Drama

Requirements for Concentration: 10 ½ units. Drama 102, 103, 221-222, 3 additional units in dramatic literature or theater history from the following courses: Drama 201, 231, 317, 324, 335, 336, 337, of which 2 must be 324, 335, 336, or 337. 2 units from the following production courses: Drama 203, 205, 209, 302, 304, 305, 307, 390; 2 additional elective units at the 200-level or above in drama, film, or dance.

I. Introductory

102a or b. Introduction to Theater-Making: Theory & Practice (1)

An exploration of the collaborative strategies theater artists use to realize dramatic texts on the stage. Through the staging of weekly projects, the class examines the challenge posed by a variety of genres and seeks to develop the skills necessary to communicate clearly to an audience. Ms. Cody, Mr. Grabowski and instructor to be announced.

Two 75-minute periods.

One 75 minute laboratory.

103a or b. Introduction to Stagecraft (1/2)

An introduction to the fundamentals of stagecraft, including the processes of flat and platform construction, scene painting, rigging, and theatrical safety. Mr. Miller.

This is a six-week course.

Two 75-minute periods.

Two 2 hour laboratory.

II. Intermediate

200a or b. The Experimental Theater (1/2)

This course focuses on putting theory and technique into practice through participation in the performance, design, or technical aspects of drama department productions in the Experimental Theater of Vassar College. Recent productions included The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers, Spring Awakening by Frank Wedekind, As You Like It using original staging practices, a race specific Pygmalion, Quills by Doug Wright, Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, a new translation of Oedipus at Colonus, Cloud Nine by Caryl Churchill, and an all-female Macbeth, as well as various student written works and collaboratively generated projects. The department.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, 103, and permission of the department.

May be repeated up to four times.

One 3-hour period and production laboratory.

201b. Text In Performance (1)

The analysis of performance texts as they are interpreted in contemporary production. Students engage in close readings of play texts and criticism and then examine the ramifications of production choices by viewing a number of professional productions. Ms. Cody, Mr. Grabowski.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, 221-222 or special permission of the instructors.

One 2-hour period and laboratory.

202b. The Art of Theater Making (1)

This course is a sequel to Drama 102. Students explore more deeply the complexities of interpreting and realizing texts on the stage. The source materials include poems, short stories, and plays and the course culminates in the conceiving and staging of a non-dramatic text. Ms. Cody and Mr. Grabowski.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, 221-222 or special permission of the instructors.

One 3-hour period and laboratory.

203a or b. The Actor’s Craft: The Study of Acting Theories From (1)

1915-present

The development of rehearsal techniques and strategies in preparation for acting on the stage. Ideas are drawn from the work of Constantin Stanislavsky, Michael Chekhov, Tadashi Suzuki, Anne Bogart, Sanford Meisner, and others. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, and permission of the department.

Two 2-hour periods.

205a. The Actor’s Voice (1)

Instruction, theory, and practice in the use of the voice for the stage.

Prerequisites: Drama 102 and permission of the department. Mr. Colaianni.

One 3-hour period.

206a. Movement for Actors (1)

Training in stage movement for actors. Students learn to understand neutral posture alignment and explore the dynamic and expressive qualities of movement, as well as the methods of developing a rich physicalization of character. Concepts from the Alexander Technique, Laban Movement Analysis, experimental theatre, and post-modern dance are used. Ms. Wildberger.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

209a. Topics in Production (1)

In-depth study of one or more of the specialized skills used in the creation of the technical aspects of theatrical production. Past topics have included Drafting and Draping. Graphic Communication for Designers, Scene Painting, and Stage Management. May be repeated, but students may study each skill area only once. Instructor to be announced, Ms. Hummel, or Mr. Miller.

Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

215b. Plays of the Black Diaspora/Performing the Black Diaspora (1)

(Same as Africana Studies 215) Through comedy, tragedy, and satire, Playwrights from Africa, Europe, United Kingdom, and the Caribbean have dramatized the rich heritage and vibrant cultures of the Black Diaspora. The course explores the forms and themes of black theater. It examines the evolution of the black theatre from the African Grove, to urban “chitlin” circuits, and contemporary Black theater. It discusses how playwrights of the black Diaspora have dealt with issues like myth, identity, gender, spirituality, love, and ownership. Works studies include plays by Wole Soyinka, August Wilson, Derek Walcott, Susan Lori Parks, Alice Childress, Pearl Cleage, Ed Bulolins, Athol Fugard, Lorraine Hansbury, Lynn Nottage, Dipo Abgoluage and Errol Hill.

