Drama Department

Programs

Major

Courses

Drama: I. Introductory

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

An exploration of the strategies theatre artists use to approach the realization of dramatic texts on the stage. Through weekly practical projects, the class examines the challenges posed by a variety of dramatic genres.

Two 75-minute periods, plus one 75-minute laboratory.

103a and 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. O'Connor.

Two 75-minute periods, one 2 hour lab, and 16 hours of crew time are required.Six-week course.

Drama: II. Intermediate

200a and 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 department productions in the Experimental Theater of Vassar College. Recent and ongoing productions include: The Skin of Our TeethMiss JulieUncle VanyaLysistrataEuridyce by Sarah Ruhl, The Cripple of InishmaanRez SistersAttempts on Her LifeGhostsThe Way of the WorldA Mouth Full of BirdsHub Crawl (an original musical), The Passion PlayThe Colored MuseumThe Resistible Rise of Arturo UiServant of Two Masters. The department.

May be repeated up to four times.

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

One 3-hour period, plus rehearsal and crew calls.

202a or b. The Art of Theater Making (1)

This course is a sequel to DRAM 102. Students explore more deeply the complexities of interpretation and realization of texts on the stage. The source material includes poems, plays, and short stories, and culminates in the conceiving and staging of a non-dramatic text. Ms.Cody.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102 or special permission of the instructors.

One 2-hour period, plus one 2-hour lab.

203a and b. The Actor's Craft: The Study of Acting (1)

The Actor's Craft is a studio course designed to look at the initial psycho-physical, kin-esthetic process involved in developing the actor's instrument. Because there is no "one way" of approaching acting, which is the definitive line on acting, we "sample" techniques of several theater masters during the course of the semester, i.e., Hagen, Bogart, Michael Checkov. Ms. Tucker.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102, DRAM 103, DRAM 206 and permission of the department.

Two 2-hour periods.

204a or b. Theater Technologies (1)

This course is an in-depth study of the technology used in the production process as it relates to the history and evolution of lighting, sound, scenic automation, and projection systems. Mr. Jones.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102, DRAM 103, and permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods; additional lab time required.

205a or b. The Actor's Voice (1)

The Actor's Voice is a practical introduction to the language, tools, and VOICE techniques used by actors. Through the use of diverse voice, breath, and body exercises, text analysis, and monolog work; we explore, develop, and strengthen your analytical skills, confidence, stage presence, general storytelling abilities, and of course... your natural voice.Mr.James.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102, DRAM 206 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

206a or b. Movement for Actors (1)

This course offers a rigorous training in stage movement for actors, which includes elements of yoga, butoh ,and movement improvisation. Students learn to understand neutral posture, alignment, and to explore dynamic and expressive qualities of movement, as well as the methods of developing a richly physical development of character. Concepts from the Laban Movement Analysis, experimental theatre, and post-modern dance are used. Ms. Wildberger.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102.

One 3-hour period.

207a. Graphic Communications for Theater (1)

This course is an in-depth study of drafting techniques and graphic presentation for Scenic and Lighting design. Areas of study include the history and theories of graphic communication in theater. This course covers the use of mechanical and computer based techniques. Mr.Jones.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required

208a or b. Draping and Pattern-Development for Stage Production (1)

This course focuses on developing a two-dimensional pattern into a three dimensional form. Students will learn basic pattern-making, draping and sewing skills. Ms. Kelly.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

209a or b. Introduction to Costume Design for the Stage (1)

This course focuses on the study and practice of visual representation utilizing the principles and elements of design in conjunction with historical and conceptual research in order to build collaboration, design presentation and creative thinking skills. Students will create production design assignments through the use of the mediums practiced throughout this course.Ms.Kelly.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102.

Two 2-hour periods.

210a and b. Introduction to Playwriting (1)

Introduction to playwriting explores the process and possibilities of dramatic writing. Course work includes analysis of several plays over the semester, including work by Friel, Shepard, Kennedy, Murphy, and Chekhov, among others. The bulk of the work, however, is work-shopping of student writing. By the end of the semester, students turn in a portfolio that includes a monologue, a short play, and a one-act play, all of which are expected to be revised.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102.

One 3-hour period.

218b. Advanced Topics in World Music (1)

(Same as ASIA 218 and MUSI 218) Topic for 2014/15b: Art Music of Asia. A cultural and technical study of high art music from India, Japan and China. The course will cover the historical development, aesthetics and social relationships of the art music that is unique to each region as well as the music composed in the Western Art tradition by composers in each region. It will also look at music from these regions as it is globalized through media, emigration and Asian diasporas in the 20th and 21st centuries. Mr. Patch.

