Theatre and Dance
Chair and Director of Theatre: Christopher Petit
Thomas G. Hines
Greg Mitchell (on Sabbatical, Fall 2013)
Robin Waytenick Smasne
Courses and dramatic productions are offered to provide the student with rigorous, demanding professional training and a cultural background with which to attain the highest standards in theatre.
All classes without stated prerequisite or an indicated level of difficulty are recommended to any student, regardless of class standing. In addition, we offer a sequence of technique courses in both Ballet and Contemporary Dance, as well as courses in the study of Dance.
The Theatre major: A minimum of 36 credits to include Theatre 125, 245, 246, 247, 248, 490, and 493; one course to be selected from Theatre 278, 345, 366; four courses to be selected from Theatre 233, 234, 357, 371, 372, 377; and two credits in Theatre 231, 232.
The Theatre minor: Theatre 125, Theatre 245 or 246; three courses to be selected from Theatre 233, 234, 357, 371, 372, 377; one credit in Theatre 231 or 232.
107 Introduction to the Theatre
3, x Staff
Theatre is a global revolutionary force with roots buried deeper than our recorded history. This class will expose students to the many diverse modes in which performance takes place around the world and examine them in the historic context of theatre and the evolving ideas of art and human experience. We will explore how the directors, actors, designers, and technicians who work in this medium generate their work. Students will create their own live performance projects. Using the Harper Joy Theatre production season as a laboratory, students will see the plays from backstage and front, and critically evaluate the work. Open to all students.
125 Beginning Acting I
3, 3 Fall: Cerullo, Kosmas, Petit; Spring: Kosmas
Designed to help the student to realize his/her potential as an actor and to help him/her find a systematic way of approaching a role. Emphasis on concentration, imagination, movement, working in terms of objectives and responding to others. Students engage in acting exercises, scene work and assigned reading. Open only to first-year students and sophomores.
126 Beginning Acting II
x, 3 Petit, Cerullo
A continuation of Theatre 125. Students build on the acting fundamentals they learned in Beginning Acting I. Includes additional scene work, acting exercises, and assigned reading. Prerequisite: Theatre 125.
222 Digital Rendering 3d Environments
x, 3 Mitchell
Students will learn to use Sketchup, Vectorworks, Renderworks, and Photoshop to create digital 3d environments. While geared towards theatre designers this course will be relevant to architects, engineers, animators, filmmakers and artists who can assimilate 3D visualization techniques into their work. Basic computer literacy is necessary. Offered every sixth semester.
225, 226 Intermediate Acting
4, 4 Fall: Cerullo; Spring: Petit
First semester: an actor’s continued development of physical, emotional, and imaginative awareness with application to texts, and approaches to playing Shakespeare. Second semester: improvisation and preparation for a formal audition. Acting in the plays of Anton Chekhov and contemporary playwrights. Prerequisite for 225: Theatre 126. Prerequisite for 226: Theatre 225.
230 Theatre Technician Practicum
1, 1 Mitchell, Smasne, Staff, K. Walker
This course is designed to offer students instruction in the crafts of theatre lighting, sound, scenery, props, and costume construction. Participants are offered the choice of areas they would like to specialize in and make arrangements by appointment to complete 35 hours of hands on instruction and practice. No previous experience is required. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit. Graded credit/no credit.
231, 232 Rehearsal and Performance
1, 1 Staff
Rehearsal and performance by selected students in major productions. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for not more than two credits per semester. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
233 Theatre History from the Middle Ages to 1800
4; not offered 2013-14
The history of European theatre from the Middle Ages through 1800, examining as appropriate social, political, and religious attitudes, architecture, design and technical practice, business and administration, acting, audiences, and critical theory. Emphasizes the practical value of theatre history for the student attending or working in today’s theatre. Three periods per week. Students complete written or practical projects. Offered in alternate years.
234 Theatre History from the Nineteenth Century
4; not offered 2013-14
Examines European and American theatre history since the nineteenth century through the lens of the following movements: Romanticism, Melodrama, Realism, Modernism, the Historical Avant-Garde and Post-Modernism. Looks at changes in social/political/religious attitudes and the influence of these changes on form and content of plays. Looks at technological advances and their effect on theatre design and technical practice. Considers trends in acting, directing, audiences, and theory. Identifies, where possible, the influence these movements and developments have had on contemporary theater practice. Emphasizes the practical value of theatre history for the student attending or working in today’s theatre. Offered in alternate years.
