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Swarthmore College    
College Bulletin - Course Catalog 
  
 
  Dec 14, 2017
 
College Bulletin - Course Catalog

Theater


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Courses  


Faculty

K. ELIZABETH STEVENS, Associate Professor, Chair
ALLEN KUHARSKI, Professor3
MATT SAUNDERS, Assistant Professor, Co-Chair for Production 
LAILA SWANSON, Assistant Professor (part time)2
ELIZABETH ATKINSON, Visiting Assistant Professor (part time)
GABRIEL QUINN BAURIEDEL, Visiting Assistant Professor (part time)
JAMES MAGRUDER, Visiting Assistant Professor (part time)
ALEX TORRA, Visiting Assistant Professor 
ADRIANO SHAPLIN, Visiting Instructor (part time)
JAMES MURPHY, Associate in Theater Performance (part time)
SCOTT CASSIDY, Production Manager and Technical Director
JEAN TIERNO, Administrative Assistant 
TARA WEBB, Costume Shop Manager, Arts Administrator, Visiting Assistant Professor (part time)


Absent on leave, spring 2018.
3 Absent on leave, 2017-2018.


The theater major uses the study of all aspects of performance as the center of a liberal arts education. It is intended to be of broad benefit regardless of a student's professional intentions. All courses in the department address the processes of play production, especially as they involve collaboration; all production for performance in the department is part of coursework.
The Theater Department emphasizes writing as an important aspect of discursive thinking and communication. Many courses have a significant writing component, the nature of which varies from course to course.

The Academic Program


Planning a major or minor in theater requires thoughtful care and deliberate planning. First- and second-year students thinking about a theater major should read these requirements and recommendations closely and should consult with their faculty adviser or the chair of the Theater Department early and often. Leave schedules, study abroad, a wide variety of intern and apprentice programs, and the importance of course sequences make long-range planning essential. Almost all theater courses and seminars are offered on a regular, annual schedule.

Courses numbered 001 to 010 are introductory and are prerequisite to intermediate courses.

Courses numbered 011 to 049 are intermediate and are prerequisite to advanced courses numbered 050 through 099.

Seminars carry numbers 100 and above.

Intermediate work in each of the course sequences requires a beginning course in that area.

Some advanced courses carry additional prerequisites that are listed in the course descriptions.

For those majors who intend a career in theater, whether academic, not-for-profit, or commercial, internships in professional theaters are strongly recommended. Because of scheduling difficulties, students should plan and apply for internships, time spent off campus, and community projects as far in advance as possible.

Alumni guest artists are typically in residence on campus during the summer as part of the Swarthmore Project in Theater. Positions are usually available in production, development, public relations, marketing, box office, and house or stage management. Positions are usually not available in acting, directing, or design.

Course Major


Requirements


10 credits of work including:

  • Fundamentals of Dramaturgy THEA 001
  • Acting I THEA 002A  or Foundation Drawing ARTT 001  (for design emphasis students only)
  • Any course in design, THEA 003,THEA 004A THEA 004B THEA 004C THEA 004D THEA 004E , Performance Theory and Practice, THEA 015  
  • One credit from following list: Playwriting Workshop THEA 006 , or Solo Performance THEA 025 , or Directing I THEA 035 , or an additional course in design THEA 003, 004A-E
  • Production Ensemble THEA 022  or Special Project in Design THEA 034
  • Senior Company THEA 099  
  • Theater Seminar 100-level
  • One additional credit in acting, design, directing, theater history, playwriting, or dramaturgy

All course majors and minors are required to fulfill a set number of hours doing technical/crew work before the end of the junior year. Students can obtain details on how to fulfill the technical/crew requirement from their major advisers, the department office, or from advising forms available outside the chair's office. Technical/crew hours can be arranged directly with the department's Production Manager/Technical Director or Costume Shop Supervisor.
The areas of specialization are acting, solo performance, directing, design, playwriting, dramaturgy, and theater history. Special arrangements will be made for students who seek secondary school certification. Prospective majors should consult with the chair or their department adviser about their choice.
In addition to these course requirements, the major includes a comprehensive examination in two parts: (1) an essay relating the student's experience in Senior Company; and (2) an oral examination on the essay and related subjects by theater faculty.

