Announcement concerning Drama and Theatre program courses for fall 2020

Following McGill’s plans for remote instruction for fall 2020 classes, the Department of English has revised its Drama &Theatre course offerings. A few courses that are particularly reliant on in-person instruction and “hands-on” learning practices have been cancelled, while others have been re-imagined. We have also moved some courses from the fall 2020 term to winter 2021 (and vice versa). Please see below to get a sense of how our Drama and Theatre classes will be organized in the fall 2020 term:


ENGL 230, Intro to Theatre Studies (Prof. Erin Hurley): What makes a ‘good’ play? When did theatres start to dim the house-lights? Who is behind the mega-musical? When did women start to tread the boards? How are spectacular scenic effects created? Why is the ‘green room’ green? In recorded lectures and small-group discussion sections, you will traverse two millenia of theatrical performance from around the world. Our point of departure for this introduction to the field of theatre studies will be plays drawn from the major episodes of world theatre history, beginning with Ancient Greek drama through contemporary Canadian and postcolonial performance from Johannesburg to Peking to Norway to New York. In addition to learning about the development of theatre over time, you will also learn how to analyse a play and how to approach the study of theatrical form.


ENGL 312, Victorian and Edwardian Theatre (Prof. Denis Salter): This course, which was initially scheduled for winter 2021, has been moved to fall 2020.

If you assumed these historical periods were full of people who were rigidly moral, neurotically uptight, and insulated from modernity, this course will demonstrate these are unconscionable myths. Our course will not only happily bust these myths but hundreds of others. You will study plays, see films, and re/construct performances that radically challenged gender norms, racism, imperialism, white supremacy, class divides, slavery, Orientalism, suppressed women’s rights, the colonization of Indigenous peoples, and predatory disaster capitalism. You will learn how to interpret original images of performances by scrutinizing Power Point Presentations, to engage in embodied experiences by reading plays out loud (acting experience NOT required!), and to explore the multifactorial relationships among plays, performances, and contemporary political and social issues and divisive controversies.

Projects, both individually and in working groups, will evolve from your creative and intellectual curiosities.

All lectures and seminar-style discussions will be recorded on Zoom for repeat viewings. Power Points will be uploaded to MyCourses.


ENGL 313, Contemporary Canadian Political and Community-Engaged Theatre (Prof. Denis Salter): This course, which was initially scheduled for fall 2020, has been moved to winter 2021.


ENGL 365, Costuming for the Theatre I (Instructor Catherine Bradley): This course will not be offered in fall 2020. We encourage interested students to sign up for ENGL 377, Costuming for the Theatre II, which is scheduled for winter 2021.


ENGL 368, Stage, Scenery and Lighting 1 (Instructor TBA): Backstage theatre…ONLINE! Lights, Camera…Zoom! Bring your scale rulers and hot glue guns. Have virtual tours of all the backstage spaces of Moyse Hall Theatre and see how the elements of a fly house truly work. Learn the basics of lighting, sound, set construction, and stage-management, all culminating in the designing of your own theoretical production. Through weekly classes and hands-on home assignments, we will learn the principles of theatre production. This is a fantastic course for anyone interested in Theatre​. Performers and directors should know what goes into creating the magic. This online class creates a perfect opportunity—without the time constraints of rehearsals. This is the perfect time to take Stage, Scenery and Lighting!


ENGL 375, Acting Simulations for Couples and Family Therapy (Prof. Myrna Wyatt Selkirk): This course will not be offered in fall 2020.


ENGL 459, Theories of Text and Performance 2: The Actress: Theory/History/Practice (Prof. Denis Salter): We will study Zoomed Power Points of a wide array of different types of original “images” of the Actress as an extraordinary shape-shifter in a range of historical periods and cultures acting in various media. We will learn why, how, and to what ends her densely semiotic iconicity frequently embodies sexuality, danger, ‘gender trouble,’ existential anxieties, exercises in agency, the poetics of the gaze, self-fashioning both on and off the stage, the determinants of race, social class and national character, unique modes of performance, resistance to anti-theatrical prejudices and patriarchal constraints, and radical interpretations of plays old and new.

We will see films and read and discuss plays plus academic studies. Several Actresses will be our guests.

I will give lectures and we’ll have synchronous sessions recorded on Zoom.

Your short presentations on a given Actress will initiate the writing of a final essay or the creation of performance-projects by two or three of you working in separate groups, presented by Zoom to everyone, followed by Q + As.


ENGL 465, Theatre Lab: Chekhov and Distance (Prof. Myrna Wyatt Selkirk): As this course moves to remote delivery for the fall term, traditional acting opportunities will be challenged, and new insights found! The key words for the course are embodiment, creativity, space, and Chekhov. We will be exploring somatic practices, which entails listening to and learning from your own body. In terms of space, we will work with what is readily available in your own environment. Much will come from found spaces that can be explored. If you so choose, family members and pets may be included in projects! We will engage with Chekhov through text analysis and thematic explorations. Our physical explorations will allow us to deconstruct his major works and find their essence.

The course aims to culminate in a production in Moyse Hall Theatre in March/April of 2021. Forces beyond our control may necessitate adaptation in the final performance space or format, but the show will go on!

The application process is under ENGL 465 on this page: https://www.mcgill.ca/english/undergrad/2020-2021-undergraduate-courses/400-level-advanced-courses


ENGL 467, Advanced Studies in Theatre History: Uncovering Quebec’s English-language Drama (Prof. Erin Hurley): English-language theatre in Quebec is the largest, longest-lived, and most internally varied minority-language form of dramatic production in Quebec, whose organised practice extends from the garrison theatricals of British officers in the mid-18th century to today's 19 professional and 66 semi-professional or independent theatre companies. It is also almost invisible in the historical record. This is surprising given the influence of English-language theatre and its workers on both the anglophone and francophone theatres, the national impact of its institutions, its abundant amateur activity, and the formal innovations--particularly vis-à-vis language-use--of its independent theatre milieu. This class examines the contemporary history of this long-lived minority-language practice from the 1970s to today, largely through its varied and abundant dramatic corpus. Students will engage with primary sources and original data; Montreal playwrights will make guest appearances. Contextual lectures will be delivered and recorded on Zoom; depending on class-size and internet connectivity, we will also meet synchronously online for discussion of the plays and other readings. Assignments will help students in completing a curiosity-driven, historically contextualized final paper or project (creative component optional) about English-language drama in Quebec.


ENGL 469, Acting 3 (Prof. Myrna Wyatt Selkirk): This course will be centered around monologues this year, so as to capitalize on certain benefits of remote delivery. Your specific needs and interests will be paramount, particularly in one-on-one sessions throughout the term. You will assist and be assisted by fellow students. Various approaches will be used during exercises, text analysis, and in the rehearsal process, including Stanislavski, Brecht, verbatim and physical theatre. This is very much a time to build skills, expand your imagination, and explore your creativity!

The application process is under ENGL 469 on this page: https://www.mcgill.ca/english/undergrad/2020-2021-undergraduate-courses/400-level-advanced-courses


ENGL 486, Special Topics in Theatre History: History of Costuming (Instructor Catherine Bradley): This lively course examines the quirks of clothing from Napoleon and Josephine’s Coronation to the Pop Art-inspired Swinging Sixties. We look at larger influences such as art, architecture, music, dance, science, and history to contextualize changing notions of fashion and beauty. This online class will include PowerPoint, video, discussion, and student presentations. Even though we will deliver content online, be prepared to dance the Charleston from the comfort of your home.

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