To study theatre at Hamilton is to gain skills and knowledge in such areas as performance, design and cultural studies. The creation of art—including theatre—leads inevitably to a sense of personal empowerment and responsibility. As young artists, audiences, and citizens, students learn to value theatre as an important part of their lives, their communities and society.
Specialization in performance, design and production, playwriting or directing is possible through a combination of coursework and independent study. At the same time, students extend the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom by working on a variety of productions, from classroom to independent studies to departmental productions.
The Department also offers other opportunities: The annual Wallace Bradley Johnson Playwriting Contest sponsors staged play-readings of selected finalists and makes an award to the best one-act play submitted by a Hamilton undergraduate. The Bare Naked Theatre (BNT) is a Theatre Department program that encourages and supports independent theatre projects among students and students and faculty.
A concentration in theatre is suitable for any student who seeks creative, technical and intellectual challenges and rewards. Theatre concentrators take a variety of courses designed to give students a sophisticated understanding of theatre in relationship to the individual, everyday life, society and culture; an appreciation of imagination and the imaginative; and a mature and realistic idea of the demands and rewards of artistic work and creation.
Concentrators are expected to hold high academic and artistic standards, to attempt challenging artistic projects, and to create works that reflect individuality and potential. Theatre program faculty work closely with students as teachers and mentors, both in the classroom and on productions. Students may also elect to minor in theatre, taking a group of courses that balance the performance and non-performance offerings.
While many theatre concentrators choose to pursue further study in theatre or to enter the field professionally, others choose to utilize the skills they have learned while studying theatre in other fields including business, law and teaching. No matter what profession students ultimately choose to enter, the study of theatre provides them with the skills to "respond creatively to new and unexpected situations and to address problems and challenges in a morally and intellectually courageous manner."
The Department''s entry-level course, Theatre 100, offers first-year students the opportunity to learn the basic skills and vocabularies of stage production and performance, and to practice collaborative theatre-making in a classroom setting. Theatre 100 is about making theatre: students write dramatic monologues, act, design and direct, and the class culminates in the production and performance of a one-act play. Students learn about the various elements that contribute toward a full theatre production, and what particular area—acting, design, directing, writing—they would like to continue to study. All concentrators and minors must take 100.
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.
This will serve as a comprehensive introduction to theatre design and 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 and delve into the technologies, tools and techniques used to create the visual world of performance. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) 2 1/2 hours of class, 3 hours of laboratory. Maximum enrollment, 12. Larson and Walsh (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Three hours of class and four hours of laboratory. Maximum enrollment, 12. 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.
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.
Bare Naked Theatre.
Bare Naked theatre is designed to be a 1/4 credit studio course akin to our main stage production, but on a smaller scale. (Speaking-Intensive.) (Proseminar.) 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 technical/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.) 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.
An in-depth exploration of lighting and projection design for live performance. The course will cover the process, techniques, equipment and methodologies of these theatre design disciplines. These include; composition, color theory, projection mapping, CAD drafting, as well as lighting for the camera. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 105. Maximum enrollment, 12. Larson, Jeff.
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. 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.
Puppetry & Object Theatre.
This is a production and performance course to introduce students to the basics of puppetry. It will explore a variety of puppetry techniques. Maximum enrollment, 12. Sara Walsh.
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 224.) Maximum enrollment, 12. 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.
Theatre for Social Change; Youth and Education.
The course examines how theatre provokes, promotes and produces social change through engaging with youth. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Proseminar.) (Same as Education Studies 241.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Jeanne Wilcoxon.
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 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. (Same as Anthropology 261.)
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.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as Classics 280.) Maximum enrollment, 20.
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, improvisation 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.
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.