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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Theatrical Performance"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Gabrielle Ford
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 1:30-2:45 PM
OFFICE HOURS: TTH 12:00-1600

During this course students will learn to: collaborate creatively; employ basic acting techniques such as sensory work, the principles of action, objectives, status, etc.; develop an expressive speaking voice; engage with a variety of stage props; analyze the process of placing a dramatic text on stage; critique and enact a variety of theatrical techniques; define specific terms relating to the study of drama and theater; develop an appreciation for theater as an art form and a reflection of society; understand the responsibility of an actor’s work ethic, especially to one's fellow actors; initiate and upkeep a gradable class-by-class journal (either blog or v-log) of their personal growth throughout the course.
This class will teach students the basic terminology and craft of acting, directing and producing. As a means of facilitating the students’ knowledge of and comfort with the craft of acting, this course will include improvisation, sound and movement exercises, and text work. Homework assignments will call for rehearsal and research. Reading assignments will include written analysis. The course will commence with an intensive introduction to the craft of performance, which will focus on teamwork, physicality, memory, intention, voice and movement training. This will culminate in a gradable monologue (classic and/or contemporary), and a scene to be performed in front of the class. Over the semester the students will read four plays: Medea by Euripides, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov (4 acts), Our Town by Thornton Wilder (3 acts), Proof by David Auburn (2 Acts) and Medea by Christopher Durang and Wendy Wasserstein. Monologue selections include reading Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters, and Shakespearean sonnets.

The first week of each play will be dedicated to discussions of text and context. This will be followed up with background research of author and period to be inserted into a theatre handbook / journal which will be graded. In the journal each student will take on both acting and directorial viewpoints. This journal will also visualize the design and the directorial view points of each play read throughout the class. As actor, the student is expected to write character bios, subtexts, memorize, rehearse and perform. As director, each student is expected to research the author and period, analyze the text and build a visual library selecting costumes, architecture, objects and images, which portray a bird’s eye view of a play. 

During rehearsal, students will come together to prepare a scene to perform in class. Scene study will involve discipline team work, and interpretive skills. During the course, students will work towards a performance of both a scene and monologue and will complete a take home project on directing in preparation for the final exam. This project is to prepare the student for the final oral persuasive presentation as Director of a play to a board of producers. Each student as director presents his project, research, archive, of his chosen play and the reasoning of why and how it should be produced to “the board”. In turn, the students become the board and must prepare questions which challenge the director to think on his feet during his persuasive performance.


Medea by Euripides

The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, a play in 4 acts

Our Town by Thornton Wilder, a play in 3 Acts

Proof by David Auburn, a play in 2 Acts

Medea by Christopher Durang and Wendy Wasserstein (1 act)

Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters

Shakespearean sonnets



An American Buffalo by David Mamet 

The Water Engine by David Mamet

The Piano Lesson by August Wilson 

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson

Painting Churches by Tina Howe  

Of Mice & Men by Horton Foote

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

Bus Stop by William Inge

The Night of the Iguana by Tennessee Williams

Three Tall Women by Edward Albee

Curse of the Starving Class by Sam Shepard

Art OR God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza


· Sweeney Todd OR Sunday in the Park with George

· The Wiz OR Man of La Mancha

· West Side Story OR Grease

· Chicago OR Cabaret

· Next to Normal OR La Cage Aux Faux


1) Adler Stella. The Art of Acting. (2000) Canada, Applause Books

2) Chekhov Michael. To the Actor: On the technique of acting. (1953) USA, Harper & Row

3) Thomas James. Script Analysis for Actors, Directors, and Designers, 4th Edition. (2009) USA, Focal Press

4) An Actor Prepares by Konstantin Stanislavski

5) Chubbuck Ivana. The Power of the Actor. (2004) USA, Gotham Books

On completion of this course, students will have learnt how to: facilitate communication, memory, presentation, confidence, self-awareness, self-reliance, and team work, through practice, textual analysis, interpretation and the written response; develop an expressive speaking voice through awareness and overcoming physical and vocal habits and limitations, including alignment, relaxation, breath support, resonance, tone and projection; recognize a variety of acting techniques, languages, and modes of theatrical representation; become confident independent learners as well as effective and responsive group members.

Two monologuesYou will rehearse and perform a contemporary and classic monologue20%
Scene study You will rehearse and perform a scene for the class a scene20%
Take home paper which depicts a play from a Directorial standpointYou will write one take home paper; in response to one of the plays we are reading or from the suggested reading list. As Director each student should select a play, block a scene, provide textual analysis and build an archive which illustrates a visual interpretation, which evokes a directorial view point. Additionally there should be an explanation of the directorial choices you have made about this play.20%
Theatre HandbookThe theatre handbook is an essential documentation of the course which involves academic and practical research. It should be broken into two sections: As Actor you will note the personal discoveries you are making about performance, interpretation, relaxation and concentration. This will include creating a biography for the characters you will be playing. As Director you will be responsible to include research of author and period of each play read in class. The quizzes in class are to be incorporated into the handbook to chart the student’s progress 20%
Final PerformanceThe class will culminate in a gradable performance, which will demand individual and group work.20%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are expected to be in class before the reading of the roster. More than 2 absences results in an additional 3 page paper. More than 4 absences may result in a lowering of the final grade and 7 absences may result in a failing grade. Tardiness is equally unacceptable as it disturbs the lesson. If you enter the class after attendance has been taken you late arrival will be registered and 4 late arrivals will count as equivalent to one absence. Silent attendance is not sufficient: students are required to actively participate in class, to have their text books with them and to turn off electrical devices (computers, mobiles etc.). Students are also expected to remain in the class for the duration of the period.
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



