Theater Arts and Acting Course Descriptions
University Seminar Courses (US)
206 The Power of Play: Theater and Learning (4 credits) This is a course that investigates the intersection between improvisation and education. It is relevant for students preparing for careers as teachers in elementary or secondary education or as teaching artists in professional theaters, schools and communities. This course investigates how the theater process (improvisation-rehearsal-performance) can be an inquiry-based model for teachers as well as how theater games and exercises can be adapted to explore non-arts curriculum. No previous theater courses are necessary, but most of the learning is by doing, so students must be willing to participate in all improvisations and be prepared to act in a project. Note: US 206 can count toward the Education and Theater majors and minors.
226 Shakespeare on Stage, Page and Screen in the 21st Century (4 credits) This University Seminar asks the questions: Why do we still read and perform Shakespeare? How can these centuries-old play texts, written in a style of English that we no longer speak, still be meaningful for us today? This course seeks to answer these questions by approaching Shakespeare from three distinct perspectives: Shakespeare in performance, Shakespeare as literature, and Shakespeare on film. Using a combination of methodologies and approaches, this course fosters a fuller appreciation for how Shakespearean texts written for an Early Modern audience might resonate with present-day American cultural sensibilities. Students examine how aspects of performance, cinematic imagination and literary analysis can work together to create urgent and relevant meanings for modern audiences. Particular attention is paid to the study of visual imagery associated with Shakespeare—including the examination of visual evidence from Elizabethan/Jacobean England, and the analysis of how scenic, lighting and costuming choices can communicate meaning in contemporary film and performance contexts. Students also work actively with the play texts in class, "on our feet," to acquire a physical and kinesthetic sense of how live performance helps condition and contributes toward our understanding of a dramatic text.
Theater Arts Courses (TH)
101 Voice and Speech I (2 credits; Fall) The focus of the work is on relaxation, alignment, breathing, the development of free resonance flow, and good articulation of vowels and consonants. 102 Voice and Speech II (2 credits; Fall) Actors are introduced to the progression of voice exercises in Kristin Linklater’s “Freeing the Natural Voice.” The focus of the class is on developing techniques that foster the connection between the acting impulse and the voice. Prerequisite: TH 101.
131 Discovering the Art of Theater (4 credits; Fall, Spring) This course for non-majors deepens students' engagement with this communal art form. The perspective from which we set out to survey the theater is that of an audience member. Informed and literate audience members are crucial to theater; without an audience there is no performance. We start by demonstrating why this particular art form is/ has been ubiquitous not only globally today, but down through the annals of time, as well. The students are introduced to the cluster of different artists typically employed when a show is being created: writers, designers, directors, casting, actors, etc. A broad survey of genres and styles of plays is presented. Aside from seeing and thoroughly assessing five to seven LIVE productions during the course of the semester, class projects are designed for students to explore theatrical possibilities for telling their own stories.
140 Fundamentals of Acting (4 credits; Fall, Spring) Students work on basic acting skills such as developing the ability to produce free, imaginative, and purposeful behavior in relation to environments, objects, and other persons; individual silent exercises; and group exercises. This work leads to in-class performances of selected scenes from a variety of American contemporary plays with special focus given to the sensory requirements in the text. No previous experience is required.
141 Role Play and Improvisation (4 credits; Fall, Spring) In exploring the dimensions of theatrical self-expression, this course employs lecture, discussion and classroom activities to raise issues that stretch self-awareness through dramatic interaction involving imagination and creativity. Through theater games and dramatic situations, students learn a variety of performance skills and find themselves exploring their own creative and artistic possibilities. No previous experience required.
150 Improvisation (4 credits; Fall) Work on improvisation is central to the formation of an actor; it is a kind of research—a way of working through which the actor’s experiences pass to nourish their imagination. Without the help of a playwright or director, the actor creates and presents a full dramatic life. Improvisation develops the faculties of invention, imagination and concentration and at the same time gives the actor a sense of freedom. Studio course with lab requirement.
