Theatre Courses

The Sarah Lawrence College Theatre program embraces the collaborative nature of theatre. Our objective is to create theatre artists who are skilled in many disciplines: actors who write; directors who act; theatre makers who create their own projects; and sound, set, and lighting designers who are well-versed in new media and puppetry.

Students have the advantage of choosing from a multidisciplinary curriculum taught by working theatre professionals that also draws on the resources of the College’s Theatre, Music, and Dance programs. At the heart of this curriculum are focused programs in acting, directing, playwriting, and design, with supplementary offerings in production and technical work. Theatre students are encouraged to cross disciplines as they investigate all areas of theatre. The faculty is committed to active theatre training—students learn by doing—and have put together a vocabulary that stresses relationships among classical, modern, and original texts. The program uses a variety of approaches to build technique, while nurturing individual artistic directions. The Theatre program examines not just contemporary American performance but also diverse cultural and historical influences that precede our own. Courses include Alexander Technique, acting, comedic and dramatic improvisation, creation of original work, design, directing, movement, musical theatre, playwriting, puppetry, speech, solo performance, voice, and the art of bringing theatre into the local community.

2017-2018 Courses

Theatre

Graduate Lab

Component—Year

Required for all theatre graduate students. This class meets once a week.

Taught by a rotating series of Sarah Lawrence faculty and guest artists, this course focuses on developing the skills needed for a wide variety of techniques for the creation and development of new work in theatre. Ensemble acting, movement, design and fabrication, playwriting, devised work, and music performance are all explored. The class is a forum for workshops, master classes, and open rehearsals, with a focus on the development of critical skills. In addition, students in Grad Lab are expected to generate a new piece of theatre to be performed each month for the Sarah Lawrence community. These performances may include graduate and undergraduate students alike.

Faculty

Contemporary Collaborative Performance

Component—Year

Open only to first-year graduate students and required for all first-year Theatre graduate students. This class meets once a week.

This course will provide a critical and supportive forum for the development of new works of original performance, focusing primarily on where current dance and theatre combinations find inspiration. In the first semester, students will explore contemporary theatre-building techniques and methodologies from Dada to Judson Church and beyond. The majority of time will be devoted to lab work, where students will create their own short performance pieces through a multidisciplinary approach. Students will be asked to devise original theatre pieces that utilize methods such as solo forms, viewpoints, chance operations, and creations from nontheatrical sources. In addition to the laboratory aspect of the class, a number of plays, essays, and artists’ manifestos will be discussed. In the second semester, students will collaborate on a single evening-length work, utilizing theatrical and nontheatrical sources in an attempt to speak to our cultural moment. Please note: The second semester will require additional developmental/rehearsal time outside of class. In addition to class work, there will be several opportunities to visit rehearsals and performances of professional theatre and dance in New York City.

Faculty

Thesis Project

Component—Year

This class is required for all second-year theatre graduate students.

This course will provide a critical and supportive forum for the development of new works of original theatre with a focus on conducting research in a variety of ways, including historical and artistic research, workshops, improvisations, experiments, and conversation. Each student will focus on creating one original project—typically, but not limited to, a solo—over the course of the full year. During the class, students will show works in progress. During conference, students and faculty will meet to discuss these showings and any relevant artistic and practical problems that may arise.

Faculty

Acting Poetic Realism

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

The plays of Anton Chekhov, Tennessee Williams, and August Wilson serve as the point of departure in our exploration of the craft of acting. In this class, students will be challenged to expand their range of expression and build their confidence to make bold and imaginative acting choices. Particular attention will be paid to learning to analyze the text in ways that lead to defining clear, specific, and playable actions and objectives. In tandem with their work on a given text, students will be guided through a progression of physical, vocal, sensory, and imaginative exercises designed to impart tangible skills that will enable them to create multidimensional characters.

Faculty

Acting Shakespeare

Advanced , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

Those actors rooted in the tradition of playing Shakespeare find themselves equipped with a skill set that enables them to successfully work on a wide range of texts and within an array of performance modalities. The objectives of this class are to learn to identify, personalize, and embody the structural elements of Shakespeare’s language as the primary means of bringing his characters to life. Students will study a representative arc of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as the sonnets, with the goal of bringing his characters to life. Class time will be divided among physical, vocal, and text work.

Faculty

Actor’s Workshop: Acting Techniques

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

This is an acting techniques class: foundational, process-based work to empower the actor in any theatrical environment. The first semester focuses on the voice and body and the development of a “toolbox” of acting techniques. The second semester focuses on applying those tools to language and text, while integrating the voice and body work through scene work. The goal is for students to leave the class with all of the basic tools that they need to act; to have a growing awareness of their body, voice, and physical habits in order that they may consciously use them in the development of character; and to begin to develop their own process of working, start to finish, with an arsenal of tools and techniques to use when needed. We explore the Alexander Technique, character work, sense memory work, viewpoints, animal work, voice and speech work, script analysis, text analysis, Lecoq exercises, and much more.