221a/222b. Sources of World Drama (2)

An exploration of dramatic literature and performance practices from around the world with a focus on the theories that have affected both the literature and practice of theatre from Aristotle’s The Poetics to writings by late twentieth-century theorists. The course focuses in depth on a series of critical periods and explores the relationship between the theater and the culture responsible for its creation. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisite: Drama 102.

Two 75-minute periods.

231a. History of Fashion for the Stage (1)

A historical survey of dress from the Egyptian era through the fin de siècle as seen in sculpture, manuscript illumination, painting, and drawing. Cultural background investigated through manners and customs in Western Europe. Ms. Hummel.

Permission of the instructor required.

Two 75-minute periods.

282a. Dramaturgy: The Art of Dramatic Structure (1)

The aim of this course is to give students the tools with which to engage in serious historical and cultural research on a particular text, and to learn how to most productively offer this material to the practical needs of a production company. Students read theoretical essays, published as well as unpublished plays, and learn how to “cut” scripts, as well as to “adapt” existing material. Weekly presentations in class, and “interning” on a Vassar Experimental Theater production constitutes a core part of the course. Ms. Cody.

Prerequisites: Drama 102

One 2-hour periods.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2 or 1)

To be elected in consultation with the adviser and the Office of Field Work.

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

To be elected in consultation with the adviser.

III. Advanced

302a or b. Problems in Design (1)

Study of set, costume, lighting or sound design. May be repeated in another area of design. Instructor to be announced, Ms. Hummel, or Mr. Miller.

Prerequisites: Drama 102 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

304a. The Art of Acting (1)

Advanced study of classical acting comparing Shakespeare, Chekhov or Ibsen. Students examine the challenges of a language-driven acting style. Techniques explored include John Barton, Michael Chekhov, Tadashi Suzuki, Anne Bogart, and Kristin Linklater. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisites: Drama 203, 205, 1 unit in dance or movement analysis, and permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods.

[305a. The Director’s Art] (1)

An investigation into the actor/director collaboration. Through the exploration of Chekhov plays, students acquire a rehearsal vocabulary and develop rehearsal strategies while working on several projects during in-class exercises. A final project is developed outside of class. Mr. Grabowski.

Prerequisites: Drama 202 or 203, 302 or 304, and permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods.

Not offered in 2008/09.

[306a or b. The Art of Acting: Comedy] (1)

Advanced study of comic acting styles including clowning, Commedia Dell’arte, Restoration, High Comedy and Absurdism. The work of Lecoq, Suzuki, Wilde, Coward, Ionesco, Beckett and Callow are explored.

Prerequisites: Drama 203, 205, 1 unit in dance or movement analysis, and

permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods.

Not offered in 2008/09.

317a. Dramatic Writing (1)

(Same as Film 317) Studies of dramatic construction, analysis of, and practice in writing stage plays and/or screenplays. Mr. Steerman.

Note: students wishing to be considered for admission must submit a short writing sample (dramatic, narrative, poetic) at least ten days prior to preregistration.

Prerequisites: Drama 100 or Film 210 and permission of the instructor.

Open only to juniors and seniors.

One 2-hour period.

324b. European and American Drama (1)

Historical and critical study of European and American dramatic literature, theory and criticism, playwrights, and/or aesthetic movements.

Topic: Shakespeare in production. Students study the physical circumstances of Elizabethan public and private theatres at the beginning of the semester. The remainder of the semester is spent studying the plays of Shakespeare and a few of his contemporaries using original staging practices of the early modern theatre. The course emphasizes the conditions under which the plays were written and performed and uses practice as an experiential tool to critically analyze the texts as performance scripts. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisites: Drama 221/222 or permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

335a. Seminar in Western Theater and Drama: “Serious Play: Female (1)

Authorship as Drama”

The course focuses on the study of works by Adrienne Kennedy, Irene Fornes, Dacia Maraini, Caryl Churchill, Marguerite Duras, Karen Finley, and Sarah Kane. We explore the performativity of female authorship through the study of plays, critical essays, letters and biographies. Weekly assignments include performative writing, and performance labs. Ms. Cody.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, 221,222 and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

336a. Seminar in Performance Studies: Modern and Postmodern (1)

Theatrical Practice

Selected topics in Western and non-Western performance traditions and literatures. Weekly assignments will include performative writing, and performance labs.

