Spring 2015 Courses
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, History, Culture II: Romantics, Realists, and Revolutionaries
Theatre Arts 102-401 Tuesdays & Thursdays 12 Noon to 1:30 pm Rose Malague and Cary Mazer
This course will examine the interplay of theatrical theory, theatrical practice, and dramatic writing, in relation to contemporaneous societies and cultures, from Romanticism and melodrama and the rise of “realism” in the nineteenth century, through theatrical aesthetics that position themselves beyond or against realism at the beginning of the twentieth century, to the present day. Areas of exploration include theatre and industrialization, the invention of the avant garde, the rise of the auteur-director, political theatre, competing theories about the actor’s body and the actor’s emotions, performance art, feminist theatre, queer theatre, and the integration of non-western theatre into shared theatre practice in the colonial and post-colonial world.
Theatre Arts 114-401 Monday 2 pm to 5 pm Jackie Goldfinger
This course is designed as a hands-on workshop in the art and craft of dramatic writing. It involves the study of existing plays, the systematic exploration of such elements as storymaking, plot, structure, theme, character, dialogue, setting, etc.; and most importantly, the development of students' own plays through a series of written assignments and in-class exercises. Since a great deal of this work takes place in class - through lectures, discussions, spontaneous writing exercises, and the reading of student work - weekly attendance and active participation is crucial.
Introduction to Acting
Theatre Arts 120
Section 120-301 Tuesday & Thursday 1:30 am to 3 pm James Schlatter
Section 120-302 Monday 3:30 am to 6:30 pm David M O’Connor
Section 120-601 Tuesday 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm Marcia Ferguson
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.
Theatre Arts 125-301 Tuesday & Thursday 3 pm to 4:30 pm James Schlatter
How does one read a play? Theatre, as a discipline, focuses on the traditions of live performance. In those traditions, a play text must be read not only as a piece of literature, but as a kind of "blueprint" from which productions are built. This course will introduce students to a variety of approaches to reading plays and performance pieces. Drawing on a wide range of dramatic texts from different periods and places, we will examine how plays are made, considering issues such as structure, genre, style, character, and language, as well as the use of time, space, and theatrical effects. Although the course is devoted to the reading and analysis of plays, we will also view selected live and/or filmed versions of several of the scripts we study, assessing their translation from page to stage.
Thar 130-301 Wednesday 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm Eric Baratta and Cat Johnson
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. More information.
Concepts of Stage Design
Theatre Arts 133-301 Monday & Wednesday 2 pm to 3:30 pm Peter Whinnery
Course will meet in the Performing Arts Shop
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.
Movement for the Actor
Theatre Arts 171-301 Wednesday 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm Manfred Fishbeck
The study of the art of bodily expression throughout history in theory and practice, from Classical and Oriental forms to the contemporary theatre.
Theatre Arts 199 arranged
Thar 250-301 Monday & Wednesday 10:30 am to 12 Noon Robert Smythe
Puppetry is an artform that synthesizes many skills, talents and aesthetics; therefore, this course is designed for artists of different backgrounds who have achieved some level of skill and understanding of their primary discipline. This is a beginning level course, designed to give you experience and understanding of puppetry and to whet your appetite for further work in the field. This course will provide you with training in the three distinct components of puppetry: the performer, the instrument and the score. You will learn how to manipulate objects to give them life; how to write and create performance pieces and/or plays that exploit the unique characteristics of puppets, and how to design and build basic puppets that serve the needs of your imagination. At the end of the semester, you will present the results of your explorations as a performance piece in class and in a public forum. The worlds of theater, film and television hold many opportunities for those whose imaginations go beyond the known, real world. Puppetry offers artists a chance to create deeply personal and meaningful work that defies categorization. By the end of this course you will have created and performed an original puppet play. You will then be able to explore the field further in the ways that interest you as an artist.
American Musical Theatre
Thar 271-402 Monday & Wednesday 2 pm to 3:30 pm David Fox
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.
