What makes theatre political? How has the politics of theatre been imagined and practiced in different times? What hopes for changing the world does theatre dramatize? What does the study of theatre teach us about politics? How does the theatre become a productive site for representing, and even enacting, political change? This course explores these questions by reading plays from three periods in which theatrical production played a significant role in the politics of its world—ancient Greece, Renaissance England, and our contemporary globalized world. The primary objective of this course is to introduce students to plays that not only address a range of political issues (for example, about race, gender, sexuality, class, violence, the governing of subjects, and the production of good citizens) but also attempt to enact change and engage the community. We will thus be reading innovative plays alongside theorists who investigate and imagine the political potential of theatre and performance. By attending plays and participating in experimental theatrical exercises ourselves, we will be able both to think about what makes theatre political and to experience its effects through our own creative actions. We will make at least one trip to the theatre together, and students will be encouraged to explore alternative theatrical sites in NYC. Likely playwrights we will study include: Sophocles, Shakespeare, Brecht, Ngugi wa Thiong'o & Ngugi wa Mirii, Anna Deveare Smith, Caryl Churchill, Clifford Odets, and Sara Kane.