Sifiso Mabena

Undergraduate Discipline

Theatre

Graduate Program

MFA Theatre Program

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Theatre

Actor's Workshop: Creative Practices

Open, Component—Year

In this theory and praxis class, students will learn the sociohistorical context of major acting methods—such as Brecht, Meyerhold, Stanislavski, Stella Adler, and Hagen—and then participate in workshops in each of those methods. Through a series of exercises and a variety of acting techniques, students will explore the essential elements of acting, creative expression, and collaboration in the theatre. These exercises will include vocal and physical warmups, relaxation, concentration, sensory awareness, listening, communication, teamwork, and spontaneity. Participants will learn a variety of ways to create a character and to express one’s emotion through the voice, body, and imagination. Skills will be developed to create as an ensemble and to work in relationship to people, objects, and places. Ultimately, through in-class scene presentations, acting students will work to convey vital stories, ideas, emotions, and provocative questions that reflect or challenge humanity. Some playwrights from whose work we may work include: Sara Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene Ionesco, Young Jean Lee, Jocelyn Bioh, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tori Sampson, Charlie Evon Simpson, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Athol Fugard, John Kani, Jocelyn Bioh, and Jackie Sibblies Drury.

Faculty

Home as a Metaphor for Survival: Theatre in the African Diaspora

Open, Component—Year

It is a sanctum of discovery, enabling the actor to explore non-Western movement: centering energy, concentration, the voice, and the“mythos” of a character to discover one’s own truth in relation to the text, both contemporary and the classics. Both traditional and alternative approaches to acting techniques are applied. Fall semester concentrates on roles: Hamlet, Leontes, Caliban, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, Hecuba, Medea, Antigone, Lady Anne, Tamara, Portia, Lady Macbeth; spring semester, applied to scene study from works by Chekhov, Ibsen, Arrabal, Beckett, Ionesco, Sarah Kane, Amira Baraka, Edward Albee, and Jean Genet. Required reading: The Art of Acting by Stella Adler.

Faculty

Shosholoza: Working to Make Way for Each Other

Open, Component—Year

Shosholoza is a Southern African anthem of unity. Historically, migrant mineworkers in Johannesburg sang the song to keep their spirits up and to maintain a working rhythm to make progress in their work. Shosholoza as a cultural signifier points to the idea of a collaborative process. Shosholoza is sung in call and response and, any time it’s sung, involves and implicates whoever is in the room. This class is about learning to be caring collaborators who give and take space in creative processes. Students will be assigned tasks designed to foster generosity in the workspace while developing, performing, and designing projects in groups throughout the year.

Faculty

Graduate Courses 2021-2022

MFA Theatre

Actor’s Workshop

Open, Component—Year

In this theory and praxis class, students will learn the sociohistorical context of major acting methods—such as Brecht, Meyerhold, Stanislavski, Stella Adler, and Hagen—and then participate in workshops in each of those methods. Through a series of exercises and a variety of acting techniques, students will explore the essential elements of acting, creative expression, and collaboration in the theatre. These exercises will include vocal and physical warmups, relaxation, concentration, sensory awareness, listening, communication, teamwork, and spontaneity. Participants will learn a variety of ways to create a character and to express one’s emotion through the voice, body, and imagination. Skills will be developed to create as an ensemble and to work in relationship to people, objects, and places. Ultimately, through in-class scene presentations, acting students will work to convey vital stories, ideas, emotions, and provocative questions that reflect or challenge humanity. Some playwrights from whose work we may work include: Sara Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene Ionesco, Young Jean Lee, Jocelyn Bioh, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tori Sampson, Charlie Evon Simpson, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Athol Fugard, John Kani, Jocelyn Bioh, and Jackie Sibblies Drury.

Faculty

Home as a Metaphor for Survival: Theatre in the African Diaspora

Open, Component—Year

It is a sanctum of discovery, enabling the actor to explore non-Western movement: centering energy, concentration, the voice, and the“mythos” of a character to discover one’s own truth in relation to the text, both contemporary and the classics. Both traditional and alternative approaches to acting techniques are applied. Fall semester concentrates on roles: Hamlet, Leontes, Caliban, Othello, Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, Hecuba, Medea, Antigone, Lady Anne, Tamara, Portia, Lady Macbeth; spring semester, applied to scene study from works by Chekhov, Ibsen, Arrabal, Beckett, Ionesco, Sarah Kane, Amira Baraka, Edward Albee, and Jean Genet. Required reading: The Art of Acting by Stella Adler.

