Rave Reviews: Have you ever sat in a theatre audience, watching the work of writers, actors, and designers, and then, after the show, tried to decide if it was good or bad? And if so, why was it good or bad? "It worked, it didn't work, it wasn't what I expected, it moved me, it left me cold." In each case, usually in the context of private conversation, we make our observation. But now you imagine yourself as a reviewer. How do you decide if a show is working? How do you distinguish theatre's separate components from one another when they are deliberately interwoven in the final production? How do you separate your subjective response from your analytical one, or do you ? This course is for any student interested in attending theatre productions, learning how to talk about theatre, and writing and revising reviews. We will attend productions all over the Five Colleges and join in discussing and writing abourt our observations in informal class settings.
Design Response: In this course we will explore the techniques of theatrical design choices: choices in approach, style, and execution. We will try to address the process of designer response through a series of practical, collaborative exercises and, we hope, gain some insight into such questions as: 1) How can a designer validate his/her response? 2) What criteria should a designer establish during first readings? 3) How is style determined? 4) How is artistic consensus achieved? 5) How are style and approach expressed? 6) What is the importance of medium and technique to presentation and protfolio work? Expectations: As a student in an advanced theatre design course, you will be expected to do a considerable amount of work on your own. Your designs will be presented in class for critique and evaluation. Work will be based on a selected number of scripts in conjunction with individual progress conferences and more formalized presentations.
Documentary Drama: This course will explore the creation and ethics of documentary drama. Concentrating on contemporary American repertory, sutdents will read and analyze the works of Peter Weiss, Anna Deavere Smith, Eve Ensler, and The Tectonic Theater Project, amongst others. Students will also have the opportunity to research, edit, and perform oral histories and historical documents, learning firsthand the responsibilities of representing a "real" story on stage.
Where are the Dressing Rooms?: Designers, choreographers, and performers frequently face a traditional empy space or, as is often the case, face a nontraditional space and then question how to "fill" or design within it. What elements help create the functionality and appropriateness of a perfomance space? We will explore a variety of spaces, western, non-western, traditional, non-traditional, and the "performers" who use or have used them. We will then focus on design elements such as scenery, lighing, and sound and examine the many ways these elements serve the text and/or vision of a perfomance piece within these spaces.
From Dramatic Play to Creative Drama: Creative drama is an integrative process that develops imaginative thought, critical thinking, and creative expression in children. Utilizing the natural tendencies of children to engage in dramatic play as a springboard, students in this course will explore philosophies, theories, and practices of the dynamic experiential learning and teaching methodology that is creative drama. Creative drama will be examined as an art form; and as a process for enhancing and developing language and communication skills, social awareness, problem-solving abilities, self-concept, and an understanding of theatre. We will work together to build a vocabulary of creative drama activities, techniques, and strategies spanning a wide variety of forms including movement, puppetry, improvisation, and story dramatization.
Directing Contemporary American Drama: This introductory course examines and applies principles of directing through the lens of twentieth and twenty-first century American drama. Primary considerations are investigating the world of the play: interpreting the action of the play: developing a collaborative language with designers, playwrights and actors: and staging the play. The principles are examined in (at least) four written assignments including one theatre review, and applied in a showcase of selected scenes from The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window by Lorraine Hansberry, Angels in America: Perestroika by Tony Kushner and Well by Lisa Kron. Required texts: the three aforementioned plays, and Thinking Like a Director, by Michael Bloom. Recommended text: A Director Prepares, by Anne Bogart.
Playwriting: Our work in this course will be more or less equally divided between reading plays and writing a one-act. The plays we read, which will include a wide variety of playwrights, will inform our exercise work even as they deepen and extend our sense of drama as a form. We will be paying particular attention to the way cahracter is revealed through dialogue, ways to unfold exposition, segementation of dramatic action, and how dialogue is shaped by character activity.
The Performance of Biography: This interdisciplinary theatre course explores the dramatization of biographical and autobiographical material. Through writing and performance, we will identify and discuss approaches to creating biographical drama, and though selected readings will deconstruct the work of such contemporary artists as Eric Bogosian, Anna Deveare Smith, Marga Gomez, Lisa Kron, John Leguizamo, and David Rousseve. The course culminates in a public performance during which each student will present her or his own autobiographical or biographical material, dramatizing a clear "defining moment" in his or her own or another individual's life.
Taking the Show on the Road: What does it take to produce, book, and tour a TYA (theatre for young audiences) production? This class will learn by doing using the model constructed by the founding members of Seedling Productions to produce and tour The Girl Who Fell Through a Hole in Her Sweater, by Naomi Wallace in association with the Eric Carle Museum. Hampshire Theatre Seedling Productions seeks to further the mission of Hampshire College by staging high-quiality theatre for young audiences, which expands the imagination, challenges the intellect, and respects the diverse experiences of children. Through collaboration, education experimentation, and innovative exploration of the creative process, we produce performances and workshops, which stimulate participants to broaden their perceptions of childhood and their understanding of our global community. Students will research touring practices (including marketing, booking, education components, and managing) of national and local TYA companies, then serve as producers, actors, publicity directors, company manager, designers, properties manager, education directors, stage managers, build and run crew, and creative drama workshop leaders for Seedling Productions. Rehearsals, production meetings, creative drama workshop planning, as well as set, costume and props construction will be followed by three weekends of perfomances at the Eric Carle Museum and several performances at area schools.
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