Courses

THEA 100 SEM ADAPTING TO THE LANGUAGE OF THE CAMERA

Last offered Spring 2021

The course will focus on the creation of screen character and introducing different acting techniques. By means of improvisation, concentration exercises and games, the class will attempt to create a common film vocabulary and understanding through effective analysis of the recorded on-camera scenes. The course will culminate in the presentation of scenes from classical and contemporary film or television. In addition, the students will research one of the masters of the cinema movies -- for example, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Ford Coppola, Spike Lee, Darren Aronofsky, etc. The student will give a brief oral report and write a one to three page paper. [ more ]

THEA 101(F) SEM The Art of Playing: An Introduction to Theatre and Performance

This is an introduction to the global art and practice of making theatre. Students will learn about the history, aesthetics, and approaches to the performer's labor associated with select performance forms from around the world. Emphasis will be on the analysis of embodied practices and the relationship between the stage and everyday life. Through readings, audiovisual materials, performance exercises, and discussions we will engage with theatre as a constantly evolving art form, sharpening our analytical skills through theoretical approaches from performance studies. Central to our exploration will be excavating the Eurocentric assumptions that conventionally shape the practice and study of theater in the United States. We will seek ways to decolonize our perspectives and ask critical questions about performance's potential to enact strategies of anti-racism and anti-imperialism. This course, open to all students, is a gateway to the major in Theatre, and is a prerequisite for THEA 201, THEA 204, THEA 301, and THEA 401. [ more ]

THEA 103(F) STU Acting: Fundamentals

In this course students will examine the power of public presence through theory and practice while expanding their talents, sensitivity, and imagination, and will increase their self-awareness, confidence, creativity, and other skills that are useful in social situations, public speaking, theatre performances, and virtual interactions. [ more ]

THEA 104(F) LEC Greek Literature: Performance, Conflict, Desire

In the Iliad, Paris' desire for the famously beautiful Helen leads to the Trojan War, the devastating conflict between the Trojans and the Greeks retold and reimagined time and again in ancient Greek literature. The stories of Troy and its aftermath were performed not only as epic poems (as in the Iliad and the Odyssey), but also re-enacted by singing and dancing choruses, dramatized on the tragic stage, and recounted in oratory. Beginning with the Homeric epics, this course explores the recurring and ever-shifting debates, longings, hostilities, and aspirations that drive Greek literature and shape its reception, with a particular focus on questions of performance context and audience. Our attention to sound, movement, and staging will be enriched by consideration of select examples from the rich reception history of Greek myth in modern theater and dance. The nexus of performance, conflict, and desire will also give us a distinct perspective on many important topics within the study of Greek culture, including the embodiment of personal and collective identities, the workings of Athenian democracy, and the development of literary genres. This course will include readings from, e.g., Homer, Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Thucydides, and Plato, as well as viewings of relevant performance works. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

THEA 109(S) TUT The Art of Yoga: Practice, Philosophy, Politics, Possibilities

This course offers an immersive, interdisciplinary approach to hatha yoga, the branch of yoga that emphasizes bodily techniques for channeling energy, and achieving balance and quietude. It has been practiced and theorized variously in South Asia since ancient times. More recently, beginning in the late 19th century, it has been popularized throughout the globe, and has served as a source of inspiration for artists in various disciplines, including the theatre. Our work will follow four interrelated paths that will provide a broad context for our own experience and offer us tools for developing creativity: 1) We will dedicate ourselves to the careful study of the physical practice of yoga asanas, giving emphasis to biomechanical principles of alignment. Our study will include some basics of yoga anatomy; 2) We will study some allied philosophical principles, as they emerge from the Sanskrit text, Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, and some current commentaries on that text, by means of expanding the significance of our practice to all areas of our lives; 3) We will attend to the cultural politics of yoga by discussing new scholarship on its ancient origins as well as critical inquiry about how issues of appropriation, Orientalism, and racism shape its current manifestations; 4) We will examine how artists have incorporated elements of yoga into their practice. To explore how yoga might support our own artistic and innovative thinking, we will pair our practice with creative exercises. In this way, the course aims to explore the relationship of theory and practice. It will be of interest to students in the arts and anyone interested in fostering artistry and the imagination. Students must be prepared to engage in a physical practice of asana, as well as commit to reading, writing, and discussion. No previous experience with yoga is required. [ more ]

THEA 129 STU Institutional Critique

Last offered Spring 2019

This introductory course will investigate the performance potential of the radical art making methodology known as Institutional Critique. Influenced by Situationalism, and the Fluxus movement, Institutional Critique emerged as a way for artists to respond to the art worlds elitism, monopoly on culture, and dependency on Capitalism. Through collaborative performance based projects and readings students will explore the possibility of art to critically intervene in the hegemonic order and insight change within power relationships. We will also explore related movements such as Socially Engaged Practice, a term that describes art that is participatory and focuses as people as the medium. Artists covered will include: Thomas Hirshhorn, Tim Rollins, and Andrea Fraser. You do not need any prior experience just a willingness to use the power of voice and body. [ more ]

THEA 141 LEC Opera

Last offered Fall 2023

An introduction to the history of opera, from the genre's birth c. 1600 to the present. At various points in its 400-year development, opera has been considered the highest synthesis of the arts, a vehicle for the social elite, or a form of popular entertainment. Opera's position in European cultural history will be a primary focus of our inquiry. We will also study the intriguing relationship between text and music, aspects of performance and production, and the artistic and social conventions of the operatic world. The multidimensional nature of opera invites a variety of analytical and critical perspectives, including those of music analysis, literary studies, feminist interpretations, and political and sociological approaches. Works to be considered include operas by Monteverdi, Lully, Charpentier, Handel, Gluck, Mozart, Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, Wagner, Bizet, Puccini, Strauss, Berg, Britten, Glass, and Adams. [ more ]

THEA 150 LEC The Broadway Musical

Last offered Spring 2024

Named for a specific road but enjoying a global impact, the Broadway musical has intersected with multiple styles and societal concerns over the past century. In this course, we explore the American musical theater's roots and relationship to opera, operetta, vaudeville, minstrelsy, and Tin Pan Alley. Traveling through the genre's history, we will encounter a wide range of musical styles, including ragtime, jazz, rock, and hip hop, and will explore several genre transformations, such as movies made into musicals and musicals into movies. We will develop a range of analytical skills as we investigate connections between choreography, lyrics, music, staging, and production. Throughout the semester, we will consider the genre's representations and reflections of ethnicity, race, sexuality, and class. The syllabus includes representative works by Gilbert and Sullivan, Cohan, Gershwin, Kern, Weill, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, Bernstein, Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, Tesori, and Miranda, with particular focus on such works as Showboat, Oklahoma!, Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Hair, Rent, and Hamilton. [ more ]

THEA 183(F) LEC Stage Direction for Opera and Musical Theatre

The course provides an overview of the fundamentals of stage direction for opera and musical theatre. Students will develop an understanding of the basic principles of design and the process necessary for developing an approach to directing a production. They will explore the work of stage directors whose output has been particularly influential and learn about a variety of approaches to process and rehearsal technique. Repertoire studied will include a range of opera and musical theatre from the beginning of the form to its current trends and a broad variety of directorial approaches from traditional to concept productions. Students will complete the process of developing a concept/approach for a production with a title of their choosing. [ more ]

THEA 201(S) STU Worldbuilding: Design for the Theater

This course examines designers' creative processes as they investigate a theatrical text and then dream-into-being the fictional worlds of a hypothetical production. Class will consist of several practical projects in multiple areas of design. We will practice a two-pronged technique in response to a text: developing a personal, intuitive creative response while simultaneously supporting all logistical requirements, resulting in an inventive yet dramaturgically sound design. Emphasis will be on folding this individual work process into a larger group collaboration by refining methods of communication, presentation, and group critique. [ more ]

THEA 203 STU Living Masks: Theory and Practice

Last offered Fall 2023

The Mask is one of the oldest performance tools in the history of humanity - they conceal, reveal, and transform. For millennia they have been used in spiritual contexts like ritual storytelling, dance, and funerals. In our own times, theoretical and protective masks are part of everyday conversations and day to day life. This course will survey, discuss, and experiment with masks thematically and tangibly across histories, cultures, and traditions. There will be practical assignments in creating masks with various mediums such as recyclable materials, cloth, and paper mâché. [ more ]

Taught by: Sean Devare

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THEA 204 STU Acting: Scene Work

Last offered Spring 2019

Students will continue to develop technical skills, and the emotional and intellectual resources, required for the actor. The focus will be on the issues of characterization, textual understanding and emotional depth. The means of study and experimentation will be intense scene work requiring thorough preparation and creative collaboration. Improvisation and other exercises will be used to complement the textual work. The dramatic texts providing scenes for class will be from the early realist works onward. Students will be expected to have had previous acting or performance experience, either through completion of Theatre 101, 102, or 103 or through other relevant production experience. [ more ]

THEA 205 SEM ACTING FOR THE CAMERA

Last offered Spring 2021

The course will focus on the creation of screen character and introducing different acting techniques. By means of improvisation, concentration exercises and games, the class will attempt to create a common film vocabulary and understanding through effective analysis of the recorded on-camera scenes. The course will culminate in the presentation of scenes from classical and contemporary film or television. In addition, the students will research one of the masters of the cinema movies -- for example, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Kathryn Bigelow, Francis Ford Coppola, Spike Lee, Darren Aronofsky, etc. The student will give a brief oral report and write a one to three page paper. [ more ]

THEA 206(S) STU Directing for the Stage

An introduction to the resources available to the Stage Director for translating interpretive concepts into stageworthy physical realization. Kinetic and visual directorial controls, as well as textual implications and elements of dramatic structure, and strategies of working with actors and other collaborators will be studied in detail. Most assignments will involve hands-on directing projects presented in class for collective critique. [ more ]

Taught by: Samer Al-Saber

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THEA 207 STU Acting: Physical Theatre and Body Language

Last offered Spring 2019

This semester Theatre 207 will focus on processes of Physical Theatre. The class is open to students interested in developing their ability in communication through the art of body language. Assigned research, analysis, discussions, and improvised exercises on stage will give us the opportunity to expand our understanding of physical vocabulary and will help us to express our intentions by evocative behavior. Based on various theatre techniques, this course will hone artistic skills for performance and improve students' confidence in their interactions with other people. [ more ]

