Fall 2015 Courses
Fall 2015 courses are listed on this page for convenience. For the most accurate and up-to-date listing of course offerings, please visit the course timetable at the Office of the Registrar website:
Complete descriptions of all Theatre Arts courses, please visit:
THEATRE IN PHILADELPHIA (THAR 076.301)
FRESHMAN SEMINAR - This class is open only to the freshman class.
Instructor: Malague, R. – Tues & Thurs., 3 pm to 4:30 pm
The focus of this course will be on investigating and experiencing live theatre in Philadelphia. This semester we will have the opportunity to see numerous plays in production. We will examine the theatre experience in its entirety, considering: place and space of performance; audience; production elements such as directing, acting, and scenic design; as well as the play or performance piece itself. In addition, we will examine the state of the contemporary theatre culture of Philadelphia by looking at: the history of theatre in the city; the theatre buildings themselves; as well as the history, mission, and current state of selected theatre companies. Our readings will include: historical and theoretical context for the attending the theatre and viewing plays in production; scripts for plays we will see; and local newspaper coverage of the Philadelphia theatre scene. The course will also include tours of local theatres as well as discussions with local and visiting theatre artists.
THEATRE, HISTORY, CULTURE I: From Classical Greece to European Enlightenment (Thar 101.301)
Instructor: Ferguson, M. Tues./ Thurs., 1:30 pm to 3 pm
This course investigates the history of theatre practice in Europe and Asia from Fifth-Century Athens to roughly the end of the Eighteenth Century. In addition to analyzing major dramatic works, this course examines the evolution of production methods —scenography, acting, costuming, theatre architecture - across cultures and at key socio-historical moments. Readings will be drawn from historical research, theoretical writings, and contemporary social documents. A particular focus will be on the integral role that the theatre plays as a cultural institution in the ongoing civic life of major cities, including Athens, Rome, London, Paris, and Heian-kyo (Kyoto). The course approaches theatre as broadly interdisciplinary and examines its intersection with religious practice, political developments, national identity, geography, the visual arts and the urban landscape.
INTRODUCTION TO ACTING (THAR.120)
Section 120-301 – Instructor: Schlatter, J., – Tues./ Thurs., 1:30 pm to 3 pm – Freshman Seminar
Section 120-302 – Instructor: O’Connor, D., - Fri., 2 pm to 5 pm
Rooted in the system devised by Konstantin Stanislavsky, this course takes students step by step through the practical work an actor must do to live and behave truthfully on-stage. Beginning with relaxation and physical exercise, interactive games, and ensemble building, students then learn and put into practice basic acting techniques, including sensory work, the principles of action, objectives, given circumstances, etc. The semester culminates in the performance of a scene or scenes, most often from a modern American play. This course strongly stresses the responsibility of the actor to work and especially to one's fellow actors. Practical work is supplemented by readings from Stanislavsky and a variety of other acting theorists that may include Uta Hagen, Robert Cohen, Stella Adler, among others. Students are required to submit short essays over the course of the semester in response to the readings and in preparation for their final scene project.
INTRODUCTION TO DIRECTING (THAR 121-301)
Instructor: Ferguson, M., - Tues./ Thurs., 10:30 am to 12 noon
The aim of this course is to provide students with a basic knowledge of directing through an introduction to the functional tools of the craft. Classes provide lectures and practical work in dealing with topics such as the function of the director, analyzing a script, visual composition, blocking, stage business, and working with actors. This course is a prerequisite for Advanced Directing.
INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE DESIGN: SET, LIGHT, AND COSTUME (THAR 130-301)
Instructors: Baratta, E., Johnson, C., Weds., 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm
Design for theatre (and all of the performing arts) is a dynamic, collaborative process that engages both intellect and emotion in staging the dramatic moment. The personal vision of the designer must navigate the often-uncharted waters of the production process, from the earliest, personal moments of design inspiration to the opening night performance. Design flows from creativity, is structured by research and theory, and is realized in living form by collaboration in the dynamic process of theatre making. This class will integrate history, theory and practice of stage design in the interactive setting of the Collaborative Classroom in Van Pelt Library in this special interdisciplinary, active-learning course offering open to all Penn students. Group and individual projects, field visits, practical projects and guest speakers will be featured in this newly revised course. For more information, click here and here.
