Nathaniel Nesmith

Nathaniel G. Nesmith, who is a 20th- and 21st-century drama specialist, earned a B.A. and M.A. in criminal justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice; he also has a B.F.A. in theatre from Temple University and an M.F.A. in playwriting from Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in theatre from Columbia. His John Jay thesis, Contextualizing Issues of Crime and Justice in Pulitzer Prize-winning Plays by African American Dramatists, explores criminality in the works of Charles Gordone, Charles Fuller, August Wilson, and Suzan-Lori Parks. His Columbia dissertation, Freedom and Equality Now! Contextualizing the Nexus between the Civil Rights Movement and Drama, examines how central issues of the American Civil Rights Movement were dramatized on stage. He has published articles in American Theatre, The Dramatist, The Drama Review, The New York Times, The Yale Review, African American Review, and other publications.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

THEA0117 / AMST0117 - Dramas/Civil Rights Movement      

Dramas of the American Civil Rights Movement (1956-1966)
Racial egalitarianism was a central premise of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement; playwrights, using their voices as cultural arbiters, played a significant role in raising awareness about racial injustices, thus contributing in an important way to the success of the movement. Relying on critical analyses, archival material, oral interviews, and dramatic texts, students will explore how dramatists (Loften Mitchell, Lorraine Hansberry, Ossie Davis, Amiri Baraka, George Sklar) addressed crucial issues (education, housing, and voting) in their plays. Students will also have an opportunity to explore the role of comedy and militancy on the stage while simultaneously understanding how the theatre served as a vehicle for political progress and social change. ART LIT NOR

Spring 2015

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THEA0122 / AMST0122 - White Playwrights/Black Topics      

Having Their Say: Twentieth-Century Progressive White Playwrights on Black Topics
White playwrights have been accused of cultural appropriation of black literary material; however, during the 20th century, progressive white playwrights did not shy away from dramatizing difficult race-related themes—contextualizing the interconnections of racial dynamics and a forward-moving society. Many of those dramatists (such as Ridgely Torrence, Eugene O’Neill, Paul Green, George Sklar, Molly Kazan, Howard Sackler, Martin Duberman, Lanford Wilson, Tony Kushner, and Rebecca Gilman) tackled prevalent black issues, receiving respect and appreciation from diverse audiences. In this course students will examine works by white playwrights who dramatized topical issues pertaining to the social and political experience of African Americans. CMP LIT NOR

Spring 2016

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THEA0136 / ENAM0136 - Dramatizing Black Experience      

Dramatizing the Black Experience for the American Stage
In this course we will explore how influential contemporary African American dramatists bring to the American stage different aspects of the black experience. From William Branch’s A Medal For Willie (1951) to Dominique Morisseau’s Detroit ’67 (2013), readings will provide students the opportunity to investigate how plays are interpreted by actors and directors, and wrestle with topics such as voting rights, cultural appropriation, housing discrimination, gender inequality, and equal access to education. Beyond dramatic texts and critical readings, students will hear some of the playwrights (via video conferencing) offer their views on topics and issues we will discuss in class. 3 hrs. lect. ART CMP LIT NOR

Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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THEA1024 - Playwrights on their Plays      

Playwrights’ Thoughts on their Plays
In this dramatic literature course, students will explore plays by four notable contemporary American playwrights, and will interact directly with the playwrights. One playwright will be featured each week; the class will read two or three plays by that playwright, and may see videos of the plays if they are available. Students will have the opportunity to engage with each playwright in a one-hour Skype discussion about their plays. The course will provide students with a unique window into the creative process. This course will count as an elective towards the Theatre Major. LIT NOR WTR

Winter 2016

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Department of Theatre

Mahaney Center for the Arts
72 Porter Field Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753