THEA 208 STU Voice, Speech & Song for the Actor

Last offered Fall 2017

Continuing the vocal technique work in THEA 205, this course provides an intense practice that further deepens the body-voice connection, builds and troubleshoots speech technique, and expands vocal strength, range and endurance through song. Through incorporating the resonator techniques of Roy Hart and Meredith Monk, the speech drills of Edith Skinner and the fundamentals of musical training for the voice, students finish the course able to complete an hour long full voice/speech/song work out. In addition to building a repertoire of voice, speech and singing drills; students will explore how to "act" a song, combining speaking and singing, using songs from the plays of Bertolt Brecht. [ more ]

THEA 209(S) STU Realism: Scene Study

A studio in the acting, craft, and performance of realism. How do we perform in the present moment? How do we act with purpose and intention? What makes something look and feel like it is happening for the first time? When might acting require us to do less rather than more? In this studio, we will explore tools and methods used by actors to tell truthful stories and convey the close imitation of reality on stage. Beginning with basic techniques and exercises, we will move into more advanced scene studies based on short scenes from works by contemporary U.S. playwrights. Playwrights may include Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Bess Wohl, Amy Herzog, Annie Baker, Dominique Morisseau, Eboni Booth, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Lauren Yee, Mona Mansour, Martyna Majok, Taylor Mac, and others. As a final project, students will perform two- or three-person scenes, potentially in front of an invited audience. [ more ]

THEA 21 The Art of Being Present: A Gaudino Retreat

Last offered NA

"One must live in the present without apology." So wrote former faculty member Robert L. Gaudino, an innovative teacher and leading proponent of experiential education at Williams. But what exactly did he mean by this? Living in the present, whether at Williams or anywhere else, is hard, especially in an era of non-stop, 24/7 activity. Rarely do we give ourselves the time to stop, slow down, focus on our breath and just allow ourselves to be open and present to whatever is going on in the moment. Engaging with art and creative activities can help facilitate ways of feeling more present. Led by the current Gaudino Scholar, this course invites students to use Winter Study as a "retreat" in which to experience and practice ways of feeling more present in their lives. By encountering art at local institutions and engaging with various hands-on artistic and creative practices, from finger-painting, to collage-making, to listening to music, to learning how to crochet, we will work to gain a sense of what being present to an activity means for each person. Through such experiences, along with shared dialogue, writing exercises, and other opportunities for reflection, students will gain a deeper understanding of the "art of being present." As an off-campus excursion, we will also spend a day at The Kripalu Center in Lenox, learning practices of mindfulness and relaxation. Evaluation will be based on participation in the activities of the retreat, which will involve two, 3-hour-long sessions per week of collective meetings as well as an additional ten hours per week (or roughly 2 hours/day) of activity conducted on one's own time. Students will be required as well to keep a journal of their experience. The goal is to learn how to embrace being "present without apology" at Williams and beyond. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 210 SEM The Art of Making Art: Production Management Across the Arts

Last offered Fall 2023

An introductory look at management across the performing arts from the point of view of the Production Manager and Artistic Producer. How do these team members facilitate the conceptual ideas of creative teams while balancing the practical realities of the business of the arts? This course will examine how collaborators in a variety of fields breakdown barriers, embrace change and recover from failures. Through exercises, textual analysis and research projects participants will develop a theoretical creative project and will explore the management process in the following areas: communication, collaboration, scheduling, budgeting, human resources, negotiation and creativity. [ more ]

Taught by: Jennifer Hard

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THEA 211 SEM Performing Greece

Last offered Spring 2021

Modern readers often encounter Homer, Sappho, Sophocles, and the Greek orators through written texts, yet their first ancient audiences experienced the words of these authors not in silence and solitude, but in live performance contexts. This course, therefore, will take up performance as a critical lens for interpreting ancient Greek literature, situating these works within a rich culture of song, dance, speech, and debate. We will survey the evidence for the musical, visual, and embodied aspects of Greek literature, and also reflect on the rewards and limits of enlivening the ancient world through the reconstruction and re-imagination of its performative dimensions. Our attention to performance will give us a distinct perspective on many important topics within the study of Greek culture, including the construction of personal and collective identities, the workings of Athenian democracy, and the development of literary genres, and it will also enable us to consider the reception and reperformance of Greek myth and literature from new angles. All readings are in translation. [ more ]

THEA 214 SEM Writing for Stage and Screen

Last offered Spring 2020

This studio/workshop course is designed for students interested in a semester-long immersion in the practice of dramatic writing for theater, film, television and audio. Students should expect to write most days. Our focus will be on the fundamentals of story, and the cultivation of each writer's individual voice. In addition to reading existing dramatic texts of various genres and forms, and completing weekly prompts and exercises exploring character, dialogue, structure, theme, conflict and world building, students will work toward a longer final project. Students will present their own work regularly, and respond to each other's work. The course will culminate in a staged reading of excerpts for the campus community. [ more ]

THEA 215 SEM Performance Ethnography

Last offered Fall 2019

The course aims to explore the theory, practice, and ethics of ethnographic research with a focus on dance, movement, and performance. Traditionally considered to be a method of research in anthropology, ethnography is the descriptive and analytical study of a particular community through fieldwork, where the researcher immerses herself in the culture of the people that she researches. In this course students will be introduced to (i) critical theory that grounds ethnography as a research methodology, (ii) readings in ethnographic studies of dance and performance practices from different parts of the world, and (iii) field research in the local community for their own ethnographic projects. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and may include fieldwork, attendance at live performances, film screenings, workshop with guest artists etc. No previous dance or performance experience is assumed or required. [ more ]

THEA 216(F) SEM Asian/American Identities in Motion

The course aims to explore dance and movement-based performances as mediums through which identities in Asian and Asian American (including South Asian) communities are cultivated, expressed, and contested. Students will engage with how social and historical contexts influence the processes through which dance practices are invested with particular sets of meanings, and how artists use performance to reinforce or resist stereotypical representations. Core readings will be drawn from Dance, Performance, Asian, and Asian American Studies to engage with issues such as nation formation, racial and ethnic identity politics, appropriation, tradition and innovation among other topics. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course, and might also include screenings, movement workshops, and discussion with guest artists and scholars. No previous dance experience is required. [ more ]

THEA 217(F) STU Acting Through Impulse

Acting Through Impulse: An actor's job is inherently contradictory: we must remain present and alive onstage but craft a coherent, repeatable performance. We must access depth and intensity of feeling but do so sustainably, while remaining grounded in our bodies. This course will explore the link between aliveness and preparation, between impulse and regulation. Forging those links requires cooperation between the imagination, the body, and the text. Together, we will approach impulse from several angles: first, through movement and image, then through the operations of the nervous system, and finally through scenework. There will be journal and written assignments, but the bulk of the classwork will be practice-based, incorporating physical exercises, warm-up training, monologue work and scene performance. [ more ]

THEA 218 STU Ritual, Pattern and Intuition: writing and devising for performance

Last offered Fall 2021

Together, we will (re)discover alternative forms of writing and devising plays, to question the gender, racial and heteronormative bias in contemporary western narratology. In this class you will build and expand your dramaturgical toolbox to thoughtfully understand and engage with new plays, you'll explore your own individual artistic voice and process through creative experiments and generative writing exercises, and finally, you'll write/create a new performance project to be workshopped throughout the semester, culminating in a final presentation.This is a process driven class in which we will interrogate our existing habits and thought patterns to intuitively embrace new narrative structures. Through ritual, pattern and alternative forms of dramaturgy, we'll explore new ways to generate and organize content. We'll develop new work through weekly writing exercises and creative processes stimulated by design elements and influences from artists of other mediums. We'll critically consider and celebrate the work of artists existing outside of white heteropatriarchy. We'll collectively strategize non-hierarchical forms of the curation and presentation of performance. [ more ]

THEA 220 SEM Greek Tragedy

Last offered Spring 2024

Ancient Greek tragedy was a cultural phenomenon deeply embedded in its 5th-century Athenian context, yet it is also a dramatic form that resonates powerfully with 21st-century artists and audiences. This course examines tragedy on both levels. We will read such plays as Aeschylus' Agamemnon, Sophocles' Electra, and Euripides' Medea in English translation, considering their literary and dramatic features as well as their relationship to civic, social, and ritual contexts. We will discuss such topics as the construction of gender and identity on the dramatic stage, the engagement between tragedy and other literary genres, and the distinctive styles of the three major Athenian playwrights. We will also survey a set of recent productions and adaptations of these plays, with a particular focus on how modern playwrights and producers use Greek tragedy to explore justice, power, race, gender, status, and sexuality. We will consider how a dramatic form largely produced by and for Athenian citizen men became a creative resource for a remarkably diverse range of 21st-century artists, and explore how modern productions offer fresh perspectives on ancient material. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 221(S) STU Acting Shakespeare

Acting Shakespeare: In this course we will learn to understand, unpack, and embody Shakespearean text. Our work will be both intellectually and physically rigorous, with equal time spent on the meaning and mechanics of the language--and decoding the secret directions for actors Shakespeare embedded in his plays--and on the physical and vocal training necessary to fully embody these texts. Actors must feel empowered to take full ownership of Shakespeare's work, rather than being too reverent or shrinking in its shadow. So we will spend the final part of the semester "meddling" with Shakespeare, finding opportunities to explode, expand, and explore these endlessly resilient and versatile plays. Classwork will include written assignments as well as rigorous scene work and monologue work. We will work with selections from several plays, including Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Romeo and Juliet, and Richard III. [ more ]

THEA 222 TUT Solo Performance

Last offered Spring 2020

In this tutorial, students will study the process of the creation of one-person performance pieces and will work individually or in collaboration to create original solo works. Each student will perform their own piece at the end of the semester in a final public performance. Students will learn about developing a general production concept and scenic vision, choosing or writing a script, building a character, designing (set, lighting, costume, and sound), publicity, and combining all aspects of theatrical craft to create a successful solo piece. Course time will be divided between class discussion and individual rehearsals with the instructor. Students interested in acting, directing, writing, producing, dramaturgy, design, stage management, and criticism are all welcome. [ more ]