Faculty

Actor’s Workshop: Incognito: The Craft of Assumed Identity

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

An approach to performance that focuses on external applications as a method of building a character—working with costumes, props, make-up, and tangible aspects of production, as well as voice, dialects, gesture, and given behavior—students will develop an “outside-in” technique that allows for the full physical and emotional expression of a character and the text.

Faculty

Actor’s Workshop: Suit the Action to the Word, the Word to the Action—Hamlet, III. ii. 17-18

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

Students will work on voice work, script analysis, sensory exercises, a Shakespeare sonnet, cold readings, improvisation, auditioning, and extensive scene work from the following playwrights: Sara Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Susan Yankowitz, Maria Irene Fornes, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jean-Paul Sartre, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Anouilh, Edward Albee, Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Lynn Nottage, Katoria Hall, Arthur Miller, and Edward Baker. Required text: The Art of Acting, by Stella Adler.

Faculty

Advanced Stage Combat

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This course is a continuation of Introduction to Stage Combat and offers additional training in more complex weapon forms, such as rapier and dagger, single sword, and small sword. Students receive training as fight captains and have the opportunity to take additional skills proficiency tests that lead to actor/combatant status in the Society of American Fight Directors.

Faculty

Alexander Technique

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week. Audition required. Four sections of this class.

The Alexander Technique is a neuromuscular system that enables the student to identify and change poor and inefficient habits that may be causing stress and fatigue. With gentle, hands-on guidance and verbal instruction, the student learns to replace faulty habits with improved coordination by locating and releasing undue muscular tensions. This includes easing of the breath and the effect of coordinated breathing on the voice. It is an invaluable technique that connects the actor to his or her resources for dramatic intent.

Faculty

An Actor’s Process

Intermediate/Advanced , Component—Year

This class will meet twice a week.

This class is a laboratory for the actor. It is designed for performers who are ready to search for the steps to a fully involved performance. What are the tools you currently use to become a character in a play or a film? What will expand your work, ground you in the moment of the situation, and strengthen your authentic voice? What are your habits, and what are your strengths? Over the course of the year, each student will work on four scenes chosen from four different styles and categories: comic, dramatic, heightened language, and character stretch (ex: accent role or opposing type). The class will focus on creating a classic actor’s score, working with physical improvisations within the scene text and situation and emotion memory. We will use a camera in class to explore your work in some rehearsals and presentations.

Faculty

Audition Conference

Advanced , Component—Fall

This class meets once a week.

This class is for the serious-minded actor who, after graduation, anticipates pursuing a career as a performer. Predicated on the idea that auditioning is a learned skill at which one gets better with more experience and practical knowledge, the class will focus at its core on the only unalienable factor: the individuality of the actor him/herself. As much time will be spent on material selection as on execution; actors will be asked to make necessary friendships with the dreaded “monologues” and, hopefully, come to regard them as necessary filters through which they can express themselves as both people and artists. Cold-reading prep will also be covered. The hope is for the actor to leave class with not only one or two terrific audition pieces but also a better understanding of the casting process itself and what is in and out of his/her control.

Faculty

Breaking the Code

Intermediate , Component—Year

Open to both actors and directors. This class meets twice a week.

A specific text-driven approach to acting, Breaking the Code provides a context for the most vital performances based upon a way of dissecting a play and determining a character’s behavior. Students will act scenes from contemporary plays and adaptations.

Faculty

Breathing Coordination for the Performer

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week. Two sections of this class.

Students improve their vocal power and ease through an understanding of basic breathing mechanics and anatomy. Utilizing recent discoveries of breathing coordination, performers can achieve their true potential by freeing their voices, reducing tension, and increasing vocal stamina. In the second semester, principals of the Alexander Technique are introduced; students consolidate their progress by performing songs and monologues in a supportive atmosphere.

Faculty

Building a Vocal Technique

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

A continuation of Breathing Coordination for the Performer, which is suggested as a prerequisite, students deepen their understanding of breathing coordination and Alexander Technique and work on songs and monologues of their choice. The emphasis is on maintaining physical ease in performance to increase vocal range and power.

Faculty

Comedy Workshop

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

An exploration of the classic structures of comedy and the unique comic mind, this course begins with a strong focus on improvisation and ensemble work. The athletics of the creative comedic mind is the primary objective of the first-semester exercises. Status play, narrative storytelling, and the Harold exercise are used to develop the artist’s freedom and confidence. The ensemble learns to trust the spontaneous response and their own comic madness. Second semester educates the theatre artist in the theories of comedy. It is designed to introduce students to commedia dell’arte, vaudeville, parody, satire, and standup comedy. At the end of the final semester, each student will write five minutes of standup material that will be performed one night at a comedy club in New York City and then on the College campus on Comedy Night.

Faculty

Contemporary Scene Study

Advanced , Component—Year

This class will meet once a week for three hours.

