Theater and Dance

Fall 2007/Spring 2008 Course Catalog

The information below is taken from the printed catalog the college produces each year. For more up to date information, including links to course websites, faculty homepages, reserve readings, and more, use the 'courses' or semester specific link to your left.

Core Courses In Theater and Dance

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. First semester. Professor Woodson.

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. First and second semesters. Professor Dougan.

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. First and second semesters. Resident Artist Lobdell.

Courses In The History, Theory and Literature Of Theater and Dance

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)

Second semester. Professor Emeritus Birtwistle.

21. Chekhov and His Theater. (Also Russian 30.) Anton Chekhov's reputation rests as much on his dramaturgy as on his fiction. His plays, whose staging by the Moscow Art Theater helped revolutionize Russian and world theater, endure in the modern repertoire. In this course, we will study his dramatic oeuvre in its cultural and historical context, drawing on the biographical and critical literature on Chekhov, printed and visual materials concerning the late nineteenth-century European theater, and the writings of figures like Constantin Stanislavsky, who developed a new acting method in response to Chekhov's art. We also will examine key moments in the production history of Chekhov's plays in Russian, English, and American theater and film.

Omitted 2007-08. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon and Professor Ciepiela.

24. Twentieth-Century American Dance: Sixties Vanguard to Nineties Hip-Hop. This survey of late twentieth-century dance begins in the sixties--a decade of revolt and redefinition in American modern dance when expressions of nonconformity became a key theme for artists of the counterculture who struggled for self-definition in defiance of traditional social values. The socio-political environment of the sixties, particularly the Feminist Movement, provoked new ideas about dance, the dancer’s body and a radically changed dance aesthetic; and produced dance works that spoke of freedom, spontaneity, spirituality; experimentation, democratic participation and the liberation of the body. The postmodern perspectives that grew out of debates of the period about the nature of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality in turn yielded theories about the relationship between cultural forms and the construction of identities from a new generation of dancers, whose works emphasized dialogue and self-reflective critique. Presenting dance as an art form and embodied social practice, borrowing from spectacular vernaculars, and blurring the traditional boundaries of the modern and classical, these late-century renegades moved dance (as performance art and prime subject for cultural studies) from the margins to the mainstream.

Omitted 2007-08.

25. Drama and Society. Plays are not written in a vacuum. A playwright is surrounded by historical and social conditions which influence the choices she or he makes. A play may challenge aspects of its society or fulfill its traditions. Plays are also written to be produced. Rarely are they created solely for the purpose of being read. When we undertake the task of bringing living form to the words of a playwright, we confront our own historical and social conditions and the intersection between the play and what makes this play relevant and important to produce today. This course uses a broad survey of dramatic literature to examine the tension between when and how a play was written and what it can say today. Especially it explores how we see ourselves through looking at how we interpret these pieces. We will read works by Beckett, Brecht, Chekov, Euripides, Genet, Hansberry, O'Neill, Pirandello, Rivera, Shakespeare, Sherman, Sophocles, Treadwell and Wilson. We will examine production history, historical context, biographical information and theoretical considerations relating to a number of these plays. Additionally, we will view recent interpretations of some of these works.

Omitted 2007-08. Professor Mukasa.

26. Science Play: Astronomy and Physics on the Stage. (Also Astronomy 15.) See Astronomy 15.

First semester. Professors Mukasa and Teaching Fellow Phillips.

27. The Changing Images of Blacks in Film. (Also Black Studies 18 and English 93.) Images in film reflect our culture. We can learn a great deal about the social dynamics, power struggles, truths and manipulations in American culture by examining the changing images in film over time. Arguably the most important social dynamic in our country’s history has been that of race relations, something seen most poignantly in the context of Black and White. By examining the changing images of Blacks in film, we can see that film is not a neutral reflection of "reality" but a way to represent and shape social reality to the advantage or disadvantage of those seeking social control and social liberation. As we survey films from history to our present, we will look at how images tell stories, how they need to be seen in context, and how dramatic structures reflect social constructs. In this class our journey will take us from the disturbing celebration of the Ku Klux Klan in D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation, still considered by many to be one of our most important films, to the struggle of Black actors to move past Mammies and coons, from brave early attempts at independent Black filmmaking to the popularity and paradoxes of Blaxploitation; from "Super Sidney Poitier" to our modern era of Black characters reflecting hope and ambiguity. Examining the changing images of Blacks in film provides a fascinating look at the pain and promise of our attempts to use film to define and redefine ourselves as a nation.