Faculty

Shosholoza: Working to Make Way for Each Other

Open, Component—Year

Shosholoza is a Southern African anthem of unity. Historically, migrant mineworkers in Johannesburg sang the song to keep their spirits up and to maintain a working rhythm to make progress in their work. Shosholoza as a cultural signifier points to the idea of a collaborative process. Shosholoza is sung in call and response and, any time it’s sung, involves and implicates whoever is in the room. This class is about learning to be caring collaborators who give and take space in creative processes. Students will be assigned tasks designed to foster generosity in the workspace while developing, performing, and designing projects in groups throughout the year.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Theatre

Home as a Metaphor for Survival: Theatre in the African Diaspora

Open, Lecture—Year

All those forgotten in the construction of, say, national groups return to disturb and haunt such holistic ways of thinking...[when] these figures return as disruptive, “unhomely” presences....It is this uncanny presence which...[has] the power to disrupt the exclusive binary logic upon which a range of discourses—nationalist, colonialist, patriarchal—depend. —Homi K. Bhabha, Location of Culture

This lecture course will focus on performance in African diaspora communities. We will take a historical look at black bodies in performance in the diaspora. The class will involve reading plays, critical theory, and articles related to critical theory that pertain to notions of hybridity, mimicry, neo-colonialism, gaze, and the politics of representation/viewership as they relate to creative theatrical spaces. Some areas of study that we will cover will include: protest theatre in South Africa (Gcina Mhlophe, Athol Fugard, Zakes Mda, John Kani, Mbongeni Ngema); oral traditions; tokenizing (Death and the King’s Horseman is not the only African play); the nexus of religion and performance in African diaspora performance; the legacy of minstrelsy; “The Black Acting Method” (hybridity vs. mimicry); representation of black bodies in American theatre; the ethics and moral responsibilities in touring work pertaining to blackness in the diaspora; blackness on stage—Tyler Perry vs. Jeremy O. Harris and Branden Jacob-Jenkins.

Faculty

MFA Theatre

Actor’s Workshop

Open, Component—Year

In this theory and praxis class, students will learn the sociohistorical context of major acting methods—such as Brecht, Meyerhold, Stanislavski, Stella Adler, and Hagen—and then participate in workshops in each of those methods. Through a series of exercises and a variety of acting techniques, students will explore the essential elements of acting, creative expression, and collaboration in the theatre. These exercises will include vocal and physical warmups, relaxation, concentration, sensory awareness, listening, communication, teamwork, and spontaneity. Participants will learn a variety of ways to create a character and to express one’s emotion through the voice, body, and imagination. Skills will be developed to create as an ensemble and to work in relationship to people, objects, and places. Ultimately, through in-class scene presentations, acting students will work to convey vital stories, ideas, emotions, and provocative questions that reflect or challenge humanity. Some playwrights, from whose work we may work, include: Sara Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene Ionesco, Young Jean Lee, Jocelyn Bioh, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tori Sampson, Charlie Evon Simpson, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jean Genet, Lynn Nottage, Katori Hall, Athol Fugard, John Kani, Jocelyn Bioh, and Jackie Sibblies Drury. 

Faculty

Shosholoza: Working to Make Way for Each Other

Open, Component—Year

Shosholoza is a Southern African anthem of unity. Historically, migrant mineworkers in Johannesburg sang the song to keep their spirits up and to maintain a working rhythm to make progress in their work. Shosholoza as a cultural signifier points to the idea of a collaborative process. Shosholoza is sung in call and response and, any time it’s sung, involves and implicates whoever is in the room. This class is about learning to be caring collaborators who give and take space in creative processes. Students will be assigned tasks designed to foster generosity in the workspace while developing, performing, and designing projects in groups throughout the year. 

Faculty