245 Play Production
3, x K. Walker
An introduction to the elements of theatre technology. Emphasis is given to the production process, the organization of personnel, the equipment and architecture of the theatre, and the equipment and techniques used in the construction, rigging, and painting of scenery. Class lectures and discussions are complemented by production assignments. Corequisite: Theatre 247. Open to all students.
246 Play Production
x, 3 Mitchell
An introduction to the elements of theatre technology. Emphasis is given to the equipment, materials, and methods used in stage lighting, drafting, costuming, and sound. Class lectures and discussions are complemented by production assignments. Corequisite: Theatre 248. Open to all students.
247 Play Production Laboratory
1, x Smasne, K. Walker
Laboratory exercises in theatre technology. Lab projects will allow practical applications of the class materials covered in 245 Play Production. Open to all students. May be repeated for credit.
248 Play Production Laboratory
x, 1 Smasne, K. Walker
Laboratory exercises in theatre technology. Lab projects will allow practical applications of the class materials covered in 246 Play Production. Open to all students. May be repeated for credit.
259 Voice and Movement for the Actor
4; not offered 2013-14
A physical approach to acting, focusing on the kinesthetic and vocal development of the actor. Through performance techniques including Viewpoints, and Michael Chekhov technique, this course is designed to increase the students’ access to their physical instruments, and their ability to articulate themselves on stage. Students create original work devised through the acting process. Prerequisite: Theatre 125 or consent of instructor.
265 The Solo Performer
x, 4 Cerullo
This course introduces the student to performance techniques of solo performers. We will examine the performer as entertainer and as activist and will look at a variety of rehearsal practices - both those that involve and those that exclude a director. Students will create and perform their own performances and will hone their aesthetic by exploring the performer/audience relationship as well as the dynamics of language, voice, movement, dance, sound, light, costume, and set. We will seek to gain a working knowledge and appreciation of the diversity inherent in artistic expression and will study and develop critical response techniques to support our work. This course is open to performing students across disciplines: poets, dancers, actors, singers, performance artists, etc. Offered in alternating years. Prerequisite: Theatre 125 or consent of instructor.
269 Performance Ensemble
4, x Petit
This course focuses on the practical application of performance techniques from Theatre 259, honing skills toward creating actor-generated material. Through composition, improvisation, and character study, the class will develop a physical approach to the craft of acting, and work as an ensemble to create an original performance. Prerequisite: Theatre 259.
277 Costume Construction Techniques
3, x Smasne
An introduction to theatre costume construction through hands-on projects tailored to the student’s skill level. Emphasis is placed on the techniques necessary for creating costumes and includes hand sewing and machine sewing from commercial patterns with an introduction to costume design principles.
278 Costume Design
x, 3 Smasne
The process of designing costumes for the theatre taught through projects and class discussions. Includes an introduction to script analysis, period research, and rendering techniques for the costume designer.
x, 4 Kosmas
In order to generate a shared vocabulary, we will begin with critical readings of contemporary plays, paying special attention to structure. Reading will be balanced by a great deal of student writing. Students will write during every class period and draft several short plays over the course of the semester. Collectively, we will examine and question our ideas about what a play is and ought to be. Student playwrights will ask essential questions such as: What is my process as a writer? What are my materials as a playwright? What is my aesthetic point of view? Students will gain techniques for writing practice and broaden and refine vocabularies for the discussion of creative writing. They will sharpen critical and evaluative skills of thought, speech, and writing applicable to a variety of disciplines including but not limited to theatre. May be elected as English 387. Prerequisite: participation in Instant Play Festival writing workshops or consent of instructor.
345 Lighting Design for the Theatre
x, 4 Mitchell
Lighting designers speak with electricity and luminescence. The ability to see performers is merely the beginning. This class will allow students to work with the latest lighting equipment to explore vocabularies of color, angle, intensity, and time. We will investigate how conceptual ideas drawn from the scripted page translate into practical equipment choices, design of lighting rigs, and computer control systems. Working on productions in the Harper Joy Theatre, students will gain practical professional level experience. Through projects they will learn graphic standards and formal methods for communicating technical information to professional crews. Prerequisite: Theatre 246.
