Spring 2014 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:
Please note that some class offerings may change to reflect the needs of students currently enrolled in the program.
Theatre, History, Culture II: Cities at Play from the Renaissance to the Rise of Realism
Theatre Arts 111-401 Tuesday & Thursday 9 am to 10:30 am Ferguson
This course examines theatre and performance in the context of the broader urban, artistic and political cultures housing them from the Renaissance to the mid-19th century. Encompassing multiple cultures and traditions, it will draw on a variety of readings and viewings designed to locate the play, playwright, trend or concept under discussion within a specific socio-historical context. The evolution of written and performed drama, theatre architecture, and scenography will be examined in tandem with the evolution of various nationalisms, population shifts, and other commercial and material forces on theatrical entertainments. Readings consequently will be drawn not only from plays and other contemporary documents, but also from selected works on the history, theory, design, technology, art, politics or society of the period under discussion.
Playwriting Workshop Goldfinger
Theatre Arts 114-401 Monday 2 pm to 5 pm
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 10:30 am to 12 pm Schlatter
Section 120-302 Tuesday & Thursday 12 Noon to 1:30 pm Malague
Section 120-303 Monday 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm O'Connor
Section 120-304 Friday 2pm-5pm Doherty
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 Malague
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.
Concepts of Stage Design
Theatre Arts 133-301 Monday & Wednesday 2 pm to 3:30 pm Whinnery
Permission of Instructor Course will meet in the Performing Arts Shop
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 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
Advanced Theatre History: Blackface, Yellowface, Redface, Jewface
Thar 240-401 Tuesday & Thursday 12 noon t 1:30 pm Mazer
Blackface, Yellowface, Redface, Jewface: Theatrical Representations of “Others.”
This semester’s Topic in Theatre History focuses on the theatrical, dramatic, and histrionic representations of “Others” in select periods of theatrical history. Topics include (among others) representations of Africans, Turks, indigenous Americans, and Jews in Early Modern English theatre; Asians, Indians and Africans in Restoration and 18th-century theatre; Blackface plays (Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Octoroon) and popular entertainment (the minstrel show and vaudeville) in 19th- and early 20th-century America; issues of non-traditional casting in contemporary theatre; the Miss Saigon controversy; and modernist and post-modern theatre and performance art.
Improvisation: History, Theory, Practice
Thar 250-301 Tuesday & Thursday 12 noon to 1:30 pm Ferguson
With roots in Vaudeville, the Commedia dell-Arte, and beyond, improvisatory theatre has a rich tradition of political, social and artistic subversions. In this course, students will both study the history and theory of improvisation, and experiment with it in performance. We will also explore improvisation as a phenomenon in other arts, and will hear from experts about the ways improvisatory approaches nourish their practices. The centerpiece of the course will be *student participation in an Artistic Residency by the Pig Iron Theatre company*. An OBIE award-winning experimental theatre company based in Philadelphia, Pig Iron is "dedicated to the creation of new and exuberant performance works that defy easy categorization." Class participants must be available for eight evenings in early April for this aspect of the course. Students will work alongside company members, and their training and collaboration will culminate in a public performance of a devised, original performance work-in-progress, on a chosen theme.
Taking Performance Art Public at Penn
Thar 250-302 Tuesday & Thursday 1:30 pm to 3 pm Schlatter
This is a practical course in which students, individually, in small groups, and collectively, will conceive and construct works of performance art in public spaces on Penn campus. The forms this work will take will vary greatly but will address the central question about how we as a community can engage and interact with one another outside the proscribed arenas of academic discourse. Can true dialogue be stimulated improvisationally, even spontaneously? Can that dialogue and our identity as members of a discourse community be invigorated--and also interrogated--in creative and provocative ways? The work of the semester will begin with a discussion of the recent history of this work by internationally recognized artists such as Joseph Beuys, Ai Weiwei, Thomas Hirschhorn, Suzanne Lacy, and Marina Abramovic, among others. The class will also generate ideas and methodologies from the writings of scholars and cultural thinkers such as Claire Bishop, Shannon Jackson, and Grant Kester. A genuine creative and intellectual interest, but no direct experience, is required for this class.
Theatre Arts 274-401 Tuesday & Thursday 10:30 am to 12 pm 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.
Presenting the Arts: Performing Arts Management
Theatre Arts 285 - 301 Wednesday 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm Kaissar
Presenting the Arts looks at the role of the arts manager in shaping our interactions with theatre, dance, music, and visual arts. How can art shape communities, why is arts education really so important, and how does technology change not just how we make art, but the very role it plays in our lives? We will cover practical topics like grantwriting, budgeting, and board management; genre specific topics like touring dance, funding symphony, and the relationship between commercial and not for profit theatre; and will have visits by leading arts managers and thinkers from the Philadelphia and New York area.
A study of the creation and presentation of art (e.g., theater, film, sculpture), the cultural context of creativity and the management of individual and institutional performance and exhibition. A combination of lectures by instructors and practitioners, case studies and consulting projects with local institutions will illustrate the relationship between creativity and presentation. Students will be required to write papers, proposals, and complete a term project.
Theatre Arts 299 arranged
Rehearsal & Performance:
Theatre Arts 350-301 Monday through Thursday 7 pm to 10 pm, Friday 2 pm to 5 pm
Permission needed from instructor through audition or interview 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.
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Theatre Arts Program
Kevin Chun, Administrative Assistant
Marcia Ferguson , Program Director