THEA 225(F) SEM Facilitating Creativity: Introduction to Stage Management Theory

In this course students will explore the pillars of stage management (leadership, communication, safety, collaboration, empowerment) and theatre making from the point of view of the stage manager. Using the production process (pre-production, rehearsals, tech, performances, closing) as the framework, students will develop communication and organizational tools that break down barriers in the creative process. Management theory is integrated into each step, allowing each student to identify how their practice can be informed by theory and to begin cultivating their individual management style. [ more ]

Taught by: Jennifer Hard

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THEA 226(S) SEM Gender and the Dancing Body

This course posits that the dancing body is a particularly rich site for examining the history of gender in America and beyond. The aim of the course is to explore ideas related to gender as prescribed by dominant cultural, social, and religious institutions, and how dance has been used to challenge those normative ideologies. We will examine a wide range of dance genres, from stage performances to popular forms to dance on television, with particular attention to the intersections of race and class with gender. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and may also include film screenings, movement workshops, discussions with guest artists and scholars. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

THEA 228 SEM Performance Practices of Global Youth Cultures

Last offered Spring 2020

This course investigates how young people engage in a variety of performance practices to define social identities and reflect on critical issues. We begin by examining how scholars and media have defined "youth" by way of questioning assumptions about the inherent universality of this social category. We will then explore how young people have thought about and represented themselves. Taking seriously music, dance, fashion, and ritualized uses of public space (including in the virtual realm), we will explore examples of how youth have used performance practices to engage in political activism, subvert hegemonic norms, reconfigure urban geographies, and engage in critical identity politics. Our inquiry will include attention to how youth practices travel globally and adopt new localized political meanings, as well as the ways in which the subversive potential of performances can be subsumed by the normalizing mandates of global capital. Our work in class will be based upon readings, discussions, and audiovisual materials from various parts of the world. Throughout the semester students will turn an analytical eye towards their own practices and modes of consumption. For final projects students will engage in ethnographic research about specific youth cultures in the region and on the Williams campus. [ more ]

THEA 229(S) SEM Modern Drama

An introduction to major plays and key movements in European and American theatre since the late nineteenth century. Our focus will be on close reading, with attention also to questions of performance and production. Plays to be discussed will likely include: Ibsen, Hedda Gabler; Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest; Chekhov, The Cherry Orchard; Pirandello, Six Characters in Search of an Author; Brecht, Mother Courage; Miller, Death of a Salesman; Beckett, Waiting for Godot; Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun; Pinter, Betrayal; Churchill, Cloud Nine; Stoppard, Arcadia. [ more ]

THEA 230 Performance Practices of India

Last offered NA

This course explores ancient and contemporary performance practices in India. Our objects of study will include the text and performance of Sanskrit plays, contemporary and experimental theater productions, as well as forms of dance and ritual. We will discuss dramaturgical structure, staging, acting conventions, gender representation, performer training, the experience and role of the audience, as well as mythological and political themes. Thinking historically and ethnographically, we will seek to understand the aesthetics and social purposes of these practices, in addition to the relationship that performance has with everyday life, contested concepts of the nation, and caste. Throughout the semester we will interrogate the ways in which Western categories such as "classical," "folk," "religious," "traditional," and even the distinction between "dance/theater/music/visual arts" are not indigenous or accurate concepts for organizing thinking about performance in this part of the world. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 231(F) SEM Race and Performance

How does race function in performance, and, dare we say, "live and in living color?" How does one deconstruct discrimination at its roots? From a perspective of global solidarity, we will read plays every week and examine how race functions in theater and performance. This class offers students a discussion that does not center whiteness, but takes power, history, culture, philosophy, and hierarchy as core points of debate. In the first three weeks, we will establish the common terms of the discussion about stereotypes, representation, and historical claims, but then we will quickly move toward an advanced conversation about effective discourse and activism through art, performance, and cultural production. In this class, we assume that colonialism, slavery, white supremacy, and oppressive contemporary state apparatuses are real, undeniable, and manifest. Since our starting point is clear, our central question is not about recognizing or delineating the issues, but rather, it is a debate about how to identify the target of our criticism in order to counter oppression effectively and dismantle long-standing structures. Not all BIPOC communities are represented in this course, as claiming comprehensive inclusion in a single semester would be tokenistic and disingenuous. Instead, we will aspire to understand and negotiate some of the complexities related to race in several communities locally in the U.S. and beyond. [ more ]

Taught by: Samer Al-Saber

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THEA 233 TUT Theatre Masters: Become One of Them

Last offered Fall 2021

How well do you know Stanislavsky, Strasberg or Adler? This tutorial offers an exploration of the most notable theatre artists from the past and present. Students will select a specific master with a unique theatrical style, and will study that iconic artist's particular method or approach. Students will be encouraged to choose any master who had made a significant contribution to theatre -- such as Constantine Stanislavsky, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Lee Strasberg, Bertolt Brecht, Michael Chekhov, Jerzy Grotowski, Tadeusz Kantor, Pina Bausch, Tadashi Suzuki, Anne Bogart, etc. Each student will conclude their exploration by writing a script and presenting the essence of their research in a brief performance (for the camera) -- portraying the legendary icon at work, in a social situation, or in solitude. You learn more about others when you become them, if only for a moment. [ more ]

THEA 238 SEM Musical Theatre

Last offered Fall 2023

Students in this course will investigate the history and practice of one of the few truly American art forms: the musical theatre. From its beginnings, influenced by operetta, minstrelsy, and popular music to the current Broadway landscape which grapples with post-Pandemic performance, the American musical has provided fascinating insights into the values, ideas, and mores of the society which created it. Special attention will be paid to the Black creators, women writers, and artists of color whose work has shaped the genre but who have remained under-acknowledged by past generations of both academic and popular historians. Students will encounter well-loved Broadway smash hits as well as forgotten off-Broadway gems while being encouraged to develop a deeper, more nuanced love for the genre. [ more ]

Taught by: Jessica Pearson-Bleyer

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THEA 239(F) STU Introduction to Dramaturgy: The Art & Practice of Storytelling

The dramaturg is a storyteller and major collaborator in theatre. Working as part of an artistic ensemble, the dramaturg helps to tell a story, shape a theatrical production, and facilitate the rewarding process of creating a world on stage. This seminar/studio course will introduce students to the fundamentals of dramaturgy, including: new play development, production research, literary management, educational outreach, criticism/journalism, community engagement, and translation/adaptation. Assignments over the term will be hands-on, practical, creative, and project-based and include independent writing, research, and oral presentation. We will write, and we will revise. We will also read plays and discuss urgent topics in the theatre industry. During some terms, students may be invited to participate as dramaturgs on Theatre Department productions. As a culminating project, students will complete a creative written adaptation and accompanying dramaturgical casebook for a source of their choosing. Students may be asked to attend live performances and exhibitions when relevant. [ more ]

THEA 24 Fashioning Film

Last offered NA

A survey of twentieth century films in which clothing took a starring role. The course will investigate how and why certain garments and costumes sparked a trend, created an icon, and incited controversy. At each class a film will be screened and then followed by student-led discussions. Popcorn will be served. Co-teachers Anne Kennedy and Terese Wadden are Costume Designers working in opera and theater. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 246 SEM Asian American Performance: Activism and Aesthetics

Last offered Fall 2021

This seminar will explore contemporary Asian American plays, stand-up comedy, performance art, and spoken word with an eye to how artists do politics through their cultural labor. We will begin with a brief survey of images from popular media to identify legacies of Orientalism. From here we will move towards examining the ways in which Asian American artists from various eras subvert stereotypes and pursue projects of social justice. In watching performances and reading scripts, essays, and interviews, we will attend to narratives, acting methods, theatrical design, spectatorship, and the political economy of cultural production that shapes how Asian American artists make and show work. In addition, we will explore how artists stake political claims in the public sphere through teaching and community organizing. [ more ]

THEA 250 TUT Feminist Theatres: A Global Perspective

Last offered Fall 2023

What makes a work of theatre "feminist"? How do plays and performances across global networks engage with different models of feminism: liberal, radical, materialist, and intersectional? Why has feminism mattered to theatre-makers of the past? Should it still matter now? If so, what forms might future feminist theatres take? In this tutorial course, students will work in pairs to examine the social and political relation of feminism to the art and practice of theatre. Taking a global and comparative perspective on the subject, we will focus on the intersectionalities of gender, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, and sexual identity in the production of feminist-driven theatrical practices. Artists, companies, and movements to be considered may include: Spiderwoman Theatre, Adrienne Kennedy, Caryl Churchill, Sphinx Theatre Company, Ntozake Shange, Griselda Gambaro, Manjula Padmanabhan, Cherríe Moraga, Lisa Kron, Arethusa Speaks, Maya Krishna Rao, Tracie Chima Utoh-Ezeajugh, Alexis Scheer, Tori Sampson, Clare Barron, and others. Close analysis of source material will be informed by critical and autobiographical writings by: Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Eve K. Sedgwick, Gayatri Spivak, Jill Dolan, José E. Muñoz, and Donna Haraway. This course will follow a standard tutorial format, with students taking turns presenting or responding to their peer every other week; for their presentations, students will write a 5-page paper or, in up to two cases if they choose, offer their argumentation through more performance-driven methods (such as an oral argument, spoken-word monologue, or activist prompt). [ more ]

THEA 252 TUT Stop Making Sense: Absurd(ist) Theatre in Historical Context

Last offered Spring 2024

We want to make sense of things. In nearly all of our academic pursuits, the point of analysis is to find meaning, to explain intricate or confusing phenomena, to provide clarity from complexity. What happens when we can't do this, indeed, when the objects of our analytical attention seem willfully designed to thwart the attempt? Such is the challenge of "understanding" the traditions of the absurd. In this tutorial course, we will engage this challenge within the realm of Western theatre and performance from 1900 to the present. Beginning with selected readings from writers who have engaged the absurd in theoretical fashion (Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Esslin), the course will move swiftly to original artworks for contemplation and analysis. Some questions we will grapple with include: How do we, can we, should we respond to art that specifically defies meaning? Can art that seems pointless have a point? Playwrights will range from canonical (Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco) to more obscure but equally engaging (as well as baffling) artists (Peter Handke, Slavomir Mrocek). We will follow standard practice in tutorial pairs, as each week one student will prepare original analysis of the assigned reading, and the other will craft a response to prompt an hour-long discussion. Whether we "make sense," or perhaps discover different ways of appreciating the varied works of art, will depend on the nature of those weekly attempts. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 253 STU Shakespeare alone/together: Interpretation and Performance of Soliloquies and Major Speeches

