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The theater program integrates classroom study with practical experience in productions. Students in the program develop familiarity with a body of representative plays, examine the theoretical and historical foundations of drama, and build skills that they test and refine in the rigors of performance.

The program is designed to serve both those who plan to pursue theater as a career—whether as professional actors, directors, designers, technicians, and writers, or as scholars and professors—and those simply interested in learning more about theater as part of their liberal arts education. To that end, the program offers the college and local community opportunities to experience unusual and adventurous live productions.

Work in the program begins with introductory courses that offer students the opportunity to explore aspects of performances and production. As they progress in the program, students are encouraged to continue to take courses that expand their familiarity with the entire field of theater, from writing and history of drama to lighting, set design, and costume.

Students may arrange independent studies, tutorials, internships, and extended campus projects with theater faculty members; these may include play readings and workshops with professional actors.

Acting Courses

Improvisation and Imagination
Theater 100 Beaumont
3 credits
The ability to play is the heart of all performance, yet most performers believe it to be the frivolous activity of children. Because imagination can be perceived as the enemy of analysis, improvisation often strikes terror in the hearts of even the most experienced performers. Through a carefully crafted sequence of exercises, this course challenges these concepts and rekindles the performer’s ability to play, imagine, and improvise. These qualities are introduced and developed as techniques for performance and analysis. Habitual responses, cultural influences, and status are examined with exercises in self-awareness, observation, and personal reflection. An excellent fundamental course for students from all backgrounds. No prerequisites. This course is a prerequisite for most upper level theater courses.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Theater 117 Michel
3 credits
This course introduces the Viewpoints to actors of all levels. The Viewpoints are tools that allow the actor to become an active collaborator in the artistic process, empowering him/her to open his/her awareness during performance to the innumerable possibilities of each moment. Through a series of group and individual exercises actors will learn this technique and apply it to text. No prerequisites. This course is a prerequisite for most upper level theater courses.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Listening, Analysis, and Characterization
Theater 201 Beaumont
3 credits
Text is the medium of the actor’s art and must be thoroughly understood by the performer. A clear understanding is the result of careful analysis of the play as a whole: Finding clues to the character (the point of view), realizing the state of the character before and after the scene, and an understanding of how each character contributes to the overall meaning of the play. Such analysis, along with the examination of acting theory developed after the turn of the century are the focus of this course. Prerequisite: Theater 100 or Theater 117, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F10.
Voice: Resonating with Words
Theater 202 Beaumont
3 credits
Vocal exercises condition both mind and body, enabling the actor to express the visceral and intellectual potential of any text, whether classical or modern. In this course students learn actors’ vocal warm-up techniques and the concept underlying each exercise in the progression. All contribute to breath control, since breath is germane to speaking and carries the impulse of thought and feeling into each word. Learning to understand the impact of character and the function of figures of speech in dramatic form are other aspects of the course; students build their skills by presenting poetry and prose to the class, and finally by preparing and performing two contrasting monologues (one classical and one modern) in a setting designed to mimic that of a professional audition. Prerequisite: Theater 100 or Theater 117, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S12.
Viewpoints II and Composition Work: Composing for the Stage
Theater 219/319 Michel
3/4 credits
This course builds on the Viewpoints tools introduced in Theater 117. Over the course of the semester, we will further develop our understanding and mastery of the physical viewpoints of time and space: Tempo, duration, kinesthetic response, repetition, shape, gesture, architecture, spatial relationship, and topography and the vocal viewpoints. As we progress through the Viewpoints work, we will also learn compositional tools. During the course of the semester, students will compose original pieces for the stage using the Viewpoints and Compositional tools both individually and in groups to be presented in a final showing. Prerequisite: Theater 117.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught S12.
Comic Acting
Theater 220/320 Beaumont
3/4 credits