Prerequisite: MUSI 136, or permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

221a. Sources of World Drama (1)

Drama 221/DRAM 222 is a yearlong course that provides an introduction to dramatic literature and performance practice from around the world. In 221 students read an array of dramatic texts from the works of the ancient Greeks to English comedies of the seventeenth century, along with works from Japan, China, and India. The course balances an exploration of dramatic literature and staging with an investigation of the theories that have affected both the literature and practice of theater, such as Aristotle's The Poetics, neoclassicism, and Bharata's The Natyasastra. The course focuses on a series of critical periods and explores the relationship between the theater and the culture responsible for its creation. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102.

Yearlong course 221/DRAM 222.

Two 75-minute periods.

222b. Sources of World Drama (1)

Drama 222 is the second half of the yearlong DRAM 221/222. This course provides an introduction to dramatic literature and performance practice from around the world. In 222 students read an array of dramatic texts from the eighteenth century through contemporary dramas such as August: Osage County and works by Sarah Ruhl and Martin McDonagh, along with works from Africa, the Carribean, and the Middle East. The course balances an exploration of dramatic literature and staging with an investigation of the theories that have affected both the literature and practice of theater, such as Realism, Epic Theater, Absurdism, and Theater of Cruelty. The course focuses on a series of critical periods and explores the relationship between the theater and the culture responsible for its creation. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102 and DRAM 221.

Yearlong course DRAM 221/222.

Two 75-minute periods.

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

This historical survey focuses on the transformation of dress from the ancient world to contemporary fashion.The course investigates how clothing influenced the cultural, economic, and political developments of Western Europe over time.Ms.Kelly.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods.

232a or b. Dramaturgy (1)

This course is designed to introduce students to the art of dramatic structure, and the pleasures and challenges of production dramaturgy. Through serious historical and cultural research into how plays from various periods and genres were originally produced, we consider the dramaturg's role in shaping how they might be realized today. In addition to weekly readings and writing assignments, the seminar will include student-led research projects and presentations, and will culminate with the adaptation of a prose text into a short play. These adaptations will be read in class during our final class meetings. Ms. Cody.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102

One 2-hour period.

233a or b. Looking at Dance Theater (1)

This course examines the roots of Dance Theater in the United States and Europe, and further examines its development and impact on both American Theater and Dance. Dance Theater embraces the worlds of the avant-garde, post modern, and modern expressionist genres and is responsible for the miasmic mixture and pure invention that we see in the 21st century. Through movement and dance we will study economy of action, elements of butoh, dynamics, and physicality to create story and expression. Ms. Wildberger.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102 or DANC 155, and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

Two 2-hour periods.

234b. Women in American Musical Theater (1)

(Same as WMST 234) This course focuses on the role of female characters in the American Musical Theater. The musical is both a populist and nonconventional form of drama, as such it both reflects contemporary assumptions of gendered behavior and has the potential to challenge conventional notions of normative behavior. Through an examination of librettos, music, and secondary sources covering shows from Show Boat to Spring Awakening the class will examine the way American Musicals have constructed and represented gendered identities. The class is organized thematically and will also consider issues of race, class, and sexuality as they intersect with issues of gender. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisites: DRAM 221/DRAM 222 or WMST 130.

Two 75-minute periods.

241b. Shakespeare (1)

(Same as ENGL 241) Study of a substantial number of the plays, roughly in chronological order, to permit a detailed consideration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's dramatic art. Mr. Foster.

Yearlong course 241-DRAM 242.

242b. Shakespeare (1)

(Same as ENGL 242) Study of a substantial number of the plays, roughly in chronological order, to permit a detailed consideration of the range and variety of Shakespeare's dramatic art. Mr. Foster.

Yearlong course DRAM 241-242.

290a or b. Field Work (1/2to2)

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

297a or b. Reading Course (1/2)

298a or b. Independent Work (1/2to1)

Independent work is the study of a topic in depth of a subject that is not already offered by the Drama Department. This means that credit cannot be given to proposed productions as this opportunity already exists in the Experimental Theatre within the department. Examples of possible independent works are: investigations in advanced technical theatre, dramaturgical research projects, and dialect work. If you are interested in electing to pursue an independent project, please consult the appropriate faculty member within the department.

