“Words fail.”
—Samuel Beckett

What does it mean to stage a play in a world where talk is cheap, and we are deluged with multimedia entertainments? Is “liveness” still special, and if so, what does it mean? We will consider the reasons playwrights still write drama, attending to the different possibilities that theater affords those whose voices are ignored or marginalized; those who want to challenge the dominant culture; and those who delight in the legacies of literary drama, community rituals, and language as an essential part of performed storytelling. Playwrights will include Tom Stoppard, Eugene Ionesco, Caryl Churchill, Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Bertolt Brecht, and—of course—the master of failure, Sam Beckett. First and foremost, we will be considering and experiencing modern drama as performance art, mens et manus… and so much more.