Harper Lee publishes “To Kill a Mockingbird”

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July 11, 1960

American playwright Arthur Miller born

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October 17, 1915

Lorraine Hansbury's "A Raisin in the Sun" opens on Broadway

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March 11, 1959

Thornton Wilder born

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April 17, 1897
  • Sophocles' Antigone: Ancient Greek Theatre, Live From Antiquity!

    Antiquity thumb

    Return to ancient Athens for the world premier of Antigone, a play by Sophocles.

  • Dramatizing History in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

    "Witchcraft Victims on the Way to the Gallows," by F.C. Yoyan, appeared in  the Boston Herald, May 14, 1930.

    By closely reading historical documents and attempting to interpret them, students consider how Arthur Miller interpreted the facts of the Salem witch trials and how he successfully dramatized them in his play, The Crucible. As they explore historical materials, such as the biographies of key players (the accused and the accusers) and transcripts of the Salem Witch trials themselves, students will be guided by aesthetic and dramatic concerns: In what ways do historical events lend themselves (or not) to dramatization? What makes a particular dramatization of history effective and memorable?

  • "A Raisin in the Sun": The Quest for the American Dream

    Harlem street scene in the 1950s

    The play A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, is used as a focal point for discussion of "The American Dream" as students explore how the social, educational, economical and political climate of the 1950s affected African Americans' quest for the good life in the suburbs.

  • Being in the Noh: An Introduction to Japanese Noh Plays

    "Floating Bridge of Dreams," from a chapter of the Tale of Genjii

    Noh, the oldest surviving Japanese dramatic form, combines elements of dance, drama, music, and poetry into a highly stylized, aesthetic retelling of a well-known story from Japanese literature, such as The Tale of Genji or The Tale of the Heike. This lesson provides an introduction to the elements of Noh plays and to the text of two plays, and provides opportunities for students to compare the conventions of the Noh play with other dramatic forms with which they may already be familiar, such as the ancient Greek dramas of Sophocles. By reading classic examples of Noh plays, such as Atsumori, students will learn to identify the structure, characters, style, and stories typical to this form of drama. Students will expand their grasp of these conventions by using them to write the introduction to a Noh play of their own.

  • Thornton Wilder's "Our Town": The Reader as Writer

    Portrait of Thornton Wilder, as Mr. Antrobus in "The Skin of Your Teeth," by  Carl Van Vechten (August 18, 1948).

    To appreciate some of the extra-literary elements of a play, students pause at various intervals in their study of Thornton Wilder's Our Town to develop their own settings, characters, and conflicts.

  • William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream": Conflict Resolution and Happy Endings

    Shakespeare Puck

    The activities in this lesson invite students to focus on the characters from A Midsummer Night's Dream, to describe and analyze their conflicts, and then to watch how those conflicts get resolved.