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.2023-24: Not offered
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.
Two sections. Limited to 12 students per section. Spring semester. Professor Dougan.2023-24: Not offered
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.2023-24: Not offered
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. Senior Resident Artist Lobdell.2023-24: Not offered
This course considers the evolution of conventions of theatrical realism in plays since the late nineteenth century. In particular, we consider the ways that playwrights—and later directors—exploit or challenge ideas about the perceived authenticity of theatrical representation. At issue are conventions governing action, character representation, and theatrical image as the bases for thematic, political and cultural intents. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the roles that audiences are intended to play in performance and the artistic means employed to engage them. Following consideration of Ibsen and Chekhov, the work of relevant realistic and quasi-realistic playwrights from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries provides material for exploration of the course theme. We also explore the interplay of related artistic movements and technology with the evolution of theatrical conventions and directorial influence.
Spring semester. Professor Bashford.2023-24: Not offered
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 2010-11.2023-24: Not offered
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 2010-11.2023-24: Not offered
Cool, candid, athletic; playful, arrogant, and promiscuous: Sixties experimental dance works were wildly divergent but can collectively be seen as a revolt against the institution of American modern dance as they offered bold alternatives as to who was a dancer, what made a dance, what was “beautiful” and worth watching, and what was “art.” Mirroring the decade that was marked by tumultuous social and political change and guided by the decade’s liberating ideal, sixties vanguard dancers often outrageously (and naively) invalidated modern dance’s authority by “going beyond democracy into anarchy.” Jill Johnston wrote about the rebels of the Judson Dance Theatre, "No member outstanding. No body necessarily more beautiful than any other body. No movement necessarily more important or more beautiful than any other movement.”
This survey of twentieth-century American dance moves from the sixties—a decade of revolt and redefinition in American modern dance that provoked new ideas about dance, the dancer’s body and a radically changed dance aesthetic--to the radical postmodernism of the nineties when the body continued to be the site for debates about the nature of gender, ethnicity and sexuality. We will investigate how the political and social environment of the sixties, particularly the Black Power and Women’s Movement, informed the work of succeeding generations of dance artists and yielded new theories about the relationship between cultural forms and the construction of identities.
Fall semester. Five College Dance Professor Valis Hill.2023-24: Not offered
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.
Omitted 2010-11.2023-24: Not offered
This course explores various elements of dramatic literature and their implications for audience experiences in performance. Character, language, spectacle, plotting and theme are studied in the light of dynamic play structures. In addition to analytical writing, students undertake experiential projects in realizing the underlying theatrical and narrative paradigms of the plays studied. Exemplary plays are chosen for their contrasting qualities, from antiquity to the present, and are read alongside related theoretical and critical texts. Particular emphasis is placed on exploring the legacy of classical form and later evolutionary and innovative responses to it. Playwrights considered include Sophocles, Shakespeare, Shaw, Pirandello, Brecht, Kaufman and Hart, Peter Weiss, and Caryl Churchill.
Fall semester. Professor Bashford.2023-24: Not offered
Contemporary Dance Techniques: Modern 4/5
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 Martin.2023-24: Not offered
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.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon.2023-24: Not offered
A beginning studio course in the development of voice for speaking. Students develop range and tone through regular physical exercises in relaxation, breathing technique, placement, and presence. Individual attention focuses on helping each student develop the the physical, mental, and emotional self-awareness needed for expressive vocal production. Practice is oriented toward acting for the stage, but students with a primary interest in public speaking, teaching, or improved interpersonal communication will find this course valuable. Three class meetings per week. A modicum of reading and written reflection is required.
Fall semester. Professor Bashford2023-24: Not offered
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 2010-11. Professor Woodson.2023-24: Not offered
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. Audition for course enrollment will be held the first day of class.
Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Martin.2023-24: Not offered
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. Two two-hour class meetings per week and weekly lab/rehearsal sessions.
Consent of the instructor is required for students with no experience in improvisation or composition. Omitted 2010-11.2023-24: Not offered
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. Omitted 2010-11. Resident Artist Lobdell.2023-24: Not offered
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 2010-11. Resident Artist Lobdell.2023-24: Not offered
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.2023-24: Not offered
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. Western costume history. Lab work in costume construction.
Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Fall semester. Professor Dougan.2023-24: Not offered
This course explores the process of directing plays for the stage. Studio exercises develop skills in key areas: interpretation of form and artistic intent, perception and sensibility in rehearsal, effective communication with actors, and balancing the interplay between action and text. Students stage scenes from distinct categories: plays in verse, realistic plays, and non-realistic or less literal modern and contemporary plays. Special emphasis is placed on the role of dramaturgical understanding in the creation of meaningful stage action. Text is chosen from a wide repertoire, including Euripides’ The Bacchae, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Molière’s The Misanthrope, Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Samuel Beckett’s Not I, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Sarah Kane’s Crave, and Mark Ravenhill’s Shopping & F**king. The course culminates in a co-directed group adaptation or extended section of a complex work. Throughout, students manage class work with peers to achieve mutual goals and fulfill roles in acting, organization and production as needed. Class meetings incorporate discussion of historical and theoretical readings and play texts. Two meetings per week. Students should expect to schedule outside rehearsal time as needed.
Requisites: Two of the following--Theater and Dance 11, 12 or 13. Fall semester. Professor Bashford.
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. Omitted 2010-11.2023-24: Not offered
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: Theater and Dance 11, 12 or 13. Omitted 2010-11.2023-24: Not offered
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 2010-11. Professor Woodson.2023-24: Not offered
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 2010-11. Professor Woodson.2023-24: Not offered
What creative opportunities and limitations does duet work occasion? Creating a duet with another person requires collaboration, but how do you collaborate with an object, or with something as evanescent as light? This course will explore the concept of duet work through the lens of three separate choreographic projects, focused, respectively, on the body, objects and light. Course work and research will include short compositional experiments, structured improvisations, readings and video viewings.
Instructor consent required for students with no experience in improvisation or composition.
Spring semester. Five College Dance Professor Coleman.2023-24: Not offered
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. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Spring semester. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon.2023-24: Not offered
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.2023-24: Not offered
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.
2023-24: Not offered
Requisite: Theater and Dance 41, 42, or 43 or consent of the instructor. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Dougan.
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 and spring semesters. Professor Dougan.2023-24: Not offered
This is a practical course in navigating the myriad positions and tasks that directors master to lead collaborators toward completed theatrical interpretations of dramatic texts. Studio exercises are employed throughout as each student director produces and directs two medium-length projects. Topics of focus include the articulation of coherent artistic intent, the role of the audience in performance, and the use of space, sound and light. In addition, this course considers organizational and research methods related to successful production. Readings and class sessions are devoted to the history and practice of directing and to discussion of problems and approaches. Two class meetings per week. Students should expect to schedule a significant amount of rehearsal time for the successful completion of projects.
Requisite: Theater and Dance 45 or equivalent college-level experience with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Bashford.
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.2023-24: Not offered
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. Spring semester. The Department.2023-24: Not offered
For Honors candidates in Theater and Dance.
Open to seniors. Spring semester. The Department.2023-24: Not offered
Independent Reading Course. Half course.
Admission with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. The Department.2023-24: Not offered