Theater and Dance
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Amherst College Theater and Dance for 2009-10

11 The Language of Movement

An introduction to movement as a language and to dance and performance composition. In studio sessions students will explore and expand their individual movement vocabularies by working improvisationally with weight, posture, gesture, patterns, rhythm, space, and relationship of body parts. We will ask what these vocabularies might communicate about emotion, thought, physical structures, cultural/social traditions, and aesthetic preferences. In addition, we will observe movement practices in everyday situations and in formal performance events and use these observations as inspiration for individual and group compositions. Two two-hour class/studio meetings and a two-hour production workshop per week. Selected readings and viewing of video and live performance.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

12 Materials of Theater

An introduction to design, directing, and performance conducted in a combined discussion/workshop format. Students will be exposed to visual methods of interpreting a text. Early class discussions focus on a theoretical exploration of theater as an art form and seek to establish a vocabulary for and understanding of basic theatrical conventions, with readings from Aristotle through Robert Wilson. Students will spend the bulk of the semester testing these theories for themselves, ultimately designing their own performances for two plays. Two two-hour classes and two-hour production workshop included in this time.

Limited to 12 students. Fall semester. Professor Dougan.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

13 Action and Character

This course examines what happens on stage (the action) and “how” that action happens (the character) from the points of view of the playwright and the actor. The course assumes that the creative processes of both the actor and the playwright are similar. Therefore, the students will write scenes and at least one short play, which will be rehearsed as homework for presentation in class. Students will be given a series of acting and playwriting exercises to develop craft and to reinforce their understanding of creative processes. Students will be assigned plays and certain critical texts to support their work in writing and acting. Three two-hour class meetings and a two-hour production workshop per week.

Enrollment in each section is limited but early registration does not confer preferential consideration. Twenty students attending the first class will be admitted. Selection will be based upon the instructor’s attempt to achieve a suitable balance between first-year students and upperclassmen and between men and women, and to achieve a broad range of levels of acting experience. Notice of those admitted will be posted within 24 hours of the first meeting and a waiting list will be available.

Fall and spring semesters. Resident Artist Lobdell.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

20 Sources of Contemporary Performance

The status quo says, “We do it the way it’s always been done.” The artist replies, “I have an idea, let’s try it another way.” Thus advance theater and dance. Thus evolve opera, happenings and performance art. This course explores several seminal theatrical events and the artists who created them. These innovations changed the course of theater and dance in the 20th century, thereby preparing those who follow to make the new art of the 21st.

After reviewing basic artistic and theoretical assumptions which governed the making of theatrical entertainment at the end of the 19th century, the course will look at playwrights, performers, choreographers, designers, directors and theorists whose ideas opened up new ways of looking at the craft of making those space-time objects we struggle to categorize as plays, dances, operas, performances and events. Particular attention will fall on work that is difficult to correctly place in a single category. Research in primary material such as plays, manifestos, documentary photographs, period criticism, and video transcriptions. Critical papers comparing and contrasting works will be studied. (Required of all majors)

Spring semester.  Professor TBA.

2013-14: Offered in Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2015

22 Modern Drama

A study of European and American drama from Ibsen to Pinter from a dramaturgical point of view. Through reading and discussing a wide variety of important plays, students will develop skills in textual analysis and explore productive ways of interpreting the theatrical script. Academic work will include critical papers and in-class experimentation with performance ideas. Particularly useful to augment the study of acting, directing, design and playwrighting.

Omitted 2009-10.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008

23 Fleeting Images: Choreography on Film

This selected survey of choreography on film and video indulges in the purely kinesthetic experience of watching the dancing body on film. We will focus on works that have most successfully effected a true synthesis of the two mediums, negotiating between the spatial freedom of film and the time-space-energy fields of dance, the cinematic techniques of camera-cutting-collage, and the vibrant continuity of the moving body. We will discern the roles of the choreographer, director, and editor in shaping and controlling the moving image and explore the relationship of music and the dancing body. We will also attempt to theorize the medium of the “moving picture dance” and formulate a theoretical understanding of the relationship between films and viewers and the powerful effect of the moving/dancing image on viewers. Putting theory to practice, we will form small group collaborations to create an original study in choreography for the camera.

Omitted 2009-10.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008

27 Theater and Politics in America

The 1930s and the 1960s were periods of social disorder in much of America. They were also times of extraordinary theatrical activity. This course looks at Dramatic Literature and the work of theater companies in America in those turbulent decades and considers to what extent the theater today reflects the nation's present social and economic turmoil.  Readings from each period in Dramatic Literature and Cultural History. The course will consider the plays in a seminar format and will require several short research papers and occasional theatrical projects. 

