THEA 105 Introduction to Performance Studies

In this course students explore the question “what is performance?” and how this informs their understanding of an increasingly mediated and globalized world. They examine the broad spectrum of performance in its many forms including theater, dance, visual art, performance art, everyday life, folklore, rituals and celebrations, and protests as well as the processes of each. Students apply readings on performance theory to performance events and sites on campus and beyond. In addition, they engage in an in-depth exploration of both global and intercultural performances and the growing international importance of this field.

THEA 130 Introduction to Design

The creation of theater is a synthesis of text, performance, and visual imagery. This course explores how the visual aspect of theatrical design affects the way an audience perceives, feels, and responds to text and action. Students learn to use line, mass, color, and texture to communicate metaphoric and thematic ideas as they relate to the overall theatrical experience. They examine how forms of art, architecture, and music use these tools to influence and transform the audience, and build on this foundation to create a design vocabulary for theater. Students discuss how clothing, adornment, and body language influence the way individuals perceive others and present themselves. They learn the fundamentals of collaborative creation, and design scenery and costumes for a classic work of dramatic literature. Required of all majors. No previous art or theater training is required.

THEA 132 Theater Technology

This course provides a look “behind the curtain” to reveal the secrets of theater magic. Students learn the geography of various types of theaters as well as mechanical and electrical systems. They are introduced to the materials and methods for fabricating scenery and rigging, practice the safe use of woodworking tools, experiment with painted scenic finishes, and learn the basics of stage lighting and sound. Many of the skills introduced in this class are transferable to other artistic practices or domestic needs. This is a hands-on course; all students participate in the preparation and presentation of theater department productions.

THEA 201 Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater

This course explores the dramatic literature and theater history of the African continent and the islands of the Caribbean from the mid-twentieth century to the present. These two areas of the world connected through the African diaspora have brought forth playwrights who were inspired by a mix of traditional African rituals, the Western European theater tradition, colonial histories, and the various social and political upheavals through which many of them have lived. This course presents a critical, historical, and sociological view of these playwrights and the world that created them. Prerequisite(s): one course in Africana, English, or theater.

THEA 202 Devising Performance

Devising is a contemporary performance-making practice that declines the traditional single author/choreographer/director/script model of theater in favor of a collaborative approach to generating themes, content, forms, and aesthetics for creating performance. In this hybrid course students learn about devising practices, theories, and politics through the exploration of how performance companies work in this generative space, and explore devising techniques to practice these methodologies in action.

THEA 214 Twenty-First-Century Dramatic Literature

This course studies forms and innovations in dramatic literature in the twenty-first century. Using plays from various contemporary dramatists, students explore the ways in which technology, politics, identity, and world events have shaped how contemporary playwrights are reinventing or rejecting Western dramatic theory and tradition in the new millennium. Students engage with these texts from the perspectives of performers, critics, dramatists, and audiences. Playwrights may include Caryl Churchill, Suzan-Lori Parks, James Ijames, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Lauren Yee, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Anna Deavere Smith.

THEA 223 Dramaturgy: An Introduction

A dramaturg contributes a wide variety of theatrical knowledge—literary, historical, critical, and practical—to the process of producing a play. The dramaturg’s function in a theater company is to ask and answer questions, small and large, about everything from the meaning of a single word in a text, to the meanings of the text as a whole. The dramaturg must also understand the requirements of production such as acting, directing, and design. This class will examine how dramaturgs can synthesize and communicate this knowledge and understanding to the artists producing the play and to the audiences watching it.

THEA 231 Scene Design

This course presents in-depth study of the creative and practical tools used by set designers to visually enrich and shape the theatrical experience. Students study a history of theatrical architecture and design, focusing on how they have shaped the uses of stage space and the vocabulary of modern scene design. Classes build on aesthetic fundamentals developed in THEA 130, and examine in greater depth the relationship between set designers and theatrical texts. Practically, students learn fundamentals of theatrical drafting, perspective and scale drawing, and model making. This course is recommended for students with an interest in the visual and emotional impact of effective scene design on drama and performance. Prerequisite(s): THEA 130, or an individual portfolio review.

THEA 232 Lighting Design

This course provides an introduction to the unique aesthetic and technical decisions a lighting designer must make. Through hands-on experience, students become familiar with the tools and equipment typically used in contemporary stage lighting. Students also are required to serve on a lighting crew for one of the department’s productions and design part of the spring dance concert. Prerequisite(s) or corequisite(s): one of the following: THEA 101, 130, or 132.