This class will take a rigorous approach to the preparation and process of performance. Building on your “toolbox,” you will go deeper into text, character exploration, and action—expanding self-awareness and revealing and risking more. The first hour of class will focus on movement and making ephemeral works as a way to tune your instrument. The following two hours will be devoted to scene study, using contemporary and modern texts.

Faculty

Costume Design I

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

In this course, students will be introduced to the various strategies and techniques integral to the many facets of costume design. Through historical research projects, we will investigate the evolution of costume/fashion history and the vital importance of the research process itself. Through theoretical design projects, we will explore how to develop a design concept and how to articulate that concept through various modes of visual communication. We will explore costume renderings through basic life drawing exercises and painting skills and examine the use of preliminary and final sketches as blueprints for realized costumes. Students will also begin to understand aspects of costume construction through exercises in both hand and machine sewing and basic pattern making, as well as to develop a vocabulary for the tools and techniques of construction. No previous experience with any of the aforementioned topics or techniques is necessary for taking this course. Actors, directors, designers, and theatre makers of all kinds are welcome.

Costume Design II

Intermediate , Component—Year

Prerequisite: Costume I or permission of the instructor. This class meets once a week.

As an extension of Costume Design I, this course will delve in greater depth into the various strategies, techniques, and methodologies of costume design. We will cover and review a range of topics that will advance and hone existing skill sets in both design and construction. Emphasis will be placed on encouraging students to develop a critical eye in regard to their own design process. In addition, projects in this class will explore the intersections of bodily adornment/augmentation and identity, as well as the use of clothing/fashion/costume to evoke social change/justice. We will also discuss costume design within the context of the professional world and explore the practical skill sets relevant to the industry. Most students will have an opportunity to design a department production.

Creating a Role

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

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. Traditional as well as 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, and 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

Creative Impulse: The Process of Writing for the Stage

Advanced , Component—Year

This class meets once a week. Two sections of this class.

In this course, the vectors of pure creative impulse hold sway over the process of writing for the stage—and we write ourselves into unknown territory. Students are encouraged to set aside received and preconceived notions of what it means to write plays or to be a writer—along with ideas of what a play is “supposed to” or “should” look like—in order to locate their own authentic ways of seeing and making; in other words, disarming the rational, the judgmental thinking that is rooted in a concept of a final product, and empowering the chaotic, spatial, associative processes that put us in immediate formal contact with our direct experience, impressions, and perceptions of reality. Emphasis on detail, texture, and contiguity will be favored over the more widely accepted, reliable, yet sometimes limiting Aristotelian virtues of structure and continuity in the making of meaningful live performance. Readings will be tailored to fit the thinking of the class. We will likely look at theoretical and creative writings of Gertrude Stein, George Steiner, Mac Wellman, Maria Irene Fornes, Adrienne Kennedy, Mircea Eliade, Kristen Kosmas, RichardMaxwell, and Roland Barthes, as well as work that crosses into visual art realms and radical scientific thought from physicists David Bohm and F. David Peat. The course will be conducted in workshop fashion, with strong emphasis on the tracking and documenting of process.

Faculty

Crisis Mode: Theatre From the Late 1960s Through Today

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

Crisis Mode examines how theatre has responded to certain events of historical significance and moments of crisis. It is of particular value to those directors, actors, and theatre makers/producers interested in an expansive view of theatre and in how and why a play can change the way we think. The course provides a working foundation for performance and production. We will examine plays and playwrights and theatre movements and styles that have developed and come to expression in the past several decades. Students will discuss a variety of plays, with an emphasis on looking at the world in which those plays were written and why they continue to resonate today. Students will study documentaries and make presentations on events of historical/political/cultural significance as a way of providing a play with a rich context for production and performance. We will concentrate on American plays and political movements but will encompass a global and cultural perspective with discussion ranging from the influential works and innovations of Brecht and Beckett to political theatre groups like El Teatro Campesino of the 1960s, to agitprop theatre events like those of the Vietnam War and Civil Rights eras, and to those of ACT UP in the 1980s AIDS Crisis. Students in Crisis Mode will devise projects to serve their particular theatre interests. Projects range from staging and acting scenes to design work, dramaturgical presentations, and original plays written in the style/spirit of the events studied.

Faculty

CultureHub Live Media Workshop

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This course will explore live-feed projection design and technology with theatre students at Sarah Lawrence College and design and video students at the Seoul Institute of the Arts in Ansan, South Korea. The course will focus on creating puppetry and miniature environments for theatrical performance in the two separate locations, Seoul and New York, by utilizing the telepresence studios at SeoulArts and CultureHub. Students in both locations will be introduced to basic puppetry manipulation and construction techniques, as well as to methods for designing and building miniature sets and environments. In addition, live video feeds, chroma keying, and depth-sensing cameras will be implemented to enhance the media and performance landscape. Through the process, students will be exposed to a variety of multimedia theatre and puppetry forms and will gain an understanding of critical design considerations, including lighting, manipulation, chroma key, and live video techniques. The goal of the course will be to create collaborative performances that are a combination of manipulated figures and sets in separate physical locations. The course will be team-taught by: Professor Seung-Ho Jeong, scenic and lighting designer at Seoul Institute for the Arts and one of Korea’s most high-profile, in-demand set designers; Tom Lee, puppet artist, theatre designer, and guest faculty member at Sarah Lawrence College; and Billy Clark, director of CultureHub New York City and member faculty of the Seoul Arts Institute.

