Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton’s Theatre Department is to teach students to think and express themselves creatively while at the same time learning discipline, time management, and solid group-building and leadership skills.
Concentrators in theatre fulfill the Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies requirement by completing any of the following courses: 100, 102, 141/2, 212, 236, 238, 303 or 307.
Majors must audition or interview for all mainstage productions (Theatre 141 and 142). Theatre 105 must be taken before the completion of the sophomore year.
The Senior Program requirement in theatre may be fulfilled through satisfactory completion of one of the following options: a Senior Thesis (550), which may be a research paper or the composition of a play; or Senior Performance/Production (560), which may be an acting showcase, the directing of a play or designing for a departmental production. Students falling below the 3.0 (85) average may be required to take the research option or to register for an independent study prior to the project as preparation.
Departmental honors will be awarded on the basis of a cumulative record of 92 or above in all courses counting toward the major, satisfying departmental expectations, and distinguished achievement on the Senior Project.
A minor in theatre consists of Theatre 100 and four electives, two of which must be at the 200-level.
Playing—Introduction to Making Theatre: Theory and Practice.
This is the gateway course for all theatre courses. This class combines the study of theatre and drama as it reflects, represents and interprets diverse cultures with a hands-on examination of how theatre is made. Through readings, lectures, discussions and projects the class will explore the ideas, strategies and languages of theatre (acting, directing, playwriting, designing) that theatre artists use to create contemporary theatrical performance. (Speaking-Intensive.) One section for first-year students only; first-years and sophomores. Juniors with permission of the Department. Maximum enrollment, 20. Cryer.
Acting Styles: American Realism.
This course builds upon the ideas and techniques of modern realism and its American adaptations through the works of Uta Hagen and Robert Cohen. Students will gain a foundation in an acting process that includes body and voice awareness and use, sense memory, substitution, emotional memory and character actions as well as scene study. (Speaking-Intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, Theatre 100. Maximum enrollment, 16. Cryer.
Introduction to Theatre Production.
An introduction to the techniques and tools of theatre stage craft. Emphasizing hands-on learning experiences, complemented by small group lectures and discussions, the course will explore the fundamentals of stage design, projection design/technologies, set construction, scenic painting and stage and production management. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) 2 1/2 hours of class, 3 hours of laboratory. Maximum enrollment, 16. Larson and Walsh (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Three hours of class and four hours of laboratory. Maximum enrollment, 16. Larson and Walsh.
Through the introduction of a variety of performance genres, this course develops oral communication, public speaking and public performance skills. Although no prior experience in performance or public speaking is expected, students will learn about and participate in such genres as storytelling, solo performance, hip-hop theatre, spoken word poetry, Sprechstimme and cabaret. Writer/performers to be studied/performed include Tim Miller, Karen Finley, Ntozake Shange, Danny Hoch, Sarah Jones and Bertolt Brecht.
Live Design and Production II.
A continuing examination of all aspects of design and production for live performance with special emphasis on costumes and sound. The course will explore the fundamentals of design, technology and construction for the stage through lecture, discussion and hands-on experience. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, Theatre 100, 105 or consent of the instructor. Three hours of class and four hours of lab per week. Maximum enrollment, 16.
Visual Storytelling: What’s a Picture Worth?.
Through the exploration of basic visual elements including color, form, space and movement, students learn to communicate complex ideas and narratives non-verbally. While focusing on performing arts, we will also examine relevant works of fine art, architecture, film and video. Assignments consist of individual and group projects and presentations, putting into practice concepts discussed in class. While no previous art or theater experience is necessary, students should be prepared to face the challenge of expressing themselves outside the realm of written papers and oral presentations. (Proseminar.) Not open to senior Theatre concentrators except with permission of the instructor.. Maximum enrollment, 16.
The study of theatre through participation (performance, management and/or technical work) in a faculty-directed production. Students must pre-register for this class; for 141F first-year students may register during orientation. Preregistration does not guarantee an acting role. Auditions will take place at the start of the semester, and students not acting will perform a rechnical/production role. (Speaking-Intensive.) One-half credit. May be repeated for credit. Maximum enrollment, 20. M Cryer (Fall); Latrell (Spring).
Performing Culture: Shamans, Tourists, and Cross-dressers.
Examination of performing arts across Asia from traditional theatre to contemporary pop culture, and how performance functions in society. Topics include shamanic rituals, "invented" traditions, tourism, cross-dressing, and other formations of sociocultural identities. The course will be open to first year students and have no prerequisites. (Same as Asian Studies 158 and Dance and Movement Studies 158.) Chuyun Oh.