Fall semester.  Professor Emeritus Birtwistle.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009

28 Contemporary American Drama

Playwriting is vital and alive in America today. Building upon the foundations of American Realism and the American avant-garde, modern American plays explore a wide range of human issues including family and the search for place; sex and sexuality; politics, social power, and personal identity. In addition, there is an important strain of American playwriting that involves modern reinterpretations of ancient Greek classics. Many of the plays of the past 30 years represent what should be seen as a new genre: tragic comedy, where humor and serious dramatic issues are intertwined in a seamless and effective way. Focusing on new plays plus “contemporary classics” from playwrights such as A. Wilson, Shepard, Congdon, Vogel, Kushner, Hwang, Parks, Fornes, Mamet, Dove, Iizuka, and Mee, we examine the stylistic and theoretical antecedents for this work and examine modern American culture through the lens of some if its most articulate theater artists. In this class we explore how to analyze plays dramaturgically, identifying elements in a play that are not immediately visible to an untrained eye but that are essential to taking the play to the stage.

Omitted 2009-10

2013-14: Not offered

30H Contemporary Dance Techniques:  Ballet II/III

The study and practice of contemporary movement vocabularies, including regional dance forms, contact improvisation and various modern dance techniques. Because the specific genres and techniques will vary from semester to semester, the course may be repeated for credit. Objectives include the intellectual and physical introduction to this discipline as well as increased body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. The course material is presented at the beginning/intermediate level.

Spring semester.  Visiting Lecturer Vacanti.

 

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

30H Contemporary Dance Techniques:  Modern IV/V

The study and practice of contemporary movement vocabularies, including regional dance forms, contact improvisation and various modern dance techniques. Because the specific genres and techniques will vary from semester to semester, the course may be repeated for credit. Objectives include the intellectual and physical introduction to this discipline as well as increased body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. The course material is presented at the beginning/intermediate level.

Spring semester.  Visiting Lecturer McLaughlin.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

30H Contemporary Dance Techniques: West African

The study and practice of contemporary movement vocabularies, including regional dance forms, contact improvisation and various modern dance techniques. Because the specific genres and techniques will vary from semester to semester, the course may be repeated for credit. Objectives include the intellectual and physical introduction to this discipline as well as increased body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. The course material is presented at the beginning/intermediate level.

Fall semester. Five College Lecturer Sylla.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

30H Contemporary Dance Techniques:  Modern III/IV

The study and practice of contemporary movement vocabularies, including regional dance forms, contact improvisation and various modern dance techniques. Because the specific genres and techniques will vary from semester to semester, the course may be repeated for credit. Objectives include the intellectual and physical introduction to this discipline as well as increased body awareness, alignment, flexibility, coordination, strength, musical phrasing and the expressive potential of movement. The course material is presented at the beginning/intermediate level.

Fall semester.  Visiting Lecturer Nicoli.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009

31 Playwriting I

A workshop in writing for the stage. The semester will begin with exercises that lead to the making of short plays and, by the end of the term, longer plays-ten minutes and up in length. Writing will be done in and out of class; students’ work will be discussed in the workshop and in private conferences. At the end of the term, the student will submit a portfolio of revisions of all the exercises, including the revisions of all plays.

Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

33 From Idea to Performance

A theoretical and practical consideration of the process by which the performance-maker’s initial idea is altered, adapted, developed, rehearsed and finally transmitted to the audience through the medium of theatrical productions.

Omitted 2009-10. Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Not offered

34 Contemporary Dance Technique and Repertory

This course will include studio sessions in contemporary modern/jazz dance technique at the intermediate level and rehearsal sessions to create original choreography; the completed piece(s) will be presented in concert at the end of the semester. The emphasis in the course will be to increase expressive range, technical skills and performance versatility of the dancer through the practice, creation and performance of technique and choreography. In addition, the course will include required readings, the viewing of dance videos and live performances to give an increased understanding of the historical and contemporary context for the work.

Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Nicoli.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010

35 Scripts and Scores

This course will provide structures and approaches for creating original choreography, performance pieces and events. An emphasis will be placed on interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to composition, choreography, and performance making. These approaches include working with text and movement, visual systems and environments, music, sound and chance scores to inspire and include in performance. Students will create and perform dance, theater, or performance art pieces for both traditional theater spaces and for found (indoor and outdoor) spaces.

This course is open to dancers and actors as well as interested students from other media and disciplines. Consent of the instructor is required for students with no experience in improvisation or composition. Two two-hour class meetings per week and weekly lab/rehearsal sessions.

Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Offered in Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015

37 The Actor's Instrument

Technical issues of the body, voice, will, and imagination for the actor; exercises and readings in acting theory. Introduction of techniques to foster physical and emotional concentration, will and imaginative freedom. Exploration of Chekhov psycho-physical work, Hagen object exercises, Spolin and Johnstone improvisation formats, sensory and image work, mask and costume exercises, and neutral dialogues. The complex interweaving of the actor’s and the character’s intention/action in rehearsal and performance is the constant focus of the class. Three two-hour class meetings per week.  

Requisite: Theater and Dance 13.  Spring semester.  Resident Artist Lobdell.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2010, Fall 2011

38 Acting Technique

Students in this class will rehearse scenes directed by students enrolled in Theater and Dance 45. In addition, students will meet with the instructor weekly for specific exercises based upon problems confronted in rehearsal.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 13. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2009-10. Resident Artist Lobdell.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008

41 Scene Design

The materials, techniques and concepts which underlie the design and creation of the theatrical environment.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Fall semester. Professor Dougan.

2013-14: Offered in Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2013

42 Lighting Design

An introduction to the theory and techniques of theatrical lighting, with emphasis on the aesthetic and practical aspects of the field as well as the principles of light and color.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 or consent of the instructor. Lab work in lighting technology. Omitted 2009-10.

2013-14: Not offered

43 Costume Design

An introduction to the analytical methods and skills necessary for the creation of costumes for theater and dance with emphasis on the integration of costume with other visual elements. Lab work in costume construction.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Dougan.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

44 Drawing for the Theater and Film

An intermediate level drawing course that will explore the techniques used and issues involved in visual storytelling. Students will learn to develop their ideas through rough sketches and eventually compose longer sequences in storyboard form. The course will involve figure drawing and perspective drawing, focusing on the relationship of the human figure to its theatrical or cinematic environment.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 and Art 04. Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Dougan.

2013-14: Not offered

45 Staging Drama

One of two studio courses in the theory and process of realizing a previously written play on the stage. This course will examine directing Tragedy and other serious dramatic forms, through dramaturgical analysis and workshop staging of plays by such playwrights as Euripides, Calderon, Anton Chekhov, Harold Pinter, Sam Shepard, August Wilson, Constance Congdon and Charles Mee. Class sessions will focus on staging scenes, developing narrative skills, working with actors and evolving production schemes.

Requisites: Theater and Dance 12 and Theater and Dance 11 or 13, or consent of the instructor.  Fall semester.  Professor Emeritus Birtwistle.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011

46 Sound Design I

What is theatrical sound design? Introduction to sound design attempts to answer that question, exploring what sound design is, how to look at a text and launch your creative process, and how to take the ideas based on that creative process and turn them into sounds to be used in a show. This is all done through a series of introductory lab projects and then a complete design for a short play, all while learning three new pieces of software. This is a highly interactive class, where student participation is key; students will be expected to take part in each other’s projects, as well as to create their own work.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Kaplowitz.

2013-14: Offered in Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2012

48 Directing Comedy

One of two studio courses in the theory and process of realizing a previously written play on the stage. This course will experiment with methods of staging farce and comedy through dramaturgical analysis and workshop staging of texts chosen from such playwrights as Moliere, Carlo Goldoni, Richard Brinsley Sherridan, Georges Feydeau, Tom Stoppard, and Christopher Durang. Class sessions will focus on staging scenes, working with actors to discover the comic material inherent in written texts and clarifying the playwright’s intent.

Requisite: Two of the following three courses--Theater and Dance 11, 12 or 13. Spring semester.  Professor Emeritus Birtwistle.

 

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

50 Video and Performance

This advanced production class will give students an opportunity to explore various relationships between live performance and video. Experiments will include creating short performance pieces and/or choreography specifically designed for the video medium; creating short pieces that include both live performance and projected video; and creating short experimental video pieces that emphasize a sense of motion in their conceptualization, and realization. Techniques and languages from dance and theater composition will be used to expand and inform approaches to video production and vice-versa. Sessions include studio practice (working with digital cameras and Final Cut Pro digital editing) and regular viewing and critiques. Students will work both independently and in collaborative teams according to interest and expertise.

Requisite: Previous experience in theater, dance, music composition, and/or video production or consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2009-10. Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008

51 Video Production: Bodies in Motion

This studio production class will focus on multiple ways of tracking, viewing, and capturing bodies in motion. The course will emphasize working with the camera as an extension of the body to explore radically different points of view and senses of focus. We will experiment with different techniques and different kinds of bodies (human, animal, and object) to bring a heightened awareness of kinesthetic involvement, animation and emotional immediacy to the bodies on screen and behind the camera. In addition, we will interject and follow bodies into different perceptions of time, progression, place and relationship. In the process, we will express various experiences and theories of embodiment and question what constitutes a body. Depending on student interests, final projects can range from choreographies for the camera to fictional narratives to documentary studies. The class will alternate between camera sessions, both in the studio and on location, and sessions in the editing suite working with Final Cut Pro.