Faculty

TBA

Directing the 20th Century: From Chekhov to Churchill

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class will focus on directing plays in the 20th-century canon, covering a range of styles and content. It will cover the whole journey of directing a play, with a strong emphasis on practical work. Students will be required to bring in design research for plays and to direct scenes from the plays, both of which they will present to the class for critique. The class will focus on how to use the text to inform the choices made by the director.

Faculty

Directing Workshop

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

Directors will study the processes necessary to bring a written text to life, along with the methods and goals used in working with actors to focus and strengthen their performances. Scene work and short plays will be performed in class, and the student’s work will be analyzed and evaluated. Common directing problems will be addressed, and the directors will become familiar with the conceptual process that allows them to think creatively. The workshop is open to beginning directors and any interested student.

Faculty

Directors Conference

Component—Fall

Directors Conference takes student directors through the course of full production—from prep to postmortem, how to have an idea and put it on stage, and how to cut and rework. Students will work on preproduction (ground plans, rehearsal schedules, casting, research) through the rehearsal process (strategies, time management, communication, making changes, tech) and, at the end of the semester, submit a production casebook demonstrating their work on the production and an assessment of their final product and process. The class is mandatory for all students directing on the Mainstage and will meet once a week, either as a group or in individual conference.

Faculty

DownStage

Sophomore and above , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

DownStage is an intensive, hands-on conference in theatrical production. DownStage student producers administrate and run their own theatre company. They are responsible for all aspects of production, including determining the budget and marketing an entire season of events and productions; they are expected to fill a variety of positions, both technical and artistic, and to sit as members of the board of directors of a functioning theatre organization. In addition to their obligations to class and designated productions, DownStage student producers are expected to hold regular office hours. Prior producing experience is not required.

Faculty

Dramaturgy

Advanced , Component—Year

This course meets once a week.

Dramaturgy is the study of dramatic structure: how plays are built and how they work. Although any play worth its salt works according to its own idiosyncratic plan, certain principles allow us to take it apart in order to better understand how it is built. There are many ways to do that, and we will be trying a wide assortment. For example, we will study classical structure as it shapes not only Sophocles’ Oedipus the King but also Euripides’ The Bacchae and Maureen Duffy’s Rites. In order to understand “the well-made play,” we’ll read Émile Augier’s simple-minded Olympe’s Marriage side-by-side with Henrik Ibsen’s profound A Doll's House. We’ll look at: the development of expressionism over the course of the 20th century from Adrienne Kennedy’s vertiginous nightmare, Funnyhouse of a Negro, to Ted Tally’s poetic tragedy, Terra Nova; the development of the Theatre of Cruelty from Jet of Blood, to Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming; and the role of ambiguity in Shakespeare by delving deeply into King Lear and Hamlet. The examination of multiple drafts of plays is often the surest way to see inside the playwright’s mind. We’re lucky to have complete, early drafts of plays that, after substantial revision, became masterpieces. We will look at Chekhov’s early manuscript of The Wood Demon, the play that later evolved into Uncle Vanya; and we’ll watch Ibsen struggle to find the way to release Nora’s persona in the first draft of A Doll's House and succeed incomparably in the final version. Other kinds of revisions will also be examined, such as Brandon Jacob Jenkins’ brilliant postmodern reworking of the 19th-century melodrama, The Octoroon, which he subtly retitles An Octoroon. There are many other possibilities, as well, such as ritualistic drama in S. A. Ansky’s great horror-thriller, The Dybbuk; Jean Genet’s The Maids; and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Because an understanding of genre is essential to the work that we will do, a working knowledge of the principle genres (classicism, Elizabethan, neoclassicism, realism, naturalism, expressionism, etc.) and their historical context is required for the course.

Faculty

Experiments in Language and Form

Advanced , Component—Year

This class meets once a week for four hours (with a lunch break).

In this class, we focus on writing “experimental theatre”; that is, we experiment with theatrical forms that extend beyond traditional portrayals of time, three-dimensional space, language, character, and dramatic structure to discover the impact that different types of onstage presentations might have on audiences. We are not interested in imitating the style of “experimental” playwrights but, rather, using their texts as influence, stimulus, and encouragement as we attempt our own “experiments.” We will also style experimental texts to ascertain the types of environments—political, spiritual, mental, social—that influenced such texts to be generated; that is, created. Our aim, first and foremost, is to investigate and explore ways to genuinely investigate and give theatrical expression to our own personal, political, and spiritual interior lives, values, observations, and beliefs. We will then strive to examine the most effective manner of communicating our theatrical experiments to an audience. Our experimental writing may include multimedia presentations as part of the scripted onstage play or performance.