Last offered Fall 2021

Shakespeare alone/together: Interpretation and Performance of Soliloquies and Major Speeches Many of Shakespeare's most intricate and challenging theatrical moments are contained within speech acts performed by an actor alone. These include true soliloquies, where the performer literally occupies the stage by him- or herself, and major speeches, where, although addressing other present characters, that performer still must carry the dramatic action for a significant time on their own. In both circumstances of course, the actor is actually always in the company of others--the audience. Such virtuosic talking presents unique challenges and opportunities for the Shakespearean actor. This class will investigate these challenges in two registers. First, each student will perform a series of speeches from the Shakespeare canon, focusing on vocal and physical approaches to characterization, and exploration of various modes of delivery. Second, for each set of speeches, the entire class will read selections from the critical literature on the play in question, and students will then be asked to re-interpret their performative delivery based on insights from the scholarship. In-class critiques will accompany all performances. [ more ]

THEA 254(S) STU PHYSICAL VOICE & ACTING

This course is an advanced acting class where students explore the integration of performance and vocal expression. Through the process of integrating voice work and physical acting methods, students develop the breath to support their play, availability, intention, and objectives. The goal is to inspire students to listen and respond with the whole body, to allow action to have voice at any moment, and for the voice to be fully supported by the body. It is an embodied practical class where we will explore the power of voice and its range: the quiet intimate voice, the sung and deep voice, and the dance of articulation via heightened contemporary texts. Overall the goal is to integrate intention and action via breath and voice. Time outside of class to develop a practice is required. Physical engagement, reading, writing, and spoken reflection are core components of the class. Students will also be lead in the process of examining and developing a decolonizing practice to do with our relationship to time and product. [ more ]

THEA 255 TUT Performing Shakespeare

Last offered Spring 2020

This tutorial course will challenge students to interpret and perform characters and scenes from a considerable variety of Shakespeare's work for the stage. Working in pairs, students will function as both directors and actors, bringing scene-work-in-progress first to the instructor for critique/revision, and subsequently to other members of the class for more general discussion. Written assignments, explicating and contextualizing artistic choices, will accompany presentations. Over the course of the semester, assignments will ask students to grapple with particular challenges of Shakespeare's drama (including, for instance, the technical aspects of speaking the verse, and the accompanying challenge of performing in the Elizabethan tradition of "open space"). Other assignments will ask students to consider specific interpretive traditions (feminist, phenomenological, queer studies, post-modern) in preparing their work for presentation. Plays studied will include tragedies (Macbeth, Anthony and Cleopatra, Othello), comedies (The Merchant of Venice, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night), and histories (Richard II, Richard III); theorists assigned for additional readings may include Shirley Nelson Garner, Alan Sinfield, Harry Berger Jr., Arthur Little, Jr., Janet Adelman, William Worthen, Laurence Senelick, Bert States, and Stephen Greenblatt. [ more ]

THEA 256 STU The Expressive Body

Last offered Spring 2020

This course aims to allow students to develop the body's capacities for expression and reflect on the experience of movement. On one hand, we will enhance our potential as performers -- both in the rehearsal process and on stage. On the other, we will explore how training our corporeal intelligence can enrich our everyday lives. Studio sessions will seek to cultivate strength, endurance, flexibility, alignment, and balance so that we can gradually expand the body's range of safe possibilities as we begin to work with images, gesture, and emotions. Exercises will be drawn from a range of movement and theatrical techniques including yoga, Bharatanatyam, contemporary dance, Grotowski, butoh, and Schechner's Rasaboxes. Integral to our work will be consideration of the relationship between words, objects, and moving. Concurrently, we will read, write, and discuss some significant ideas about the consciousness of the body to expand our understandings of ourselves from various perspectives. The spirit of the class is one of bold investigation and refined observation in the context of supportive camaraderie as we all grapple with encountering the new, the surprising, and the wonderfully unexpected. [ more ]

THEA 262 LEC Japanese Theatre and its Contemporary Context

Last offered Fall 2018

Japan's rich and varied performance traditions, old and new, born of different historical settings, coexist to this day and compete for the attention of audiences, domestically and abroad. The forms to be considered (nohgaku, kabuki, bunraku, shingeki, butoh, and Takarazuka all female revue among others) are all dynamic. Each has transformed itself in response to evolving social conditions. This course examines these performance traditions, considers how each reflects the social, cultural, and political context of its birth, and poses the question, "of what relevance is each to a contemporary audience?" Some of the other questions we will explore are: How have these performing traditions transformed themselves throughout history, including after 3.11? What do we mean by traditional? contemporary? How are traditional and contemporary performance genres interacting with each other? How have the central themes of these works evolved? All readings and discussion will be in English. [ more ]

THEA 266(F) STU Introduction to Playwriting

Are you tired of the classics? Were you frustrated by casting choices in the past? Have you struggled to find a play to direct? Sometimes, you must step away from the canon and create your own work. Do you have something to say about race, gender, ethnicity, nationalism, yourself, and the Other? Do you have a story to tell? Did you ever want to write your own play but didn't know how to start? This is your chance. In this course, you will participate in a series of workshops that will lead to the writing of your first play. You will be guided through the principles of playwriting, beginning with understanding the basics: plot, character, dialog, setting, and theatricality. The mechanics of playwriting will be enhanced by a theoretical understanding of the concepts of genre, style, and aesthetics. Every week, your homework will be to write new dialogs, leading to the first draft of your first play. In class, students are expected to read each other's work aloud and, on occasion, to stage it. By the end of the semester, having brought at least one play into the world, you will not become an experienced playwright, but you will be well on your way to understanding the foundations of the craft. This course culminates with a festival of public staged readings of original student work. [ more ]

Taught by: Samer Al-Saber

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THEA 267 SEM Performance Studies: An Introduction

Last offered Spring 2020

Since the 1980s, performance studies has emerged as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry, with origin tales in theater and anthropology, in communications and philosophy. What might theorizing "performance" as mode, analytic, and object of study have to offer scholarship in the interdisciplinary humanities? In this seminar, we will read texts formative of performance studies, paired with multimedia performance examples, where performance speaks to staged theatrics as well as the presentation of everyday life. We will ask, how are race, gender, sexuality, and nation produced as the effects of legal, political, historical, social, and cultural scripts? And--an important partner question--how do discourses and practices of race, gender, sexuality, and nation in fact produce legal, political, historical, social, and cultural effects? This seminar is an introduction to performance studies, an interdisciplinary field in conversation with theater studies, gender studies, anthropology, philosophy, literary theory, visual studies, dance studies, ethnic studies, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. Students will study and experiment with performance while reading theoretical texts to grapple with concepts including ritual, restored behavior, performativity, mimicry, liveness, the body, objecthood, archive, movement, matter, and affect. [ more ]

THEA 27 Performance with Purpose: Introduction to Applied Theatre

Last offered NA

Unlike product-driven commercial theatre forms, Applied Theatre is invested more in process and exploring the Who/What/Where/When/Why/How the ensemble crafts a performance together. Community is absolutely essential to this work and the boundaries between artist and audience can be fluid. In this course, students will collaboratively devise an original piece of theatre to be shared with the Williams community that amplifies the students' own voices and experiences. Applied Theatre can often be therapeutic in nature, so this class will feature guest lecturers with a background in Drama Therapy and Social Work to discuss real-world applications, activist self-care, and navigating potentially activating subject matter that may arise. In this course, the students will collectively author a Group Agreement to guide their creative explorations and integrate Consent-Forward rehearsal practices. This class will strive to find a balance between playfulness and rigor, introspection and collaboration, and aesthetics and impact. The class will culminate with performances on and off-campus to showcase the students' work and share their message with the community. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 270 Stop Making Sense: Absurd(ist) Theatre in Historical Context

Last offered NA

In most academic work the point of analysis is to make sense, to find meaning, to explain intricate or confusing phenomena, to provide clarity from complexity. What happens when we can't do this, indeed, when the objects of our analytical attention seem willfully designed to thwart the attempt? Such is the challenge of "understanding" the traditions of the absurd. In this tutorial course, we will engage this challenge within the realm of Western theatre and performance from 1900 to the present. Beginning with selected readings from writers who have engaged the absurd in theoretical fashion (Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, Martin Esslin), the course will move swiftly to original artworks for contemplation and analysis. Some questions we will grapple with include: How do we, can we, should we respond to art that specifically defies meaning? Can art that seems pointless have a point? How and when have strategies of nonsense, circular reasoning, linguistic obfuscation, and intentional theatrical absence been employed to disguise, or deflect attention from, specific didactic (even political) agendas? What role specifically does theatre, theatricality, or performativity play in the presentation of art that refuses understanding? Playwrights will range from canonical (Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco) to more obscure but equally engaging (as well as baffling) artists (Peter Handke, Slavomir Mrocek, Richard Foreman). We will follow standard practice in tutorial pairs, as each week one student will prepare original analysis of the assigned reading, and the other will craft a response to prompt an hour-long discussion. Whether we "make sense," or perhaps discover different ways of appreciating the varied works of art, will depend on the nature of those weekly attempts. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 271(S) SEM Acting Out: Performativity, Production, and Politics in East Asian Theatres