Drama: III. Advanced

301a. Seminar in Classical Civilization: Athenian Drama on the African Stage (1)

(Same as AFRS 301 and GRST 301) Topic for 2014/15a: Athenian Drama on the African Stage. Since the independence of many African countries in the early 1960s, an increasing number of playwrights have drawn on Greek tragedy as a model for their productions. In this class we both read a selection of these works alongside their Greek intertexts and consider several larger issues at play in these adaptations. Among the questions we consider are the affinity between Greek and African theatrical forms related to their origins in ritual and the question of the particular role of the classical in a postcolonial world. Readings include such works as Soyinka's Bacchae, Rotimi's The Gods are Not to Blame, Osofisan's Tegonni and Fugard's The Island. Ms. Friedman.

Prerequisites: previous coursework in Greek and Roman Studies or another related discipline and sophomore status.

All readings are in English.

Two 75-minute periods.

302a. Advanced Theatrical Design (1)

This is an advanced course in the study of Scenic and Lighting design for the theater. Through a study of historical, artistic and theatrical movements, students will explore modern techniques as related to design. Mr. Jones.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102, DRAM 207, DRAM 221/DRAM 222 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

304b. The Art of Acting (1)

Advanced study of classical acting including Shakespeare, Chekhov, and Ibsen in which students examine the challenges of creating an entire acting role. Techniques explored include John Barton, Michael Chekhov, Viola Spolin, Anne Bogart, and Kristin Linklater. Ms. Tucker.

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

Offered alternate years.

Two 2-hour periods and one 4-hour laboratory.

305a. The Director's Art (1)

An exploration of the director's work through the study of different genres of dramatic texts and through various methods of realizing an artistic vision, from auteurship to collaborative communities. Students work on several projects during in-class exercises, and a final project is developed outside of class. Mr.Grabowski

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

One 3-hour period. One 75-minute laboratory.

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: DRAM 203, DRAM 205, one unit in dance or movement analysis, and permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods and one 4-hour laboratory.

307a. The Director at Work (1)

This course presents the opportunity for advanced students to hone their personal style as stage directors. Students will explore text from Classical Greece, the Elizabethan period, and 20th century realism. While exploring the history and traditions of realizing works from these periods, students will be encouraged to explore strategies for taking their conceptual and philosophical ideas into a dynamic rehearsal and production process suited to their personal vision. Mr. Grabowski.

Prerequisites: DRAM 202 or DRAM 203, DRAM 232, DRAM 302 or DRAM 304, and permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods, plus one 4-hour lab.

309a. Advanced Draping and Costume Design (1)

This course takes the study and practice of visual representation to a more advanced level. There will be a strong emphasis on collaboration, construction, design presentation and creative thinking. In order to build both design and draping skills simultaneously, students will design as well a construct a variety of projects in this course. Ms. Kelly.

Prerequisites: DRAM 209 and DRAM 208; students must take both in order to take this course.

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

317a. Introduction to Screenwriting (1)

(Same as FILM 317) Study of dramatic construction as it applies to film, plus analysis of and practice writing short short screenplays. To be announced.

Prerequisites: DRAM 102 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Writing sample required two weeks before preregistration. \Open only to juniors and seniors.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

320b. Scenography (1)

This ia an advanced course in theatrical production design. Through the study of the design theories and script analysis, students will explore the areas of lighting, scenic, and sound design in the story telling process.

Prerequisite: DRAM 102, DRAM 206 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period plus lab time.

324a. European and American Drama: Comedy (1)

Samuel Johnson observed that comedy "has been particularly unpropitious to definers," although Renaissance thinkers confidently identified it. Renaissance theories of comedy determined that the form presented the humorous events that befall ordinary people. Comedies concerned the small misfortunes--without painful consequences--of plebian characters written in colloquial prose. Modern drama has seen the line between comedy and tragedy diminish almost completely as distinctions between the serious and the ludicrous, pain and its absence, have been obliterated. Ionesco wrote that "comic and tragic are merely two aspects of the same situation, and I have now reached the stage when I find it hard to distinguish one from the other." European and American Drama: Comedy explores the comic vision expressed in dramatic literature from antiquity to the present day. The class also investigates theories of comedy with special emphasis on what makes people laugh. Theoretical work includes writings by Henri Bergson, Sigmund Freud, Susanne Langer, Northrup Frye, Umberto Eco and others. Plays may include work by Aristophanes, Plautus, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Moliere, Sheridan, Wilde, Chekhov, Shaw, Brecht, Coward, Ionesco, Fo, Mamet, Albee, Frayn, Simon, Ludlum, MacDonal, etc. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisite: DRAM 221/DRAM 222.

One 2-hour period.

