Ellen Donkin, professor of theatre, holds a B.A. in drama from Middlebury College, an M.A. in English from the Bread Loaf School of English, Middlebury College, and a Ph.D. in theatre history from the University of Washington. She has taught in the drama department of Franklin and Marshall College and at the University of Washington.
Her special areas of interest are playwriting and gender issues in theatre history and theatre practice. She is the co-editor of Upstaging Big Daddy: Directing Theatre as if Race and Gender Matter (1993), and the author of Getting Into the Act: Women Playwrights in London, 1776-1829 (1995). She co-edited Women and Playwriting in Nineteenth Century Britain (1999).
She currently chairs the Barnard Hewitt Award for Excellence in Theatre Research for the American Society of Theatre Research.
Do you remember being read to as a child? Reading your first book out loud? How can the energy, excitement, and enthusiasm of telling tales, story dramatization, and ultimately reading aloud be harnessed, maintained and encouraged through theatre? The first step in the progression towards theatre is the child's natural tendency towards pretend play and storytelling. This class will examine reader's theatre as a way to engage children in the act and art of literacy. Students in this course will consider how arts integration, theatre education, and critical literacy methodologies that can enhance the storytelling process. We will then examine reader's theatre scripts and finally write and perform reader's theatre pieces with children at a local elementary school. Along the way, students will build upon their abilities to communicate stories theatrically. Prerequisite - some prior work with children, education, theatre preferred.
Our work in this course will be more or less equally divided between reading plays and writing a one-act. The plays we read, which will include a wide variety of playwrights, will inform our exercise work even as they deepen and extend our sense of drama as a form. We will be paying particular attention to the way character is revealed through dialogue, ways to unfold exposition, segmentation of dramatic action, and how dialogue is shaped by character activity. Students who are starting a new play and those who want to work on something already in process are equally welcome.
Our job in this course is to write reviews each week that, first and foremost, make good reading. We will work hard on developing descriptive skills in writing by reading our work to each other. How can our writing create images that move across time and space? We will learn by looking at the work of some of the great reviewers what kinds of things a reviewer looks for, and how, in a relatively short amount of space, a reviewer manages to convey the magic of the evening in print. Sometimes a show doesn't work: who takes responsibility? In an art form that is driven by collaboration and teamwork among artists in very different disciplines, how do we uncouple the work of the director from the work of the designers, the actors, the stage manager, or the playwright? And finally, who are we writing for? Are we a form of consumer reports for people deciding which show to see, or are we writing for the person who is house-bound and will only see the show through our eyes? Once every other week, we will board the PVTA bus and take our chances on a new production somewhere in the valley, either at another campus or in a town nearby.
Professor of Theatre
Mail Code WP
Writing Resource Center H
893 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002