"Asian Theaters," for those in the West, can conjure up a variety of exotic impressions: spectacle and cacophony, mysterious masks and acrobatic bodies, exquisite styles and strangely confusing conventions. Although Asian theaters have been studied systematically in the West for at least a century, the West has never truly left its "othering" look at them. Yet, what is "different" for the West is bedrock for Asian cultures. Theatre, one of the most important and dynamic forms of cultural production and communication, has actively involved all strata of Asian societies for a millennium. How to explain theatre's continued presence and relevance for Asian nations? What do the traditions of Kun, Kabuki, and P'ansori reveal about the cultures and communities in which they were created? This course seeks to understand from the Asian perspective, rather than "exoticize" and "other," musical and dance theatres from China, Japan, and Korea. Examining the evolving presentations of signature dramas dating from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, we will act out Asian theatres in the following ways: (1) by reading the original plays in translation in tandem with their contemporary and intercultural reproductions, we will explore how Asian theatres fare in the era of globalization within and beyond national borders; (2) by revealing the "technologies" of writing, reading, acting, and staging these plays in different cultural milieus, we will consider what kinds of language and rhetoric, forms of music and movement, as well as visual components are deployed to convey evolving messages; (3) by considering key performances held outside of the proscenium stage, we will gain exposure to alternative theatrical spaces in Asian and diasporic communities that reform performing conventions, reconfigure staging environments, and renegotiate cultural values. In this manner, we will together gain an appreciation for the aesthetic devices, thematic concerns, and production politics of East Asian theatres and their global reproductions. Class materials include drama, production videos, and invited zoom sessions with Asian theatre practitioners and directors who live in the U.S. and other diasporic communities. All materials are in English. No language prerequisite. Funded by the Global Initiatives Venture Fund, this course includes an all-expense-paid travel component, a cultural and academic exchange project titled "Redefining Amateurism: Experientail Learning with Student Theatre in Contemporary China," which will bring up to eight Williams students to Nanjing, China during the Spring Break (3/23-4/3/2025). Students will participate in workshops with playwrights and theater-makers in contemporary China and engage in black-box theater productions with students from Nanjing University and Shanghai Theatre Academy. This travel component is OPTIONAL for students taking this course. However, students enrolled in this class will receive priority consideration to be included in the free travel project. Selection criteria include active participation, excellent performance in the course, etc. [ more ]

THEA 272 STU Theatre & Environment: Site, Nature, Ecoperformance, Utopia

Last offered Spring 2022

What is theatre's relation to the environment, whether natural or social? How does the site, place, or ecology of a performance change its meaning and reception? What role can live performance play in grassroots campaigns for climate action or environmental justice? How can we use theatre to, in the words of adrienne maree brown, "practice, in every possible way, the world we want to see?" In this combined seminar/studio course, participants will work collaboratively to create a series of mini-performances based on four categories: site, nature/ecology, ecoperformance, and utopia. Acknowledging the deep inequities (racial, gendered, ethnic, class-based) that constitute all human and environmental interaction, we will work to understand how art's relationship to the environment is itself shaped by the historical legacies of empire and global capitalism. As a contribution to the work of the studio, each student will share independent research on an artist, activist movement, or collective of their choice, such as: Hito Steyerl, Ellie Ga, Marta Rosler, Joan Jonas, Paul Chan, Theaster Gates, Bread and Puppet, Punch Drunk, En Garde Arts, Artichoke Dance, Talking Birds, Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, and others. As a special project in the class, we will collaborate with The Zilkha Center to create performances that engage directly with topics relevant to the campus and surrounding community. This is a seminar and maker's course that invites students to create, develop, perform, and share their work with each other and, in some cases, public audiences. [ more ]

THEA 274 Performing Utopia

Last offered NA

How is performance utopian by design? How do we perform utopias in our daily lives? This course examines the performative dimensions of utopia and the utopian aspirations of performance. According to Jill Dolan, performance can be a utopian prompt, a space and time to imagine new forms of sociality and ways of being in the world. Using a case-study model, we will consider how different modes of performance--theatre, dance, film, art, and, more recently, social media--have helped produce and sustain utopian socialities in and across shifting temporalities in the U.S. imaginary, including: the Shakers, Harmony, Oneida, Drop City, Soul City, The Farm, as well as recent "intentional communities" that envision "opting out" as a new way of inhabiting earth in the Anthropocene. Alongside such real-world examples, we will consider how performance itself has been theorized as a productively utopian (and also dystopian) realm by critics like Jill Dolan, Miranda Joseph, and Jose E. Muñoz, and artists and companies like Bread and Puppet, The Living Theatre, Rachel Rosenthal, Miguel Gutierrez, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Faye Driscoll, Theaster Gates, Nick Cave, and Taylor Mac. As a way of gaining knowledge through embodied practice, students will work collaboratively each week to envision, create, and perform everyday "mini-utopias" that rise and fall ephemerally. Students will be required to attend a weekend field trip to The Shaker Museum in Hancock, MA, and may as well, when relevant, be asked to attend various live performances or exhibitions at local arts institutions throughout the term. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 275 TUT American Drama: Hidden Knowledge

Last offered Spring 2022

The Buddha is said to have identified three things that cannot stay hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. What's the secret? Who is lying? Who is breaking the rules? American drama abounds with hidden knowledge and false representations. (This is not surprising: theatre is always on some level a deceptive practice, a place where one person pretends to be another, and where what is spoken is always open to skeptical scrutiny. We might say theatre is always lying as much as lying is always theatre.) This tutorial course will examine what lies hidden in American plays from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first. Beginning with excerpted critical and historical writings on secrecy and lying (The Adventures of Pinocchio, Machiavelli's The Prince, Thomas Carlson's Lying and Deception: Theory and Practice, among others), we will proceed to a set of American plays from across a wide spectrum of playwrights, including Eugene O'Neill, Edward Albee, Sarah Ruhl, Arthur Miller, Amy Herzog, Susan Glaspell, Sophie Treadwell, Annie Baker, and others. Student papers will explore how hidden knowledge structures dramatic action, how different characters create and respond to untruths, and what can we learn in particular from American drama about a national relationship to honesty and its opposites. [ more ]

THEA 282 SEM Writing for Performance

Last offered Spring 2018

This studio/seminar course is designed for students with some experience in creative writing and/or performance interested in a deep dive into the art of playwriting. What is a play? What distinguishes writing for performance from writing that is meant to be read? How do we craft a blueprint for a live event? In our rapidly evolving digital world, what sorts of stories and phenomena still ask to be experienced live? How are contemporary theater and performance makers pushing the boundaries of what "writing" means and what constitutes "liveness"? We will read works by Sharon Bridgforth, Sarah Ruhl, Tarrell Alvin McCraney, Tony Kushner, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Sarah DeLappe, Suzan-Lori Parks, Edward Albee, August Wilson, Chuck Mee, María Irene Fornés, Young Jean Lee, Stew, and Lightning Rod Special, who have deepened and widened the possibilities of the form. We will also write, beginning with exercises in character, dialogue, action, and world-building, and working toward a longer final project. Students will be expected to present their own work and respond to each other's work regularly. At the end of the term, we will present excerpts of our one-act length works as part of an open studio experience. [ more ]

THEA 283 STU The Actor-Creator: Introduction to Physical Theatre Tools

Last offered Fall 2022

This course is an introductory course to the Jacques Lecoq Pedagogy which was born in France and uses observation as a first creative tool. The body is at the heart of this pedagogy and we will have rigorous physical training in order to become more expressive, more precise, and more creative. Improvisation will be the key tool to learn and discover how to write theater on our feet. In the course, we will first observe life: spaces and people. What are the specifics of the different spaces that exist around us and how do they change the body that is in them? Then, we will look at the actor's body. How do you enhance its presence? What brings life to this body? How can we allow ourselves to start using the body as a creative tool that will be able to transform and write? We will next observe the body within the elements. What kind of character will come out of fire? Or of air? What happens when air meets fire? By letting the elements transform us we will find specificity in the character's physicality and relationships. Then we will look at painting, poetry, and music; How can we translate a poem on stage? How do words move? And colors? Is yellow's rhythm the same as brown? We will end the course by working with full masks created by the students/artists and also brought by the teacher. Mask work is an incredible tool to help actors articulate their thoughts, and feelings, and craft their acting. What stories will come out of that? Who's destiny will we learn about? This will be an occasion to bring forth stories you are interested in, that touch you and move you. This course is open to anyone who is interested in creating live performances. Whether you are a writer, a painter, a director, a musician, or an actor you are welcome to bring your fierce and curious artist spirit to create theater that will be telling the stories that matter to you today. [ more ]

Taught by: Emmanuelle Delpech

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THEA 284 SEM Global Digital Performance

Last offered Fall 2020

This course explores the ways in which digital technologies are shaping performance practices. We will consider theater, dance and performance art, as well as the use of social media in political movements and everyday life. We will begin by examining the long history of mediatization in performance. From painting, puppetry and photography to video, VR and Tik Tok, performers' bodies have always been, in some sense, "mediated." We will interrogate the affects and power relations at stake in questions of "liveness," paying particular attention to how the representation of bodies is embroiled in longstanding imperialist projects of representing the "Other," racialized and gendered modes of viewing, and global regimes of neoliberal surveillance. On the other hand, we will examine the role digital communication platforms play in political resistance. We will apply our growing understanding of the pitfalls and potential of digital technologies to examining the aesthetic strategies and political projects of artists and their audiences from various parts of the world. Throughout our work we will acknowledge how access to new technologies, as well as the meaning given to their use, vary between national, cultural, and class contexts. This includes keeping in mind the "digital divide" so that we can chip away at our common sense assumptions that the internet and digital art making are inherently democratic. [ more ]

THEA 285 STU Lighting Design for Performance

Last offered Spring 2022

The artistic, intellectual, and practical roles of a designer vary widely, from the spectacle of Broadway to the do-it-yourself ingenuity of downtown theater to the conceptual frame of the art gallery space. This course explores the art and techniques of lighting design for performance. This course will cover the conceptual methodology for development of a design based in textual analysis and research. We will discuss light as an ephemeral substance and the visual content upon which we incorporate it into the theatrical world. Students will delve into how we use lighting to help to tell a story, influence the audience, and create a world unseen to many. By the end of the course, students will be able to answer the question of 'how do color, form, texture, and motion impact our emotions in everyday life and onstage?' We will explore the various tools that are used to implement such a design including the use of movement, color, intensity, and texture as compositional and storytelling tools; and the translation of concept into technical drawings and paperwork used to make an artist's design into a reality. The class format will be a combination of lectures, discussions, and studio work. [ more ]

THEA 286(S) STU Sound Design

What is "sound" and how does it work within a design for live performance? Starting from that fundamental question, this course will examine creative, practical, and technical aspects of sound design within a theatrical setting, from the physics of sound and the mechanics of human hearing and perception to sound aesthetics, style, and function. We will learn to effectively analyze a range of scripts and source material, apply research, and make specific choices about world building that serve both the needs of the script and the artist's imaginative impulse. We will experiment with original sound design in a theater space, compare approaches, and learn to listen critically. We will consider how to integrate sound with the other design disciplines, and collaborate effectively to help to create a robust but coherent production. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 287 Design for Film & Television