THEA 233 Costume Design

In theater, as in life, clothes often “make the man.” This course focuses on the myriad aspects of personality, position, and state of mind created and enhanced for stage characters by the art of costume design. Emphasis is placed on analyzing play texts and bringing characters to life. The course builds on aesthetic fundamentals developed in THEA 130, and offers further instruction in costume research, figure drawing, and sketching and painting skills used to present costume design information. This course is recommended for students with an interest in the visual and emotional impact of effective design on drama and performance. Prerequisite(s): THEA 130 or an individual portfolio review.

THEA 236 Pattern Drafting and Draping

This course introduces students to the skills of pattern drafting, draping, and fitting garments, as well as some advanced costume construction skills and increased familiarity with the properties of different textiles. The course is structured as a series of lectures, demonstrations, and the completion of several hands-on projects by students. Recommended background: basic sewing skills.

THEA 238 Race and Ethnicity in Modern and Contemporary American Drama

This course looks at the significant and constitutive role of modern and contemporary American drama in American cultural history. The class will particularly focus on how these plays explore race and ethnicity. We will look at these plays in their cultural contexts, noting how they examine settler colonialism, immigration, and racism, while also working toward preservation, repair, and worldmaking.

THEA 240 Playwriting

In this course, students will learn how to write plays by…writing plays. The goal is for students to write boldly, quickly, and theatrically, and to begin to understand and manage their creative process. Students will read and discuss contemporary plays written primarily by historically marginalized voices to understand the choices playwrights make about character, setting, plot, and theme. Time will be spent on learning how to give and receive feedback following the Liz Lerman critical response process. Students will turn in new pages of dialogue nearly every week, and over the course of the semester will structure their own revision process, resulting in a written piece of dramatic work. Previous playwriting experience is not required.

THEA 242 Screenwriting

This course presents the fundamentals of screenwriting: concept, plot, structure, character development, conflict, dialogue, visual storytelling and format. Lectures, writing exercises, and analyses of films such as The Social Network, Chinatown, and Rushmore provide the student with the tools to create a short screenplay. Prerequisite(s): THEA 240.

THEA 250 Directing

An introduction to the art of directing, with an emphasis on creative and aesthetic problems and their solutions. Students learn the essential processes used by a director and deepen their awareness of contemporary directors and practices. The course offers a basic understanding of fundamental directorial technique: script analysis, staging, collaboration with performers, and approaches to contemporary drama. The course is both theoretical and practical, involving readings, rehearsal observation, theater exercises and directing scenes.

THEA 254 Black Theater and Performance in America

In this course students explore a neglected corner of American theater history. Through scholarly texts, plays, and multimedia, students learn about the important contributions African Americans have made in the field of theater and analyze the development of Black performance onstage. They also examine the social and political issues that affected the development of the plays, the theater companies, and the performers involved, and they consider how this work developed under the shadow of white supremacy. Students are expected to develop critical arguments on the various topics covered in the course and develop their own theatrical aesthetic. Prerequisite(s): one course in Africana, English, or theater.

THEA 261 Beginning Acting

This experiential course offers an in-depth exploration of the craft of acting. Using several different acting techniques, students undertake exercises to strengthen connection, relaxation, objective, emotional openness, and moment-to-moment availability. The course emphasizes ensemble-building techniques to deepen cooperative skills. Students explore various methodologies and apply them to the preparation of their contemporary scene work.

THEA 262 Performing Musical Theater

This course is a combination of theory and practice, which examines the history of musical theater, from the Golden Age of musicals to today, and emphasizes this American contribution to the social, literary and performing arts, while also introducing students to the process of embodying character while singing. The goal of this course is to help students better appreciate, analyze, and evaluate musical theatre and its performance practices through the use of required reading, videos of live performances as well as discussions of compositional and vocal techniques used for each work studied. The performance aspect of this course will be highlighted with a participation in a live or online final presentation at the end of the semester. No previous stage or singing experience necessary.

THEA 263 Voice and Speech

They examine the nature and working of the human voice. Students explore ways to develop the voice’s potential for expressive communication with exercises and the analysis of breathing, vocal relaxation, pitch, resonance, articulation, audibility, dialect, and text performance. Recommended background: one course in acting, performance, or public speaking.