Comic Acting provides students with the opportunity to investigate the theory of humor and the performance of comedy. Exercises in improvisation, movement, rhythm, and physical comedy will serve as the basis for the comic texts that will be performed at the end of the semester. Research will consist of studying comic theory and comic performances. The course will look at human folly in its many guises and by doing so reveal the joy and humanity at the heart of laughter. Prerequisites: For 200-level, Theater 100 or Theater 117. For 300-level, Theater 100 or Theater 117, and Theater 204, Theater 230, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S10.
An Actor Prepares: The Sense Memory
Theater 225 Allen
3 credits
The exploration of sense memory and emotional memory was first written about and developed by Russian actor and director Constantin Stanislavski. Lee Strasberg continued this work further with the Group Theater in New York and at the Actor’s Studio. Although it is sometimes referred to as “the method,” in this class we will specifically explore sense memory exercises and their application as a skill for the preparation of work on text, character, and relationship. These exercises will also aid in development of concentration, relaxation, and creative choice in monologue, song, and scene work. Prerequisite: Theater 201 or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F09.
Theater 227/427 Michel
3/4 credits
This course gives students the opportunity to explore their potential as playwrights. Designed for novices as well as those with writing experience, the course examines basic dramatic construction and offers students assignments designed to develop their skills. Each advanced student writes a play and is encouraged to have it performed for the Simon’s Rock community. Prerequisite: Literature 150, a 100-level theater course, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once a year. Last taught F09.
Neutral Mask
Theater 230 Beaumont
3 credits
This course examines stillness, presence, and economy as a basis for performances. Pre-Mask exercises integrate physical skills and the individual’s ability to be “present” and to “fill” the theater. The exercises taught in this course are derived from the teachings of Jacques Le Coq, whose recent book The Moving Body contains mask and clown exercises he compiled before his death two years ago. Each student will have the opportunity to work with classical scenarios in mask and out of mask. This course is highly recommended for those who wish to work with classical texts and serves as a prerequisite for two courses: Theater 305 and Theater 402. Prerequisite: Theater 100, Theater 117, or Theater 204, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F11.
Theater through the Ages
Theater 234/334 Michel
3/4 credits
Did you know that “directors” never even existed in the theater until the 20th century? Or that early theater was performed in the open air or had open roofs using sunlight for lighting? Or that our modern Mardi Gras is related to the Medieval Mystery Plays? Designed for theater majors and non-majors—anyone interested in theater—this course traces the development of Western theater from Dionysian festivals to modern day Broadway. Beginning with the Greek theater we will explore the theatrical impulse through the ages. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F09.
Activism in Performance
Theater 236 Beaumont
3 credits
Activism is a necessary voice in society: A voice against the chorus. This course invites students from all disciplines to examine current events and explore writing through the arts. Effective activism will be selectively studied through the documentation of groups and individuals protesting current events since 1960. Students will write and perform their own work and/or research and create material for others to enact and/or create a statement through the visual arts. The course will culminate in a show created in form and content by the participants. The show will be rooted in a theme decided upon by the class. No prerequisite.
This course is generally offered once every three or four years. Last taught F09.
Shakespearean Scene Study
Theater 237 Michel
3 credits
William Shakespeare is undoubtedly the most well-known and masterful playwright in the Western Canon. His characters and texts present exciting challenges to students of the theater, both actors and directors. Over the course of the semester, we will analyze soliloquies and scenes from several of Shakespeare’s plays, taking them from the page to the stage. We will explore tools for working on Shakespearean text by working on our feet and by observing how other actors and directors have addressed and resolved the acting and directing challenges these great plays present. Prerequisite: Theater 100 or 117, or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S11.
Advanced Acting Studio
Theater 303/403T Beaumont, Michel
4 credits
This course allows intermediate and advanced students to benefit from each other’s contributions in improvisation and text work and culminates with the in-depth exploration of a scene from Shakespeare. The focus is on expanding the actor’s range and building demonstrated proficiency in a variety of styles. An audience is invited to view a performance prepared by course participants. Students have opportunities to work on College productions if they choose to do so. Minimal fee required for theater tickets. Prerequisite: Two 200-level theater courses or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered as a tutorial.