Last offered NA

The production designer is responsible for creating, controlling, and managing 'the look' of films and narrative television from page to screen. This hands-on course explores the processes of production design, art direction, and lighting direction processes as related to design for film and television. From initial Production Design sketches and 'Feel-Boards' to accommodating desired cinematographic angles when designing a studio set, design for film requires a designer to shape an entire visual world while keeping in mind the story as a whole. The goal of this course is to provide an initial understanding of the Production Design process in practice through studio work and instruction. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 288 STU Storyboarding: Building Visual Narratives

Last offered Fall 2023

In this class, we will explore the process of sequencing images to create meaning over time. We will examine and research visual texts with episodic and sequential structures (such as picture books, comics, albums, film/animation, theatre, and opera) and interpret them into storyboards of various 2D and/or 3D visual media. We will focus on developing and communicating complete dramaturgically-based visual ideas with an eye towards conceptual artistic propositions. This class is geared towards all students interested in directing/writing/designing/creating for time-based visual mediums such as film and theatre. No previous artistic expertise is required, but the majority of the work here will be hands-on art projects, presentations, discussions and group critiques in a studio art class format. [ more ]

Taught by: Sean Devare

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THEA 289 STU Set Design for Stage and Film

Last offered Fall 2021

In this class, we will examine the similarities and differences in creating environments for performance in theater and for film by completing several set design projects that investigate each form. Creative thinking and problem-solving is the focus, but research, drafting, and model-building will be key components of this process. What is unique about design with audience and performer in the same space? What is unique about design for the frame of the camera? and how do we maximize the impact of each as visual designers? [ more ]

THEA 290 STU Theatre Department Production

Last offered Spring 2021

Participation in the production program is offered as a partial credit fifth course, is open to all students, and can only be taken on a Pass/Fail basis. Theatre Majors are required to participate in four department productions, and must serve as stage manager for one of them. Depending on their role in the production process, students will be admitted to Theatre Production courses by permission of the department Chair, following casting and the assembly of the artistic and production team. Students may participate in a production in one of three major roles: stage management, performing (actor or actress, musician, dancer, etc.), or non-performing (director, designer, dramaturge, choreographer, music director, production manager, etc.). Stage managers or performers should expect to be in rehearsals, generally scheduled during the evening hours from 6-10PM, for up to twenty hours per week during a five to ten-week long production process, as well as up to ten hours per day during tech weekend and up to six hours per day during the performance run of the show. Non-performing roles may be expected to be involved in the production process before the start of rehearsals, participating in meetings, auditions, as well as a post-mortem process for each show. Entrance into a production for actors and major artistic roles are based on competitive auditions or prior experience. There is no online registration. Repeatable course numbers are designated as follows: 291 (Stage Management Production I); 292 (Stage Management Production II); 293 (Stage Management Production III); 294 (Performing Role Production I); 295 (Performing Role Production II); 296 (Performing Role Production III); 297 (Non-Performing Role Production I); 298 (Non-Performing Role Production II); 299 (Non-Performing Role Production III). Evening courses and exams will take precedence over half credit courses. Students may still participate in department productions even if they choose not to enroll for credit. [ more ]

THEA 301 SEM Embodied Archives: Global Theatre Histories, From Antiquity to 1900

Last offered Spring 2024

A survey of global theatre and performance, spanning from antiquity to 1900. Students will engage with the archives and repertoires of the theatrical past, approaching subjects both critically and creatively. Topics to be considered may include: Indian Sanskrit drama; ancient Greco/Roman theatre; pre-Columbian Mesoamerican dance/drama; Japanese Noh and Kabuki performance; Medieval and Renaissance English theatre; West African masquerade; French Neoclassicism; Spanish "golden age" theatre; and American melodrama. In addition, we will consider receptions of such traditions in the present, examining how contemporary theatre makers have engaged with (adapted, appropriated, recycled, or re-appropriated) historical sources. As a major project in the class, students will develop and share their own artistic approaches to selected archival works. While attending to theatre's formal aspects, we will at the same time focus on the relationship of performance to politics and society, as well as to the enduring legacies of empire, state power, colonialism, and private capital in which theatre is historically embedded. If and when possible, we will encounter archival sources housed in College Archives and WCMA. This course is required for Theatre majors and is a prerequisite for THEA 401. [ more ]

THEA 302 TUT Scenic Design and Experimental Performance

Last offered Spring 2015

The artistic, intellectual, and practical roles of a set designer vary widely, from the spectacle of Broadway to the do-it-yourself ingenuity of downtown theater. In contemporary experimental theater designers are essential parts of the ensemble, contributing equally to devised work alongside directors, writers, performers and dramaturgs. Design is not viewed as a response to the script, but rather an initial condition: a world whose creation describes the limits of the play while also providing the necessary components for that play to exist. In this way the act of designing and the act of devising can be seen as inextricably entwined--even interchangeable. This course explores a range of techniques and methodologies utilized to create stage environments in traditional and experimental modes. Grounded in textual analysis and research, and emphasizing process, critique, and revision, we will create theoretical stage designs in response to a variety of performance texts. These may include plays, musicals, operas, physical- and dance-theater, and other work that is deeply grounded in the physicality of performer, spectator and performance environment. Emphasis will be on sketching and model-making as the primary means for developing and communicating design ideas Drafting and digital tools will also be factors in course work, which will include training and mentorship in all materials and craft. [ more ]

THEA 303 LEC Lighting Design

Last offered Spring 2016

A study of the art and techniques of stage lighting. This class will provide instruction in the basic physics of light and color; the use of angle, intensity, color, texture and movement of light as compositional tools; various kinds of stage lighting instruments and their uses; conceptual development of a lighting design; translation of concept into light plot and channel hookup; focusing the plot in the theater; and writing cues.The course will use texts and scores of plays, musicals, opera and dance to discover and evaluate the lighting design process. There will be primary source and supplemental technical readings for each class meeting. The class format will be a combination of lectures, discussions and practical labs. [ more ]

THEA 304 SEM The Gay Menagerie: Gay Male Subcultures

Last offered Fall 2022

Bears. Cubs. Otters. Pups. Twinks. Radical Fairies. Leathermen. Mollies. Drag queens. Dandies. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Gay men, including gay trans men, have organized themselves into various subcultures within their community for centuries. This seminar is devoted to exploring these subcultures in (a mostly US-context) in greater detail using ethnographic texts, anthropological studies, historical accounts (including oral histories), and media. Topics include cruising and flagging, the anthropological significance of gay bars, histories of bath house culture, rural vs urban queer experiences, the ball scene, drag, diva worship, the reclamation of "fabulousness and faggotry," the leadership roles of trans women and effeminate gay men in activist movements, gay gentrification, the growth of gay consumerism/ gay tourism/homonationalism, hierarchies of masculinity in the gay community (i.e., masc for masc culture), HIV/AIDS and the politics of PrEP, chemsex, the role of racialized dating "preferences," genealogies of BDSM and leather culture, sexual health and discourses of "risk," the politics of barebacking and other sexual practices, queering consent, and the effects of hookup apps on gay culture. In addition to lectures, and discussions, there will also be some low-key performance-studies based exercises in queer praxis (e.g., drag workshops, mock debates, animal improvisation, role playing, etc.) [ more ]

THEA 305(F) STU Designing Character: Introduction to Costume Design for Performance

This course introduces students to the processes and techniques of costume design for performance. With a focus on building character through research and design, students will practice developing costume design concepts and using them to illuminate a script, tell a story, and explore characters. Coursework is project-based and will include reading plays, researching period, rendering characters in costumes, expressing design ideas, and sharing and receiving feedback. Class projects will include The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco and Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage. Drawing experience not required, but you must be brave enough to try. [ more ]

THEA 308 STU Directing: Bodies in Space and Time

Last offered Fall 2018

This is a laboratory in which we will investigate the holistic art of directing live performance. The director is both a creator and interpreter. Students will sharpen their visual, spatial, sonic, and kinesthetic sensibilities while developing a clear, cogent directorial voice. We will learn by doing. Assignments will involve hands-on directing projects presented in class for collective critique. Through these weekly assignments, directors will devise and discover strategies for collaboration and vocabularies of action and intention. [ more ]

THEA 310 SEM Playwriting: Facing the Blank Page

Last offered Fall 2020

I believe that after food and shelter, humans need stories to survive. this class will focus on each writers, dreams, fears and desires and how to turn them into plays. Students will explore the fundamentals of playwriting. This will include writing exercises, weekly pages, hearing your scenes out loud and at the end of the semester the first draft of a new play. [ more ]

THEA 312(S) SEM Dressed for Diplomacy: Global Fashion in Early Modern Europe

In this course we will examine the context and cultural messaging contained in portraits of people from around the globe visiting (or brought without consent to) western Europe in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, including visitors from the Arctic, North and South America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Though these images are often read as "authentic" depictions of regional dress, the clothes worn by the people in these images represent a complex spectrum of hybridities of foreign and European garments as recorded by European hands. In what ways are the people in these images performing diplomacy? Who decided what the people wore in these pictures and how does it reflect the goals of the portrait? Is it possible to "read" the clothing in these portraits as "speaking" for the person pictured? For the painter? For a political objective? What kinds of agency and self-representation were the portrait subjects able to express through the medium of dress? What role do clothes play in diplomacy and how were the global visitors expressing their diplomatic intentions through dress? What did it mean for a foreign visitor to wear their home clothing while abroad or to take on the dress of their host country? How are international and inter-personal relations expressed and effected by clothing, gesture, comportment, and self-fashioning? Coursework will include participation class discussions, investigations of visual primary sources, one presentation on readings, and a final 8 page research paper on the subject. [ more ]

