Our Presentation on Bourgeois Theatre, or how to start an argument in a theatre (and win it)

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Given the subtleties of differentiating Bourgeois or Domestic Drama from other forms of drama that preceded it, we feel that a pure performance will not be sufficiently explanatory, but we want to retain the creative engagement of performance on both our understanding and our ability to present our material. Our solution is to present what we are calling a PBS special: a brief performance analyzed and debated by talking heads. Given that our audience is composed entirely of people who came to this class because of a deep interest in creating and performing art, our performance will help ground what we have to say about the art form and its historical context.

Addressing the ethical responsibility we have as artists: in order to confine a performance to a short enough time period to present it and still discuss it, we necessarily have to compress and inflate different aspects of it to make them visible to an audience. This necessarily distorts the vision of the playwrights who created them, making such an unsubtle version of events. But this is an unfortunate necessity.

One notion we have for keeping the class engaged is to present our argument as an actual argument, or an actual debate. We might ask our audience of theatre kids to actively judge this argument, moment to moment, by vocalizing their response to whether we are making good, credible illuminating arguments, and by taking sides. Given the didactic moral clarity of the plays we have examined so far and Diderot's belief that an audience can hear the truth when it is presented on stage, this seems appropriate, and in no way foolishly combustible.

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