357 Theory and Performance
x, 4 Cerullo
What theories have inspired contemporary avant-garde theatre, installation and performance art, tanz-theatre, experimental video/film, and new media? In this interdisciplinary course we will chart the evolution of performance theory from the writings of Bertolt Brecht to the present day. We will explore how artists have embraced and challenged these emerging forms, and examine seminal works from each genre in their historical, political, and social contexts. Designed to bring students from a variety of disciplines (art, art history, theatre, dance, film, and video, etc.) into a collaborative forum; coursework will include outside readings, in-class screenings, class discussions, and short essays, as well as group and individual projects. May be elected as Art History 237.
360 Sound Design and Engineering for the Theatre
x, 4 Mitchell
Live sound is one of the most powerful mediums in the theatre. Subtle, psychological, or aggressive and confrontational, sound designers create auditory landscapes to color live events and amplified reinforcement to allow performers to be heard. This class will approach sound in an artistic and conceptual framework in the context of live theatre. It will also serve as an introduction to the equipment and software, analog and digital, to create and reproduce sound for entertainment venues. Basic computer literacy is recommended. Offered every third semester.
365 Visual Design Techniques: Scale Modeling and Drafting
4; not offered 2013-14
Designers communicate visual ideas by building detailed proportionally accurate miniature representations of their ideas and creating scale drawings. This class is envisioned for lighting and scenic designers to hone their craft in the studio, but is relevant to designers of all kinds, costumers, architects, and artists with an interest in representing large format ideas in true scale on paper and in three dimensions. Projects will be tailored to student’s particular areas of interest. A portion of this class will be dedicated to CAD drafting using Vectorworks. Offered every fourth semester. Prerequisite: Theatre 246.
366 Scenic Design for the Theatre
4, x Staff
Theatre scenic designers create sophisticated worlds on their studio table that are enlarged into full-scale environments by armies of carpenters, painters, and fabricators. This class explores how designers formulate ideas based on scripted words and evolve them into three-dimensional landscapes. Students will learn basic drawing techniques and build scale models to express ideas drawn from their own imagination. Offered every third semester. Prerequisite: Theatre 245 or consent of instructor.
367 Visual Design Techniques: Drawing and Painting for Designers
4; not offered 2013-14
Drawing and painting are essential skills designers use to communicate their ideas to colleagues and collaborators. This course focuses on drawing epic environments using perspective, rendering color, texture, and light with ink, paint, dry and mixed media approaches. Students will purchase their own art supplies to complete drawing and painting projects. Previous drawing and painting experience is not required. Offered every sixth semester.
371 Dramatic Literature: Medieval through Eighteenth Century
4, x Kosmas
A course in the history and development of Western drama from the Middle Ages through the 18th century. Dramatists to be studied may include the Wakefield Master, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Jonson, Lope de Vega, Molière, Racine, Congreve, Beaumarchais, and Sheridan. May be elected as English 371. Offered in alternate years.
372 Dramatic Literature: Nineteenth Century to Now
x, 4 Kosmas
A study of the directions modern dramatic literature has taken from the 19th century to the present. Dramatists to be studied may include Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw, Brecht, O’Neill, Williams, Miller, Beckett, Pinter, Fornés, Mamet, Kushner, Suzan-Lori Parks, Caryl Churchill. May be elected as English 372. Offered in alternate years.
377 Ancient Theatre
x, 4 Vandiver
The origin and development of ancient theatre, especially of Greek tragedy, through a close reading of ancient plays in English translation. In addition to ancient plays, we will read modern critical responses to those plays. May be elected as Classics 377. Open to all students. Offered in alternate years.
381, 382 Special Topics
Designed to permit close study of particular areas of theatre not covered in the regular curriculum. Any current offerings follow.
