Michelle Markey Butler, PhD
Lecturer, College of Information Studies/Honors College

We think of special effects as a modern, Hollywood phenomenon.  But Michael Bay would have been happy — and welcome — in early English theater.  These plays revel in the spectacular, exploiting the technological advancements of the late Middle Ages to feed the public’s appetite for miraculous, monstrous, and marvelous visual effects.  Burning gunpowder, fake (or was it?) blood, winches, trap-doors, boats on wheels, triple-decker portable stages, masks, and costumes are just some of the tools in their toolbox.  Indeed, the secrets of a few of their stage effects have not yet been worked out.  In this class, we’ll learn about early English theater and the unique requirements for staging it, with particular attention to special effects.  By the end of the semester, students will know how to mount a full scale production, which will come in handy for the course final project:  a student-led production, which will be performed on campus as well as at a major scholarly conference.