Course Minor


Course minors are required to take 7.0 credits of work including:

  • Fundamentals of Dramaturgy THEA 001
  • Acting I THEA 002A  or Foundation Drawing ARTT 001  (for design emphasis students only)
  • Any course in design THEA 003, THEA 004A THEA 004B THEA 004C THEA 004D THEA 004E  
  • Performance Theory and Practice THEA 015  
  • One credit from following list: Playwriting Workshop THEA 006 or Solo Performance THEA 025 or Directing I THEA 035 , or an additional course in design THEA 003, 004A-E
  • Production Ensemble THEA 022  or Special Project in Design THEA 034
  • Each minor will choose an area of specialization and take one additional course or seminar in that area. Course minors who complete these requirements by the end of the junior year may petition to enroll in THEA 099 : Senior Company in the fall semester of their senior year.

All course minors need to fulfill the same technical/crew requirement described for course majors above.

Honors Major


General requirements include:

  • Fundamentals of Dramatrugy THEA 001
  • Acting I THEA 002A  or Foundation Drawing ARTT 001  (for design emphasis students only)
  • Any course in design THEA 003, THEA 004A THEA 004B THEA 004C THEA 004D THEA 004E  
  • Performance Theory and Practice THEA 015  
  • One credit from following list: Playwriting Workshop THEA 006  or Solo Performance THEA 025  or Directing I THEA 035 or an additional course in design THEA 003, 004A-E
  • Production Ensemble THEA 022  or Special Project in Design THEA 034
  • Senior Company THEA 099  
  • Theater Seminar (100-level; counts as one honors preparation)
  • ​One additional credit in acting, design, directing, theater history, playwriting, or dramaturgy
  • Two additional thesis projects or seminars to be arranged individually in consultation with the student's major adviser.​

Total credits for the honors major will vary depending on the student's program.

All potential honors majors need to fulfill the same technical/crew requirement described for course majors above.

Each major will choose an area of specialization and take one additional course in that area. One specialization will constitute the normal honors major in theater. Honors students will take Senior Company in the fall of senior year while they are planning their production project. The usual schedule will be:Theater Seminar in the spring of junior year; fall of senior year, THEA 099  and pre-rehearsal thesis project preparation in the fall of senior year; and, rehearsal and performance of the thesis project in the spring of senior year.

Double majors taking three examinations in theater will also follow that schedule.

For double majors taking one honors examination and comps in theater, the examination may be a production project, depending on available resources.

Approval of the Sophomore Plan for any honors major is conditional upon;

  • the student maintaining good academic standing through the end of the junior year.
  • theater honors majors approved for production thesis projects in the senior year are required to notify the department chair of their intention to drop or change their Honors Program by the end of the junior year.
  • an honors major in theater must receive the approval of their major adviser before committing to any extracurricular or off-campus projects during the junior or senior year in order to avoid potential conflicts with their honors thesis work.
  • students who prove unable to fulfill the expectations of the faculty for their Honors Programs in theater may be dropped from honors at the department's discretion.
  • unless for reasons of health or other personal circumstance beyond the student's control, leaving the department's Honors Program after the end of the junior year is considered a significant compromise of a student's academic performance.

Honors students majoring in theater will typically make a total of three preparations as follows:

  1. Seminar (listed earlier), written examination, and an oral set by an outside examiner.
  2. Production project in one of the following fields: Acting, Design, Directing, Dramaturgy, Playwriting, or Solo Performance (see descriptions below).
  3. A third preparation for honors will be approved at the discretion of the faculty at the end of the student's junior year.

In the student's Sophomore Plan of study and again in the junior year, they will be asked to indicate their first and second preference for their third honors preparation, only one of which may be for an additional production thesis. In addition to thesis preparations in the form of performance projects, the third preparation may consist of a second seminar, staged readings in playwriting or production dramaturgy, portfolio projects in design, written thesis work in performance theory, playwriting, dramaturgy, etc. Due to scheduling and staffing constraints, the department can only guarantee one individual performance thesis project per student. Decisions on the third preparation in honors will be made on a case-by-case basis, in part on the quality and completeness of each student's coursework in the department through the end of the junior year.

Acting


The student, together with their adviser, will undertake a project that will take place over the course of two semesters. The fall semester will consist of a series of workshops and assignments designed to further develop the critical and practical skills required for performance. This preparatory work in the fall semester will be put to use in the spring through the production of a play or performed by the students and directed by the acting faculty. An external examiner will attend as many rehearsal sessions as possible to observe the student's process. The examiner also attends one or more of the public performances. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the performance and a briefer oral during honors weekend. The subject of the first interview will be the student's processes as he or she relates to the production. The second oral will concern the student's assessment of the entire process as a part of his or her undergraduate education and future plans.

Design


The student will function as the designer for a production presented by the Theater Department in one area of design. The student will produce appropriate preparatory materials for this project (research, sketches, color renderings, drafting, models, digital media, light or sound plots, etc.). Because this is a collaborative project, a production time line will need to be prepared and production meetings scheduled. In addition to the development of the design, the student will collaborate with all relevant staff and craftsmen during the fabrication stage, ensuring the full-scale design is executed as designed. The local instructor will supervise these activities appropriately, on the model of a special project in theater. The external examiner will receive copies of all materials as the student creates them and will pay close attention to the way in which the project develops under continual revision. The examiner will attend one of the public performances and in advance of honors weekend will receive in digital form the student's completed portfolio for presentation. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the performance and a briefer oral during honors weekend. The subject of the first interview will be the student's processes as he or she relates to the production. The second oral will concern the student's assessment of the entire process as a part of his or her undergraduate education and future plans.

The student may also prepare a portfolio project in design as an honors thesis, with all appropriate studio work but without being linked to a specific production in the department. Such a project permits the student to create a project beyond the givens of the department's specific production environment.

Directing


The student will, under faculty supervision, read around a given playwright's work, make a director's preparation for the entire play, and rehearse for public presentation a locally castable portion of the chosen play. Original developmental projects may be proposed, subject to the approval of the faculty adviser for the thesis. The department will hire a professional collaborator (usually an actor) for a set number of rehearsal hours in connection with the project. The instructor will supervise these activities appropriately, on the model of a special project in theater. The external examiner will visit this project several times (depending on schedule and available funds). These visits (to rehearsal or planning session) will not include feedback from the examiner. The examiner attends rehearsal to know as much as possible about the student's methods of making the work. The examiner also attends one or more of the public performances. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the performance and a briefer oral during honors weekend. The subject of the first interview will be the student's processes as he or she relates to the production. The second oral will concern the student's assessment of the entire process as a part of his or her undergraduate education and future plans.

Dramaturgy


This project will be done in one of the following ways:

  1. As a production project in the form of a one-credit attachment to the Fundamentals of Dramaturgy class (THEA 001) or Production Dramaturgy Seminar (THEA 121) consisting of work with a faculty or student director. This will typically be in connection with Production Ensemble or an honors thesis in directing. The student will create a body of writing appropriate to the specific project. This will include (but is not limited to) notes on production history, given circumstances, script analysis, program and press-kit notes, study guide, and a grant proposal. The student's work will continue in rehearsal. The external examiner will receive all materials as they are generated. The examiner also attends one or more of the public performances. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the performance and a briefer oral during honors weekend. The subject of the first interview will be the student's processes as he or she relates to the production. The second oral will concern the student's assessment of the entire process as a part of his or her undergraduate education and future plans.
  2. The completion of a stage adaptation of a non-dramatic text or combination of texts. A complete draft of the adaptation will be completed under the supervision of a faculty member in production dramaturgy, and a staged reading of a revised version of the text will be presented in collaboration with a professional director as guest artist. This is a two-credit thesis project to be completed over two semesters in the senior year, generally parallel to the honors thesis model for playwriting. The examiner will attend at least two rehearsals and the final staged reading, in addition to reading the final text and its original source. The examination will consist of an extended oral presentation given during honors weekend.
  3. Students fluent in a second language can apply to do a translation of a play into or out of English as an honors thesis attachment to Production Dramaturgy. This may be a one-credit attachment for a written draft only (done with a member of the faculty) or as a two-credit thesis with a staged reading done in collaboration with a guest director, as in the adaptation thesis above. In the case of a staged reading, the examiner will attend at least two rehearsals and the final staged reading, in addition to reading the final text together with the original source. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the performance and a briefer oral during honors weekend. The subject of the first interview will be the student's processes as he or she relates to the production. The second oral will concern the student's assessment of the entire process as a part of his or her undergraduate education and future plans.

Playwriting


The student will write a complete draft of a play over the course of a semester in collaboration with a faculty member or other professional production dramaturge. In a second semester, the department will hire a professional director for a set number of rehearsal hours in preparation for a staged reading, with whom the student will work through a rehearsal and revision process based on the earlier work with the production dramaturgy. The faculty adviser and/or the production dramaturgy faculty will continue to assist during the rehearsal/revision process. The external examiner will read the completed first draft and attend as many rehearsal sessions as possible and the final staged reading to observe the student's writing and collaborative process. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the staged reading, the reading of the student's revised draft based on the rehearsal process and performances, and a briefer oral examination during honors weekend. There is also the option of a purely written playwriting thesis preparation, without the production component.