381A ST: Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature: British Drama
4, x Alker
The theatre was at the center of public taste in 18th-century London, but it could also be dangerously subversive. This course will examine 18th-century drama as it reflects, and responds to, its contentious historical context. We will explore such topics as the drama’s response to the English Revolution, the sharp edginess of social comedy, the use of political drama to critique governmental authority, the surprising adaptations of Shakespearean drama, and the emergence of an English operatic form. Writers may include Behn, Congreve, Rowe, Wycherley, Dryden, Cavendish, Addison, Gay, Lillo, and Goldsmith. May be elected as English 338. Distribution area: humanities.
381B ST: Scenic Painting
4, x Staff
Through hands on projects students will learn large-scale painting techniques used by theatre scenic artists and muralists. Basic topics will include color mixing, surface preparation, paint application. These fundamentals will be applied to complex faux finishing, trompe l'oeil, enlargement of images on broad canvases, and techniques for painting sophisticated backdrops. Although geared towards theatre practices this class is useful to students working on photographic and film sets and artists who work with paint in any form. No prior painting experience is necessary. Distribution area: fine arts.
382 ST: French Theatre from Classicism to Enlightenment
x, 4 Iverson
Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the theater dominated French literary and cultural life, producing the great works of the Classical period and generating a series of significant technical and theoretical innovations. This course will situate these plays within the political and institutional context of Old Regime France, focusing on the dramatic texts themselves, theoretical discussion surrounding the dramatic genre, and debates about the role of the theater in society. Readings from Corneille, Molière, Racine, Marivaux, Voltaire, Grafigny, Diderot, Rousseau, and Beaumarchais. Conducted in English. May be taken for credit toward the French major. May be elected as World Literature 387. Distribution area: humanities.
465 The Director in the Theatre I
4; not offered 2013-14
Through reading, discussion, exercises, and scene work, explores the history, function, requisite skills, and ongoing preparation of the director in the theatre. Considers play selection and analysis; the director’s work with the playwright, designer, stage manager, and dramaturge; casting; rehearsal procedures, and the director’s work with the actor. Prerequisites: junior standing, consent of instructor, a basic acquaintance with dramatic literature and the work of the actor, designer and theatre technician.
466 Director in the Theatre II
4, 4 Petit
Based on an apprenticeship model, this course serves as a continuing exploration of the directing process. The requirements include acting as assistant director for a faculty-directed season production from research through performance and completing an independent directing project. The latter might be for Lunchbox Theatre, the Student One-Act Play Contest, a high school or community theatre, or another venue approved by the instructor. Prerequisite: Theatre 465 and consent of instructor.
481, 482 Independent Study
1-4, 1-4 Staff
Readings or a project in theatre not covered in regular courses. The student must submit a detailed proposal to the instructor in the semester preceding the anticipated study. The student is responsible for any expenses incurred in completing the project. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, consent of instructor.
485 Advanced Acting
4, x Petit
An advanced exploration of the acting process, focusing on developing the skills necessary to become a professional actor; Emphasis on living truthfully under imaginary circumstances, action, and character. The course incorporates the work of Sanford Meisner and Michael Chekhov, and includes exercises, scenes, and monologues. Prerequisite: Theatre 226.
490 Senior Project
3, 3 Petit
Involves the development and execution of a project reflecting the student’s primary area of theatre study. The student works closely with a faculty project adviser during the process. The final project is evaluated by that adviser and two other faculty members. This course is limited to and required of all senior theatre majors. Prerequisites: previous coursework in the area of study and theatre faculty approval. May be taken during the first or second semester of the senior year.
493 Senior Seminar
x, 1 Petit, Staff
This course is designed to help students transition into the professional world and is required of all senior theatre majors. Through discussion with faculty, peers and working professionals, students will evaluate skills and achievements from their time at Whitman, and develop strategies and goals for the future. The course will meet once a week. It will be team taught by the theatre faculty, and include regular meetings with guest artists. Course work could include preparing portfolio’s, resumes, mock interviews, and audition materials. Graded P-D-F. Required of and open only to senior Theatre majors.
498 Honors Thesis
3, 3 Staff
Preparation of undergraduate thesis. Required of and open only to senior honors candidates in theatre. Prerequisite: admission to honors candidacy.
The courses that largely compose the dance curriculum are technique course in Ballet, Modern, and Contemporary. Courses in dance technique are credited as “activity credit” and hence fall under the current activity credit limitations. Students may earn a maximum of 12 credits in dance within the 16-credit limitation (see Credit Restrictions in the Academics section of the catalog). The dance courses that fall under the activity credit are as follows: 115/116, 125/126, 215/216, 225/226, 325, and 344. The courses in the study of dance, such as 234: Dance Performance and Composition, are given full academic credit and can be counted as electives in the Theatre Major. Courses may not be repeated for credit unless a statement to the contrary appears in the course description.
115, 116 Beginning Modern Dance
1, 1 Archibald
This class introduces the beginning student to traditional dance class structure, starting with warm-up exercises designed to enhance flexibility, moving to a standing center “barre” to develop strength and technique, and finishing with center combinations and movement across the floor. By the semester’s end, students will have the ability to learn and perform, in one class period, complicated movement sequences. Two 80-minute classes per week. Standard grading. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit.
118 Introduction to Dance
3, x Archibald
In this course, students will ask, "what is dance?" as they explore a diverse range of dance traditions from around the world and throughout history to gain a greater understanding of the role of dance in different cultures and in their own. Students will be looking both at theatrical dance forms preformed for audiences, like ballet and kabuki, as well as popular dances and ancient dance forms. The class will meet alternately in the dance studio and in a traditional classroom to pursue the question through the embodied practices of choreographing, dancing, and viewing performance, as well reading, writing, and discussion. No dance experience is necessary. Standard grading. Academic credit.
125, 126 Beginning Ballet
1, 1 Archibald
An introduction to classical ballet technique. Emphasis on correct posture, muscular control, strengthening exercises, and building a classical movement vocabulary. Three hours per week. Standard grading. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit. Open to all students.
215, 216 Intermediate Modern Dance
x, 1 Archibald
This class is for the student who has acquired a general knowledge of movement and class structure. The focus is on expanding knowledge of dance vocabulary, improving strength and technique, and learning and performing more difficult movement sequences, and developing performance quality. The class is divided into warm-up/technique and learning new movement combinations which change weekly. Two 80-minute classes per week. Standard grading. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit.
225, 226 Intermediate Ballet
1, x Archibald
For the student who has a fundamental understanding of ballet technique. The work of the course focuses on 1) improving the student’s ability to execute classical ballet technique with clarity and precision and 2) building the beauty and expressiveness of the dancer. Involves a more rigid criterion of discipline than Beginning Ballet. Standard grading. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Dance 125, 126 or previous formal training in classical ballet and consent of instructor.
234 Dance Performance and Composition
x, 4 Archibald
Students will participate in the creation, rehearsal, and performance of original work. Learning choreographed movement will form the earliest stage of the creative process, during which students, acting as collaborators, will use a variety of discrete techniques, such as movement processing, acting work, and text generation, to contribute personal layers to an original work of theater which will keep dance as its main focus. In later stages of the process, students will receive artistic and technical coaching while preparing the work for performance. Standard grading. Academic credit. Pre- or corequisite: any course in dance technique (i.e. Dance 115/116, 125/126, 215/216, 225/226, 325) or consent of instructor.
325 Advanced Ballet and Contemporary Dance
1, 1 Archibald
This class focuses on continued improvement in all areas with an emphasis on technical skill and performance quality. Each class session will begin with ballet training and will then move on to an extended contemporary movement combination. Standard grading. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Dance 215, 216, 225, or 225 or consent of instructor.
344 Dance Performance
1; not offered 2013-14
This course gives students an opportunity to receive activity credit for participating in dance performances. Standard grading. Course exempted from 18-credit enrollment limitation. Activity credit limitation applies. May be repeated for credit. Pre- or corequisite: any course in dance technique (i.e. Dance 115/116, 125/126, 215/216, 225/226, 325) or consent of instructor.
385, 386 Independent Study
1-3, 1-3 Staff
Directed reading, research, or choreographing resulting in a paper or project. The student must submit a detailed proposal to the instructor in the semester preceding the anticipated study. The student is responsible for any extra expenses incurred in completing the project. Standard grading. Prerequisites: Dance 216 or 226, or the equivalent, and consent of instructor.