336a. Seminar in Performance Studies (1)

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

Topic for 2014/15b: The Question of the Animal. This course focuses on the complicated human-animal relationships at the very root of myth and theater (Greek tragedy originates in the "goat song") and more generally in cultural performance and popular representation. Both classical and modernist theater are ripe with powerful animal metaphors, the circus is the ubiquitous metaphor for humanity and its discontents, and many brands of Performance Art and Extreme Performance have incorporated animals as sacrificial bodies. In brief, the animal has been -- and continues to be -- an important and fraught signifier on the stage of our cultural imagination. Why? And what are some of the ethical questions surrounding our appropriation of "nature" and the "natural" for aesthetic purposes? Whose interests does the human/animal binary serve? Why does the animal speak for us, and we for her? Through weekly readings culled from drama, popular culture, the social sciences, and a series of in-class workshops, we interrogate the most basic assumptions of humanist philosophy, and study the use and implications of performance ecologies in which the animal is central. The course culminates in the presentation of short theatrical responses to this material. Ms. Cody.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

337a. Seminar in Para-theater (1)

This course explores the theory of performance through an examination of para-theatrical genres and their relation to performance. What is a performance and who constitutes the performance event? Course readings cover street theatre, demonstrations, stand-up comedy, tourism, dance, performance art, terrorism, mediatized and virtual performance, and theories of liveness as well as the performativity of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Students participate in fieldwork investigations and empirical exercises. Ms. Walen.

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

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 2-hour period.

338a. Contemporary Drama and Theater in the U.S. (1)

The United States has a strong and vibrant history of regional theater production. Across the country theater companies are producing exciting work and reimagining classic plays for new audiences. This course will take a careful look at the regional theater scene in order to understand what plays and production methods have captured the imagination of the country. Together the class will read plays that have been popular at a number of regional theaters and the reviews of those productions. Students will also study individual regional theaters in depth by researching the plays produced over the last five years and the design concepts used in production. (Possible choices include but are not limited to Steppenwolf, The Arena Stage, The Studio Theater, The Goodman, The Guthrie, Milwaukee Repertory, Actors Theater of Louisville, Seattle Repertory, The Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Hartford Stage, the McCarter Theater, Manhattan Theater Club, Playwrights Horizons, American Repertory Theater.) Students will also examine audience demographics and ticket sales, the organizational structure of the theater and its staff, policies for guest artists, the theater's mission statement, board of directors and financial operations, development practices, community and educational outreach methods, marketing strategy, facilities, resources, and history. Besides a comprehensive knowledge of contemporary theater in the United States, each student will also gain exhaustive knowledge of at least one regional theater. Ms. Walen.

Prerequisite: DRAM 221/DRAM 222.

Enrollment limited to Juniors and Seniors.

Not offered in 2014/15.

One 2-hour period

339a. Shakespeare in Production (1)

(Same as MRST 339) Students in the course study the physical circumstances of Elizabethan public and private theaters at the beginning of the semester. The remainder of the semester is spent in critical examination of the plays of Shakespeare and several of his contemporaries using original staging practices of the early modern theater. 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.

Enrollment limited to Juniors and Seniors.

One 3-hour period.

340a. Seminar in Performance Studies: Artaud and His Legacy (1)

This course is designed to introduce students to one of the most influential thinkers about the theater through the lens of Performance Studies. We explore Artaud's essays, poems, plays, films, radio texts, drawings and letters, and the ways in which his radical proposals have helped to form many of the great performance traditions of the late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries. Some of the artists examined as part of Artaud's legacy are Tadeusz Kantor, Tatsumi Hijikata, John Cage, Robert Kaprow, Augusto Boal, Robert Wilson, Carolee Schneeman, Meredith Monk, Yvonne Rainer, Richard Schechner, Linda Montano, and Ann Hamilton and Suzanne Lacy. Ms. Cody.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2013/14.

One 2-hour period.

361a. Chinese and Japanese Drama and Theatre (1)

(Same as CHJA 361) A study of Chinese and Japanese culture and society through well-known dramatic genres - zaju, chuanqi, kunqu, Beijing Opera, modern Spoken Drama, noh, kyogen, bunraku, kabuki, and New Drama; a close reading of selected plays in English translation. Scheduled films of performances convey Chinese and Japanese theatrical conventions and aesthetics. Discussions focus on major themes based on research presentations. All readings and discussions are in English. Mr. Du.

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

Not offered in 2014/15.

390a and 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 DRAM 209.

Unscheduled.

391a and 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.

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

Enrollment limited to seniors. May not be taken concurrently with DRAM 390.

Unscheduled.

399a or b. Senior Independent Work (1/2to1)

To be elected in consultation with the adviser