Faculty

Far-Off, Off-Off, Off, and On Broadway: Experiencing the 2017–2018 Theatre Season

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

Weekly class meetings in which productions are analyzed and discussed will be supplemented by regular visits to many of the theatrical productions of the current season. The class will travel within the tristate area, attending theatre in as many diverse venues, forms, and styles as possible. Published plays will be studied in advance of attending performances; new or unscripted works will be preceded by examinations of previous work by the author or company. Students will be given access to all available group discounts in purchasing tickets.

Faculty

Global Theatre: The Syncretic Journey

Open , Seminar

This course is a theatre history component in the theatre program. This class meets once a week.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to La MaMa, dedicated to the playwright and to all aspects of the theatre. —Ellen Stewart

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York City has been the host of contemporary and international theatre artists for 55 years. You will have the opportunity to attend performances, meet the artists, participate in workshops led by them, as well as have access to the La MaMa archives on the history of international theatre in New York. Your personal “syncretic theatre journey” is enhanced by the observance of fellow theatre makers and oneself that is informed concretely by the application of text, research, movement, music, design, puppetry, and multimedia, as well as social and political debate in class. Coordinators of the LaMaMa International Symposium for Directors, David Diamond and Mia Yoo, will host you in New York City, where you will exchange ideas with visiting and local artists from Yara Arts Group and the Great Jones Repertory Theatre. Historical/contemporary experimental texts will be discussed, such as: Psychosis by Sarah Kane, Death and the Kings Horseman by Wole Soyinka, Strange Interlude by Eugene O’Neill, The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht, A Dream Play by August Strindberg, Thunderstorm by Cao Yu, Goshram Kwotal by Vijay Tendulkar, Venus by Susan-Lori Parks, Ruined by Lynn Nottage, and Mistero Buffo by Dario Fo, as well as Fernando Arrabal, Antonin Artaud, and Martin Crimp. Required reading: TBA.

Faculty

Internship Conference

Intermediate , Component—Year

For students who wish to pursue a professional internship as part of their program, all areas of producing and administration are possible: production, marketing, advertising, casting, development, etc. Students must have at least one day each week to devote to the internship. Through individual meetings, we will best determine each student’s placement to meet individual academic and artistic goals.

Faculty

Introduction to Stage Combat

Open , Seminar—Year

This class meets once a week.

Students learn the basics of armed and unarmed stage fighting, with an emphasis on safety. Actors are taught to create effective stage violence, from hair pulling and choking to sword fighting, with a minimum of risk. Basic techniques are incorporated into short scenes to give students experience performing fights in both classic and modern contexts. Each semester culminates in a skills proficiency test aimed at certification in one of eight weapon forms.

Faculty

La MaMa E.T.C.

Intersession—Summer

La MaMa E.T.C. sponsors two summer events in Umbria, Italy, in conjunction with Sarah Lawrence College: International Symposium for Directors, a three-week training program for professional directors, choreographers, and actors in which internationally renowned theatre artists conduct workshops and lecture/demonstrations; and Playwright Retreat, a one-week program where participants have ample time to work on new or existing material. Each day, master playwright Lisa Kron will meet with the playwrights to facilitate discussions, workshops, and exercises designed to help the writers with whatever challenges they are facing. More information is available at: http://lamama.org/programs/la-mama-umbria.

Lighting Design I

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This class will introduce the student to the basic elements of stage lighting, including tools and equipment, color theory, reading scripts for design elements, operation of lighting consoles and construction of lighting cues, and basic elements of lighting drawings and schedules. Students will be offered hands-on experience in hanging and focusing lighting instruments and will be invited to attend technical rehearsals. Students will also have opportunities to design productions and assist other designers as a way of developing a greater understanding of the design process.

Faculty

Lighting Design II

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This class will build upon the basics introduced in Lighting Design I to help develop the students’ abilities in designing complex productions. The course will focus primarily on CAD and other computer programs related to lighting design, script analysis, advanced console operation, and communication with directors and other designers. Students will be expected to design actual productions and in-class projects for evaluation and discussion and will be offered the opportunity to increase their experience in design by assisting Mr. MacPherson and others, when possible.

Faculty

LIVE MEDIA: Creating Hybrid Performance With Technology

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This course will prepare students to solve problems in video, sound, and multimedia production for live theatre and performance. We will look at the creative use of live video and audio playback and processing, multichannel sound, and interactive performance systems. Participants interested in this course should be prepared to design and execute at least two performance works or live sound installations over the course of the academic year.

Faculty

London Theatre Tour

Open , Intersession

These intersession credits are registered as academic, not arts, credits.

The purpose of this course is to experience and examine present-day British theatre: its practices, playwrights, traditions, theatres, and artists. This is a two-credit academic course, and any student enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College is eligible to take the class. During two weeks in London, students will attend a minimum of 12 productions, tour various London theatres, meet with British theatre artists, attend regularly scheduled morning seminars, and make an oral presentation on one of the plays that the group is attending. Plays will be assigned prior to the end of the fall semester, and preparation and research for the presentation should be complete before arriving in London. Productions attended will include as wide a variety of venues, styles, and periods of theatre as possible. Seminars will analyze and critique the work seen, as well as discover themes, trends, and movement in the contemporary theatre of the country. Free time is scheduled for students to explore London and surrounding areas at their leisure.

Faculty

Medley Workshop: Developing the Dramatic Idea

Intermediate , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

The purpose of this workshop is to develop and complete a draft of a final project play of any length. Our focus is on originating character-driven stories that involve multiple events and/or multiple turning points and revelations, concluding with a major crisis and/or consequence for the characters. From the very beginning of the semester, writers create several short drafts of “mini-plays” as we practice the components that lead to effective playwriting. Writers allow various characters, topics, and concerns to be revealed to them as their in-process project(s)take shape. We will also study a selection of full-length plays and/or screenplays for inspiration, guidance, and analysis of various contemporary styles of drama. Styles may be varied; but as dramatists, we are all challenged by a form of storytelling that requires us to try and hold the attention of an audience for a condensed length of “real” time in a public space.

Faculty

Movement for Performance

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

This class will explore the full instrument of the performer, namely the human body. A daily warmup will open the body to larger movement ranges while introducing students to a better functioning alignment, efficient muscle and energy use, full breathing, clear weight transfer, and increased awareness while traveling through space. A combination of improvisation, contact improvisation, set phrases, and in-class assignments creating short movement-based pieces will be used to explore a larger range of articulation that the body reveals regardless of the words spoken on stage. In all aspects, the goals of this class are to enable students to be courageous with their physical selves, more articulate with their bodies, and more personally expressive in performance. No movement background is required, just a healthy mix of curiosity and courage. In addition to occasional reading handouts, there will be opportunities to attend rehearsals and performances of professional theatre and dance in New York City. Please wear loose, comfortable clothing to class.

Faculty

Music as Theatre Lab

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week for four hours.

This lab is open to any artists committed to exploring a variety of music-driven, song-centric, spirit-derived approaches to music-theatre creation. Music as Theater Lab invites students into an investigation of the work of prophets, faith healers, and wild politicians, as well as blues, gospel, and old-school rock-and-roll artists. Commitment to risk-as-truth, with an eye toward creating pieces and performances that conjure transcendence, is a founding principle of the lab. Students will work in ever-shifting teams to create and perform short pieces; e.g., scenes, sermons, songs, or situations that include set and costume designs, choreography, and video. The lab will also feature an ongoing “compare and contrast” investigation of rock music and show tunes, with an emphasis on what we have to learn from those differences about effectively acting and singing.

Faculty

No Acting for Camera

Component—Year

The camera is totally uninterested in acting. The camera loves truth. This course is designed to break down “acting” and offer skills and experiential techniques that will allow students to trust their own humanity and bring their unique truth and experience to the work. The class is demanding and nurturing and asks that students be willing to bring their secrets and their vulnerability into the classroom. There will be step-by-step tools offered to guide students to the truth of the moment, the truth of their relationship to self, the truth of their relationship to a scene partner and the world around them, the truth of their relationship to the camera, and the truth of their relationship to the imaginary circumstances and demands of a scene. Students will also be given techniques to determine which part of the self is needed for a particular character and scene and skills to bring that part of the self to work. During the first semester, students will work on crafting a scene for the camera using neutral dialogue. This will mean creating the entire world from the trust and use of self. The second semester will ask students to take what they have learned about using themselves and craft their work to serve the demands of the film or television scene that they have been assigned.

Faculty

Playwright’s Workshop

Advanced , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week.

Who are you as a writer? What do you write about, and why? Are you writing the play that you want to write? Or that you need to write? Where is the nexus between the amorphous, subconscious wellspring of the material and the rigorous demands of a form that will play in real time before a live audience? This course is designed for playwriting students who have a solid knowledge of dramatic structure and an understanding of their own creative process—and who are ready to create a complete dramatic work of any length. (As the late Edward Albee pointed out, “All plays are full-length plays.”) Students will be free to work on themes, subjects, and styles of their choice. Work will be read aloud and discussed in class each week. The course requires that students enter, at minimum, with an idea of the play on which they plan to work; ideally, they will bring in a partial draft or even a completed draft that they wish to revise. We will read some existent texts, time allowing.

Faculty

Playwriting Techniques

Open , Component—Year

This course meets once a week. Two sections of this course.

In this course, you will investigate the mystery of how to release your creative process and, at the same time, discover the fundamentals of dramatic structure that will help you tell the story of your play. In the first term, you will write a short scene, every week, taken from The Playwright’s Guidebook, which we will use as a basic text. At the end of the first term, you will write a short but complete play based on one of these short assignments. In the second term, you’ll go on to adapt a short story of your choice and then write a play based on a historical character, event, or period. The focus in all instances is on the writer’s deepest connection to the material—where the drama lies. Work will be read aloud in class and discussed in class each week. Students will also read and discuss plays that mirror the challenges presented by their own assignments.

