Theatre

The Sarah Lawrence College theatre program is a community of generous and engaged artists who value diverse, intentional, and rigorous research, process, and creation. We hold each other and ourselves accountable to responsibly challenge ourselves and each other to foster our growth as both individuals and collaborative artists. We support innovation, not only in the art that we produce but also in the systems that we make to learn, share, and create. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum that prioritizes equality, care, and experimentation, we aim to create an artistic environment steeped in joy in order to envision and build a better future. This is an open and inclusive community where everyone is welcome.

The theatre program is focused on deep collaboration, community building, and interdisciplinarity. We support performance and theatre artists through a curriculum crossing the boundaries of design, acting, directing, management, performing, writing, technology, producing, voice, movement, and much more. Classes are taught by working professionals, with the advantage of additional classes in the music and dance programs.

We encourage students to bring their own histories, experiences, and stories into the ecosystem of the program and to share in the development of new questions, political urgencies, and social engagement. Together, we will research and practice theatre and performance to expand the possibilities of critical togetherness through body, story, and experience.

Curriculum

Students create an individualized Theatre Third with the guidance of their don and the theatre faculty. Components are chosen to extend skills and interests, to explore new areas of the art, and to develop performing and/or practical experience. Students are encouraged to find the links between their academic and arts courses, creating a holistic educational process.

Students have many opportunities to synthesize their learning by taking part in the Theatre Program Season. Student written and/or created work is a primary focus, while productions of published plays and classical texts are also encouraged. A proposal system for student-directed, -written, and -devised work within the Theatre Program Season’s production schedule emphasizes the development of student artists. There are also opportunities in the seasons and projects organized by DownStage (a theatre program component) and by independent, student-run companies. Auditions for faculty-, student-, and guest-directed productions are open to the entire SLC community.

Practicum

Classes provide a rigorous intellectual and practical framework, and students are continually engaged in the process of examining and creating theatre. The theatre program helps students build a solid technique based on established methodologies while also being encouraged to discover and develop their individual artistic selves. Students can earn credits from internships or fieldwork in many New York City theatres and theatre organizations. The Theatre and Civic Engagement program is a training program that uses writing, theatre techniques, music, and the visual arts to embody social and community issues. Civic Engagement courses have been a vibrant component in the curriculum for more than three decades, encouraging the development of original material created inclusively with local partner institutions, communities, and neighbors. Several theatre components include an open class showing or performance in addition to the multiple performance, design, and production opportunities that are available to students throughout the academic year. The College’s performance venues include productions in the Suzanne Werner Wright Theatre and the Frances Ann Cannon Workshop Theatre, as well as work in the student-run DownStage Theatre. Workshops, readings, and productions are also mounted in the PAC OpenSpace Theatre, the Film Viewing Room, the Remy Theatre outdoor stage, and various other performance spaces throughout the campus.​

Theatre 2022-2023 Courses

First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year | 10 credits

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker, bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (from Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (from Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing, with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms, sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process.

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory, etc.).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester.

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance and a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

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First-Year Studies: The Creative Spark—Making Theatre and Performance Now

FYS—Year | 10 credits

More and more artists are multihyphenated, like actor-writer-coder, designer-director-singer, or dancer-landscape artist-filmmaker. Whether making different kinds of work or taking on various roles in the process, this course will help you find the multitude in yourself and art. The Creative Spark focuses on nurturing creativity, curiosity, and a resilient artistic practice in the expanded field of theatre and performance while also exploring the contemporary landscape of theatrical approaches to making new work. The class will survey the many roles of creating work as a director, designer, dramaturg, performer, organizer, and generator. The course will also investigate contemporary artists, embracing theatrical forms of care, devising, the choreographic, immersive, post-internet, music theatre, staging futures, performance cabaret, mixed reality, and beyond. Students will move between developing their creative practice; researching artists and companies through readings; videos; seeing live performance; and creating work through exercises, workshops, and creative prompts. Some of the artists and companies surveyed in this class include Ligia Lewis, who creates immersive, participatory, sensory environments for audiences; The Builders Association, which makes interactive, app-driven plays; Justin Vivian Bond, who produces cabarets centering on trans and queer experience; Jaamil Olawale Kosoko, who invites audiences to follow along a cross-platform celebration of Black love and power; and Big Art Group, which creates queer multimedia performance through a technique called real-time film. The Creative Spark meets once a week for two hours and will alternate individual conferences with small-group meetings/conferences that include screenings, field trips, and performances. Students will also enroll in two other theatre components of their choice to complete their Theatre Third. Students are required to attend scheduled Theatre Meetings and Think Tanks and to complete a set amount of technical support hours with student productions in the theatre program.

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First-Year Studies: Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents—A Laboratory for Theatre Artists

FYS—Year | 10 credits

This course is a hands-on testing ground for students who might have a wide range of interests in the theatre. Centered on collaborative methods for creation and performance, Rigorous Action/Happy Moments is geared toward enabling students to find their own artistic voice, creating their own solo and collaborative theatre works, while exploring various artists, influences, and approaches ranging from the New York avant-garde of the 1970s to artists working now. We will cover a wide array of multidisciplinary artists who create performance, investigating both their philosophies and their methodology. Class work will be a combination of readings/discussions and creative exercises where students try their ideas together in space. Additionally, an emphasis on the choreographic perspective will explore various methods, including: assembly, repetition, observation, deconstruction, and care of the moment-to-moment experience. Curiosity, bravery, and a willingness to make mistakes are all encouraged, as these are crucial attributes to any creative process. The course will culminate in a short solo theatre work conceived, created, and performed by each student. Rigorous Action/Happy Accidents meets once a week for two hours and will alternate individual conferences with small-group meetings/conferences to include screenings, field trips, and performances. Students will also enroll in two other theatre components of their choice to complete their Theatre Third. Students are required to attend scheduled Theatre Meetings and Think Tanks and complete a set amount of technical support hours with student productions in the theatre program.

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Filming With Actors: A Workshop for Directors and Actors

Intermediate, Large seminar—Spring | 2 credits

Learning how to communicate with actors is the number-one job of a budding director. It has often been said, however, that “directing is 85-90 percent casting.” A successful actor/director collaboration can create magic on the screen. How does one choose the right actor for a role? How does one get a great performance from an actor? What are the tools needed for the director to have an effective and successful collaboration with an actor? How do actors communicate effectively with directors? In this workshop/seminar, open to FMIA and theatre students, we will explore the dynamics of the collaborative relationship between actors and directors from casting to filming. For the directors (FMIA students), we will explore the various stages of the directing process: the role of the director, casting, script analysis, rehearsals, and communication with actors. Directors will be assigned one or two scenes to rehearse and film in class with actors, with feedback provided by the instructor. For the actors (theatre students), we will explore the basics of acting on film, with a focus on script analysis and the elements of characterization. We will also explore methods that will allow the actor’s work on camera to be loose, spontaneous, and real. Students will leave class with a strong set of tools that will assist them in their continued work as directors and actors.

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Acting and Performance

Actor’s/Director’s Lab

Open, Component—Year

This is a class for actors and directors to work together on new or published work. Students can choose to work as a director, an actor, or both on all class projects and can change their choice on each of the next projects as the year progresses. The fall semester will focus on scene work; the spring semester will focus on short plays and one-acts. There will be inside-of-class and outside-of-class rehearsals. Some of the pieces will be assigned; most will be the student director's choice.

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Actor’s Workshop: Crafting a Character in Film and Theatre

Open, Component—Year

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. In the first semester, we will explore characters and monologues that motivate each actor’s imagination. After analyzing the text, defining the imagery, and exploring the emotional choices of the actor, we will work on self-taping our work for auditions. The second semester will be devoted to scene work: the techniques used to develop a heightened connection with your scene partner, the importance of listening, and finding your impulses as you work on your feet in the rehearsal room. We will observe the work and read the theories of Declan Donnellan’s The Actor and the Target and Stephen Wangh’s An Acrobat of the Heart.

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Improvisation: Finding Spontaneity in Performance

Open, Component—Year

Improvisation strengthens the spontaneous imagination; it is the athletics of the creative mind. Schiller wrote of a “watcher at the gates of the mind” who examines ideas too closely. He believed that, in the creative mind, “the intellect has withdrawn its watcher from the gates, and the ideas rush in pell-mell—and only then does it review and inspect the multitude.” Experiencing this creative mind is the focus of the majority of the first-semester exercises. These improvisations will develop the freedom and confidence of the artist and student. Schiller also said that “uncreative people are simply ashamed of the momentary passing madness which is found in all real creators.” It is the goal of the first semester to open those creative minds and train the artist to trust the spontaneous response and this passing madness. In this class, we will be developing scenarios and situations that heighten your ability to invent, give you physical freedom, and improve the emotional truth in your work. We will be creating monologues and characters at the moment; exploring exercises for creating a strong community in a classroom, youth center, town hall, or work environment; and collaborating on ideas for pitching projects. For actors and directors, we will practice techniques for film improvisations, TV commercials, and theatre auditions in order to develop the artist’s range. For non-theatre students, we will be focusing on confidence and trust in their original ideas. Any performance—whether experimental, classical, or in a business environment—begins with the artist’s own personal experience. Whether you are collaborating with a start-up team, giving a speech to a community, or acting on stage, the spontaneous moment is often the most compelling.

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Breaking the Code

Open, Component—Year

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. The class is open to both actors and directors.

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Actor’s Workshop: Acting the Kilroys

Open, Component—Year

This script-based approach to acting and performance springs from the works and goals of the Kilroys, “a gang of playwrights…who came together to stop talking about gender parity in theatre and start taking action.” Students in Acting the Kilroys will perform given scenes written in a variety of styles by female, queer, and trans writers. Students will also study the greater context of plays, watch films and documentaries, and read and discuss essays and plays that deal with theatre’s response to the events that shape our world. Kilroys is about a way of looking at theatre: “We make trouble. And plays.” Acting the Kilroys is open to actors of any and all identities.

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Acting Shakespeare

Open, Component—Year

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.

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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. The 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.

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Collaborative

Music and Theatre Practice: Creating Community

Open, Component—Year

Theatre and music nurture the souls of the artist, ensemble, production team, and audience far beyond the room where it happened. From mainstream Broadway megahits to intimate avant-garde experiments, creative performance has the power to unite us through shared experience and emotion. As theatre practitioners, we have a unique opportunity to inspire transformations and heal our communities. How do we use our creativity to confront issues like loneliness, justice, food scarcity, racism, isolation, balance, homesickness, and care? Through case studies, collaborations with other campus groups, and investigating our own ideas, this class will form initiatives to create community through music and theatre at Sarah Lawrence and beyond.

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Songwriting for a New Musical Theatre

Open, Component—Year

This course suggests a unique approach to musical theatre making, forged during the making of the Tony/Obie award-winning musical, Passing Strange. The method treats song, not story, as the seed out of which a show grows. Students are taught to conjure stories out of their songs rather than tacking songs onto a preexisting narrative. The urgency of personal biography as the source material for theatrical myth making (vs. invented fictions) is also emphasized, along with the incorporation of solo performance and the use of video. Emphasis on in-the-moment creating via a demystification of the songwriting process seeks to keep students inspired and motivated, with more time spent creating than listening to a lecture. Students are regularly given songwriting prompts and invited to take time away from class to compose. Students will work toward building, by semester’s end, a final show drawn from the songs that they’ve written. Students will learn techniques that transform the “magic” of songwriting into a reflexive act of communication available to anyone, with or without songwriting experience. The fundamentals of songwriting are taught, along with an introduction to various music software apps.

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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.

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Design and Media

Lighting Design I

Open, Component—Year

This course 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 have opportunities to design productions and to assist other designers as a way of developing a greater understanding of the design process.

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Lighting Design II

Intermediate, Component—Year

This course will build on the basics introduced in Lighting Design I in order 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.

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Costume Design I

Open, Component—Year

This course is an introduction to the basics of designing costumes and will cover various concepts and ideas: the language of clothes, script analysis, the elements of design, color theory, fashion history, and figure drawing. We will work on various theoretical design projects while exploring how to develop a design concept. This course also covers various design-room sewing techniques, as well as the basics of wardrobe technician duties. Students will become familiar with all of the various tools and equipment in the costume shop and wardrobe areas. Students will also have the opportunity to assist a Costume Design ll student on a departmental production to further their understanding of the design process when creating costumes. No previous experience is necessary; actors, directors, choreographers, dancers, and theatre makers of all kinds are welcome.

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Costume Design II

Intermediate, Component—Year

This course expands upon the ideas and concepts set forth in Costume Design l in order to hone in on and advance the student’s existing skill sets. Students will further develop their design and construction abilities as they research and realize design concepts for a variety of theoretical design projects, as well as develop their communication skills through class discussions and presentations. Students will also have the likely opportunity, assisted by a Costume Design l student, to design costumes for a departmental production. This design opportunity allows a unique learning experience, as the student collaborates with a director and creative team to produce a fully realized theatrical production.

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Advanced Costume Conference

Advanced, Component—Year

This course is designed for students who have completed Costume Design l and Costume Design ll and would like to further explore any aspect of designing costumes by researching and realizing a special costume design project of their own choosing.

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Scenography I

Open, Component—Year

This course is an introduction to theatrical scenic design. Students will learn how to look at the world with fresh eyes and use imagination to create a theatrical world on stage. The course covers the fundamental ideas of scenic design and basic design technique, such as research, drawing, and scale-model making. We will start from small exercise projects and complete a final design project at the end. Students will present most of their projects to the class, followed by questions and comments from fellow students. Presentation and critique skills are important in this course. Students with no experience who are interested in other aspects of theatre making, as well as in visual arts or architecture, will be able to learn from the basics.

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Scenography II

Intermediate, Component—Year

This course is advanced training in scenic design. Students apply knowledge and skills from Scenography I to complete design projects through extensive and detailed processes. Students will also learn the production process, with the examples of department productions. Students are required to present most of the projects to the class, followed by questions and comments from fellow students.

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Puppet Theatre

Open, Component—Year

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 those forms through individual and group research projects. Students will then have the opportunity to develop their puppet manipulation skills, as well as to gain an understanding of how to prepare the puppeteer’s body for performance. We will further our exploration with hands-on learning in various techniques of construction. The class will culminate with the creation and presentation of puppetry pieces of their own making.

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Video and Media Design

Open, Component—Year

This course, which serves as an introduction to theatrical video design, explores the theory of sound, basic design principles, editing and playback software, content creation, and basic system design. The course examines the function and execution of video and sound in theatre, dance, and interdisciplinary forms. Exercises in sampling, nonlinear editing, and designing sequences in performance software will provide students with the basic tools needed to execute projection designs in performance.

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Sound Design

Open, Component—Year

This course, which serves as an introduction to theatrical sound design, explores the theory of sound, basic design principles, editing and playback software, content creation, and basic system design. The course examines the function and execution of video and sound in theatre, dance, and interdisciplinary forms. Exercises in sampling, nonlinear editing, and designing sequences in performance software will provide students with the basic tools needed to execute sound designs in performance.

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Directing

Directing in Context

Open, Component—Year

This course is a hands-on directing class that offers a vital technique and way of working; it encompasses the full expression of a director’s job—from a first read, through casting practices and production meetings, to staging the play. Directing In Context starts with the text. The class offers directors an outline for dissecting plot and story; it provides a framework for figuring out how your point of view, interests, and influences shape your productions. Students will direct scenes from published plays, create original work from nontraditional sources, and make presentations on artists who particularly inspire their own ways of thinking about art. Students act in scenes directed by their classmates for in-class presentations and for a final public showing. Emphasis is placed upon the ideas and practices of artist/directors like Bertolt Brecht, who approached theatre as a means of activism, and contemporary theatre makers like Anna Deavere Smith, Anne Bogart, and Moises Kaufman, among others, who forge a personalized approach to directing built upon dynamic analysis and an expansive point of view. Directing in Context is open to directors, actors, designers, writers, etc., who are interested in theatre that encompasses a large perspective and point of view.

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Directing Workshop

Open, Component—Year

Directors will study the processes necessary to bring a written text to life, along with the methods and goals used in working with actors in order 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. In the second semester, students will direct a short play of their choice. The workshop is open to beginning directors and any interested student.

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Movement and Voice

Singing Workshop

Open, Component—Year

We will explore the actor’s performance with songs in various styles—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. Students perform new or returning material in class each week and have outside class time scheduled with the musical director to arrange and rehearse their material. Students enrolled in the course also have priority placement for voice lessons with faculty in the music program and enrollment in Alexander Technique classes or other movement courses of their choosing.

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Intimacy in Performance I

Intermediate, Component—Fall

This class will provide students with an introduction to the language, processes, and best practices of intimacy training for stage and screen. The class will meet once per week, during which time students will engage in discussions of terms and theory, learn fundamentals of approaching scene work or material that is intimate in nature, and work collaboratively to simulate artistic settings where best practices can be enacted and assessed. Toward the end of the term, students will work with text, scenes, or breakdowns to practice their approach to solving challenges around intimacy choreography.

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Intimacy in Performance II

Advanced, Component—Fall

This class will provide students with an advanced study of the language, processes, and best practices of intimacy training for stage and screen. The class will meet once per week, during which time students will engage in discussions of terms and theory, learn fundamentals of approaching scene work or material that is intimate in nature, and work collaboratively to simulate artistic settings where best practices can be enacted and assessed. Toward the end of the term, students will work with text, scenes, or breakdowns to practice their approach to solving challenges around intimacy choreography.

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Introduction to Stage Combat

Open, Component—Year

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 classic and modern contexts. Each semester culminates in a skills proficiency test aimed at certification in one of eight weapon forms.

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Choreographic Strategies and Theatre

Open, Component—Year

Through the creative reuse of mass media, this course is designed to introduce students to a performance strategy that synthesizes an experimental performance practice from existing material. By stripping found media materials from their original context and arranging them in new ways, participants will explore the methods and politics of appropriation in performance work. By then extending these techniques into embodied practices, students will experiment with various methods of extracting movement, text, and intention from these source materials. Biweekly workshops on text, sound, and video manipulation in a collaborative format will alternate with experiments in performance composition and lectures on the historical use of appropriation in a variety of art forms. Participants should have an interest in both performance and performance technology, though experience in either is not a prerequisite. The course culminates in a rehearsal and performance period.

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Playwriting

Playwriting Techniques

Open, Component—Fall

In this course, you will investigate the mystery of how to release your creative process while also discovering the fundamentals of dramatic structure that will help you tell the story of your play. Each week in the first term, you will write a short scene 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.

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Playwright’s Workshop

Sophomore and Above, Component—Fall

Who are you as a writer? What do you write about, and why? Are you writing the play that you want to write or the play 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 Edward Albee observed, “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 that they plan to work on; 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.

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Decolonizing the Narrative: Writing for a New Audience

Open, Component—Year

The stories we tell have the power to change our perceptions about the world around us and the people in it. Decolonizing narratives is the act of undoing colonialism or, in a broad sense, undoing the power structures that have historically defined mainstream narratives. In this course, we will explore how to redefine and subvert common archetypes and tropes found in mainstream theatre. Each week, we will choose a stock character or traditional narrative and write a 10-minute play that challenges or subverts it. In the spring, we will choose one of the short pieces written in the fall and draft a full-length play inspired by it. We will consider whom we want our audience to be; that is, for whose gaze are we writing? What do we assume the audience knows, and what do we explain? Who will identify with our characters? Do we need to provide dramaturgical justification when we write a character whom we don’t usually see on stage? Reading assignments will include plays and other artistic material that challenges traditional narratives by using new forms and structure or questions conventional portrayals of people of the global majority, queer characters, the working class, Muslims, characters with disabilities, and more. Examples might include work by Jackie Sibblies Drury, Larissa FastHorse, Michael R. Jackson, Hannah Gadsby, Qui Nguyen, Rehana Lew Mirza, Maria Irene Fornes, Cori Thomas, Martyna Majok, and more.

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The Physics of Playwriting: An Introduction to Craft and Voice

Open, Component—Year

Art exists within all of us. In this course, we will examine the fundamentals of dramatic writing and how to use those principles of craft to give shape to the stories that we need to tell. Weekly writing challenges will be given to illustrate concepts such as dramatic conflict and character objectives, as well as to activate your unique artistic voice. We will practice writing from the unconscious, focusing more on process than product, and writing from a place of emotional honesty and authenticity. In some cases, acting and improv exercises will be used in conjunction with writing prompts to help us access our creative imagination. We’ll also examine how to use the vocabulary of craft to give constructive feedback to our peers and to ask strategic questions that will allow us to receive helpful feedback, as well. Reading assignments will include plays and material in a variety of other forms that serve as examples of how craft is employed to actualize the artist’s vision. In all of our work, we will at once seek to follow our imaginations and creative impulses with a sense of passion and playfulness while also approaching our writing practice with rigorous intention and discipline.

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Experiments in Theatrical Writing

Sophomore and Above, Component—Year

In this course, we will explore, discuss, and write side-by-side with contemporary experimental theatrical texts. What pushes against theatrical traditions and orients outward toward the new and unfamiliar is what we will think of as experimental. Areas of experimentation that we’ll encounter on our yearlong journey will include: time, setting, structure, character, language, and genre. Experimentation finds purpose in the notion that departure from theatrical convention is a move toward altering how an audience responds and reflects upon a play—which, in turn, changes how an audience perceives and behaves in the world. We’ll explore the landscape of the plays that we read in terms of how each play looks, feels, and sounds. We’ll discuss the cultural, historical, and personal contexts of the plays. We’ll look for ways in which these contexts may inspire and inform our own writing. We’ll generate our own experimental work using the assigned texts as points of departure, with the intention of arriving at a different destination. We’ll write from different parts of the brain, from the deeply subconscious to the acutely analytical. We’ll consider how the unique structure of a play can derive organically from the story being told. And we’ll examine ways in which modern technology may assist—or hinder—our storytelling.

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Production

Tools of the Trade

Open, Component—Year

This is a stagehand course that focuses on the nuts and bolts of light-board 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.

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DownStage

Sophomore and Above, Component—Year

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. Student producers 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 producers are expected to hold regular office hours. Prior producing experience is not required.

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Stage Management

Open, Component—Year

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 both actors and designers.

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Theatre and Civic Engagement

Curriculum Lab

Open, Component—Year

This is a required weekly course for students who are sharing their theatre and creative skills in the Saturday Lunchbox Theatre Program. The Curriculum Lab will explore the creation and development of an interdisciplinary teaching curriculum for children ages six through 18. Through this weekly lab, directly connected to the Lunchbox Theatre, students will gain insight into child-development principles, lesson-planning skills, and classroom management strategies. Through inquiry and reflection, students will expand their critical thinking processes while also utilizing practical teaching methods and techniques suitable for multiple learning types and levels.

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Teaching Artist Pedagogy Conference Course

Sophomore and Above, Component—Year

Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. —Marian Wright Edelman

Theatre and Civic Engagement teaching-artist students will develop valuable creative resources while investigating the intersection of theatre and community. This course is open to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students who are interested in sharing theatre skills in the community. We will explore interdisciplinary creative processes, social-justice issues, and curriculum development throughout this course and analyze the crossovers between various teaching theories, pedagogies, and philosophies. Students will explore how creating theatre in the community that prioritizes self-care and diversity leads to developing specific projects. Interdisciplinary theatre-generating techniques will support lesson planning and the blossoming of curriculum ideas. In addition, students will hold yearlong placements at schools, senior centers, area colleges, museums, LGBTQIA youth centers, and the long-running SLC Saturday Lunchbox Theatre Program. Budget depending, some placements may offer an hourly stipend; however, wages do not cover travel or prep time. The College sets the hourly rate.

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Methods of Civic Engagement

Open, Component—Year

Artists are the real architects of change, not the political legislators who implement change after the fact. —William Burroughs

This course is for undergraduate students interested in extending the creative theatre skills needed to facilitate and share meaningfully in the community. Course topics include social justice, community self-care, lesson planning, curriculum development, and various pedagogical and educational philosophies. Using the language of theatre, students will investigate methods and techniques, styles, and forms to develop a resourceful theatre vocabulary for specific community placements. In addition, students will have hands-on experience working in a team through a weekly community placement at area schools, community centers, and our long-running SLC Lunchbox Theatre Program. By taking this course and developing their community curriculum “toolbox,” students will better understand how civic engagement practices encourage community dialogue that leads to community-building projects and events. Throughout the course, students will explore the work of Paolo Freire, Augusto Boal, Viola Spolin, Pablo Helguera, and others. Budget depending, some placements may offer an hourly stipend; however, wages do not cover travel or prep time. The College sets the hourly rate.

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Theory, History, Survey

Contemporary Playwrights

Open, Component—Year

The art created during our own lifetimes hits us differently. In this course, we will examine plays written in the 21st century, covering work written from 2000 to 2010 in the fall semester and from 2011 to the present in the spring semester. We will read one play every week and examine it from a dramaturgical perspective—that is, how the play is constructed—as well as discuss the cultural, political, and artistic context in which it was written. Assignments will include short response papers, one creative project, and one research paper. There will be an emphasis on work by BIPOC and queer writers. Playwrights examined may include: David Henry Hwang, Lynn Nottage, Kristoffer Diaz, Qui Nguyen, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Paula Vogel, Martyna Majok, Michael R. Jackson, Mashuq Mushtaq Deen, and Jen Silverman.

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Crisis Mode: Theatre in Response

Open, Component—Year

This hybrid seminar/workshop examines the greater role of theatre as a means of social activism. Crisis Mode provides perspective, a way to see not only how theatre responds to events but also how theatre creates change. Students will read a variety of contemporary plays and screen-related films and documentaries. Students will create solo and group performance projects and read aloud scenes and portions of the plays that we study. Particular attention is paid to the works of form-bending playwrights—like Anna Deavere Smith, Young Jean Lee, Aleshea Harris, Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, Hilary Bettis, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Tony Kushner, and Dominque Morriseau, among others—whose works illuminate and provoke. We will look, too, at how these contemporary playwrights have built upon the groundbreaking works of their predecessors—playwrights and theatre makers like Ntozake Shange, Samuel Beckett, and Bertolt Brecht, among others—who challenged established forms and entrenched ideologies. Crisis Mode is open to actors, directors, designers, playwrights, and those interested in theatre as discourse and a means of social activism.

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The Broadway Musical: Something Great Is Coming

Open, Component—Fall

For some 60 years, roughly from 1920 to 1980, the Broadway musical was in its Golden Age. The subjects were for adults, the lyrics were for the literate, and the music had a richness and depth of expression never since equaled in American composition. That music evolved from three separate strands—Jewish, African, and European—and the libretti sprung from a great vibrant stew that included vaudeville, burlesque, operetta, minstrel shows, musical comedy-farce, and musical extravaganza. We’ll study how these widely disparate forms began to coalesce in the 1920s into the quintessentially brash, toe-tapping, effervescent Broadway form known as “musical comedy.” Then, we’ll watch as Oscar Hammerstein II—paired with a new collaborator, Richard Rodgers—revolutionized the form with the so-called “integrated musical.” Beginning with Oklahoma!, R&H (as they were universally known) insisted on putting the story first and making the songs—along with everything else—serve that story. The inevitable apotheosis of their efforts is the musical play of the 1950s, and we’ll end this section by looking at several of them. Finally, the musical showed yet another face: the “concept musical,” Broadway’s answer to Cubist painting. It took a subject and looked at it from every conceivable angle except one: a plot. We’ll end the year by looking at, among others, Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece, Company.

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Historic Survey of Formal Aesthetics for Contemporary Performance Practice

Open, Component—Year

Once upon a time in a rehearsal, a playwright said, “I just think that this is the most Cubist moment of this play.” Everyone in the room fell silent and grew uncomfortable, because...what in the heck did she mean by that? And aren’t we already supposed to know? This interactive lecture course surveys the aesthetic movements throughout history and teaches you to track their impact on your work. Ideas behind each movement are examined in relation to the historical moment of their occurrence and in their formal manifestations across visual art, music, architecture, and performance disciplines. Each student then places his/her own work within a wider context of formal aesthetic discourse—locating hidden influence and making conscious and purposeful the political resonance that is subsequently uncovered. Students are encouraged to find ways of acknowledging the responsibility that one carries for the impact of one’s work on the world and to start using terms like “Postmodernism” and “Futurist” with confidence.

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Far-Off, Off-Off, Off, and On Broadway: Experiencing the 2022-23 Theatre Season

Open, Component—Year

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 and student discounts in purchasing tickets.

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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, 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.

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Specters of the Subject: Hauntologies of Ghosts, Phantasms, and Imaginings in Contemporary Life

Advanced, Seminar—Fall

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. His interlocutor, Bernard Stiegler, phrases the main idea behind this statement: “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts.” With the advent of the internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida’s observations have proven to be quite prophetic, such that they call for a new field of study—one that requires less an ontology of being and the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida’s punish term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the imaginary, and the recurrent revenant. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the past and present are haunted by ghosts. Topics to be covered include: specters and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, fantasy and imagination, digital interfaces, and visual and acoustical images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and, thus, craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

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First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing, with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms, sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process. 

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory, etc.).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester.

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance and a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

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Movement Studio Practice

Component—Year

In these classes, emphasis will be on the steady development of movement skills, energy use, strength, and articulation relevant to the technical and aesthetic orientations of each teacher. At all levels, attention will be given to sharpening each student’s awareness of time and energy and to training rhythmically, precisely, and in accordance with sound anatomical principles. Degrees of complexity in movement patterns will vary within the leveled class structure. All students will investigate sensory experience and the various demands of performance.

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Dance Movement Fundamentals

Component—Year

Movement and dancing are definitive signs of life! In every environment and at every level of existence, from single-cell organisms to entire populations, dancing is innate to living beings. The objective here is to awaken/reawaken students’ connection to movement as an elemental mode of human experience and learning. Students are introduced to some basic principles of dancing, as well as to strategies for preparing for dancing. Building fundamental skills for a wide range of movement studies, the focus is centered on learning movement and refining individual, partnered, and group performance in a variety of patterns and styles. Basic anatomical information is used to facilitate an understanding of dynamic alignment and movement potentials. Challenges in coordination, rhythm, range, and dynamic quality are systematically engaged, allowing students to gain strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, musicality, and awareness in the dance setting. While the primary emphasis is placed on learning structured material, improvisation and composition are incorporated to support students’ growing engagement with dance as an art form. No prior experience in dance is required.

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Ballet

Component—Year

Ballet students at all levels will be guided toward creative and expressive freedom in their dancing, enhancing the qualities of ease, grace, musicality, and symmetry that define this form. We will explore alignment, with an emphasis on anatomical principles; we will cultivate awareness of how to enlist the appropriate neuromuscular effort for efficient movement; and we will coordinate all aspects of body, mind, and spirit, integrating them harmoniously.

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West African Dance

Component—

This yearlong course will use physical embodiment as a mode of learning about and understanding African diasporic cultures. In addition to physical practice, master classes led by artists and teachers regarded as masters in the field of African diasporic dance and music, along with supplementary study materials, will be used to explore the breadth, diversity, history, and technique of dances derivative of the Africa diaspora. Afro Haitian, West African, Orisha dances (Lucumi, Afro Cuban), and social dance are some genres that will be explored. Participation in year-end showings will provide students with the opportunity to apply studies in a performative context.

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Hip-Hop

Component—

In this open-level course, teaching and facilitating the practice of hip-hop/urban dance technique and performance, the class will examine the theory, technique, and vocabulary of hip-hop dance. The course will facilitate the student’s development and ability to execute and perform hip-hop/urban dance steps.

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Yoga

Component—

This yoga class is designed with the interests of dancers and theatre students in mind. Various categories of postures will be practiced, with attention to alignment, breath awareness, strength, and flexibility. The physical practice includes seated and standing poses, twists, forward bends and backbends, traditional yogic breathing practices, and short meditations. Emphasis is placed on mindfulness and presence. This approach allows the student to gain tools for reducing stress and addressing unsupportive habits to carry into other aspects of their lives. Attention will be given to the chakra system as a means and metaphor for postural, movement, and character choices. The instructor has a background in dance and object theatre, in addition to various somatically-based practices that she draws upon for designing the classes to meet the individual needs of the class members.

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Guest Artist Lab

Component—Year

This course is an experimental laboratory that aims to expose students to a diverse set of current voices and approaches to contemporary dance making. Each guest artist will lead a module of three-to-seven class sessions. These mini-workshops will introduce students to that artist and his/her creative process. Guests will present both emergent and established voices and a wide range of approaches to contemporary artistic practice.

Live Time-Based Art

Component—Year

In this class, graduates and upper-class undergraduates with a special interest and experience in the creation of time-based artworks that include live performance will design and direct individual projects. Students and faculty will meet weekly to view works-in-progress and discuss relevant artistic and practical problems, both in class on Tuesday evenings and in conferences taking place on Thursday afternoons. Attributes of the work across multiple disciplines of artistic endeavor will be discussed as integral and interdependent elements in the work. Participation in mentored, critical-response feedback sessions with your peers is a key aspect of the course. The engagement with the medium of time in live performance, the constraints of presentation of the works both in works-in-progress and in a shared program of events, and the need to respect the classroom and presentation space of the dance studio will be the constraints imposed on the students’ artistic proposals. Students working within any number of live performance traditions are as welcome in this course as those seeking to transgress orthodox conventions. While all of the works will engage in some way with embodied action, student proposals need not fall neatly into a traditional notion of what constitutes dance. The cultivation of open discourse across traditional disciplinary artistic boundaries, both in the process of developing the works and in the context of presentation to the public, is a central goal of the course. The faculty members leading this course have roots in dance practice but also have practiced expansive definitions of dance within their own creative work. This course will culminate in performances of the works toward the end of the semester in a shared program with all enrolled students and within the context of winter and spring time-based art events. Performances of the works will take place in the Bessie Schönberg Dance Theatre or elsewhere on campus in the case of site-specific work.

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Performance Project

Component—Year

Performance Project is a component where a visiting artist or company is invited to create a work with students or to set an existing piece of choreography. The works are performed for the College community at the end of the semester.

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Anatomy

Component—Year

How is it possible for us to move in the countless ways that we do? Learn to develop your X-ray vision of human beings in motion through functional anatomical study that combines movement practice, drawing, lecture, and problem solving. In this course, movement is a powerful vehicle for experiencing, in detail, our profoundly adaptable musculoskeletal anatomy. We will learn Irene Dowd’s Spirals—a comprehensive warm-up/cool-down for dancing that coordinates all joints and muscles through their fullest range of motion, facilitating study of the entire musculoskeletal system. In addition to movement practice, drawings are made as part of each week’s lecture (drawing materials provided); three short assignments will be submitted each semester. Insights and skills developed in this course can provide tremendous inspiration in the process of movement invention and composition.

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Anatomy Research Seminar

Component—Year

This is an opportunity for students who have completed a full year of anatomy study in the SLC dance program to pursue functional anatomy studies in greater depth. In open consultation with the instructor during class meetings, each student engages in independent research, developing one or more lines of inquiry that utilize functional anatomy perspectives and texts as an organizing framework. Research topics in recent years have included investigation of micropolitics in established dance training techniques, examining connections between movement and emotion, exploring implications of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, motor and experiential learning, development of a unique warm-up sequence to address specific individual technical issues, inquiry into kinetic experience and its linguistic expression, detailed study of knee-joint anatomy, and study of kinematics and rehabilitation in knee injury. The class meets biweekly to discuss progress, questions, and methods for reporting, writing, and presenting research—alternating with weekly studio/practice sessions for individual and/or group research consultations.

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Choreographing Light for the Stage

Component—Year

This course will examine the fundamentals of design, and how to both think compositionally and work collaboratively as an artist. The medium of light will be used to explore the relationship between art, technology, and movement. Discussion and experimentation will reveal how light defines and shapes an environment. Students will learn a vocabulary to speak about light and how to express their artistic ideas. Through hands-on experience students will practice installing, programing and operating lighting fixtures and consoles. The artistic and technical skills they build will then be demonstrated together by creating original lighting designs for the works developed in the Time Based Art course.

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The Movie Musical

Open, Lecture—Fall

Long dismissed as shallow mass entertainment, the movie musical remains an understudied genre despite its century-long popularity, global scope, and recurring role in film history. This lecture course offers a layered cultural history of the movie musical from the 1920s to the present, approaching it as a uniquely intermedial, transnational perspective from which to study film. Students will learn to read movie musicals through a mixture of formal analysis and material history. We will read canonical scholars, as well as more recent multidisciplinary work on the movie musical as a site for ideological contestation; performance politics; and aesthetic, narrative, and technological experimentation. In particular, we will highlight the genre’s power for hiding labor behind spectacles of seemingly spontaneous mass performance and rehearsing modern social conflicts through heterosexual couple-driven, dual-focus plots (Jets vs. Sharks, town vs. city, etc.). Other topics include: the roots of the movie musical in vaudeville, minstrelsy, opera, and ballet; the musical’s relationship to new cinematic technologies, labor forms, and industrial practices; the musical’s relationship to questions of gender, sexuality, and race; and the musical as a globally circulating and mutating “mass” cultural form. While much of our focus will be on classical Hollywood (1920s-1960s), we will also watch films from France, the Soviet Union, England, East Germany, Mexico, India, and Australia.

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Not for Children: Alternative Animation, 1960–present

Open, Large seminar—Spring

This seminar course will take the form of a screening and discussion seminar, designed to provide an overview of auteur animation based on alternative writing and the relationship of form and style to content. We will examine various forms of animated films produced between 1960 and the present, with some time spent on the history and cultural crosscurrents within which this work was produced. The class will survey a wide range of work from a diverse selection of artists, including Oscar Fischinger, Lotte Reiniger, Renske Mijnheer, Stacey Steers, Karen Yasinsky, Adam Beckett, Christine Panushka, Chris Sullivan, William Kindridge, Lius Cook, and many more. The focus of the class is on animated film forms alternative to commercial animation; hand-drawn, cell-painted, cutout, stop motion, pixilated, puppet, and, more recently, CGI independents. In most cases, artists retaining control of their own work—unlike the battery of decision makers in commercial studio systems—will be the guiding factor in selecting work for review. As a class, we will look for aesthetic consequences and structural differences within the auteur system vs. an animation studio’s divisions of labor. All students are expected to fully participate in discussions during class meetings. Animation production will not be taught in this class; however, creative conference projects in studio arts, writing, media, and performing arts will be encouraged. Students will be expected to conduct research outside of class; to deliver a class presentation on an area of personal interest related to the social, political, and art movements in the experimental animation genre; and to complete a conference project or paper.

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Experimental Animation: Materials and Methods

Open, Seminar—Fall

Animation is the magic of giving life to objects and materials through motion. Whether through linear storytelling or conceptual drive, a sense of wonder is achieved with materials, movement, and transformation. Combining digital processes with handmade techniques, this class helps students hone their design skills to create short works that communicate through simplicity. The emphasis of the class is on process and concept, starting with a series of workshops intended to enhance student's skills in idea generation, concept development, and material animation techniques. The class includes instruction in a variety of undercamera, stop-motion processes, including: cut-out paper animation, sequential drawing, sand, after-effects motion graphics, simple object animation, and green-screen performance for stop motion. All aspects of progressive movement are covered, especially the laying out of ideas through time and the establishment of convincing motion. The course includes instruction in basic design techniques, material manipulation, movement and timing, color, and concept development. A brief foundational study of the history of experimental animation is introduced through viewing animated film work of artists from around the globe. During the semester, each student completes five short animated films, ranging in length from 30 seconds to two minutes. Students are required to provide their own external media hard drive and to purchase some additional art materials. Software instruction includes AfterEffects, Adobe Premier, and Dragonframe. The aim of this course is to explore freely with materials in order to trailblaze fresh narrative and aesthetic possibilities in animation. Final projects may be executed as animated or hybrid films or as animated video projections for installation or performance. Collaborations with music, dance, or theatre students can be established at the incentive of individual class participants.

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2D Digital Animation: Short Narratives

Open, Seminar—Year

In this class, students will develop animation and storytelling skills by focusing on the process of creating animated short films. Participants will develop and refine their personal style through exercises in story design and assignments directed at translating ideas into moving images. Digitally-drawn images (with the option to include live action and photographs) will be assembled in sync to sound. Compositing exercises cover a wide range of motion-graphic features, including green screen, keyframing, timeline, effects, 2D space, layering, and lighting. Exercises in the fall will provide students with a working knowledge of the software Harmony by Toon Boon. The fall semester, taught by Robin Starbuck, includes instruction exercises in all of the production steps required to produce a short, animated film of one-to-three minutes. These include the basic principles of animation, color and visual design, story development, continuity, motion, timing, frame-by-frame digital drawing, and rotoscoping. The spring semester, taught by Scott Duce, will involve the hands-on production of a single, short, animated film or PSA by each student. The Toon Boom software will be used for the students’ animated film production in the spring. Harmony is a creative, efficient software used in the film and TV animation industry. No prior drawing experience is necessary.

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Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open, Large seminar—Fall

This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage and previsualization for graphics, film/video, and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing into visual communication. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on production of storyboard drawings, both by hand and digitally, to negotiate sequential image development and to establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity in film and other media. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards and animatics. The final project for this class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a low-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, for pitching projects, to professional agencies, and—most importantly—for you, the maker. Storyboard Pro software will be used throughout this course.

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Filming With Actors: A Workshop for Directors and Actors

Intermediate, Large seminar—Spring

Learning how to communicate with actors is the number-one job of a budding director. It has often been said, however, that “directing is 85-90 percent casting.” A successful actor/director collaboration can create magic on the screen. How does one choose the right actor for a role? How does one get a great performance from an actor? What are the tools needed for the director to have an effective and successful collaboration with an actor? How do actors communicate effectively with directors? In this workshop/seminar, open to FMIA and theatre students, we will explore the dynamics of the collaborative relationship between actors and directors from casting to filming. For the directors (FMIA students), we will explore the various stages of the directing process: the role of the director, casting, script analysis, rehearsals, and communication with actors. Directors will be assigned one or two scenes to rehearse and film in class with actors, with feedback provided by the instructor. For the actors (theatre students), we will explore the basics of acting on film, with a focus on script analysis and the elements of characterization. We will also explore methods that will allow the actor’s work on camera to be loose, spontaneous, and real. Students will leave class with a strong set of tools that will assist them in their continued work as directors and actors.

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Storytelling Through the Lens: Filmmaking Basics

Open, Seminar—Fall

In these days of technological advancement, anyone can pick up an iPhone and call themselves a filmmaker—but how many of them are actually good? In this seminar/workshop for the nascent filmmaker, we will first focus on the filmmaking fundamentals that every director needs to learn for a career in film and television: basic filmmaking terms, crew positions, camera operation, shot angles and composition, camera movement, basic lighting, sound recording, and editing. Next, students will learn how to break down a screenplay into its essential elements for low-budget shooting. They will learn how to create shot lists, floor plans, look books, and other important tools necessary for a successful shoot. As a way of developing one’s own artistic eye and voice, several independent, short, shooting assignments will be given, then viewed and discussed in class. Because collaboration is key in filmmaking, students will also be divided into groups for several weekly assignments, giving them the opportunity to serve in various roles on the crew. The idea is for students to acquire the skills needed for creating compelling cinematic work both on their own and with others. For conference, students will write, develop, and prep a short film over the course of the semester.

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Intermediate Greek: Poetry and Prose

Intermediate, Small seminar—Spring

In this course, students of Ancient Greek will choose two texts, one by a prose author and one by a poet, for close reading over the semester. Examples of texts might be: Herodotus’ Histories and the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, or the poems of Sappho and Plato’s Symposium. Our goal will be to investigate poetic and prosaic literary constructs, review grammar, and to read different types of Ancient Greek texts.

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Beginning Italian: Viaggio in Italia

Open, Seminar—Year

This course, for students with no previous knowledge of Italian, aims at giving the student a complete foundation in the Italian language with particular attention to oral and written communication and all aspects of Italian culture. The course will be conducted in Italian after the first month and will involve the study of all basic structures of the language—phonological, grammatical, and syntactical—with practice in conversation, reading, composition, and translation. In addition to material covering basic Italian grammar, students will be exposed to fiction, poetry, songs, articles, recipe books, and films. Group conferences (held once a week) aim at enriching the students’ knowledge of Italian culture and developing their ability to communicate. This will be achieved by readings that deal with current events and topics relative to today’s Italian culture. Activities in pairs or groups, along with short written assignments, will be part of the group conference. In addition to class and group conferences, the course has a conversation component in regular workshops with the language assistant. Conversation classes are held twice a week (in small groups) and will center on the concept of viaggio in Italia: a journey through the regions of Italy through cuisine, cinema, art, opera, and dialects. The Italian program organizes trips to the Metropolitan Opera and relevant exhibits in New York City, as well as offering the possibility of experiencing Italian cuisine firsthand as a group. The course is for a full year, by the end of which students will attain a basic competence in all aspects of the language.

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Intermediate Italian: Modern Italian Culture and Literature

Intermediate, Seminar—Year

This course aims at improving and perfecting the students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of Italy’s contemporary culture and literature. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge of Italian grammar, idiomatic expressions, and vocabulary, a review of all grammar will be carried out throughout the year. As an introduction to modern Italian culture and literature, students will be introduced to a selection of short stories, poems, and passages from novels, as well as specific newspaper articles, music, and films in the original language. Some of the literary works will include selections from Umberto Eco, Italo Calvino, Natalia Ginzburg, Gianni Rodari, Marcello D’Orta, Clara Sereni, Dino Buzzati, Stefano Benni, Antonio Tabucchi, Alberto Moravia, Achille Campanile, and Elena Ferrante. In order to address the students’ writing skills, written compositions will be required as an integral part of the course. All material is accessible on MySLC. Conferences are held on a biweekly basis; topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, film, or any other aspect of Italian society and culture that might be of interest to the student. Conversation classes (in small groups) will be held twice a week with the language assistant, during which students will have the opportunity to reinforce what they have learned in class and hone their ability to communicate in Italian. When appropriate, students will be directed to specific internship opportunities in the New York City area, centered on Italian language and culture.

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First-Year Studies: Text and Theatre

FYS—Year

This course explores the relation between the play as written text and the play as a staged event. More than any other literary form, drama depends upon a specific place and time—a theatre and its audience—for its realization. The words of a play are the fossils of a cultural experience; they provide the decipherable means by which we can reconstruct approximations of the living past. With this goal in mind, we will read and examine texts from Ancient Greece to contemporary New York (with many stops in between) in an attempt to understand the range of dramatic possibility and the human challenge of making theatre. This course will have weekly conferences for the first six weeks and biweekly conferences thereafter.

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Our Revels Now Are Ended: Late Shakespeare

Open, Lecture—Spring

The turn of the 17th century found Shakespeare approaching the height of his career. Shortly after James I ascended to the throne of England in 1603, a royal patent extended the king’s patronage over London’s leading troupe of players, transforming the Lord Chamberlain’s Men into the King’s Men. Unknown to Shakespeare at the time, the formation of the King’s Men marked the beginning of his final decade as a playwright. The revels were coming to an end. This course looks at Shakespeare’s late plays—drama written and performed between 1600 and 1613. We’ll begin the term with Hamlet and continue through a series of tragedies unmatched in English dramatic literature—Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus. Tragedy will give way to improbable return and reunion, as we read Shakespeare’s great romances: Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest. Along the way, we’ll encounter problem plays and even a late history. The term will end with a move from stage to page, as we take a focused look at the First Folio of 1623: the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s works ever printed. Entering its quadricentennial, the Folio is one of the most important early printed books and our sole source for 18 of Shakespeare’s plays. Our study of this extraordinary edition will introduce students to early modern print culture and book history. By the end of the course, students will have a rich understanding of Shakespeare’s major late works and a sense of how these plays fit within the lively Jacobean commercial theatre. Biweekly group conferences may focus on non-Shakespearean 17th-century drama, performance history, or print culture—secondary concerns that will enrich our understanding of Shakespeare’s masterful final act.

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Acting Up: Theatre and Theatricality in the Long-Running 18th Century

Open, Large seminar—Year

From soap operas to sketch comedy, drag shows to musical theatre, Restoration and 18th-century Britain helped to shape the modern conventions of dramatic art and popular entertainment. The period also introduced an early form of celebrity culture, thanks in part to the rise of England’s first professional female actors and the reign of a king, Charles II, who loved theatre and all-too-public extramarital sex. At the same time, the increasing prominence of drama raised unsettling questions about the nature of performance, not only as a form of artistic practice but also as an element of social and political life. What if, for instance, our putatively God-given identities (king and subject, wife and husband) were merely factitious roles that we could adopt or discard at will? This seminar considers how authors and theatrical professionals from the 1660s to the 1820s imagined the potential of performance to transform—or sometimes to reinforce—the status quo, with a look ahead to plays and films that have inherited and adapted the legacy of 18th-century entertainments, as well as backward to the Renaissance drama that paved the way for Restoration stagecraft. Our emphasis will be on plays, with a survey of major Restoration and 18th-century comedies (some of the funniest ever written), parodies, afterpieces, heroic tragedies, imperial pageants, sentimental dramas, and Gothic spectacles by authors such as William Wycherley, George Etherege, John Dryden, Aphra Behn, Susanna Centlivre, John Gay, Henry Fielding, Elizabeth Inchbald, Pierre Beaumarchais, and Georg Büchner. We will also consider nondramatic writing on performance and theatrical culture, including 18th-century acting manuals, racy theatrical memoirs, and a “masquerade novel” by Eliza Haywood, as well as earlier plays by the likes of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. More contemporary playwrights and filmmakers under consideration may include Bertolt Brecht, Jean Genet, Howard Hawks, Alfred Hitchcock, François Truffaut, Edward Albee, and Jeremy O. Harris. This is a large seminar, with group conferences that include assigned reading.

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Literature in Translation: 20th-Century Italian Literature and Culture

Open, Seminar—Fall

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important intellectuals, works, and movements that helped shape it and their connection with the arts, cinema, and society at large. Italy had become a unified nation by 1860, and its literature addressed issues such as (national and personal) identity, tradition, innovation and modernity, the role of literature and of the writer, and the changing role of women in Italian society. We will explore the interrelation between Italian literature and crucial historical events—such as the Great War, the rise and fall of fascism, World War II, the Resistance, the birth of the Republic, the postwar economic boom, the students’ and women’s movements of the 1960s and ’70s, the terrorism of the “Anni di Piombo”—until the recent contribution of migration literature to the Italian literary canon. Among the authors and intellectuals, we will explore Sibilla Aleramo for her literary treatment of the issue of female emancipation at the beginning of the century; Luigi Pirandello and his work as a novelist and playwright; Gabriele D’Annunzio as a poet, playwright, and novelist but also a war hero and politician; F. T. Marinetti, whose futurist manifestos and literary works reflected his desire to renew Italian art, literature, and culture in general; B. Mussolini’s fascist regime, its dictates, and their influence on propaganda literature and cinema; Ignazio Silone’s novels on the fascist era; Roberto Rossellini’s neorealist cinema; Italo Calvino’s, Beppe Fenoglio’s, and Elio Vittorini’s literature of the Resistance; Primo Levi’s depiction of The Holocaust; and women writers such as Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Dacia Maraini. Readings will be supplemented by secondary source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which these authors lived and wrote, as well as provide a relevant critical framework for the study of their works. On occasion, we will watch films that are relevant to the topics and period in question. No previous knowledge of Italian is required. Students proficient in Italian may opt to read sources in the original language and write their conference projects in Italian. Conference topics may include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course and that might be of interest to the student.

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The Upstart Crow: Elizabethan Shakespeare

Open, Seminar—Fall

One of the earliest references to Shakespeare’s literary career is an insult. Robert Greene, a Cambridge-educated playwright and pamphleteer, complained of his rival’s success by grumbling about “an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers.” The recently arrived Shakespeare was a poor imitator of England’s leading dramatic poets, Greene protested. Whatever one’s verdict on the quality of the verse, one thing was clear: Shakespeare was shaking up London’s commercial theatre almost from the moment of his arrival. This seminar looks at Shakespeare’s Elizabethan years, a period spanning the late 1580s through 1603. We begin with some early successes, plays like Richard III and Titus Andronicus, before continuing to some of his most famous works, including Henry IV, Part I; As You Like It; and Twelfth Night. Along the way, we’ll find time for a few understudied plays, such as Henry VI, Parts 2 & 3, and King John. Reading from Shakespeare’s apprentice-like early offerings through the great comedies and histories will give us an opportunity to explore Shakespeare’s development alongside the growth of the commercial theatre, allowing us to see the “upstart Crow” become London’s leading dramatist. Students will leave the seminar with a firm grounding in Shakespeare’s early work, having encountered representative comedies, tragedies, and histories from his most productive period. Biweekly conferences may consider non-Shakespearean drama, performance history, or Shakespeare in adaptation—perspectives that may help us understand how Shakespeare fits within the rambunctious Elizabethan theatre world and why, after 400 years, there’s still so much to say about these great plays.

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First-Year Studies in Performing Arts: A Multidisciplinary Collective/Portal in Practice and Theory

FYS—Year

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. —Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal (April 2020)

Acclaimed feminist author, educator, and revolutionary thinker, bell hooks wrote, “Art constitutes one of the rare locations where acts of transcendence can take place and have a wide-ranging transformative impact” (from Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, 1999). Historian Howard Zinn echoes this, saying, “…the artist transcends the immediate. Transcends the here and now. Transcends the madness of the world. Transcends terrorism and war. The artist thinks, acts, performs music, and writes outside the framework that society has created…” (from Artists in Times of War, 2003). The tumultuous period that we are currently experiencing—with unprecedented challenges in social, political, and environmental realms—sets the stage for us as artists to contribute the vital elements of human civilization that are our domain. Collective effort is at the heart of performing arts; thus, our contributions rely upon our abilities to connect and coordinate. Ultimately, the power of any collective relies upon the vibrance of each member. From Broadway, opera, and concert stages to experimental performance venues and political demonstrations, collective actions by artists have played a part in moving society forward. We will study works by visionary artists who have been inspired to venture across disciplines to grapple with the challenges of their times (including Anna Deveare Smith, Tony Kushner, Janelle Monet, Bill T. Jones, Meredith Monk) and will join forces, drawing upon the unique history of each participant to construct an expansive portal for individual and collaborative inquiry. This is a course for students with an established practice and experience in theatre, music, and/or dance who wish to continue advancing skills in their established disciplines. Students will take additional multiple components in dance, music, or theatre to comprise a Third program in one of these performing arts. