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The College Catalogue

Theater and Dance – Theater Courses

First-Year Seminars

For a full description of first-year seminars, see the First-Year Seminar section.

Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Courses

1101 {101} c - VPA. Making Theater. Every year. Spring 2015. The Department.

An active introductory exploration of the nature of theater: how to think about it, how to look at it, how to make it. Students examine a range of theatrical ideas and conventions, see and reflect on live performance, and experience different approaches to making work. Designers, directors, performers, and scholars visit the class to broaden perspective and instigate experiments. Students work collaboratively throughout the semester to develop and perform original work.

1201 {120} c - VPA. Acting I. Every semester. Fall 2014. Sally Wood.

Introduces students to the intellectual, vocal, physical, and emotional challenge of the acting process. Students examine theatrical texts and practice the art of translating intellectual analysis into embodied performance. Fundamentals of text analysis are learned and practiced, preparing students for the more complex performance work required in all sections of Acting II.

1202 {150} c - VPA. Improvisation. Every other year. Spring 2015. Davis Robinson.

Improvisation is a fundamental tool used by dancers, musicians, actors, writers, and other artists to explore the language of a medium and to develop new work. An interdisciplinary introduction to some of the primary forms of improvisation used in dance and theater. Content includes theater games, narrative exercises, contact improvisation, and choreographic structures.

1203 {145} c - VPA. Performance and Narrative. Spring 2015. Abigail Killeen.

For millennia, we have organized our fictions, our religions, our histories, and our own lives as narratives. However much the narrative form has been called into question in recent years, it seems we just cannot stop telling each other stories. Examines the particular nexus between narrative and performance: What is narrative? How does it work? What are its limits and its limitations? How do we communicate narrative in performance? Involves both critical inquiry and the creation of performance pieces based in text, dance, movement, and the visual image. (Same as Dance 1203 {145}.)

1301 {104} c. Stagecraft. Fall 2015. The Department.

Introduction to the language, theory, and practice of technical theater. Hands-on experience in lighting, scenic and property construction, costuming, and stage management. Considers the possibilities, demands, and limits inherent in different forms of performance and performance spaces, and explores the job roles integral to theater and dance production. Includes forty hours of laboratory work. Grading is Credit/D/Fail. (Same as Dance 1301 {104}.)

1302 {130} c - VPA. Principles of Design. Every year. Fall 2014. Judy Gailen.

An introduction to theatrical design that stimulates students to consider the world of a play, dance, or performance piece from a designer’s perspective. Through projects, readings, discussion, and critiques, students explore the fundamental principles of visual design, as they apply to set, lighting, and costume design, as well as text analysis for the designer, and the process of collaboration. Strong emphasis on perceptual, analytical, and communication skills. (Same as Dance 1302 {130}.)

[1503 c - IP, VPA. Theater of Action: Performance for Social Change.]

1700 {195} c - VPA. Production and Performance. Every semester. The Department.

Engagement in the presentation of a full-length work for public performance with a faculty director or choreographer. Areas of concentration within the production may include design, including set, light, sound, or costume; rehearsal and performance of roles; service as assistant director or stage manager. In addition to fulfilling specific production responsibilities, students meet weekly to synthesize work. Students gain admission to Theater 1700 {195} either through audition (performers) or through advance consultation (designers, stage managers, and assistant directors). Students register for Theater 1700 {195} during the add/drop period at the beginning of each semester. Students are required to commit a minimum of six hours a week to rehearsal and production responsibilities over a period of seven to twelve weeks; specific time commitments depend upon the role the student is assuming in the production and the production schedule. Grading is Credit/D/Fail. One-half credit. May be repeated a maximum of four times for credit, earning a maximum of two credits.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

2201 {220} c - VPA. Acting II: Voice and Text. Every year. Spring 2015. The Department.

An intermediate acting course focused on the physical discipline and intellectual challenge of pursuing theatrical objectives through language. Traditional and experimental vocal training techniques are introduced and practiced. Students are also challenged to investigate character development through vocal choices, to learn how to communicate heightened emotion safely and effectively, and to learn how to develop a rehearsal methodology for stage dialects. This course, along with Theater 2202 {225}, Acting II: Physical Theater, is part of a two-semester course series. Theater 2201 {220} and 2202 {225} may be taken individually or in any order.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1799 {100–199} in theater.

2202 {225} c - VPA. Acting II: Physical Theater. Every year. Spring 2015. Davis Robinson.

Extends the principles of Acting I through a full semester of rigorous physical acting work focused on presence, energy, relaxation, alignment, and emotional freedom. Develops and brings the entire body to the act of being on stage through highly structured individual exercises and ensemble-oriented improvisational work. Scene work is explored through the movement-based acting disciplines of Lecoq, Grotowski, Meyerhold, or Viewpoints. Contemporary physical theater makers Théâtre de Complicité, Mabou Mines, SITI company, and Frantic Assembly are discussed. This course, along with Theater 2201 {220}, Acting II: Voice and Text, is part of a two-semester course series. Theater 2201 {220} and 2202 {225} may be taken individually or in any order.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1799 {100–199} in theater.

2203 {270} c - VPA. Directing. Every year. Fall 2014. Davis Robinson.

Introduces students to the major principles of play direction, including conceiving a production, script analysis, staging, casting, and rehearsing with actors. Students actively engage directing theories and techniques through collaborative class projects and complete the course by conceiving, casting, rehearsing, and presenting short plays of their choosing. A final research and rehearsal portfolio is required.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1799 {100–199} in theater or dance.

2501 {201} c - VPA. Theater History and Theory: Theatrical Metamorphoses—Histories and Innovations. Every other year. Fall 2015. The Department.

Explores “theater history” as both a living source and a language. Considers how innovative directors, performers, playwrights, choreographers, and designers of the modern and contemporary era have transformed the “old” to invent the “new.” Taking five high points of the theatrical past as a starting point—the theaters of Ancient Greece, sixteenth-century Italian Commedia dell’Arte, Shakespeare in Elizabethan England, Molière in seventeenth-century France, and the Kabuki troupes of seventeenth-century Japan—students trace the metamorphoses of historic tales, texts, and forms of performance as they pass through the hands of theater and dance artists of successive eras. Assignments include readings, research presentations, written responses, and short-form performance projects. Students who previously took Theater 201 may also take this new version of the course for credit in Fall 2015.

2502 {240} c - VPA. Performance in the Twenty-First Century: Avant-Garde/Neo Avant-Garde. Spring 2016. The Department.

Examines contemporary forms such as live art, neo-cabaret, dance theater, theater of images, new circus, solo performance, and site-specific theater. Hybrid by nature and rebellious in spirit, these practices reject the boundaries and conventions of traditional theater and dance. Yet, for all its innovation, contemporary performance has roots deep in the twentieth-century avant-gardes. What, these days, is new about performance? Through readings, film screenings, and our own performance-making, considers the genealogical roots of performance and investigates the ways twenty-first-century performance is exploring body, mind, technology, social justice, intercultural and transnational aesthetics, and globalism. Assignments include readings, research presentations, written responses, and short-form performance projects. (Same as Dance 2502 {240}.)

2503 c - ESD, VPA. Introduction to Black Performance Studies. Fall 2014. Christina Knight.

What does it mean to say that we “perform” our identities? What role can performance play in the fight for racial and social justice? What role has performance played in shaping the history of black Americans, a people long denied access to literacy? Performance studies—an interdisciplinary field devoted to the study of a range of aesthetic practices—offers insight into such questions. Investigates various performances, including contemporary plays, movies and television, dance, and social media. Examines the relationship between identities like race, gender, class, and performance as well as the connection between performance onstage and everyday life. (Same as Africana Studies 2502 and Dance 2503.)

2846 {246} c. Modern Drama and Performance. Spring 2015. Marilyn Reizbaum.

Examines dramatic trends of the modern period, beginning with a triumvirate of modern dramatists—Henrik Ibsen, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett—and draws lines from their work in drama of ideas, epic theatre, and absurdism to developments in the dramatic arts through the modern period into the twenty-first century. Includes plays by Lorraine Hansberry, Caryl Churchill, and Martin McDonagh. Readings staged. (Same as English 2452 {246} and Gender and Women’s Studies 2262 {262}.)

2868 {218} c - IP, VPA. Smashing the Fourth Wall: Russian Theater Arts in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries. Spring 2015. Kristina Toland.

Studies elements of the twentieth- and twenty-first-century Russian and Soviet theater by analyzing the works of canonical writers and important contemporary authors and by considering a range of theatrical ideas and conventions. Highlights various aspects of theater production in relation to the texts read in class in order to clarify the specific purposes of play-writing as a form of fiction presented in performance. Significant emphasis is placed on the study of visual culture as the essential contributing factor in the development of theater arts. Students read plays, watch performances, and examine visual artworks related to stage production. Authors to be read may include Anton Chekhov, Alexander Block, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Nikolai Erdman, Mikhail Bulgakov, Daniil Kharms, Alexandr Vampilov, Liudmila Petryshevskaya, Olga Mukhina, and others. Texts by Vsevolod Meyerhold, Konstantin Stanislavsky, Nikolai Evreinov, and other theater practitioners, theoreticians, and critics are read as well. (Same as Russian 2218 {218}.)

2970–2973 {291–294} c. Intermediate Independent Study in Theater. The Department.

2999 {299} c. Intermediate Collaborative Study in Theater. The Department.

3201 {320} c. Theater Styles. Every third year. Fall 2015. Davis Robinson.

An advanced acting class that explores issues of style. What is Tragedy? Farce? Melodrama? Commedia? Realism? The Absurd? Through research, analysis, and scene work in class, students become familiar with a range of theatrical idioms. Emphasis is placed on understanding the social/cultural needs that give rise to a particular style, and the way in which style is used in contemporary theater to support or subvert a text.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1999 {100–199} in theater and one additional course in theater or dance, preferably at the 2000 {200} level.

3202 {321} c. Comedy in Performance. Every third year. Fall 2014. Davis Robinson.

Looks at several facets of comedy on stage, from its origins in Greek and Roman theater to contemporary comic forms. Theory is combined with practical exercises in clowning, satire, physical comedy, wit, timing, phrasing, and partner work to develop a comic vocabulary for interpreting both scripted and original work. Students work in solos, duets, and groups to create final performance projects that are presented to the public at the end of the semester.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1999 {100–199} in theater and one additional course in theater or dance, preferably at the 2000 {200} level.

3204 {323} c. Acting Shakespeare. Spring 2016. The Department.

An advanced acting course dedicated to the study of Shakespeare toward its original purpose: performance. Building on the skill sets learned in Acting I and both sections of Acting II, students combine advanced text and rhetorical analysis with rigorous physical and vocal work designed to bring the text off the page and into performance. May be repeated for credit.

Prerequisite: Theater 1201 {120}, and Theater 2201 {220} or 2202 {225}, or permission of the instructor.

3205 c. Advanced Acting. Fall 2014. Abigail Killeen.

An advanced acting course building on the practices developed in Acting I and Acting II. Using the plays of Anton Chekhov and other master playwrights from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, students challenge and deepen their understanding and application of Stanislavskian text analysis. Readings in contemporary theater theory and viewings of prized theatrical performances help students contextualize their own performance work and develop a language for analyzing and critiquing peer and professional theatrical performance.

Prerequisite: Theater 1201 {120}, and Theater 2201 {220} or 2202 {225}, or permission of the instructor.

3401 {322} c. Ensemble Devising: The Art of Collaborative Creation. Spring 2017. Davis Robinson.

Experienced student actors, dancers, and musicians collaborate to devise an original performance event. Immerses students in the practice of devising, from conception and research to writing, staging, and ultimately performing a finished piece. Examines the history of collective creation and the various emphases different artists have brought to that process. (Same as Dance 3401 {322}.)

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1999 {100–199} in theater or dance and one course numbered 2000–2799 {200-289} in theater or dance.

3402 {305} c. Theater Studio. Every third year. Spring 2016. Davis Robinson.

An advanced theater seminar focusing on independent work. Advanced students creating capstone projects in playwriting, directing, acting, and design meet weekly as a group to critique, discuss, and present their work. Final performances given at the end of the semester.

Prerequisite: One course numbered 1100–1999 {100–199} in theater and one additional course in theater or dance, preferably at the 2000 {200} level.

4000–4003 {401–404} c. Advanced Independent Study in Theater. The Department.

4029 {405} c. Advanced Collaborative Study in Theater. The Department.

Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2014. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.