Faculty

Production Workshop

Component—Fall and Spring

This course is required for directing, assistant directing, and playwriting students whose productions are included in the fall theatre season. This class meets once a week.

The creative director of the theatre program will lead a discussion group (including readings, workshops, and productions) for all of the directors, assistant directors, and playwrights participating in the fall theatre season. This is an opportunity for students to discuss with their peers the process, problems, and pleasures of making theatre at Sarah Lawrence College (and beyond). This workshop is part problem solving and part support group, with the emphasis on problem solving.

Faculty

Projection Design for Theatre

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This course is an introduction to theatrical projection design that explores design principles, basic video editing, media server and playback software, content creation, basic projection system design, and show control. Through text analysis, visual research, and lab experiments, the course examines the role of video projection in theatre and interdisciplinary forms and prepares participants to create video designs for their own work.

Faculty

Puppet Theatre

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week for two hours.

This course will explore a variety of puppetry techniques, including bunraku-style, marionette, shadow puppetry, and toy theatre. We will begin with a detailed look at these forms through individual and group research projects. We will further our exploration with hands-on learning in various techniques of construction. Students will then have the opportunity to develop their own manipulation skills, as well as to gain an understanding of how to prepare the puppeteer’s body for performance. The class will culminate with the creation and presentation of puppetry pieces of students' own making.

Faculty

Scenic Design I

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week. There is a $50 course fee.

This course introduces basic elements of scenic design, including developing a design concept, drafting, and practical techniques for creating theatrical space. Students will develop tools to communicate their visual ideas through research, sketches, and models. The class will discuss examples of design from theatre, dance, and puppetry. Student projects will include both conceptual designs and production work in the department.

Faculty

Singing Workshop

Open , Component—Year

This class meets twice a week. Audition required.

We will explore the actor’s performance with songs and various styles of popular music, music for theatre, cabaret, and original work, emphasizing communication with the audience and material selection. Dynamics of vocal interpretation and style will also be examined.

Faculty

SLC Lampoon

Advanced , Component—Year

This class meets once a week a week for three hours. Audition required.

SLC Lampoon is a comedy ensemble of actors, directors, and writers. The techniques of Second City and TheatreSports will be used to create an improvisational troupe that will perform throughout the campus. The ensemble will craft comic characters and write sketches, parodies, and political satire. This work will culminate in a final SLC Lampoon Mainstage performance in the style of Second City or Saturday Night Live.

Faculty

Spring Musical

Open , Component—Year

Required audition and interview held during registration week.

Students in this class will become the company of the Theatre Program’s Main Stage Spring Musical. Classes will provide for an in-depth rehearsal process and allow for an extended study of the show in its greater context. Students will work together on the songs, scenes, dance and movement, and book of this musical in a traditional manner, with class time dedicated to rehearsals with the director, musical director, and creative team of the production. In addition, students will have a distinct opportunity to study and participate in the show at a level of far greater discovery and intensive preparation than a standard rehearsal period allows. First semester work will include meetings with the show’s designers, extended work on the text and characters, and in-class rehearsals. All aspects of the show—its relevance and significance in a historical context, its production history and place in the canon of musicals, as well as a study of its composer and creators of similar works of its kind—will be discussed and become part of regular class work. Also in the first semester, students will be expected to meet out of class for rehearsals on designated scenes, songs, etc., as they would in a traditional scene study class. Students will be assigned to research and report back to the cast certain aspects of the show and its history. Second semester work will move to a concentration on production and will include a regular period of out-of-class nightly rehearsals on a pre-determined schedule. Students interested in directing plays and musicals will be given specific aspects/scenes/songs of the show to be rehearsed and worked on under the guidance of the teachers. Student directors in the class will become part of the discussion of the design and production elements of the show. Students in this class are free to participate in shows outside of class in the first semester. In the second semester, students may not participate in any production that has rehearsals or performances that conflict with the schedule of this production. All principal and featured roles in the show will be cast from within this class.

Faculty

Stage Management

Open , Component—Fall and Spring

This class meets once a week during the fall semester and is taught by Ms. Minsky. Spring semester is taught by Ms. Vaswani and is devoted to mentored production practicums.

This course is a hands-on laboratory class in the skills, practices, and attitudes that help a stage manager organize an environment in which a theatrical team can work together productively and with minimum stress. Classroom exercises and discussion augment the mentored production work that is assigned to each student. Script analysis, blocking notation, prop management, and cue writing/calling are among the topics covered. Knowledge of—and practice in—stage management are essential tools for directors and useful supplements for actors and designers.

Faculty

The London Theatre Program

Seminar

Audition required.

