"'The Play's the Thing': A Study of Modern Drama"
This high school literature class takes its name from the scene in Hamlet in which Hamlet is planning on using a play, of all things, to expose murder and political skulduggery. In truth, the theater has been a noteworthy venue for social and political commentary since at least Sophocles. In this class, we will be focusing on modern theater – no Shakespeare, no Greek drama.
Students will read and discuss 13 plays, beginning with Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband (staged in 1895) and concluding with Ayad Akhtar’s The Invisible Hand (staged in 2014). We dive into each play's literary and historical context and reflect on how each playwright crafts a work that both entertains and prods readers and audiences into thinking more deeply about the issues that surround them.
This honors-level online class is interactive but asynchronous to better accommodate high school students' busy and complicated schedules: students can work across time zones, submit assignments, and discuss the week's readings as their schedules permit throughout the day. "'The Play's the Thing'" is not self-paced, though: there are weekly deadlines with different assigned readings each week. Our "classroom" is a private Google Group.
In addition to reading a new play each week, students are expected to engage in timely, thoughtful online discussion. Although this class does not require any papers, each week students are expected to respond to short-answer questions related to the readings and to each other's ideas, giving students ample opportunity to practice putting their thoughts into writing.
Because of the pace and content, this high school literature class is for avid readers ages 14 and up. Many students choose "'The Play's the Thing'" as a creative, robust, intellectually engaging post-AP English class. Because students may put in more than the 120 hours assumed to be equal to a high school credit, "Who We Are & What We Dream" can count as a full, accelerated English credit if families so choose.
Additional writing option: for students who would like additional writing experience, a selection of essay topics will be available at the end of the class. I am happy to provide feedback on student essays for an additional fee, or parents are welcome to evaluate their students' work themselves. Either way, this additional writing option is available to enhance an already robust literature class.
"Thank you for such an incredible class, Ms. Christine! I loved your choice of readings and feel very lucky to have gotten to explore scripts and plays in this class!"
"Your class has provided a fantastic array of writing and subject matter. We have had many great family discussions that have come from these plays, and I love when we can stretch our minds in unanticipated ways."
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