Class Readiness and Responsibility: You should always have your notebook/journal. When working on a text, please make sure you have a copy of the text with you. Punctuality: we only have an hour and 15 minutes, you should arrive early enough to begin on time. Whatever problems you may be experiencing outside, you are expected to leave them behind during class time. The professor is glad to help and available to discuss any issues or problems before or after class.




Week 1: Introduction. Theatre Games involve exercises that encourage confidence, listening, and working as an ensemble. There will be a viewing of the video WHAT IS THEATRE and a presentation of a Brief History of Theatre Architecture and Stage Technology to give an overall sense of history. An introduction to Greek theatre through an initial reading of Medea by Euripides. Distribution of Theatre History notes.


READING: Medea by Euripides


Homework Assignment: to compose a visual tree of Theatre history in the journal.




Week 2: Voice and Body Work: physical warm up; with a focus on centering and diaphragmatic support, an introduction to subtext and the creation of a character biography. We will read Medea and select scenes to rehearse in class. Distribution of world events during the life of Euripides. There is an introduction to Script breakdown through an analysis of the generic 5 part structure of Greek theatre. 


READING: Conclusion of Medea by Euripides


Homework start to build a visual archive and character bio of Medea.




Week 3: There will be continued theatre games warm up (15 min). There is an introduction to early twentieth century theatre through The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov and late twentieth century theatre through the parody of Medea by Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang in class. A discussion of temporal and production differences of a 5 act, 4 act, 3 act, 2 act, and a 1 act play.  




Medea by Wendy Wasserstein and Christopher Durang (a ten minute play).

The Haunted House by Plateaus  



Week 4: There is continued theatre games and warm up (15 min). The character bio and subtext work of a character in The Haunted House is due. Initial scene presentation.


READING: A Morality play TBD

The Cherry Orchard, by Anton Chekhov (Tom Stoppard translation).


Task: internet reading and research of Method Acting, Strasberg in preparation for Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
Research on Chekhov, his life and work is due for journal.


Week 5: There will be continued theatre game warm up (15 min) Script analysis on Our Town. Research of author and period due in journal.   Distribution of sections from Spoon River Anthology monlogues. Introduction to Take Home Directorial Project begins.




OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder


Task: Research of Thornton Wilder and world and cultural events of 1938. Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters,

Task: Internet search: Public Domain Stories - Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters



Week 6: There is continued theatre game warm up and scene rehearsal. The student is expected to memorize the Spoon River monologue, build a visual archive of period including costume, house and bio of both Our Town and the Spoon River characters in journal. An introduction to stage blocking. Continued rehearsals of scene selected.




RESERVE VIEWING Film viewing of Glengarry Glen Ross by David Mamet.


READING: a 2 act play of student choice (see suggested reading list).




Week 7: Discussion of the importance of the curtain line and the changes we find in the structure of two act and one act plays in contemporary theatre.  Options of Play Selection for Directorial Take Home project begins.  There will be a discussion of a through line in each play that the student presents. Subtext work and character bio assignment on Spoon River Anthology is due. Distribution of Shakespearean Sonnets


READING:  Shakespearean Sonnets


Week 8: There will be a continued theatre game warm up, final scene rehearsal and script analysis of play. Spoon River monologue presentation. Introduction to iambic pentameter and scansion. The student should begin to decide in what period he/she would like to present the play for the final project and where.



Task: Scan and write subtext of the selected sonnet.


Week 9: Continued theatre game warm up, rehearsal. Scanned sonnets and subtext due. Initial presentation of sonnet. 


Task:   Select music which best represent their sonnet. Rehearse and memorize the sonnet.


Week 10:  Final Sonnet presentation

Rehearsal for final scene or monologue presentation. Directional Take Home Project Topics are due.

Week 11: Continued theatre warm up. Class performances of selected scenes and / or monologues are due. Directorial Take Home projects are returned with suggestions to improve the oral presentation as director.


Week 12: Continued theatre warm up, rehearsal of scene, or monologue. Final selections of the performance space which best matches the play are due. Philadelphia by David Ives (a ten minute play) will be read in class.  Discussion of temporal and production differences of entertainment and the audience today.


Week 13: Final performances continue. Introduction to production budget. The student must complete all his visual archive and period research he has collected to justify the place and period he has chosen to direct his play. Additionally one should consider practical production cost effectiveness for his final presentation as director.


 Week 14: Final preparation as director of the oral persuasive project. In turn, each student as director and presents his chosen play of the take home project. He presents his research, visual archive, and reasoning of why, where and how this play should be produced to “the board”. The students likewise become the board and must grade and prepare questions which challenge the director to think on his feet during his persuasive performance.  The class may vote to perform a play instead of this persuasive presentation.


Exam Week: Public Performances