THEA 315 STU Inhabited Theatrical Environments: Scenic Design for Performance

Last offered Fall 2022

How do you develop a point of view and translate it to the stage? What is an effectively inhabited space for performance? We will explore the different ways a scenic environment provides the visual foundation for live theatrical events in theaters as well as site-specific shows. In addition to working intuitively, this course combines critical readings of texts to contextualize works for the current moment. Research will be at the center of our work -- deepening skills to source, curate, and present personal points of view as designers and creators. This work will serve to expand our imaginations to the aesthetic possibilities of performance. Students will also develop a basic knowledge of model building and drafting. Class time is a combination of discussions of theatrical texts, student project presentations, and studio work. [ more ]

Taught by: Barbara Samuels

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THEA 316(F) STU Scenic Design for the Stage

Students in this course will explore the tools and techniques required to create physical environments for live performance. An exploration of how text and research effects visual ideas and the development of a strong visual world that supports the text of the piece. Students will explore and develop the use of sketching, drafting, photoshop, and physical model making in this course. [ more ]

THEA 317 SEM Black Migrations: African American Performance at Home and Abroad

Last offered Fall 2023

In this course, students will investigate, critique and define the concepts migration and diaspora with primary attention to the experiences of African Americans in the United States and Europe. Drawing on a broad definition of performance, students will explore everything from writing and painting to sports and dance to inquire how performance reflects, critiques and negotiates migratory experiences in the African diaspora. For example, how did musician Sidney Bechet's migration from New Orleans to Chicago to London influence the early jazz era? How did Katherine Dunham's dance performances in Germany help her shape a new black dance aesthetic? Why did writer James Baldwin go all the way to Switzerland to write his first novel on black, religious culture in Harlem? What drew actor/singer Paul Robeson to Russia, and why did the U.S. revoke his passport in response to his speeches abroad? These questions will lead students to investigate multiple migrations in the African diasporic experience and aid our exploration of the reasons for migration throughout history and geography. In addition to critical discussions and written analysis, students will explore these topics through their own individual and group performances in class. No prior performance experience is necessary. [ more ]

THEA 321 SEM Arts Organizing in Africa and the Diaspora

Last offered Spring 2024

At the heart of this class is the question, how do artists and organizations use the performing arts to effect social change in their communities? Drawing from a number of case studies from throughout Africa and the African Diaspora, we will first endeavor to understand and contextualize issues related to education, social uplift, the environment, and the economy as they relate to specific communities. We will then examine how a series of organizations (from grassroots campaigns to multinational initiatives) utilize the performing arts in response to those issues. Among the issues we will discuss at length are: -How do performers and organizations navigate the interplay between showcasing the performance talents of individuals and groups and foregrounding an issue or cause? More broadly, what dilemmas emerge as social and aesthetic imperatives intermingle? -What are the dynamics between people acting on a local level within their communities and their various international partnerships and audiences? -How can government or NGO sponsorship help and/or hinder systemic change? By the end of the semester, students will be equipped with conceptual frameworks and critical vocabularies that can help them ascertain the functions of performance within larger organizations and in service to complex societal issues. Throughout the course, we will watch and listen to a variety of performances from traditional genres to hip-hop, however this class is less about learning to perform or analyze any particular genre than it is about thinking through how performance is used as a vehicle for social change. Case studies will include youth outreach and uplift in Tanzania through the United African Alliance, campaigns to promote girls' education in Benin and Zimbabwe, community-wide decolonizing initiatives through the Yole!Africa Center in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the cultural reclamation of a mining town in Suriname through the arts organization, Stichting Kibii. [ more ]

THEA 325 TUT A Room that Pretends to be Another Room: Scenography in Theory and Practice

Last offered Spring 2014

How have designers and directors thought about theatrical space? How successfully have their theories aligned with their practice? How are the ideas of the great European and American scenographers being re-imagined, reused, or abused on today's stages? In this tutorial we will take a hybrid approach to the study of scenography, blending theoretical, historical, and critical readings about stage design with a studio component that focuses on formulating an artistic response to those ideas. Our study of scenography will span a hundred years from Robert Edmund Jones to Nature Theater of Oklahoma, examining the ideas of Josef Svoboda, Bertolt Brecht and Caspar Neher, Mielziner, Lee, and Conklin; Wilson, Foreman, and The Wooster Group; and contemporary New York experimental theater. Assignments will alternate between writing short papers and creating preliminary scenic designs; both done in response to the designers or periods being examined in the readings. Introductory drawing and/or some scale model-making experience would be useful, but is not absolutely required. [ more ]

THEA 328 SEM American Social Dramas

Last offered Fall 2016

As Shakespeare wrote memorably in As You Like It, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Sociologists have heeded Shakespeare's wisdom, arguing that social and political events are "performances" that take shape in accordance with familiar cultural scripts, and indeed that social actors implicitly interpret real-world events using plot structures from literary and dramatic genres such as romance, irony, comedy, and tragedy. We will explore this thesis through the lens of contemporary American political events, including the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, September 11, Hurricane Katrina, the 2012 presidential election, and current debates over Confederate symbolism. We will also pay careful attention to the unfolding drama associated with the 2016 presidential election. How do social performances and struggles to "control the narrative" shape the meanings and outcomes of political events? Are they merely "spectacles," or wellsprings for genuine civic participation? What role do political comedy, satire, and social media play in shaping the trajectory of contemporary events? Major authors will include Victor Turner, Clifford Geertz, J.L. Austin, Erving Goffman, and Jeffrey Alexander. Throughout the semester, each student will develop a significant project on a political event of their choosing. [ more ]

THEA 330 SEM New Orleans as Muse: Literature, Music, Art, Film and Theatre in the City

Last offered Spring 2020

This course will look at the representation of a city and how it has influenced artists. Students will read, listen to, and view a selection of the literature, music, film and art that represent the city from both pre-flooding and current re-building. Reading selections will include examples such as Harper's Weekly (Lafrcadio Hearn), The Awakening (Kate Chopin), A Streetcar Named Desire (Tennessee Williams), The Moviegoer (Walker Percy), Why New Orleans Matters (Tom Piazza), A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy O'Toole), New Orleans Sketches (William Faulkner), One Dead in the Attic (Chris Rose). Film examples such as A Streetcar Named Desire, An Interview with a Vampire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, When the Levees Broke, Treme, Waiting for Godot (in the 9th Ward). Music selections from examples such as Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, The Meters, Kermit Ruffins and the Rebirth Brass Band. Art selections will come from a variety of sources such as THE OGDEN Museum of Southern Art and Prospect 1, 2, & 3. [ more ]

THEA 333 STU Living Things: Bodies and Objects in Sculpture and Performance

Last offered Spring 2023

This studio course seeks to promote art making that transgresses the boundaries between the visual and performing arts to see a life that animates both bodies and objects. Cultivating various approaches to the experience of embodiment and kinesthetic responses to objects, props, and clothing, students will perform sculptures and sculpt performances indoors and outdoors. Exploring relationships between time and space will support creating works that suggest and invite movement, encourage interaction, and investigate the physical potency inherent in objects, people, and performance. Emphasis will be made on collaborative process and developing dialogue between actors, dancers, and visual artists. [ more ]

THEA 335 STU The Culture of Carnival

Last offered Fall 2018

Carnival is a regenerative festival as well as a transgressive one. It is a time for upheavals and recreating for one day, a new world order. Men dress as women, women dress as men, the poor become kings; drink and sex and outrageous behavior is sanctioned. We will look at festivals in such places as New Orleans, Venice, and Rio. Central to this course are the cultural and religious lives of these societies, and how these festivals exist politically in a modern world as theatre and adult play. A variety of sources will be used, such as newspaper accounts, films, photography, personal memoirs and essays on the subject. [ more ]

THEA 336 SEM Boucicault to McDonagh: Irish Theatre, 1870 to the present

Last offered Fall 2023

During the Irish Literary Revival of c.1885-1920, Irish writers sought to assert "Irishness" as culturally distinctive, and resisted the marginalizing impacts of British colonial rule. The achievement of Independence in 1923 brought years of insularity and censorship, but over the past three decades Ireland's embrace of globalization and the hybridizing impacts of postmodernism has led to a remarkable flowering of creative vitality. This course will trace the evolution of Irish theatre over the past century-and-a-half. We will read plays by Dion Boucicault, Oscar Wilde, W.B.Yeats, J.M.Synge, Augusta Gregory, George Bernard Shaw, Douglas Hyde, Sean O'Casey, Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Brian Friel, Marina Carr, Frank McGuinness, Christina Reid, Conor McPherson, and Martin McDonagh, and also chart the course of the founding and history of the Abbey Theatre, one of first National Theatres in Europe. [ more ]

THEA 340(F) SEM Shakespeare on Page, Stage and Screen: Text to Performance

Four centuries on, Shakespeare still challenges us. How should we weigh the respective claims of our own era's concerns--with matters of gender, sexuality, race, class, or materiality, for instance--against historicist attention to the cultural, political and theatrical circumstances in which his plays were actually written? And when it comes to realizing the texts in dramatic performance, such challenges--and opportunities--multiply further. Critical fidelity to Shakespeare's times, language and theatrical milieu prioritizes a historical authenticity that can be constraining or even sterilizing. At the other extreme, staging the plays with the primary aim of making them "speak to our times" risks revisionary absorption in our own interests. We will read six plays, of different genres and written at different periods of Shakespeare's career. These will likely be Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Close reading of the texts will be the priority, but we will also attend to the demands and opportunities of performance, and assess a range of recent film and stage productions. [ more ]

THEA 341 SEM Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture

Last offered Fall 2023

This course examines popular cultural contexts, asking what it means to be a man in contemporary societies. We focus on the manufacture and marketing of masculinity in advertising, fashion, TV/film, theater, popular music, and the shifting contours of masculinity in everyday life, asking: how does political economy change the ideal shape, appearance, and performance of men? How have products - ranging from beer to deodorant to cigarettes -- had their use value articulated in gendered ways? Why must masculinity be the purview of "males" at all; how can we change discourses to better include performances of female masculinities, butch-identified women, and trans men? We will pay particular attention to racialized, queer, and subaltern masculinities. Some of our case studies include: the short half-life of the boy band in the US and in Asia, hip hop masculinities, and the curious blend of chastity and homoeroticism that constitutes masculinity in the contemporary vampire genre. Through these and other examples, we learn to recognize masculinity as a performance shaped by the political economy of a given culture. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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THEA 345 SEM Contemporary American Theatre: Poetry, Politics, Place