Movement Courses

Movement: Analysis of Expression
Theater 204 Beaumont
3 credits
This course—an introduction to movement as language—enables the performer to understand relationships between thought, feeling, and gesture. Students learn a series of exercises, analyze individual and group movement dynamics, keep journals, and participate in a final project with a practical and a written component. A text serves as a springboard for practical and philosophical investigation. Prerequisite: Two 100-level dance or theater courses or permission of the instructor. This course is a prerequisite for Theater 305.
This course is generally offered once every other year. Last taught S09.
Mask and Movement
Theater 305 Beaumont
4 credits
This course examines personal experience in the creation of roles through the use of mask and movement. The class studies the difference between social and theatrical masks and examines the history of mask. The class explores premask exercises that integrate skills with instincts and allow the body to reflect the emotional life of a character. The course culminates in each student’s creation of two masks, a full personal mask and a half character mask, one of which is used in a final performance. Prerequisite: Theater 204 or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F10.

Production Courses

Production Workshop
Theater 104m Staff
2 credits
In this module, each student develops one or more roles, culminating in a black box production of a one-act play or a series of multiple short plays. By going through the production process from start to finish, students learn how to research, develop, rehearse, and perform a role in a play, balancing each individual’s needs with those of the group. Through limited participation in technical and managerial aspects of the production, students gain a deeper awareness of the teamwork necessary for any theatrical endeavor. This module is intended for students who have not yet taken the 200-level Production course. Previous theater experience is recommended but not required.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Studies in Production: Performance
Theater 107m Staff
2 credits
This module is concerned with the faculty-supervised, student-generated, dramatic endeavor. This project is realized with limited technical support and is intended to be an intensive interface between the student director, the student performers, and the faculty supervisor. The student actors and stage managers involved are introduced to the principles and elements of performance without the rigors of the faculty-directed, semester-long project. Generally, the content of the performance is equivalent to a one-act play. This course includes some basic research and readings pertaining to acting/directing theory and texts related to the performance material(s) themselves. A paper is due at the end of the module and all students are expected to fulfill their assigned duties and adhere to the rehearsal schedule. Almost all rehearsal occurs during class time, with the direct supervision of the faculty instructor. This module is intended as an introductory course in the theater program. It has no prerequisites for any participating student, except for the student director. The student director must have the instructor’s permission.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F11.
Costume and Prop Design and Execution
Theater 108m/208m Staff
2 credits
This is a hands-on course where students will learn the process and general skills needed for theatrical costume and prop execution from inception to finished product. They will learn to assess a play for its needs, research time periods and places, and adapt them to a play. Strong emphasis will be placed on planning effectively in order to produce real costumes and props for a given play, as envisioned by a director, within a budget and a proscribed period of time. Some time will be spent on getting input from a director, actors, and other designers, using that information in a design concept, and getting final approval before starting. Along with methods of effective research and planning, students will be exposed to the rudimentary skills needed to find, purchase, adapt, and/or construct costumes and props.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Stagecraft I
Theater 115 Staff
3 credits
The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the fundamentals of technical theater: The “backstage” work that goes into a theatrical production. This hands-on course looks at the general and specific skills necessary to help create the staging that, when combined with the work of actors, designers, and directors, results in the audience being transported by the play. The material presented supports individual interests, and should give students a basic working knowledge of the craft. No prerequisites. Because it is important that actors, technicians, and designers understand all elements of theater, this course is a prerequisite for Theater 206/406.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Stagecraft II
Theater 118m Staff
2 credits
This course will provide advanced knowledge in the theories of drafting, constructing, handling, and moving various types of stage scenery. The successful student will be able to demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of the advanced technology inherent in the theater. Students will be expected to develop problem solving skills through the use of research, thought, discussion, and the use of standard theatrical conventions. Open discussions will provide opportunities for questions and exchanges of related topics. Prerequisite: Theater 115.
This course is generally offered once a year.
Lighting Fundamentals
Theater 119 Staff
3 credits
This course will introduce the student to the fundamentals of theatrical lighting technology. Lighting is a vital part of the production process and the technology is getting more and more complex. We will cover the basics of lighting instruments, control consoles, dimmer systems, control software, and dimming technology, as well as introduce the basics of intelligent lighting instruments and tools. Prerequisites: Theater 115 or permission of the instructor.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F11.
The Director/Designer Collaboration
Theater 139/439 Michel
3/4 credits
Over the course of the semester we will explore the art of theater design, particularly as it relates to the collaboration with directors. We will look at the various forms of theater design: Set, costume, lighting, and sound and at how the director and the various designers of a production together create an organic, unified world in which the play can be revealed to the audience. The design team of our theater program production will be involved with the course as guest lecturers and the class will observe the director/designer collaboration of this production as it evolves. We will also study one classic and one modern text as we explore our own director/designer collaborations. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught S12.
Theater 206/406 Allen, Beaumont, Michel
3/4 credits
Students of different experience and abilities learn about all aspects of theater by participating in the College’s productions as actors, directors, technicians, carpenters, designers, costumers, and stage managers, as well as doing publicity and front-of-house management. Prerequisite: Theater 115, a 200-level theater course, and an audition.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Theater Practicum
Theater 216m Staff
2 credits
An extension of the Stagecraft Module, the Practicum course will further the student’s theatrical experience by providing an alternative method of teaching and development. The course will be based on a seminar and/or laboratory environment to foster greater understanding and comprehension of the theories of theatrical production that then culminate in the mounting of a fully staged production. Not a lecture course by any means, students would gain valuable experience in problem solving, initiation of ideas and concepts, and the development of these ideas and concepts through hands-on experiences. Integrally involved in the construction of scenery, acquisition and building of properties, hanging/focusing of lighting fixtures, and costuming, the student will gain valuable knowledge as to the actual implementation of these aspects of a production. Prerequisite: Theater 115.
This course is generally7 offered once a year.
Directing for the Theater
Theater 238/338 Michel
3/4 credits
The art of directing is a relatively new art form in the theater, dating back only as far as the turn of the 20th century. Before directors emerged to lead companies of actors and interpret scripts, plays were directed by the playwrights or by the actors themselves. In the first part of this course, we will study the development of the art of directing from Stanislavski through Bertolt Brecht and Peter Brook, and ending with modern directors such as Anne Bogart. In the second part of the course students will direct each other in scenes, applying tools we have studied and discussed and working toward a creative method of their own that they can use in future projects. Prerequisite: Class in theater or instructor approval.
This course is generally offered once every two years. Last taught F11.
Performance Practicum
Theater 301/401 Allen, Beaumont, Michel
4 credits
This course is designed for students of the theater who have completed the introductory courses. The technique of text analysis, physical and vocal characterization, ensemble playing, and emotional truth in playing will be synthesized in the performance of a faculty-directed play. This play will be performed in the middle of the semester. The latter half of the semester will be the study of the Shakespeare & Company acting approach to Shakespeare’s text—how to embody and personalize the verse. Prerequisites: Production for the 300-level course; Performance Practicum for the 400-level course.
This course is generally offered once every two years.Last taught S12.

