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Courses

The following information is from the 2017-18 Vassar College Catalogue.

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 0.5

An introduction to the fundamentals of stagecraft, including the processes of flat and platform construction, scene painting, rigging, and theatrical safety. Paul O'Connor.

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

143 The Genius of Chekov: Theatre and Tales 1

(Same as RUSS 143) Close reading of major plays and selected  short stories by Anton Chekhov. Focus on the forms and themes of Chekhov's works, as well as their historical contexts in terms of dramaturgy, reception and artistic legacy. Special attention is given to the spectrum of interpretations of Chekhov's works in a transnational context. Accompanied by film screenings. In English. Charles Arndt III.

Open to all classes. Readings and discussions are in English. Russian majors see RUSS 243. 

Two 75-minute periods.

190b. Theater Production Participation .5 or 1

This course provides the opportunity for students with declared majors other than Drama to participate in the performance, design, or technical aspects of department productions in the Experimental Theater of Vassar College.  The department.
 

Prerequisite(s): permission of the department. 

May not be repeated.

One 3-hour period plus rehearsal and crew calls.

Drama: II. Intermediate

200a and b. The Experimental Theater 0.5 or 1

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 Teeth, Miss Julie, Uncle Vanya, Lysistrata, Euridyce by Sarah Ruhl, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Rez Sisters, Attempts on Her Life, Ghosts, The Way of the World, A Mouth Full of Birds, Hub Crawl (an original musical), The Passion Play, The Colored Museum, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, Servant of Two Masters. The department.

May be repeated up to four times.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102, DRAM 103, and permission of the department.

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

202a. 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. Gabrielle Cody.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 or special permission of the instructors.

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

203a. 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. Darrell James.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102, DRAM 103, DRAM 206 and permission of the department.

Two 2-hour periods.

204 Theatre Technologies: Stage Projections 1

 This course is a design process-oriented course used in the projection field for live theatrical performance. Through analysis and storyboards, the design and execution of stage projections are explored. Kris Stone.

One 3-hour period; 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. Darrell James.

Prerequisite(s): 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. Katherine Wildberger.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102.

One 3-hour period.

207a. Graphic Communications for Theater 1

This course considers the various techniques of hand and computer based communication used in presenting conceptual ideas in theatre design. Areas of study include drafting and rendering for scenic and lighting environments. 

Not offered in 2017/18.

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

208b. Draping and Pattern-Development for Stage Production 1

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

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2017/18.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

209a. 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. Kenisha Kelly.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102.

Two 2-hour periods.

210a and b. Introduction to Playwriting 1

This course emphasizes the student's work through the craft of playwriting, theatrical storytelling and narrative. Reading of plays, discussion, writing and reading aloud of material with group feedback constitute the major portion of this course. Generative writing exercises are done in class or suggested for outside class time. The course ends with informal readings of students' final plays. A communal workshop atmosphere prevails so that students engage in a collaborative approach to problem solving, through rewriting, which dramatic writing requires. The collaboration process between directors, actors and designers is also discussed. Catherine Filloux.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102.

One 3-hour period.

214 Italian Folklore: Goddesses, Muses, Saints, and Black Madonnas 1

(Same as ITAL 214 and RELI 214) This course focuses on Italian folk traditions revolving around women - saints and Madonnas. Rooted in Catholic tradition, many rituals have permeated everyday culture and social structures of belief and behavior. This course takes us on a journey through time and space, traveling through centuries and different Italian regions. The case studies vary in genre, from the literary to the visual, from the kinetic to the culinary, and include: the mysticism of Saint Catherine of Siena; Beatrice as a muse and guide in Dante's Paradiso (The Divine Comedy); the tammuriata, a women's drumming and dance tradition for the Black Madonna of Montevergine; the symbolism of the Virgin Mary in Siena's Palio; women's healing ritual of tarantismo; feminism and the Black Madonna of Trastevere in Rome. We approach the cases through the lenses of Italian Studies, Women's Studies, Folklore, Performance Studies, and Contemplative Studies. The practical use of music, dance, drawing, journaling, and a variety of contemplative practices are part of the course. Conducted in English.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. May be counted towards the Italian major.

Not offered in 2017/18.

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. Abdulhamit Arvas.

Prerequisite(s): 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. Abdulhamit Arvas.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 and DRAM 221.

Yearlong course DRAM 221/222.

Two 75-minute periods.

228b. African American Literature 1

(Same as AFRS 228 and ENGL 228) Topic for 2017/18b: From the Page to the Stage: Turning Black Literature to Black Drama. This course explores the dramatic possibilities of 20th century canonical black literature by means of critical reading, critical writing, and critical performance. Students examine key novels in their historical context paying attention to the criticism and theory that have shaped their reception. They then attempt to transform parts of these texts into scenes as informed by past and present theories of performance and theatre making. Their work culminates in a public performance of the pieces they have conceived. Tyrone Simpson and Shona Tucker.