Requisite: Previous experience in composition. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2009-10  Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Offered in Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2012

61 Playwriting Studio

A workshop/seminar for writers who want to complete a full-length play or series of plays. Emphasis will be on bringing a script to a level where it is ready for the stage. Although there will be some exercises in class to continue the honing of playwriting skills and the study of plays by established writers as a means of exploring a wide range of dramatic vocabularies, most of the class time will be spent reading and commenting on the plays of the workshop members as these plays progress from the first draft to a finished draft.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 31 or the equivalent. Limited to 10 students. Spring semester. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon.

2013-14: Offered in Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2015

62 Performance Studio

An advanced course in the techniques of creating performance. Each student will create and rehearse a performance piece that develops and incorporates original choreography, text, music, sound and/or video. Experimental and collaborative structures and approaches among and within different media will be stressed. The final performance pieces and events will be presented in the Holden Theater. Can be taken more than once for credit.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 35 or the equivalent and consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

63 Scene Design II

This course is a continuation of Theater and Dance 64, an advanced course in the arts of theatrical design. Primary focus is on the communication of design ideas and concepts with other theater artists. Also considered is the process by which developing theatrical ideas and images are realized. Students will undertake specific projects in scenic, costume and/or lighting design and execute them in the context of the department’s production program or in other approved circumstances. Students in this course will design for a full-scale production. In all cases, detailed analysis of the text and responsible collaboration will provide the basis of the working method. May be repeated for credit.Requisite: Theater and Dance 41, 42, or 43 or consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer O'Neill.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013

64 Design Studio

An advanced course in the arts of theatrical design. Primary focus is on the communication of design ideas and concepts with other theater artists. Also considered is the process by which developing theatrical ideas and images are realized. Students will undertake specific projects in scenic, costume and/or lighting design and execute them in the context of the Department’s production program or in other approved circumstances. Examples of possible assignments include designing workshop productions, and assisting faculty and staff designers with major responsibilities in full-scale production. In all cases, detailed analysis of the text and responsible collaboration will provide the basis of the working method. May be repeated for credit.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 41, 42, or 43 or consent of the instructor. Fall semester.  Professor Dougan. Spring semester.  Visiting Lecturer O'Neill.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014

65 Directing Studio

This is an advanced course in directing that emphasizes creating vital, interesting characters in the context of an active story and an evocative performance world. The approach in this class encompasses a wide range of directorial styles friendly to a spectrum from “straight theater” to “performance.” It aims to reinforce the skills that you have and to help you develop and expand these skills more effectively. Students direct two one-act plays for public performance.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 45. Omitted 2009-10.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015

66 Rehearsal

An advanced course in acting. The class will focus upon the actor’s close analysis of the playwright’s script to define specific problems and to set out tactics for their solutions. The interaction of the actor’s creative work outside rehearsal and the work within rehearsal will be delineated by assigned exercises.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 13 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 16 students. Fall semester. Resident Artist Lobdell.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2013, Fall 2014

75H, 76H Production Studio

An advanced course in the production of Theater and Dance works. Primary focus will be on the integration of the individual student into a leadership role within the Department’s producing structure. Each student will accept a specific responsibility with a departmental production team testing his or her artistic, managerial, critical, and problem-solving skills.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. The Department.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2008, Fall 2008, Spring 2009, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

77, 78 Senior Departmental Honors

For Honors candidates in Theater and Dance.

Open to seniors. Fall semester. The Department.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014

96 Production Seminar in the Moving Image:  Performance, Video and Sound

(Offered as English 89 and Theater and Dance 96.)  This course will focus on creating a performance, music, and video piece on the themes of migration, displacement, memory and history.  The piece will be developed through interdisciplinary experiments that emphasize the exploration of reciprocal relationships within and between the different media.  Students will work individually and in collaborative teams and will be involved in the conception, rehearsals and performances of an original performance work directed by the professors.  One three-hour class meeting per week plus a lab session.

This course is for intermediate/advanced performers, videomakers, composers, and designers who have previous experience in any of the above media.  Requisite:  Previous experience in composition in video, theater, music, creative writing, and/or dance.  Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 16 students.  Spring semester.  Five College Professor Hillman and Professor Woodson.

2013-14: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

97, 97H, 98, 98H Special Topics

Independent Reading Course. Full course.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. The Department.

2013-14: Offered in Fall 2013 and Spring 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015

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