Introduction to American Drama: Reading & Discussing Contemporary Plays | F19

Ages: 13-18
Day, Time: Fridays 9:30-10:30
Location: Cafe


Melanie White

Melanie White is a director, dramaturg, stage manager, and teaching artist. She was the drama specialist at University Cooperative School from 2009-2018 and at Billings Middle School in the 2017-18 school year, and has taught at Second Story Rep, Seattle, Rep, and Experimental College. She was the lead teacher on the Shakespeare in Prisons Project at Green Hill School in Chehalis, where she directed and produced Julius Caesar, a first in the national juvenile justice system. Her directing work has been seen in New York, London, Seattle, and Los Angeles. She has been artistic director of Hamlet’s Janitor Productions, Open Circle Theater, and Off-Center Opera. She worked as a stage manager at Teatro ZinZanni for 11 years.
 Her plays have been produced and/or workshopped at Book-It Rep, Teatro ZinZanni, and The Blank Theatre in LA. Melanie received her BA from Brown University and her MA in Contemporary Shakespearean Performance from the University of Essex, England.

class description

In this class, we will read and discuss modern American plays by a variety of playwrights. Each week, students will read one full length or two one-act plays, write briefly about what they read, and be prepared to talk about the play in class. We will explore and discuss themes, literary style, dramatic genre, and historical/social context for each play, as well as ways in which playwrights create a credible voice. Writers from a broad range of backgrounds will be represented. This will be a seminar-style class that encourages participation from all students.

Parents Please Note: Modern American Drama tackles some the most challenging issues of our time. Although plays will be selected to be appropriate for middle and high school aged students, topics such as racism, homosexuality, alcohol and drug use/abuse, suicide, etc may be part of the reading, and plays may contain profanity or violence. I encourage you to read the plays along with your student and dig into some of these issues with them at home. If you have concerns you are always welcome to speak with me.

A complete list of plays that we will read and discuss will be posted by the end of July.

Required Skills for Students to Be Successful in This Class:

Compliance with Family Rights & Responsibilities. Students should be able to read fluently enough to read a full-length play each week.


Students should anticipate 2-3 hours of homework per week, including reading and writing assignments. One full length or two one-act plays will be assigned to be read for each class. Students will also be asked to write a short (1 page) reflection on the reading.

field trips:


additional fees/supplies:

Students will be responsible for obtaining the literature, either by purchasing or borrowing from the library if available.

parent involvement:

This class is intended for students only.

Age Variances:

Please see our Age Variance Policy.