Since 2006, this course has canvassed the Washington DC theater scene and discovered a wealth of offerings, many of them, not surprisingly, political in focus. Which prompts the question: What should the role of an arts community be in an essentially political town? To provide escape? A dissident voice? Which raises the larger question about art: What's it good for? Why make it and attend it? We'll be asking that question throughout the semester, of artists and the institutions that produce them. More specifically, we'll examine what the impact and challenge of presenting politically-relevant work in Washington DC might be as we discuss the range and history of "political theater." What are the stories being told right now that reflect how we view the past, understand the present, and envision the future? We'll think about the role of theater as it holds up a mirror to society as our focus moves from examinations inward and inter-personal, toward portraits that are more broadly regional and national in scope.