 50-70 pages (spread across two hours of class).
Precepted by Faith Acker and Liam Daley.

Tolkien on Stage

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote only one play, "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son," and it is more of a poetic dialogue than a theatrical work for production. However, it has been produced as a radio play. We'll read the work itself, two essays Tolkien wrote to accompany it, and some relevant scholarship. We'll talk about the production value of this piece and place it in its historical context during the modern verse drama revival.
Precepted by Sørina Higgins.

Tolkien's Macbeth: Shakespeare and Evil in Middle-earth

Tolkien's take on Shakespeare is often misunderstood, but Macbeth helped Tolkien refine his understanding of fantasy and fairy-story, and The Lord of the Rings's portrayal of how we fall into evil owes much to Macbeth. Nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Macbeth was not so.
Precepted by Tom Hillman.
If you have any questions about the SPACE program, please reach out to [email protected].