THEA 270T Studio: Physical Theater

An introductory theater and dance course to familiarize and cultivate physical theater skills that translate to both disciplines. Some of the many aspects of the course will include partnering, contact improvisation, weight sharing, stage combat basics, creating spatial and physical relationships, Touch Literacy with integrated Consent Scaffolding, and vocal techniques to build a solid Physical Theater foundation.

THEA 270W Studio: Pilates

An introduction to the exercises and principles of classical Pilates. This physical training course uses the Pilates method and complementary conditioning techniques to develop core strength, alignment, and flexibility. This course is designed for physical performers, but useful for bodies of all kinds. One-half credit is earned.

THEA 290 Practicum

Working under faculty direction, students perform major roles in departmental productions as a performer (290A); stage manager, associate stage manager, technician (290B); designer, dramaturg, assistant director (290C). May be repeated for credit. One-half credit is earned.

THEA 295 Stage Management for the Performing Arts

A stage manager’s role and responsibility is to assure clear communications, logistics, and safety throughout the entire production process, from pre-rehearsal preparation to post-performance breakdown. This course is designed to help the student explore the three essential roles of Stage Managing in the Performing Arts: facilitating communication, maintaining the artistic integrity of the show, and creating and maintaining an archive of the show. Students will explore the theory and best practice strategies, or the “how to” lead an authentic equitable theatrical process. Recommended background: DN/TH 105; THEA 130 or 132.

THEA 299 Process & Production

PROCESS & PRODUCTION is an experiential course that offers an in-depth exploration into the process of creating departmental productions directed by faculty or guest artists which occur each semester. Students will deepen their understanding of collaboration and have the opportunity to participate in a variety of theater-making roles such as acting, choreography, design, devising, directing, dramaturgy, stage management or technical theater. This course allows students to learn about innovative theater practices and to apply techniques from other curricular work. In addition to daily rehearsals the creative team of students will meet weekly to discuss their process, reflect on readings and participate in workshops on topics related to the field such as intimacy/consent-based practices, anti-racist practices, safety and cultural competency. Students will complete a written reflection and portfolio about their process and production experience.

THEA 310 Immersive Media Installation

IMMERSIVE MEDIA INSTALLATION is an advanced interdisciplinary creative production course that guides students through theoretical and technical frameworks for combining sound, video, and live performance in the conceptualization of an artwork. Students will exhibit their work in Bates’ new Immersive Media Studio (“IMStudio”) located in Coram. This studio allows for artwork to be exhibited utilizing multiple projections and speakers to create immersive media architectures. Readings/viewings and discussion support students’ understanding of intermedia creative practices in varied contexts. Weekly workshops support technical learning. Students will create two major creative projects through the term: one as a class collaboration, and one in small teams. Students will also learn about the process of media installation, media exhibition, will document their work and write a short artist statement, offering tools for professional artistic development.

THEA 339 Advanced Playwriting

In Advanced Playwriting, students will refine their writing and revision skills, offer and receive feedback through the Liz Lerman critical response process, read and respond to critical essays, and begin the transition to live performance. This writing- and discussion-driven course will also deepen students’ understanding of Aristotelian plot structure and its derivatives, as well as non-Western narrative structures by challenging students to explore and create bold, imaginative work. The basic elements of playwriting will be supplemented by explorations of form, language, character, structure, and space as innovated by under-represented playwrights. Students will complete a written body of dramatic work. Recommended background: THEA 240.

THEA 350 Advanced Directing

Students deepen their craft of directing by experimenting with a variety of storytelling techniques for the stage. Class work focuses on the study and practice of the directing process, in which students expand their ability to develop an approach to a dramatic text, work with designers and actors, and explore generative theater making. Throughout the course there is a sustained focus on the collaborative process and examination of contemporary directors and their work. Students direct a ten-minute play to conclude the semester. Recommended background: THEA 261. Prerequisite(s): THEA 250.

THEA 360 Independent Study

Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department and permission of the chair are required. Working under faculty direction, students may select: THEA 360 A Stage Management; THEA 360 B Assistant Director; THEA 360 C Dramaturgy; THEA 360 D Directing; THEA 360 E Assistant Design in the Area of Focus; THEA 360 F Design.