Second semester. Professor Mukasa.

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 2007-08. Professor Mukasa.

Courses In The Arts of Theater and Dance

30H. Contemporary Dance Techniques. 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.

01. WEST AFRICAN.

First semester. Five College Lecturer Sylla.

02. MODERN III/IV.

First semester. Visiting Professor Nicoli.

MODERN BALLET I/II.

Second semester. Visiting Lecturer Cohen.

MODERN IV/V.

Second semester. Visiting Lecturer Pengally.

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.

Not open to first-year students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Second semester. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon.

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 2007-08. Professor Woodson.

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.

First semester: Visiting Professor Nicoli. Second semester: Visiting Lecturer Pengally.

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. Second semester. Professor Woodson.

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. Limited to 16 students. First semester. Resident Artist Lobdell.

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. Second semester. Resident Artist Lobdell.

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. Second semester. Professor Dougan.

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 2007-08.

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.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 12 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 8 students. Lab work in costume construction. Second semester. Professor Dougan.

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.

Suggested Requisites: Theater and Dance 12 and Fine Arts 04. Limited to 10 students. Omitted 2007-08. Professor Dougan.

45. Stage Directing. This course focuses on the practice of the artistic, technical and dramaturgical skills required of the director through scene work, exercises, and prepared production statements. It provides a general survey of the job of the director in the professional world and of many of the guiding ideas in both contemporary theater directing and that of the past. Major assignments involve studio presentation of three scenes.

Requisite: Two of the following three courses--Theater and Dance 11, 12 or 13 (or equivalent college-level experience). There is a special emphasis on work with actors. This class works in concert with Theater and Dance 38: Acting Technique. Limited to 8 students. Second semester. Professor Mukasa.

47. Models for Choreography and Performance. In this intermediate studio course students will be introduced to a wide range of choreographic processes and techniques as practiced by different guest artists who approach the art of performance-making from diverse perspectives. Each guest artist will be in residence for three to four weeks and will introduce students to some of the ways that they as artists find and develop material for performance. These various compositional techniques, conceptual frameworks and strategies will serve as models for students in developing their own choreography and performance material. Students will create their own compositions/choreography as a response to these different models and/or incorporate different elements from the various approaches to forge their own aesthetics. These studies will be performed throughout the semester in the studio, on stage and in site-specific locations. Four hours of class instruction plus four hours of lab/rehearsal per week.

Requisite: Previous experience with Composition or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2007-08.

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. Second semester. Professor Woodson.

Studio Courses

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. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 10 students. Second semester. Playwright-in-Residence Congdon.

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. First semester. Professor Woodson.

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. First and second semesters. Professor Dougan.

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 "erformance." It aims to reinforce the skills that you have and to help you develop and expand these skills more effectively. Students direct three scenes of varying length and do “perception labs,” exploring the way theatrical presentation is received by viewers in an audience.

Requisite: Theater and Dance 45. Consent of the Chairperson must be obtained during the pre-registration period. First semester. Professor Mukasa.

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. Omitted 2007-08.

75H. 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 Professor Dougan. Not open to first-year students. First semester. The Department.

76H. Production Studio. Same description as Theater and Dance 75H.

Second semester. The Department.

77, 78. Senior Departmental Honors. For Honors candidates in Theater and Dance.

Open to seniors. First and second semesters. The Department.

97, 97H, 98, 98H. Special Topics. Independent Reading Course. Full or half course.

Admission with consent of the instructor. First and second semesters. The Department.

Related Course

Creating Musical Drama. See Music 18.

Omitted 2006-07.

 

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