Last offered Spring 2024

As Gertrude Stein once remarked, "The hardest thing is to know one's present moment." What is going on in U.S. theatre today? Who are the dramatists and theatre makers of the present moment? This survey course will introduce students to twenty-first century American drama and performance, focusing on the poetic, political, and environmental aspects of the art form. Topics to be considered may include: theatre as social practice, the rise of artivism, participatory, site-specific, and immersive theatre, social justice theatre, supernaturalism, changing labor practices in the industry, and the turn to digital performance. Artists and companies to be considered may include: Suzan Lori-Parks, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Anne Washburn, Taylor Mac, Hansol Jung, Clare Barron, Jeremy O. Harris, Lucas Hnath, Lauren Yee, Larissa FastHorse, Jihae Park, The Civilians, Elevator Repair Service, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Eboni Booth, Sanaz Toossi, Alexis Scheer, and Jacklyn Backhaus. Assignments will include both critical and creative responses to the material addressed in the class. Whenever possible, we will attend live performances on campus and in the regional community. [ more ]

THEA 346 STU To Be Or Not To Be: Theatrical Decision-Making

Last offered Spring 2011

In this advanced acting course, students will examine a wide range of motivations, decisions, mistakes, and consequences that dramatic characters encounter. Through discussions and analysis of selected play, students will find key moments that define tragedy, and will explore the ways in which characters change their behavior to resolve conflict. How do characters respond to problems? Could they make better choices? What can we change about our own decision-making? How do we protect ourselves from mistakes? Fundamental dilemmas will be examined through theory and improvisation. The results of our exploration will be presented in a final performance. This theatrical experience will prepare students for future challenges on the stage of life. [ more ]

THEA 350 STU Devised Performance: The Art of Embodied Inquiry

Last offered Spring 2018

This studio course offers students hands-on experience in devising new performance work as an ensemble. Looking to the work of practitioners and collectives like Jerzy Grotowski, El Teatro Campesino, Tectonic Theater Project, Pina Bausch, Belarus Free Theatre, Nrityagram, and SITI Company, we will challenge ourselves to really probe what live performance is capable of. How might we think of performance as a research methodology? As a lifestyle? As a form of political action? This class will function as a laboratory, forming its own unique structure for developing and realizing a live performance. The course provides an opportunity to navigate the complex dynamics present in collaborative creation. Guest classes with practitioners will offer a fuller range of skills for the student ensemble to utilize during the devising process. Work-in-progress presentations spaced regularly throughout the semester will allow the ensemble to receive feedback from small, invited audiences, as well as the opportunity to apply that critique to an ongoing creative process. At the end of the semester the accumulated work will have a public presentation in a workshop format. [ more ]

THEA 365 SEM Beckett, Pinter and Stoppard

Last offered Fall 2017

Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard have been amongst the most influential playwrights of the anglophone theatre over much of the last six decades. This course will explore their mutual concern with the capacities and dysfunctions of language, their questioning of Art's value and the scope for originality in the post-nuclear and postmodern era, and, above all, their collective focus on the extent to which selfhood may be realized in and through performance. Besides reading major plays, we will also give some consideration to the dramatic work crafted by these writers for radio, television and film, and to the political and social commitments animating and counterpointing their literary careers. Readings may include: Endgame, The Caretaker, Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Krapp's Last Tape, The Homecoming, No Man's Land, Betrayal, Waiting for Godot, Dogg's Hamlet, The Invention of Love, Arcadia, Rock 'n' Roll, Not I, Rockaby, A Kind of Alaska, Catastrophe, The Real Thing, Indian Ink, Artist Descending a Staircase and One for the Road. Throughout, we will give consideration to these works as both literary and theatrical texts. [ more ]

THEA 385 STU The Sculptural Costume and It's Performance Potential

Last offered Spring 2019

A team-taught studio art / theatre course designed to explore the rich territory of the wearable sculpture and its generative role in art and performance. From ritual costumes, to Carnival, to Dada performance, to Bauhaus dance, to Helio Oiticica's Parangole, and Nick Cave's sound-suits, there has been a rich tradition where sculpture and costumes merge. Students will study artists who have bridged distinctions between the theatrical costume and the sculptural object as well as produce hybrid objects that explore the range of possibilities within this collaborative practice. The students will produce object-costumes involving a wide variety of media, from recycled materials to new technologies, while striving to develop their individual artistic voices. [ more ]

THEA 387 TUT Ibsen, Chekhov and the emergence of Modern drama

Last offered Spring 2022

This course will center on the plays of Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekhov, key figures in the development of Modern European drama. Prospective readings will include Ibsen's A Doll's House (1879), The Wild Duck (1884), Rosmersholm (1886) and Hedda Gabler (1890); Chekhov's The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1900), Three Sisters (1901) and The Cherry Orchard (1904): along with August Strindberg's Creditors (1889) and Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband (1894). We will chart the development of dramatic realism and naturalism, and situate these plays in the context of the late-nineteenth century "ache of modernism", with supplemental readings that highlight changing conceptions of identity and subjectivity, emerging strains and contestations over gender and sexuality, and the wider sociological, political and technological changes of the period. The course will also be centrally concerned with these playwrights' innovative explorations of the investigations of theatre's capacities and limitations in representing social reality and the 'performance' of selfhood. [ more ]

THEA 388 STU Research: A Window into Design Dramaturgy

Last offered Fall 2020

This class combines the targeted playreading skills of a designer with deep dives into visual research. How to gain a foundation of historical research for a specific theatrical work? How to interpret this research through an added lens of specific artistic movement or style? In this class, we will develop skills to source, curate, and present images that both deepen our understanding of a text as designers and visual thinkers, as well as free our imaginations to the aesthetic possibilities of the text. Bi-weekly research projects paired with historically-based dramatic literature provide the main structure of the work. Class time is a combination of discussions of theatrical texts, paired with student project presentations and critiques. [ more ]

THEA 390(F) SEM Feminist and Queer Horror Films

This course focuses on pairing theoretical readings with a variety of horror films with feminist or queer themes. Many tropes are associated with this genre - "the final girl" in slasher movies, "the transvestite murderer," femme lesbian vampires, supernatural BDSM figures, vampires as allegories for HIV/AIDS, werewolves as metaphors for FTM gender transitions or puberty, lonely mothers in creaky houses as unreliable narrators, Satanic spawn, and creepy long-haired girls. Some films reinforce gender stereotypes while others snap on more explicitly feminist and queer lenses. This course functions as a survey of many different genres, introducing students to classic 1970s films and working up to the present day and we will learn how these tropes developed and then were subverted by more modern day films such as those by A24 Studies and the new renaissance of Black horror, etc. Most films will focus on the US, with some notable exceptions in Japan, Spain, and elsewhere globally. There will be graphic content. You must be 18 or over to take this class. [ more ]

THEA 393 SEM Staging Identities

Last offered Fall 2020

The construction of selfhood is always to some extent a performative act--as Shakespeare's Jacques says, "All the world's a stage / And all the men and women merely players[.]" That performance is inherently dual, since constituted both for the audience of the wider social world, and for the self who seeks to act. Drama as a genre, with its constant negotiation of the competing claims of illusion and the operations of reality, is invariably interested in the exploration of social identity, in the tensions between public and private selfhood, and in the functions of 'performance'. In this course we will examine theatre's response to the challenge of self-fashioning in the modern era, and consider the wider ontological status of performance as a category within the context of twentieth century drama and theatrical staging. Readings will include Shakespeare's Hamlet and plays by Chekhov, Pirandello, Churchill, Shepard, Lori-Parks, Beckett, Walcott, Pinter and others, along with selected criticism, theory, and psychoanalytical writings. [ more ]

THEA 401(S) SEM Senior Seminar: Practicing Theory

This class constitutes a culminating course of study for the Theater major. It aims to delve deep into consideration of the relationship between theory and practice, between text and performance, between performer and audience, and between aesthetics and politics. We will explore a selection of influential ideas and methodologies that have shaped both making theater and thinking about theater in various historical periods and cultural contexts. Seminar members will read and consider both theoretical and artistic texts. Through discussion and experimentation, we will endeavor to understand how theater engages with cultural, social, and philosophical issues that link the stage with the realities and fantasies of everyday life. Throughout the semester, focus will be maintained on the contributions of the members themselves, in both scholarly contributions to seminar sessions, and in artistic contributions through the presentation of assigned creative projects. [ more ]

THEA 416 SEM Senior Seminar: The Art of Minor Resistance: Advanced Readings in Race, Gender, Performance

Last offered Spring 2020

This seminar will study stagings and aesthetic theories of dissent in feminist, queer, anti-colonial, and anti-racist performance. An attunement to performance and to the minor is also a turn toward minoritarian knowledges and lifeworlds. Of interest will be modes of sensing and relating that are not often legible as political--including aesthetics of opacity, quiet, disaffection, aloofness, and inscrutability--but could be understood as critiques of political recognition. Performance is a capacious rubric in this class that will include performance art, social media, photography, music videos, poetry, street protest, and everyday life. Students will learn to describe, interpret, and theorize performance through discussion, writing, and creative form. [ more ]

THEA 455(F, S) STU Advanced Practicum

This independently designed practicum offers an opportunity for students to gain practical, hands-on experience in theatre at an advanced level by receiving course credit for serving as an assistant to a faculty member on a Theatre Department production. Students interested in assisting a faculty member or guest artist on a production in any non-acting capacity--directing, design (costume, lighting, multimedia, scenic, sound), dramaturgy, or technical management--may enroll in the Advanced Practicum, pending the approval of a designated faculty advisor as well as the Department Chair. Working closely with the faculty advisor, the student will both serve as an assistant on the production and design a curriculum of readings and assignments intended to complement the experience of the assistantship. If funding allows, practitioners in the professional theatre will be invited as guest evaluators. Though the nature of each assistantship will vary according to the demands of each production, the experience of the assistantship will ideally simulate that which a student might undertake within the professional theatre. [ more ]

THEA 493(F) HON Senior Honors Thesis: Theatre

Theatre senior honors thesis; this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). [ more ]

THEA 494(S) HON Senior Honors Thesis: Theatre

Theatre senior honors thesis; this is part of a full-year thesis (493-494). [ more ]