Acting Styles: Theatricalism and the European Avant Garde.
20th-century performance aesthetics. Practical exploration of non-realistic theatrical methods, emphasizing challenges to Stanislavskian naturalism in the work of Meyerhold, Artaud, Grotowski and Brecht. Intense text and performance work. (Speaking-Intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, 100, or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16. Willcoxon.
Collaborative playmaking: creating dynamic and original physical theatre.
Students will learn to work together towards a common artistic goal, using all elements of theatre to create performances. This interdisciplinary course will focus on how to create original devised pieces for the theatre using light, sound, movement, text, music and the visual arts. The student will learn techniques to create multi-disciplinary theatrical pieces as well as develop a critical vocabulary to analyze performances. (Proseminar.) Maximum enrollment, 16.
This course examines historical and contemporary performances of women on stage in the US. Using current feminist performance theory the course provides tools for students analysis of text and performance. At the end of the course students move from analysis of text/performance to creation of their own solo performance pieces. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, Theatre 100. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 205.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Jeanne Willcoxon.
A lecture/laboratory course in the design of scenery for the stage. Study of principles of composition, materials and fundamentals of drafting and rendering, eventuating in practical scenic designs with floor plans, elevations, sections and models. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) (Speaking-Intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 12.
A lecture/laboratory course in lighting for the stage. Study of principles of composition, graphic notation, electrical practice and its control, eventuating in practical lighting designs with plots, sections and control charts. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 105. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Students will learn how a designer develops, communicates and executes an effective and creative soundscape for a theatrical production. The basics of sound technology will be discussed and the student will have the opportunity to record, engineer and execute their own creative content. Focuses on sound as an artistic medium and explore how it can be used alongside other production elements to create the world of the play and convey thematic, emotional and environmental information. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 105 or 108. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Through a series of projects and demonstrations, introduces students to the basic principles of scenic painting for film, television and the performing arts. Topics covered will include color mixing, texture, faux finishing (wood grain, marble, etc.), brush and spray techniques, trompe-l’oeil and large scale cartooning and painting. Prerequisite, 105, 108 or 130, or a 100-level art course. (Same as Art 215.) Maximum enrollment, 12.
Costume Design: History into Practice.
This studio-type course serves as an introduction to the theory and practice of costume design for theater, film and television. Through a series of lectures, demonstrations and projects students will explore various aspects of costume history and the costume design process. Specific attention will be given to fashion silhouettes and historical periods, as they relate to the assigned texts. Areas covered in the course will include, costume history, script analysis, textiles, life drawing and watercolor rendering. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Introduction to the techniques of realistic and non-realistic playwriting through a variety of exercises and improvisations, culminating in the writing and staging of a one-act play. (Speaking-Intensive.) Prerequisite, Theatre 100 or Creative Writing 215. While no prior acting experience is required, students participate in staged readings of works. (Same as Literature and Creative Writing 224.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Latrell.
Outrageous Acts: Avant-Garde Theatre and Performance Art.
An examination of experimental art’s capacity to shock and to force us to recognize ourselves from new and unexpected perspectives. The historical, cultural and philosophical origins and influences, as well as exemplary works from the early avant-garde movements (1890-1940) and more contemporary avant-garde theatre and performance art (1950-1990). Discussion of the art, music, literature, theatre and film of Surrealism, Symbolism, Expressionism, Dada, Futurism, Constructivism, Epic, The Living Theatre, Grotowski, Monk, Wilson, Foreman, The Wooster Group, Hughes, Finley. Prerequisite, Theatre 100 or consent of instructor. Latrell.
African-American Theatre from Ira Aldridge to August Wilson.
Study, discussion and oral performance of selected works of drama by African-Americans from the 1860s to the present. Focuses on themes within the plays in relation to the current social climate and how they affect the play's evolution in the context of changing U.S. cultural and political attitudes. Prerequisite, Theatre 100 or a Africana Studies course. Open to sophomores and juniors only, or by instructors signature. (Same as Africana Studies 238.) Cryer.
Tragedy: Then and Now.
How did Greek tragedy work in the city of Athens? Athens was a radical democracy but was based on slave labor and the exclusion of women. How is this implied contradiction displayed in the works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides? But tragedy also has contemporary life. How do these plays transcend their time of production? An opportunity to examine relations of gods/humans, fate/choice, as well as gender, class/ethnicity and sexuality. Readings to include works by Seneca, Racine, Sartre, O’Neill, Heaney, Fugard. (Genre) (Same as Literature and Creative Writing 244 and Classics 244.)