CONCEPTS OF STAGE DESIGN (THAR 133-301)
Instructor: Whinnery, P., Mon./ Weds. 2 pm to 3:30 pm
A history of the development of twentieth-century stage design and the exploration of the design process. Project work in the realization of stage designs through drafting, rendering, and model building.
In this course we will cover the basic concepts of Scenic Design for the stage. Scene Design is about the look or physical appearance of the stage for a play. It reflects the way that the stage is composed artistically in regard to props, actors, shapes and color. We will explore Scene Design and the Theatre (story telling, place and local, time and period, society and culture), Scene Design as a Visual Art (principals of design and composition, style, use of space, expression of concept) and examine how it ties together all the visual elements of a production to create an appropriate atmosphere that heightens the audience's understanding and enjoyment of the play. Topics will include: Script Analysis, Technical Production, Period Decor and Ornament; Drawing, Drafting, Model making; and Scene Painting.
VOICE FOR THE ACTOR (THAR 170.301)
Instructor: Doherty, S. – Mon., 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm
This course is to assist professional and student actors through a detailed series of exercises designed by Kristin Linklater to free, develop and strengthen the voice. To teach a method by which an individual may liberate his or her natural voice, integrate the voice with the entire "actor's instrument," and enable the individual to communicate the full range of human emotion and thought. The exercises upon which I draw will guide the actor through a detailed progression of relaxation, physical awareness, breath awareness, alignment of the spine, resonance, range and articulation. We will explore how the voice works and why the voice does not work, and what is the difference between an individual and his or her voice. Partnered with this voice work are group and individual exercises designed to stimulate and develop the imagination, physical awareness, sensory awareness, creativity and the capacity for ensemble work.
INDEPENDENT STUDY (THAR 199.000) Arranged
ADVANCED PLAYWRITING (THAR 214.301)
Instructor: Delaney, B., - Mon., 3:30pm to 6:30pm
This course is intended to reinforce and build upon the areas covered in Level 1 Playwriting (THAR-114) so that students can refine the skills they've acquired and take them to the next level. Topics covered will include techniques for approaching the first draft, in-depth characterization, dramatic structure, conflict, shaping the action, language/dialogue (incl. subtext, rhythm, imagery, exposition etc), how to analyze your own work as a playwright, dealing with feedback, the drafting process, techniques for rewriting, collaboration (with directors, actors etc) and the 'business of the art' - working with theatres, agents, dramaturgs etc. Students will undertake to write their own one-act plays over the course. The classes will be a mixture of lecture, discussion, study of dramatic texts, writing exercises and in-class analysis of students' work.
ACTING SHAKESPEARE (THAR 236.401)
Cross listed with Engl 236.401
Instructor: Mazer, C. – Tues./ Thurs., 12 Noon to 1:30 pm.
Prerequisites: Thar 120 or Thar 121 and Permission of the Instructor.
Through specialized readings, writing assignments, and in-class acting exercises, the class will develop methods of interpreting Shakespeare's plays through theatrical practice. Topics include: Shakespeare's use of soliloquy, two and three person scenes, the dramatic presentation of narrative source material, modes of defining and presenting the "worlds" of the plays, and the use of theatrical practice to establish authoritative text.
