FREN-266 French Theater Workshop: Sartre and Claudel
Offered academic year 2011-2012
Ever since 1990, Dr. Roger Bensky has been offering French Theater Workshops which combine academic inquiry with investigation of actual performance of stage scripts by students. This unique approach is based on the understanding that the text of a play is but the DNA of what is ultimately shared with the audience through the work of the Actor, which can be thought of as painting with words on a 3-D canvas through your voice and your body.
In the present class, we will be juxtaposing two 20th century giants of French thought and literature who also produced major works for the stage : the fervently Catholic poet, diplomat and essayist Paul Claudel and the champion of atheistic existentialism and political activism Jean-Paul Sartre. Of the former we will study the epic drama Le Soulier de Satin and the famous play of love and death Partage de Midi. Of the latter, we will plunge into the political and metaphysical vertigo of Le Diable et le Bon Dieu, which is Sartre’s answer to the Claudelian epic, and Les Séquestrés d’Altona, which explores pathological denial of responsibility for war-time crimes of humanity among the rich and powerful.
Apart from developing the capacity to actively perform scenes from these challenging works, students will be required to maintain and submit a Journal de Bord, a theater diary of their own progress as well as their evolving understanding of the class process as a whole. Prior acting experience is not required. However, students should possess a very good working knowledge of the French language and some prior exposure to French literature to gain maximum benefit. This course counts toward the upper division Post-advanced language requirement for the French major.
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