Introduction to Queer Theatre.
This course will examine the evolution of queer perspectives and performance practices in dramatic literature and performance, from proto-queer characters in Marlowe and Shakespeare to the origins and growth of the GLBTQ movement, to an "out theatre." We will study works that depict GLBTQ characters and plotlines, their resistance to heterosexist values, and their relation to larger American social and political issues and movements. Playwrights and artists to be discussed include Williams, Crowley, McNally, Durang, Lucas, Miller, Ludlam, Kushner, Vogel, Kron, Huges, and Mac. Prerequisite, Theatre 100, or consent of instructor. Latrell.
Performing Life: Introduction to Performance Studies.
This course introduces the field of performance studies, examining performance in diverse contexts, from everyday life (sports, rituals, politics, television) to more formal settings (theatre, dance, visual art). Performance studies asks “What is performance, and how can we make sense of it?” The field incorporates aspects of theatre history, theory, and practice; anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies. No performance training is required or expected, but students will participate in a variety of hands-on exercises, and will attend and analyze several events. Prerequisite, Theatre 100, or consent of instructor.
Readings of Greek and Roman comedies in English translation: Aristophanes, Plautus, Terence, Lucian, Apuleius, mime. Discussions of why and for whom comedy is funny, comedic perspective, theories of humor, roles of women and slaves in comedy, cultural values, themes and plots, history of comedy, staging and theatrical technique. May also include class production of a play. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Classics 280.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Feltovich.
Advanced Seminar in Performance.
A performance-oriented seminar focusing on specific areas of performance theory and technique: for example, political theatre, Asian theatre, Latina/o theatre, solo performance, chamber theatre, intercultural or intermedia performance. Addresses the connections between research and performance. Final public performance and/or presentation. Prerequisite, 201 or consent of department. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Advanced Acting Workshop: Shakespeare and Company.
Classical texts and contemporary performance. Focus on Shakespeare, language and character. May include other classical dramatists Scene and monologue work, textual analysis, vocal and speaking preparedness, verse and heightened speech, characterization, improvization and rehearsals. (Speaking-Intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, 102, 201 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 16.
Fundamentals of play direction and script analysis. Study of selected directors and directorial problems; the direction of exercise scenes; and direction of a final scene or one-act for public presentation. (Speaking-Intensive.) Prerequisite, Theatre 100 and 105 or 212, or by consent of instructor. Latrell.
History of Theatre.
An introduction to the basic texts of theatre history from classical antiquity to the Baroque era, focusing on the themes of cross-dressing in performance, space and how it shapes theatre, and the representation of reality on the stage. Places performance within social, cultural and historical contexts, and also provides an introduction to non-Western performance. Offered in alternate years. Prerequisite, Theatre 100, or the signature of instructor. Wilcoxon.
Meisner One; Transitions.
Through exercises, performance activities, and presentations, this course provides an introduction to Sanford Meisner’s approach to actor training and its requirements for successful transitions to camera and voice over work. Students learn to demonstrate understanding and practical proficiency in executing the exercises and theoretical concepts of Meisner’s approach to actor training, as well as learning to maintain connections with others during practical activities, presentations and performances. (Speaking-Intensive.) Prerequisite, 102 and 201. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Men On Stage: Masculinity and Desire in Physical Performance.
An interdisciplinary exploration of masculinity through the analysis of male performers from concert dance to pop culture. Students will examine how the male body onstage has constructed traditional or non-conventional notions of masculinity, sexuality, and desire across time and space. Themes include male performers in hip-hop, drag, ballet, modern dance, theatre, musical, cross-dressing, and pop music videos from early modern to contemporary era. The class will consist of lectures, discussions, student presentations, and creative responses and activities. No prior performance experience is necessary. (Same as Women's and Gender Studies 322 and Dance and Movement Studies 322.) Oh, Chuyun.
The Study of the Theatre through Production and Performance.
Performing a major role, stage management, dramaturgy or design of scenery, lighting or costumes for a faculty-directed production. Prerequisite, invitation of department. May be repeated for credit. Maximum enrollment, 1. The Department.
A project resulting in either a research paper or the composition of a play. Open to senior concentrators only. The Department.
An acting showcase, the directing of a play, costume, set and/or lighting design for a departmental production. Substantial written component comprising research into the historical, theoretical and socio-cultural contexts of the chosen work. Following submission of the monograph and completion of production, each student will participate in the evaluation of her/his project with an evaluating committee. Open to senior concentrators only. Senior project proposals, written in consultation with faculty, are due at the end of the fall semester of the senior year. The Department.
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)