165 Method Acting (4 credits; Fall) Long after the impact of Brecht, Artaud, Grotowski, Lecoq and Peter Brook, the art and practice of acting is still turning on the revelations and teachings of Constantine Stanislavsky. If the Stanislavsky “system” or “method” is applied literally, it leads merely to realism, but applied systematically with discrimination it can become the grammar of all styles. While based on the teachings of Stanislavsky, this course includes insights by other famous acting teachers such as Uta Hagen, Sanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, Michael Chekhov and Stella Adler. This is an initial acting course with a focus on the practical and playable aspects of the “system’s” training, providing the actor with a resource to operate completely on his or her own in any and all production situations. Studio course with lab requirement.
191 Stage Practicum and Crew I (0 credits; Fall) This course includes scene construction, rigging, costume construction, drafting and stage lighting. It examines theater architecture and elements of scene, costume and lighting production. All students in the first year of the program are assigned on a rotating basis throughout the year to various crews that build and run the shows in the Theater performing series.
192 Stage Practicum and Crew II (0 credits; Spring) This course includes scene construction, rigging, costume construction, drafting and stage lighting. It examines theater architecture and elements of scene, costume and lighting production. All students in the first year of the program are assigned on a rotating basis throughout the year to various crews that build and run the shows in the Theater performing series.
199 Theater History (4 credits; Fall) This course is a study of the development of the physical theater and concurrent developments in dramatic literature and musical theater. It surveys styles in acting, directing, dramatic criticism and production from historical, analytical and performance perspectives. It requires individual and group projects. Attendance at theater productions is included when possible. No previous experience required.
200 Movement Training for Comfort, Power & Grace (2 credits) The course gives students a reliable way to feel better in their bodies. The course provides an understanding of how bodies function and gives each student insight into his or her personal habits outside this design that create tension in the body. Students learn to move more freely and gain new understanding of their aches and pains. Students come away with a working knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and how to cultivate true core support and to balance functioning of all muscle groups. We review the newest research in back pain and neuroplasticity, study the respiratory system and breathing patterns, and study how perception contributes to our bodily feeling and use patterns. The class is catered to anyone with an interest in feeling better and moving with increased ease and coordination. Assignments include exercises around public speaking, working at the computer, and lifting challenging objects (including an evening in the weight room). Students gain increased powers of self-observation, impulse control and improved coordination.
201 Script Analysis (4 credits, Spring) There's no other way to say it: Reading plays is difficult. To read a play in print is to encounter a work of art in unfinished and incomplete form. Visual artistry, physical presence and live audience dynamics are reduced to flat, static words on a page. In this course, students explore and practice with various techniques for reading and analyzing scripts: techniques designed to help theater artists discover more fully the dynamic potential of theatrical texts as blueprints for live performance. Students work with several techniques for analyzing play texts, explore conventional play genre labels (tragedy, comedy and tragicomedy), and examine the ideas of key theorists in Western theater history (Aristotle, and Brecht), to discover different perspectives from which plays may be read and evaluated critically. Class discussions, online discussions and writing assignments provide opportunities to develop and refine the critical/analytical skills addressed in course readings.
203 Voice and Speech III (2 credits; Fall) Actors explore the second half of the Linklater voice progression. The focus is on developing each actor’s full vocal range. In addition to the voice exercises, students work on a variety of texts chosen to support their growing acquisition or skills. Prerequisite: TH 101.
204 Voice and Speech IV (2 credits; Spring) The focus is on speech. Clarity of articulation and effective use of vowels is developed by learning the International Phonetics Alphabet. Prerequisite: TH 203. US206 The Power of Play: Theater and Learning (4 credits) See University Seminars listing above.
210 Yoga (2 credits; Fall, Spring) This course introduces study in the Indian exercises of relaxation and energy focusing. No previous experience necessary. May be repeated once for credit.