Sponsored by Sarah Lawrence College and the British American Drama Academy (BADA), the London Theatre Program offers undergraduates from Sarah Lawrence an opportunity to work and study with leading actors and directors from the world of British theatre. The program offers acting classes with leading artists from the British stage. These are complemented by individual tutorials, where students work one-on-one with their teachers. A faculty selected from Britain’s foremost drama schools teaches technical classes in voice, movement, and stage fighting. This intense conservatory training is accompanied by courses in theatre history and theatre criticism, tickets to productions, and the experience of performing in a professional theatre. In addition, master classes and workshops feature more of Britain’s fine actors and directors. Designed for dedicated students who wish to study acting in London, the program offers enrollment in either the fall or spring semester for single-semester study. Those wishing to pursue their training more intensely are strongly encouraged to begin their training in the fall and continue with the Advanced London Theatre Program in the spring semester.

Theatre Outreach: Collaboration and Community

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

Developing original, issue-oriented, dramatic material using music and theatre media, this course will present the structures needed for community extension of the theatre. Performance and teaching groups will work with small theatres, schools, senior-citizen groups, museums, centers, and shelters. Productions and class plans will be made in consultation with the organizations and with our touring groups. We will work with children’s theatre, audience participation, and educational theatre. Teaching and performance techniques will focus on past and present uses of oral histories and cross-cultural material. We will study sociological and psychological dynamics as part of an exploration of the role of theatre and its connections to learning. Each student will have a service-learning team placement. Special projects and guest topics will include the use of theatre in developing new kinds of afterschool programs, styles and forms of community on-site performances, and media techniques for artists who teach, as well as working with the Sarah Lawrence College Human Genetics Program.

Faculty

Theatre Outreach Projects: Connections to Community

Advanced , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

This advanced course will provide a strong foundation from which to explore and extend teaching and theatre-making skills in the community. With an interest in exploring personally expressive material and in extending and developing skills, students will find a practical approach to experiential learning that grows teaching skills through a weekly community placement. Placements are usually yearlong and typically culminate in a process-over-product, informal presentation that is reflective of the interests, stories, and experiences of the individual participants. Students will explore collaborating with partnerships at schools, libraries, museums, community centers, prisons, and downtown Yonkers storefronts and other venues to develop original work that will result in a creative forum, with performances concluding in a talkback environ. Historical and contemporary social-political and artistic issues are applied to community work. Class readings and discussions will explore theoretical and practical discussions about theatre making and sharing theatre skills in the 21st century that will examine the role of creative artists working in the community to bring forth social change. Exploring gender, and open to all races and ethnicities, students will work toward the development of a creative ensemble of SLC theatre artists. Class readings and discussions will explore LGBTQ, African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Asian American artistic contributions, and that will provide a strong foundation from which to create new work. Focusing on local, national, and world issues as they pertain to our own experiences, first-semester work will culminate in informal workshop presentations and discussion sessions at a Yonkers High School. Second-semester class work will culminate in a touring show for the HS Lunchbox Group and intergenerational work with the 50+ Lunchbox Group. First-semester coursework will include a Yonkers tour that visits the Yonkers Downtown Waterfront, as well as important Yonkers cultural attractions. The class is open to all students who want to explore personal material through a sociopolitical lens. Open to dancers, poets, playwrights, actors, and visual artists. Educator John Paul Lederach asks the artist to connect with the “moral imagination”—the ability to “stay grounded in the here and now, with all its violence and injustice, while still imagining and working toward a more life-affirming world.”

Faculty

Tools of the Trade

Open , Seminar—Year

This class meets once a week.

This is a stagehand course that focuses on the nuts and bolts of light and sound board operation and projection technology, as well as the use of basic stage carpentry. This is not a design class but, rather, a class about reading and drafting light plots, assembly and troubleshooting, and basic electrical repair. Students who take this course will be eligible for additional paid work as technical assistants in the theatre department.

Faculty

Voice and Speech I: Vocal Practice

Component—Year

This class meets once a week for two hours.

This course will focus on awakening the young artist to the expressive range of the human voice, as well as to the intricacies of developing greater clarity of speech and playing with sound. A thorough warmup will be developed to bring power, flexibility, and range to the actor’s voice and speech. Exercises and text work will be explored, with the goal of uniting body, breath, voice, and speech into an expressive whole when acting.


Faculty

Writer’s Gym

Open , Component—Year

This class meets once a week.

You can’t wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club. —Jack London

Writer’s Gym is a yearlong writing workshop designed for writers of any genre and any level of experience, from beginner to advanced. Our focus is on writing exercises that develop characters and stories—whether for the stage, screen, or prose narration. In addition, we study theories about the nature of creativity. Our goals are as follows: to study writing methods that help to inspire, nurture, encourage, and sustain our urge/need to write; to learn how to transform personal experiences and observations into imaginative dramatic and/or prose fiction or poetic metaphor and imagery; to concentrate on building the inner lives of our characters through in-depth character work in order to create stronger stories; to explore—that is to say, investigate—and gain access into our spontaneous ideas; to articulate and gain a more conscious relationship to the “inner territory” from which we draw ideas; to confront issues that block the writing process; and to gain greater confidence in relation to revision as we pursue clarification of the work.

Faculty