WRITING OUT LOUD: August Wilson and Beyond (THAR 250-401)
Instructor: Berger, S. – Mon., 2 pm-5 pm
“The people need to know the story. See how they fit into it. See what part they play.” - August Wilson, King Hedley II
In this seminar, students will read groundbreaking playwright August Wilson’s 20th Century Cycle: ten plays that form an iconic picture of African American traumas, triumphs, and traditions through the decades, told through the lens of Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood. Other readings include supporting material on Wilson’s work and African American theatre, the works of contemporary playwrights whom Wilson has influenced (such as Suzan-Lori Parks and Tarell Alvin McCraney), and context on Penn’s relationship with West Philadelphia. As an Academically Based Community Service (ABCS) course, Writing Out Loud gives students the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the plays, and history and culture that shaped them, by forming meaningful relationships with West Philadelphia residents. Wilson’s plays provide the bridge between the two groups. The course culminates with students writing an original theatre piece inspired by the readings and relationships, which they will share at an end-of-semester performance.
American Musical Theatre (THAR 271-401)
Instructor: Fox, D., Mon./ Weds., 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
The American musical is an unapologetically popular art form, but many of the works that come from this tradition have advanced and contributed to the canon of theatre as a whole. In this course we will focus on both music and texts to explore ways in which the musical builds on existing theatrical traditions, as well as alters and reshapes them. Finally, it is precisely because the musical is a popular theatrical form that we can discuss changing public tastes, and the financial pressures inherent in mounting a production. Beginning with early roots in operetta, we will survey the works of prominent writers in the American musical theatre, including Kern, Berlin, Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers, Hart, Hammerstein, Bernstein, Sondheim, Guettel and others. Class discussions will be illustrated with film and recorded examples.
Shakespearean Performance History (THAR 275-401)
Benjamin Franklin Seminars
Instructor: Mazer, C., Tues./ Thurs., 10:30 am to 12 noon
This course surveys major movements in the performance of Shakespeare's plays over 350 years since the reopening of the theatres in 1660, examining how the scripts take on new aesthetic forms, acquire different cultural status, and generate different meanings for each period and artist. Topics include the transformation of the plays' original stagecraft when performed on proscenium stages, within romantic decor, using pictorial narrative devices, and after the naturalist revolution; heroic, romantic, and "emotional realistic" acting (particularly since the advent of Stanislavsky); performance and politics; editing, adaptation, and censorship; the rise of the director; the reintroduction of the "open" stage; the "original practices" movement; international and foreign language performance; and post-modernism.
Provocative Performance (THAR 279-401)
Benjamin Franklin Seminars
Instructor: Malague, R. Tues./ Thurs., 12 noon to 1:30 pm
SENIOR THESIS (THAR-299.000) Arranged
REHEARSAL & PERFORMANCE (THAR 350.301)
Instructor/Director: Schlatter, J., – Meets primarily evenings, 7 pm to 11 pm until production.
Permission is needed from instructor through audition or interview.
For more information, watch our website for updates. http://www.sas.upenn.edu/theatrearts/
This course is designed to provide students with deep intellectual and artistic immersion into the theatrical process through intensive research, rehearsal, and performance of a full-length stage piece. Students may enroll in this course as actors (by audition only) or as assistant directors, stage managers, dramaturgs, or designers (by permission of the instructor). Theatre Arts 350 may be taken multiple times, as the research and performance process will be different for every project. Each semester, the faculty-directed play will be featured in the Theatre Arts Program production season.
PROVOCATIVE PERFORMANCE (Thar 579-640)
Instructor: Malague, M. –Wednesday., 6 pm to 9 pm
What is “feminist theatre?” This course will examine a wide array of performance pieces by and about women, designed to provoke social, political, and personal change. Ranging from the serious to the hilarious—and sometimes outrageous—our readings will center on plays and performance art pieces; we will also study live and filmed performances. These will be contextualized with material on feminist theatre theory and history. The class will take full advantage of events occurring on campus and in Philadelphia during the course of the semester; we will also welcome guest speakers (more specifics will be provided when various cultural calendars for the fall of 2014 are announced). Enrollment note: Advanced undergraduates may be admitted with instructor's permission.
Course offerings listed here may change to reflect the needs of the program and its declared majors.
Theatre Arts Program
Marcia Ferguson , Program Director
Kevin Chun, Administrative Assistant