Thar 274-401 Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 am to 12 Noon Cary Mazer
This course will examine the functions and methods of the dramaturg--the person in the theatrical process who advises the artistic collaborators on (among other things) new play development, the structure of the script, the playwrights biography and other writings, the plays first production and its subsequent production history, and the historical and regional details of the period depicted in the plays action. We will study the history of the dramaturg in the American theatre and discuss contemporary issues relating to the dramaturgs contribution to theatrical production (including the legal debates about the dramaturgs contribution to the creation of Rent). And, in creative teams, the class will create dramaturgical portfolios for a season of imaginary (and, potentially, a few actual) theatrical productions.
Thar 275-301 Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 am to 12 Noon James Schlatter
The focus of this practical course, offered in partnership with the Ben Franklin Scholars Program and the Netter Center, will be on the construction of a public art and performance space in West Philadelphia. Students will conduct research into the recent history and current state of public performance art, particularly work created in close collaboration and dialogue with local communities. Much of the work of the course will be engaging the West Philadelphia community—neighborhood groups, schools, and arts organizations in a discussion about what form the public art space will take, what works it will include, and in what location it will be installed. The general frame for the work will be the shared life of West Philadelphia, a celebration of its history, traditions, and inhabitants. Students will be integrally involved in all aspects of the conception, design, and construction of the art space, including addressing the critical issue of the appropriation of public
Thar 275-401 Tuesday and Thursday 1:30 pm to 3 pm Marcia Ferguson
The course provides an overview of the evolving interface between science and theatre, and serves as a platform for the creation of an original performance piece with this theme at its heart. Our investigations will be grounded in philosophies of art, contemporary research on the relationship of theatre to neurocognition (with a focus on brain functioning, acting, and audience reception), and improvisatory performance. We will also read plays that intersect with science in various ways. The goal of the course is to engage these concepts by using them in our own interpretations of texts, and to embody them through performance. Students will participate in this year’s Artistic Residency, sponsored by the Theatre Arts Program, with Robert Smythe, founder of Mum Puppettheatre and master puppeteer. For two weeks, students in the course will work alongside Mr. Smythe, fusing course themes with the creation of 3-dimensional "performing objects," resulting in an original performance piece. (A small number of Theatre Arts students will eventually take a version of this piece to the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.) Members of the class will publicly present a Work-in-Progress on Thursday, April 16, 2015. Dates for required attendance at the Artistic Residency portion of this class, which will fall outside of regular class times, are: April 6-9, and April 13-16. Exact times of these sessions are TBA.
Theatre Arts 299 arranged
Thar 320-301 Tuesday and Thursday 3 pm to 4:30 pm Rose Malague
Scene Study is an acting class that combines intensive script analysis with performance of scenes; this year, we will focus on work by contemporary American playwrights. Open to students who have successfully completed Introduction to Acting (and possibly Acting Level II), this class builds on those courses, but with emphasis on the actor’s work with the text. We will study several plays together as a class, alongside key acting theory texts, conducting Stanislavskian “table work.” We will then workshop and perform scenes from these plays in class. In consultation with the instructor, students will identify individual goals, building on discoveries made in other acting and/or Theatre Arts courses—and onstage—and to work on material that presents new challenges and expands range. Depending on the number of students enrolled in the class, we are likely to perform at least three pieces. Class work will be complemented by attendance at selected live production on campus and in Philadelphia.
If you have questions contact Dr. Rosemary Malague: email@example.com
Rehearsal & Performance: The Heidi Chronicles
Theatre Arts 350-301 Monday through Thursday 6pm to 10 pm, and other dates/times to be announced
Permission needed from instructor through audition or interview Rose Malague
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.
Graduate Independent Study
Thar 999 arranged
Theatre Arts Program http://www.sas.upenn.edu/theatrearts/
Marcia Ferguson Program Director Kevin Chun, Administrative Assistant
(215) 898-2546 (215) 898-5271
Theatre Arts Program
Kevin Chun, Administrative Assistant
Marcia Ferguson , Program Director