Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Architecture

Degree Level





Colangelo, Jessica

Committee Member/Reader

Herman, Greg

Committee Member/Second Reader

Irish, Shawn


Humans use narrative to understand the world around us. At early ages we are exposed to storytelling with variable intent, from cautionary tales to the inspirational and everything in between. The dialectic strength of narrative mediums is well-known and well-studied. Theatre is one of the world’s oldest enduring forms of storytelling and has a strong ability to reflect and adapt with cultures as they develop, as a means of commentary and cultural reflection.

Architecture shares theatre’s ancient roots and has always been an important method of communication and expression. However, its tactics have historically been less narrative-centric than theatre and the other storytelling mediums. A notable exception to this rule is the memorial typology (which historically could encompass monuments and tombs) which without fail is tied implicitly to a narrative, whether known or not. Recent shifts in memorial architecture in the last half-century have opened up new avenues of commemoration which are significantly more narrative-focused, grappling with the question of how to best address the public, and individual visitor, with increasingly tragic subject matter.

Similar changes in theatre’s approach to Tragedy, since the onset of the twentieth century, prompt a comparison. This project follows this line of inquiry. Through an analysis of two well-known memorial spaces, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the National September 11 Memorial, and director/theorist Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 masterpiece Mother Courage and Her Children, a discussion is prompted surrounding the employment of narrative elements in each medium as a dialectic tool to engage tragic topics, and introduce the idea of the memorial as a spatial form of the dramatic Tragedy.


Architecture, Memorials, Theatre, Tragedy, Brecht, service learning