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Drama and Communication: Pinter, Mamet, Friel

Class at Faculty of Arts |



The limits of communication have been one of the central themes and concerns of Western theatre after WWII. This course wants to examine plays by three major playwrights who have extensively dealt with communication issues in their work: Harold Pinter (*1930), David Mamet (*1947) and Brian Friel (*1929). On a general level, attention will be paid to the ways in which a particular play elaborates the theme of communication, and what means it uses to communicate these reflections to its audience. More specific aspects to be analysed will include Pinter?s focus on communication breakdowns and violence, Mamet?s association of the collapse of the American Dream with the malfunction of language as a communication means, and Friel?s exploration of ways of communication in connection with the discourse of collective (Irish) identity. The course is designed as a workshop which aims to instigate a broad discussion of drama and meaning in specific contexts within the (post)modern era.


I. General Introduction 1. Introductory Session 2. Keir Elam, The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama (extracts)

II. Harold Pinter 1. The Caretaker (1960) 2. Old Times (1971) 3. No Man?s Land (1975)

III. David Mamet 1. American Buffalo (1975) 2. Glengarry Glen Ross (1983) 3. Oleanna (1992)

IV. Brian Friel 1. Faith Healer (1979) 2. Dancing at Lughnasa (1990) 3. Wonderful Tennessee (1993)


Credit requirements consist in regular attendance, active participation in debates (based on the assigned reading), an in-class presentation plus a final essay (min. length 7 pp.).