Other Theater Courses

Topics in Theater
Theater 109/409 Staff
3/4 credits
This course will be taught as a seminar. It is designed for directors, designers (lighting, set, costume and sound), and playwrights/dramaturgs. However, anyone interested in how theater is created is welcome—including avid, passionate theater audience members. During the course of the semester we will look at the design process involved in bringing a theater text from the page to the stage. We will do this in two ways. First, the students in the course will have the opportunity to observe the design process between the director and designers for the fall theater production in the McConnell Theater. The designers for this production will be guest lecturers in the course. Second, the students in the course will research, explore, and discuss theater design. Through readings, field trips to local museums and theater productions, and practical application of design theory (e.g., collages and renderings for costumes, floor plans for sets, photos of lighting ideas, sample sound cues, etc.), students will be introduced to an overall history of theater design as well as apply theory to dramatic texts that we will study. The goal of the course is to expose students to the creative process involved in the development of the overall production concept for a work of theater by the director and design team. Guest lecturers are Kaye Voyce (costume designer), Dan Scully (lighting design), Victor McQuiston (set design), and Chris Martinelli (sound design). Pre-requisites: None for 100-level; above 100-level, permission of the instructor.
Last taught S10.
Theater Tutorial
Theater 300/400 Staff
4 credits
Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A student should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.