Topic for 2008/09: This course explores Artaud’s essays, poems, plays, films, radio texts, drawings and letters, and the ways in which his radical proposals inform performance traditions of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. In particular, we focus on the notions of trauma and terror as central cultural and historical forces shaping the subjectivities of the body in work by Tadeusz Kantor, John Cage, Robert Kaprow, Augusto Boal, Robert Wilson, Carolee Schneeman, Meredith Monk, Tatsumi Hijikata, Min Tanaka, Richard Schechner, Ann Hamilton, and Susanne Lacy. Ms. Cody.

Prerequisites: Drama 221-222 and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

[337b. Seminar in Para-theater] (1)

An examination of para-theatrical genres and their relation to performance. Readings cover street theatre, demonstrations, stand-up comedy, circus arts, dance, performance art, mediatized performance and theories of liveness as well as the performativity of race, class and gender. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisites: Drama 221-222 and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2008/09.

361. Chinese and Japanese Drama and Theatre (1)

(Same as Chinese and Japanese 361). Mr. Du.

Prerequisite: one 200-level course in language, literature, culture, drama, or Asian Studies, or permission of the instructor.

382b. Acting for the Camera (1)

Techniques of acting and writing for the camera. Special emphasis placed on collective class project. Instructor to be announced.

Prerequisites: Drama 102, 203 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

389a. Ideas of History in Contemporary American Drama (1)

(same as American Culture 389)A wave of American dramatists writing today are dedicated to exploring history.  Their work suggests that historical understanding and awareness is vital to our present day survival.
In this course, we explore how various playwrights negotiate history and ideas of history in their drama. What does it mean to write about history?  What are the different tensions and anxieties that writers encounter when dealing with history?  How might the American stage and the theatrical imagination be used as a laboratory to examine, weigh, and measure history and ideas of history?   What might we gain by viewing the playwright as historian and historiographer as well as critic and artist? This course focuses heavily on, but not be limited to, American dramatists writing in the last thirty years.  Play texts are integrated with historical and theoretical readings as well as essays and interviews by the playwrights themselves.   Course readings include works by Thorton Wilder, Charles Fuller, Adrienne Kennedy,  August Wilson, Tony Kushner,  Mac Wellman, Suzan-Lori Parks,  Naomi Wallace, Anna Deavere Smith, Charles Mee, Siegfried Kracauer and Peter Novick, among others.

390a or b. Senior Project in Drama (1)

Students may propose to undertake a project in one of the following areas: research in dramatic literature, theater history, performance studies, acting, directing, design, or playwriting. Proposals can range from collaborative ensemble projects to solo work, to more conventional endeavors in specific areas such as research, acting, directing, or designing. The nature of this project is to be determined in consultation with the department. The department.

Enrollment limited to senior drama majors.

Prerequisites: senior standing, and permission of the department. In the case of directing and design projects, students must also have completed Drama 209.

Unscheduled.

391a or b. Senior Production Laboratory (1)

Participation in the performance, design, or technical aspects of department productions. Students undertake a major assignment with significant responsibility focusing on theory, craft and collaboration. The department.

Enrollment limited to senior drama majors.

Prerequisites: senior standing, 1 unit at the 300-level in Drama, and permission of the department.

May not be taken concurrently with Drama 390.

Unscheduled.

[392a or b. Diversity in Performance] (1/2)

(Same as Africana Studies 392) This course is intended to enable students from different backgrounds to create and perform—within the Vassar Experimental Theater season—a non-traditional or non-Eurocentric text, and to document their experience through discussion and journal work. The topic changes each year to encompass many aspects of diversity, including race, sexuality, gender, culture and class. Past projects have included Las Meninas by Lynn Nottage, SUS by Barrie Keefe—and, a race-specific Pygmalion.

One 3-hour period and production laboratory.

399 Senior Independent Work (1/2 or 1)

To be elected in consultation with the adviser.