Two 75-minute periods and one 2-hour lab.

231a. 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. Kenisha Kelly.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2017/18.

Two 75-minute periods.

232 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 include sstudent-led research projects and presentations, and culminates with the adaptation of a prose text into a short play. These adaptations are read in class during our final class meetings. Gabrielle Cody.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 

One 2-hour period.

233 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 study economy of action, elements of butoh, dynamics, and physicality to create story and expression. Katherine Wildberger.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 or DANC 155, and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2017/18.

Two 2-hour periods.

234 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. Denise Walen.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 221/DRAM 222 or WMST 130.

Two 75-minute periods.

241a. 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. Zoltán Márkus.

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. Zoltán Márkus.

Yearlong course DRAM 241-242.

290a or b. Field Work 0.5 to 2

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

297 Reading Course 0.5

298a or b. Independent Work 0.5 to 1

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

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. Shona Tucker (a); Christopher Grabowski (b).

Prerequisite(s): 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. Christopher Grabowski

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 202 or DRAM 203, 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.

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

Not offered in 2017/18.

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. Christopher Grabowski.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 202 or DRAM 203, DRAM 232, or DRAM 304, and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period plus one 4-hour lab.

309 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. Kenisha Kelly.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 209 and DRAM 208; students must take both in order to take this course.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

317a. Introduction to Screenwriting 1

Study of dramatic construction as it applies to film, plus analysis of and practice writing short short screenplays.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Writing sample required two weeks before preregistration. Open only to juniors and seniors. Same as FILM 317 in the spring semester only.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

320a. Scenography 1

This course explores theatrical production design as a form of visual dramaturgy. Through a study of multiple performance theories throughout the history of theatre, students explore the impact that lighting, scenery, and sound have on the storytelling process. Kris Stone.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

323 Chekhov's Short Stories and Plays 1

(Same as RUSS 323) Close reading of major plays and selected short stories by Anton Chekhov in a seminar format. Focus on the forms and themes of Chekhov's works, as well as their historical contexts in terms of dramaturgy, reception and artistic legacy. Special attention is given to the spectrum of interpretations of Chekhov's works in a transnational context. Accompanied by film screenings. Class discussions are in English but Russian Studies students are required to read part of the texts in the original. The department.

Prerequisite(s): RUSS 210 or above, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2017/18.

One 3-hour period.

324b. European and American Drama 1

Topic for 2017/18a: Sex with Shakespeare. This seminar examines Shakespearean drama within the context of early modern sexualities from a comparative, transnational perspective. In our exploration of sexuality and/in Shakespeare, we also address the current state of early modern sexuality studies, and queer theory in general, through theoretical and critical works. Our investigation of Shakespearean sexualities is guided by various contextual foci from the early modern period: revival of classical tropes, global trade, discoveries and colonial expansions, material history, religious controversy, cartographic knowledge, emergent nationalism, race, and empire. These contexts do not just provide a historical background but also highlight the constitutive interlink between representations of sexuality and socio-cultural dynamics. The study of the past adds significantly to our understandings of sexualities and sexual discourses in the present, as well as their connection with theatricality. Therefore, we end the class by exploring contemporary queer appropriations of Shakespeare through critical debates around performance and sexuality. Abdulhamit Arvas.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 221/DRAM 222.

One 2-hour period.

336b. Seminar in Performance Studies 1

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

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

337 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.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 221-DRAM 222 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2017/18.

One 2-hour period.

338 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.

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 221/DRAM 222.

Enrollment limited to Juniors and Seniors.

Not offered in 2017/18.

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. Denise Walen.

Enrollment limited to Juniors and Seniors.

Not offered in 2017/18.

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. Gabrielle Cody.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period.

342 Studies in Shakespeare 1

(Same as ENGL 342) Advanced study of Shakespeare's work and its cultural significance in various contexts from his time to today.

Topic for 2017/18b: Shakespeare and Disability. Shakespeare's characters exhibit a wide range of what would today be called disabilities, from physical and sensory impairments (spinal deformity, amputated limbs, blindness), to neurological disorders (epilepsy) to cognitive difference ("foolish wits," madness). This seminar explores the performance of disability in Shakespeare's plays, focusing on points of contact between pre-modern and contemporary understandings of human variability. In addition to studying selected plays through the lens of disability studies, we consider how the work of disabled actors and directors is challenging contemporary audiences to think "differently" about both disability and Shakespeare. Leslie Dunn.

361 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. Wenwei Du.

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

Not offered in 2017/18.

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.

Prerequisite(s): 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.

Prerequisite(s): 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 0.5 to 1

To be elected in consultation with the adviser