THEA 362 Advanced Acting

Students deepen their craft of acting by exploring the techniques of Constantin Stanislavski, Michael Chekhov, Lloyd Richards and various other acting practitioners. Class work focuses on a psycho-physical acting approach, in which students expand their imagination, explore their impulses, and creatively integrate their bodies and voices. The course emphasizes ensemble-building techniques to strengthen cooperative skills. Throughout the course there is a sustained focus on text analysis; this practice is used to identify actions, given circumstances and objectives, ultimately leading to options and choices for the actor. Learned techniques are to be applied in all studio performances: an assigned scene and a student chosen monologue. Prerequisite(s): THEA 261.

THEA 365 Special Topics

Offered occasionally in selected subjects.

THEA 457 Senior Thesis

Theater Makers students who elect this option structure their written work around a creative project designated by the department in acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, stage management or technical theater. Theater Studies/Dramaturgy students who elect this option focus on scholarly research and writing. It offers them the opportunity to explore topics in theater and performance studies, dramatic literature, theater history, the theoretical and social dimensions of performance, or other appropriate areas of scholarly interest.

THEA 458 Senior Thesis

Theater Makers students who elect this option structure their written work around a creative project designated by the department in acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, stage management or technical theater. Theater Studies/Dramaturgy students who elect this option, focus on scholarly research and writing. It offers them the opportunity to explore topics in theater and performance studies, dramatic literature, theater history, the theoretical and social dimensions of performance, or other appropriate areas of scholarly interest.

THEA S20 Telling the Truth: Documentary Theater Theory and Practice

Documentary theater is a genre of theater making that gathers interviews from real people, assembles them into a piece of performance, and renders them, verbatim (word-for-word), for an audience. Typically developed in response to a recent event or contemporary issue, famous works of documentary theater in the past few decades have probed the murder of Matthew Shepherd (The Laramie Project), exonerated death row inmates (The Exonerated), and the 1992 LA Riots (Twilight Los Angeles, 1992). Using the work and methods of playwright, performer, and activist Anna Deveare Smith, students delve into her body of work, exploring the impact of both her process and her performed work. Students deploy key points of her process toward the development of their own documentary theater pieces, based on events and issues relevant to our community in a practical exploration of the intersection of art making and activism.

THEA S25 Traditional Japanese Theater: Noh, Puppet Theater, and Kabuki

This course explores the rich tradition of Japanese theater, focusing the three major genres: Noh (and kyogen), puppet theatre, and kabuki. Reading, watching, and discussing representative plays from medieval to contemporary Japan, students learn how to analyze each play from both a literary and a performative point of view. The goal is to foster a deep understanding of the major traditions of Japanese theater while broadening students’ perspectives on the social and cultural contexts of these works. Recommended background: No previous knowledge of Japanese language or culture is required, but one course in Japanese language or Asian studies is advantageous.

THEA S27 Scenic Painting

Scene painting relies on visual illusion to achieve realism, and scenic painters must master creating two-dimensional works on a large scale that are seen at great distances. In this course students are introduced to abroad array of tools and techniques to turn paint and canvas visually into wood, marble, ornate stone carving, trompe l’oeil-virtually anything that exists in three dimensions. Projects are designed to be cumulative, building skills that can be incorporated into individually chosen final projects.

THEA S28 Boredom

Boredom has a long, rich history in literature, drama, philosophy, and science. In this course, participants study how to become bored and how to bore other people using a variety of materials including durational performance, meditation apps, art film, and Gregorian chant. How is the emotion of boredom destructive and/or generative? How might its effects and moral resonance change across lines of gender, race, and class? How is boredom transformed or magnified in spaces like schools, theaters, trench warfare, arctic winter, or solitary confinement? Authors include Samuel Beckett, Bo Burnham, Anton Chekhov, Albert Camus, Ottessa Moshfegh, Jean-Paul Sartre, Andrei Tarkovsky, David Foster Wallace.

THEA S33 Central European Theater and Politics

A study of Hungarian and Czech history, politics, and theater since about 1945. Our focus is on the impact on theater of the cataclysmic social and political changes in Central Europe since the Hungarian uprisings of 1956. Other seminal events bearing on this study are the Prague Spring of 1968, the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989, and the subsequent rebuilding of politics and culture in the region up until today. In conjunction with our study of history, politics, and drama, students read an array of secondary sources on the social and cultural history of post-war Central Europe. Classes will be conducted as discussions, led by the Bates instructors and Hungarian, Czech, and other Central European artists and scholars. Students maintain a journal describing and analyzing the plays, readings and other academic materials studied. Recommended background: one course in European studies, theater, or politics.

THEA S50 Independent Study