211 Stage Makeup (2 credits; Fall) This course seeks to illuminate the actor’s quest for character through a concise, easily understood exploration of the connection between makeup and character, emphasizing the total visual impact of the character on the audience and discussing in depth the contribution of props and costume to the overall effect. The course is intended to help performers. Students bridge the gap between understanding a role and expressing that understanding in tangible form. (Theater Acting majors only.)
212 Advanced Yoga (2 credits; Fall) This course is suitable for students who have a basic understanding of yoga and want to deepen their practice through exploration of intermediate yoga postures and techniques that promote mental clarity, relaxation, and total well being. An emphasis will be placed on the chakra system, the subtle energy centers in the body. Prerequisite: TH 210 or previous yoga experience (approved by instructor).
220 Special Topics in Stagecraft (3 credits; Fall, Spring) 221 Dance and Choreography (3 credits; Fall) Movement is inherently dramatic. Explore the wide range of movement that exists within our bodies and the world around us. This is a studio course that explores the elements of dance making and the craft of choreography through the manipulation of time, space and energy. The movement material explored is pedestrian movement and stylized dance. Each student works within his or her own technical skill level to uncover the endless possibilities of movement within the human body and the vast opportunities for communication of the human experience. No previous experience necessary.
222 Stage Combat I (3 credits; Spring) Starting with the basics of hand-to-hand combat, or weaponless fighting, the students are introduced to the idea of personal safety, how to be safe and remain safe onstage, including all the fundamental moves every actor needs to get by in this business. Students then study and practice the art of the sword and learn the techniques that keep the actor safe long after training is over. Coursework includes training in unarmed and single sword. No previous experience required.
223 Stage Combat II (2 credits; Fall) Picking up from basic stage combat, the student is drilled in the sword and works toward its perfection. An emphasis on fencing with the foil epee and saber becomes part of the student’s regimen to teach better coordination and focus, as well as the practical applications thereof. The latter part of the class is dedicated to the quarterstaff and its use. Students explore the weapon through exercises and choreography. Basic certification with Fight Directors Canada is possible upon completion of training. Prerequisite: TH 222.
224 Stage Combat III (2 credits; Spring) Rapier and Dagger: The traditional weapons of Shakespeare’s day; picking up from single sword technique, the additional weapon is added to the non-dominant hand, i.e. dagger. The student practices in this double fence style until he or she can use them with facility. Broadsword: The basics of this classic medieval weapon are taught in much the same way as the rapier. Starting with the rudimentary footwork and guards of the weapon, the cut and parries are taught and drilled. The students explore the use of the broadsword through choreography and styles taught. Basic certification with the Society of American Fight Directors is possible upon completion of training. Prerequisite: TH 223.
230 Dance (3 credits) This is a modern dance technique class focusing on the connection and coordination of the upper and lower body. To this end, emphasis is placed on increasing abdominal strength, thereby gaining freedom and fluidity in the limbs. Warm-ups and exercises increase strength, stretch and stamina. Traveling sequences are geared toward gaining rhythmic accuracy and coordination. Class combinations and exercises increase in length and difficulty throughout the semester.
231 Intermediate Dance (3 credits; Spring) This is a modern technique class that builds on the foundation in Dance 230. Emphasis is placed on increasing accuracy of articulation and range of movement and moving the body as a cohesive unit. As the body gains strength and flexibility, each student is encouraged to find his or her own stylistic voice and individuality in movement. Prerequisite: TH 230/221 or instructor’s permission.
241 Acting: Scene Study (4 credits; Spring) This is a scene study class focusing on characterization and motivation. Students rehearse and perform contemporary plays as a means of furthering skills and craft. Both performance and personal journals are maintained on a continuing basis, and outside rehearsals on scenes are expected. The emphasis is on interpretation of the playwright’s intentions and finding actable, interesting choices for the actor. Studio course with lab requirement. Prerequisite: TH 150 and permission of instructor.
