Sure, students can learn about German theater without leaving home, but in the spirit of Transylvania University’s experiential May term, a class headed to Berlin to see what it’s like for themselves.
Team taught by professors Matthew Bauman (German) and Tosha Fowler (theater), the Theater in Deutschland class took in six plays in 10 days. A big highlight was the Berliner Ensemble’s “The Threepenny Opera” — the students learned how the theater survived WWII bombings and watched a performance of the Bertolt Brecht play, which had premiered there around 90 years ago.
During the first part of the course back in Lexington, the students were asked to “theorize from page to stage” — conceptualizing possible staging of several plays “by applying knowledge of stage production practices and techniques as well as cultural and historical influences.”
After traveling to Germany to watch actual productions, they’re comparing (in German, of course) what they thought the plays would be like with how they really were. They’re focusing on aspects like “the playwright’s intention, director’s interpretation and the historical and cultural influences for each production.”
Over the years, travel classes like this (and interdisciplinary ones that are team taught) are a Transylvania May term tradition, with students visiting locales such as Israel, the Philippines and the Netherlands.