Considers how musical theatre developed from and reflected the cultural, social, and political landscape of its time. Students will choose a musical and act as dramaturg, reporting to classmates on the cultural, social, historical, and political context of the action, the psychological foundation of the characters, metaphorical expressions of major themes, and technical consideration of the musical as composition.
The course introduces the student to the idea of musical theatre as a genuine art form rather than mere entertainment. Students will be asked to consider the social and political themes of musical theatre and examine how the musical can be an effective form of artistic expression, particularly when it comes to missional endeavors. Students will comb through a musical of their choice, conduct an in-depth dramaturgy analysis, and create a presentation of the social, cultural, and political nuances of their chosen production.
Musicals are often seen as mere entertainment, a sub-standard form of “real” theatre, but they have the potential to be very moving, powerful works of art. For this reason, the musical has the ability to act as a Trojan horse: an effective and unexpected way to deliver a message. One might be moved by a film such as The Passion of the Christ, however any impact the film has often fades just days after screening. In contrast, a musical such as Godspell has the ability to impact theatre goers for weeks, months, and even years. Consider the power of the soundtrack alone: the songs become ingrained in the mind, compelling people to listen and sing the songs over and over again. For this reason, musical theatre is an effective evangelistic tool.
The course will rest on the idea that worship includes dancing, music, and song. (Psalm 149:3, Psalm 150:3-5).
The course will rest on the foundational belief that we must be proclaiming God’s name by becoming all things to all men so that we might by all means save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). The musical offers something for everyone: a story, music, dance, and artistic design, all that can express an evangelistic message.
The course will require that students not view musical theatre as mere entertainment, but instead to place the action in the context of social, cultural, political, and historical society.
The course will examine various types of musicals and how they are often utilized to reflect the culture (consider Miss Saigon as a rewrite of Madame Butterfly in an effort to update the story for modern audiences).
Since most church productions are musicals instead of “straight” plays, this is a very practical course, as the student will be equipped to direct and produce a church musical production with a deeper understanding of this art form. Students who study musical theatre will have an edge on directing church productions, allowing for multiple church members to showcase multiple talents.
Theatre arts, by nature and definition, is an experiential medium. Students will be equipped to take the lessons learned from the course and apply them directly in their church or missionary assignments.