Solo Performance


The student, with guidance from their adviser, will create and perform a solo performance. The program will hire a professional director for a set number of rehearsal hours, which the student will supplement with practice and other writing, acting, and design "homework." The adviser will assist in this work on a regular basis. The external examiner will attend as many rehearsal sessions as possible to observe the student's process. The examiner attends rehearsal to know as much as possible about the student's methods of making the work. The examiner also attends one or more of the public performances. The examination proper will consist of an extended interview directly following the performance and a briefer oral during honors weekend. The subject of the first interview will be the student's processes as he or she relates to the production. The second oral will concern the student's assessment of the entire process as a part of his or her undergraduate education and future plans.

Honors Minor


Seven credits of work including:

  • Fundamentals of Dramaturgy THEA 001
  • Acting I (THEA 002A or Foundation Drawing (ARTT 001 ) (for design emphasis students only)
  • Any course in design (THEA 003, THEA 004A THEA 004B THEA 004C THEA 004D THEA 004E )
  • Performance Theory and Practice (THEA 015 )
  • One credit from following list: Playwriting Workshop (THEA 006 ) or Solo Performance (THEA 025 ) or Directing I (THEA 035 or an additional course in design (003, 004A-E)
  • Theater Seminar (100-level) or two-credit Honors Thesis in Dramaturgy (180-181) or two-credit Honors Thesis in Playwriting (180-181)

Honors minors who complete these requirements and complete a sequence in acting, design, directing, or playwriting/dramaturgy by the end of the junior year may petition to enroll in THEA 099: Senior Company in the fall semester of their senior year.

There is an option for students to pursue a course major in conjunction with an Honors minor, in which case the student may be eligible for an individual thesis project along the lines of those described for honors majors above. Interested students should discuss the details of this with their major advisers before preparing their sophomore papers.

All potential honors minors need to fulfill the same technical/crew requirement described for course majors above.

Department Policies for All Theater Majors and Minors


Co-curricular and extracurricular work in the Theater Department, although not specifically required, is strongly recommended for majors. Opportunities include paid and volunteer staff positions with the department, in-house projects for various classes, production work in The Eugene M. and Theresa Lang Performing Arts Center, and Drama Board productions.

While the Theater faculty recognizes the value of co-curricular and extra-curricular performance work by students, such commitments at times can create serious stress and scheduling conflicts that can negatively impact a student's health and academic performance. The department therefore requires all majors and minors to receive written pre-approval from either their advisers or the chair before committing to any performance work outside of the department.

In the case of conflicts for students between dress rehearsals or performances in the department and other classes, the faculty will gladly make arrangements for excused absences with professors in other departments. Students should alert the department faculty about any such conflicts in the first weeks of rehearsals for any given production in the department, and never less than two weeks before the date of the conflict with dress rehearsals.

Working consistently with faculty on such time-management issues is essential for all rising theater majors and minors, and is of the highest priority for students planning to participate in the Honors Program.

With respect to the 20-course rule, courses in dramatic literature taught in the English Literature, Classics, or Modern Languages and Literatures departments may be designated as part of the major. Courses in non-dramatic literatures taught in those departments will not be considered part of the major.

Recommended Course/Seminar Sequence for Majors and Minors


* indicates requirements for all course and honors majors in theater.

Freshman Year


Fundamentals of Dramaturgy (001)

Acting I (002A), fall or spring semester*

Any course in design (003 or 004 sequence), fall or spring semester*

Production Ensemble (022), fall semester* (by audition; open to first-year students)

Sophomore Year


Fundamentals of Dramaturgy (001) (if not taken freshman year)

Performance Theory & Practice (015), fall semester* (counts for Writing Intensive Course Credit in the Humanities)

Playwriting Workshop (006), or Solo Performance (025)

Production Ensemble (022), fall semester*, or Special Project in Design (034), fall or spring semester

(If not taken in freshman year, Theater 022 or 034 recommended here for students considering study abroad in their junior year)

NB: Theater majors planning a semester abroad should plan to do so in the spring of the sophomore year or the fall of the junior year.

Junior Year


Playwriting Workshop (006), or Solo Performance (025), or Directing I (035)

Performance Theory & Practice (015), fall semester*

Production Ensemble (022), fall semester* (if not taken in previously)

Special Project in Design (034), fall or spring semester

Theater Seminar (100-level) spring semester* (counts for Writing Intensive Course Credit in the Humanities)

NB: A seminar is required for all theater majors and honors minors and should be taken in the junior year.

Completion of a sequence in acting, directing, design, playwriting, or production dramaturgy*

Completion of the technical/crew hours requirement

Senior Year


Senior Company (099), fall semester* (honors majors add at least one credit of thesis credit each semester of the senior year)

Theater Courses


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