Theater and the Sea

The Age of Sail inspired a rich tradition of nautical drama: from reenactments of the famous battles of the Napoleonic Wars at Sadler’s Wells to Eugene O’Neill’s sea plays, and from dramatic adaptations of maritime literature to plays imagining events from the complex class, race, and gender conflicts of the maritime past. Theater has also captured the imagination of sailors at sea, and we will incorporate the popular practice of shipboard theatricals aboard nineteenth-century naval vessels into our study of nautical drama. For our final project, we will produce a one-act play that responds to this course material. Throughout the semester, therefore, we will be engaged in practice-based research. The presentations you give and production histories you write will inform our production. This final project will culminate officially in a dress rehearsal on the last day of class, but you are invited to travel to Charlestown Navy Yard at the end of term to produce the play aboard USS Constitution, the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat, which also served as a venue for shipboard theatricals in the nineteenth century.