252 American Women Playwrights (3 credits) This course surveys some of the most influential plays written by American women of the 20th century. The course examines how female writers have participated in, responded to, and helped to shape the prevailing currents of American drama. No previous experience necessary.
253 African American Drama (3 credits) This course views the social, political and cultural history of 19th- and 20th-century United States through the lenses provided by a diverse selection of African American playwrights and other theater artists. The plays (which range from one act to full-length, from the tragic to the satirical) address a variety of issues, including slavery and its abolition, civil rights, inter-racial relationships, Black Nationalism, women’s rights, and gay rights. Classes include script, scene and character analyses as well as student-directed and acted readings from selected scripts. The course also explores the educational applications the theater arts can have in related fields.
254 Introduction to Dramaturgy ( 3 credits) What the heck is a dramaturg? What does a dramaturg do? Why do we need dramaturges in the theater? This course explores the theory and practice of dramaturg as a creative art. Together we examine the responsibilities of a dramaturg in helping to shape a theatrical production and complete practical exercises that will help to build the skills and sensibility needed for real-life dramaturgical work. Members of the class attend and discuss theater productions and work together on dramaturgical research for a Theater Arts program’s production.
260 Puppet Theater (4 credits; Fall) Starting with a survey of object animation traditions spanning Asia, Africa, Europe and the United States, students develop an understanding of how puppets have and continue to be used as a vibrant medium for communicating sophisticated ideas and the needs of the people they represent. From this historical and cultural foundation, students create their own original works of puppet theater by writing, developing, designing and building an animated short. The focus is primarily on puppet theater geared toward adult audiences utilizing non-narrative storytelling.
261 Scene Design and Lighting (4 credits; Fall) This is a two-part program of study: scene design for display, culminating in a scenic model; and stage lighting theory and practice, culminating in a full light plot. The course examines the history of design and its influence on the actor’s art, tools and techniques. It surveys the practical and theoretical elements of lighting instruments, their function and design. It includes theater laboratory and assistance in the actual lighting of a production. No prerequisites required. Offered in even years.
262 Costume Design (4 credits; Fall) This is a two-part program of study: costume design for display, culminating in a full-costume plot. This examines the history of design and its influence on the actor’s art, tools and techniques. It surveys the practical and historical elements of costume, their function and design. It includes theater laboratory and assistance in the actual costuming of a production. No prerequisites required. Offered in even years.
263 Stage Construction (3 credits) This course includes scene construction, rigging, costume construction, drafting and stage lighting. It examines theater architecture and elements of scene, costume and lighting production.
264 Stage Management (3 credits) This course is divided into pre-production, rehearsal period, tech/running, and maintenance of production segments. The objective is to thoroughly introduce the student to the different venues of theater, from small storefront theater to large regional theaters. Although the emphasis is on management practices for theater venues, there is an element of the practical, day-to-day “nuts and bolts” in the stage management process.
265 Theater Management (3 credits) Through lecture, discussion and projects, the student learns about styles of theater management and companies with a variety of management structures. The course focuses on American not-for-profit companies, with strategies for board development, financial management, marketing and ticket sales, promotion, arts advocacy, and fund-raising.
275 Acting and Directing for the Camera (4 credits; Fall) This is a performance-oriented course designed to explore basic and advanced acting and directing problems as they apply to work in front of the camera. The course includes a basic introduction to film acting and covers such topics as acting for commercials, reading cold copy, using idiot cards, working in the master shot, creating a role using tics and idiosyncrasies and auditioning. Studio course with lab requirement.
300 Advanced Theater Practicum (2 credits; Fall, Spring) This course is an in-depth study in performance or production culminating in a performance project. The Theater Arts adviser must approve topic and project.
301 Neutral Mask (2 credits; Fall) Neutral mask work is central in actor training because it enables the actor to experience in its most startling form the chemistry of acting. Because the face is hidden, all expression depends on the body—the mask becomes an energizing force leading the actor to depend upon the richness of his or her inner life within a calm and balanced body. The mask then is a tool to help the actor to strengthen his or her inner feelings and power of concentration, develop physical powers of outward expression and diminish self-consciousness. Studio course with lab requirement.
302 Lecoq Technique Movement (2 credits; Fall) Jacques Lecoq was a widely recognized force in modern theater. Internationally, the Lecoq method of movement study and analysis has been as significant as Stanislavsky’s work on motivation. In the field of mask, improvisation, adaptation, children’s theater and characterization, Lecoq has trained or influenced many noted educators and professionals in theater. Rather than getting inside a character’s head, as Stanislavsky preaches, Lecoq’s technique takes actors to the point of view that “thought did not come first, that action came first.” Studio course with lab requirement.
303 Business of the Arts (3 credits; Fall) Students learn how the entertainment industry works and how to get started upon a career.
319 Stage Combat IV (2 credits) Stage combat in production. This course is for those interested in careers in stage combat. The course begins with the acquisition of new weapons forms, which are then incorporated into a “fight show.” From auditions to performance, the students address all aspects of mounting these productions, including staging their own fights: the productions are treated as professional work. Prerequisite: TH 224
330 Directing (4 credits; Spring) This course is intended as an introduction to directing for the stage. The principles of working with actors and leading a team of designers accompany a series of small assignments leading to a final directing project. The course includes theory and practice in play directing: play selection, playscript interpretation, composition, movement, business management, casting, rehearsal, performance, director/designer and director/actor relationships. Students focus on perception and expression as a means of drawing inner and physical expression from others. The course requires prompt preparation of scripts, direction of scenes and one-act plays, and theater laboratory. Prerequisite: Two 200-level Theater courses.
340 Styles of Acting (4 credits) The course is intended as a means to deepen and challenge the advanced actors’ craft by applying their acting skills toward the execution of several acting styles. The course seeks to provide students with abundant means of expression, derived from a study of many techniques, producing a flexibility that is not contradictory to their need-for-truth, but will develop their range of creative freedom. Style, from whichever epoch, consists of form and content, the two being inseparable. Prerequisite: TH 175. A. Commedia into Text, Moliere, Marivaux, Goldoni and Guzzi: For 200 years, commedia players had amused Paris and influenced its playwrights, notably Moliere and Marivaux. The robust style and subversive nature inspired them and helped create an arena for a newly free, emotionally direct kind of theater. Lectures cover background with studio work and seminars built around improvised scenes along with scenes and monologues that are to be rehearsed outside of the class for performance and critique during class. Studio course with lab requirement. B. Acting Chekhov: Scene study of the great Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. C. Contemporary Theater: Scene study of today’s most influential playwrights and study of the contemporary theater scene. Prerequisite: TH 175 Acting scene study; or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit.
341 Acting in Modern Theater (4 credits; Fall) This is a scene study of modern classic writers, such as, Ibsen, Strinberg, Chekhov, and American writers O’Neill, Miller, Hellman, Wilson, and Vogel. Studio course with Lab requirement.
343 Commedia del’ Arte (4 credits; Spring) Commedia del’ Arte offers an opportunity to explore the work and history of the actor-creator, the actor for whom the empty space, the ensemble and the audience are equal partners. As a living theater form, commedia del’ Arte no longer exists, but the study of the masks, improvisational techniques, lazzi and scenario provide the contemporary actor with a challenging container in which to explore essential human archetypes and relationships as well as the art of comedy. Lectures cover background with studio work and seminars built around improvised scenes along with scenes and monologues that are to be rehearsed outside the class for performance and critique during class. Studio course with Lab requirement.
344 Acting Shakespeare (4 credits; Spring) The course begins with helping the student to feel the very heartbeat of the work, the students/actors have to know how to decipher and understand a text that may feel strange on the tongue, and they have to discover the text’s tone and tempo, mine its inner richness, and learn how to speak the text with ease. Lectures cover background with studio work and seminars built around improvised scenes along with scenes and monologues that are to be rehearsed outside the class for performance and critique during class. Studio course with Lab requirement.
345 Acting in Film and TV (4 credits) In this course, students learn to deliver performances that are truthful, based on instinct rather than intellect. Participants work with student directors in preparing scenes selected from film, television, theater, or original material to be recorded on videotape for in-class presentation, discussion and critical analysis by the instructor. Studio course with lab requirement.
349 Advance Scene Study (4 credits; Fall) Advanced Scene Study is a workshop class aimed at upper level acting majors or others who have a serious interest in acting. Students in consultation with the instructor and other members of the theater arts faculty will work on scenes that will strengthen identified weaknesses and take advantages of identified strengths to codify and deepen the understanding of the principles of acting. Individualized instruction will be given to each student as they work in class on scenes. Students will be expected to work at least 5 hours a week with partners outside of class. Students will present to the instructor and invited members of the theater arts faculty 4 prepared scenes for evaluation and comment. Prerequisite: TH241 or permission of the instructor.
350 Playwriting (4 credits; Fall) Using the creative approach, the course examines several forms of scriptwriting (e.g., playscript, the screenplay and scripts for audio/visual media), introduces tools of critical analysis through critique of student’s original work, and presents practical aspects of marketing the stage of screenplay. No previous experience required.
361 Seminar: Modern Drama (4 credits) This course is exploration of the styles and techniques of modern century theater, including selected British, American, and Continental plays by modern dramatists such as, Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw, Synge, O’Neill, Pirandello, Brecht, and Pinter. Prerequisite: Junior standing or above.
365 Children’s Theater (4 credits; Fall, Spring) This is a course in the multiple aspects and practices of children’s theater in America. The course examines the theatrical conventions and structures of this distinct area of theater. It explores the multiple areas of children’s theater from performance to puppetry. The course includes writing a paper on a children’s theater or practitioner in America. The art of children’s theater is a loss of our present inhibition and a willingness to rediscover the child within. We discuss and explore all areas of performing for children. No previous experience required.
370 Career Internship in Theater Arts (4 credits; Fall, Spring) This is a working internship for one semester at a professional theater, television, or radio station. Prerequisite: Junior standing or above.
389 Independent Study (Fall, Spring) In-depth study and research culminates in a substantial paper or performance project. Prerequisite: Junior standing or above; a minimum GPA of 3.0 and permission of the Department Chair.
391 Acting a Song (4 credits; Fall) Acting a Song is a workshop class aimed at beginning actors or others who have an interest in musical theater and performance. Musical theater is often first point of contact for students of theater, yet high school theater settings often do not allow the time needed to explore the process of performing a song effectively. Using songs from the American Musical Theater cannon the course seeks to reinforce lessons learned in Improv and Scene Study. Each student will memorize and perform two solo songs and one duet. Students will work with a live accompanist in class and will be required to bring to class a recording device that will allow them to record piano parts to the songs they are working on so that rehearsal away from class is possible. Prerequisite: TH150 or TH241 or permission of the instructor.
393 Special Studies in Theater Arts (Fall, Spring) This is an advanced course on special topics such as Solo Performance, Performance: From Ritual to Theater, autobiographical Adaptations: Ethnographic method for playwriting and performance, Spirituality and Theater, Movement Theater and the New Vaudeville, or New Perspectives on Theater Adaptation. The course is designed as a means of addressing the interdisciplinary nature of the art of theater and poses subjects of interest to students and faculty. Prerequisite: Two Theater courses 200 level or above. Topics may vary; may be repeated for credit.
490 Advanced Workshop in Theater (Spring) This course is individual or small-group projects in acting styles, directing full-length plays, scene and lighting design, theater management, or other theater areas. It may involve directing or designing of a major college production, a formal advanced class, or other approved topics. Prerequisite: individualized projects require the approval of the instructor or Director of Theater.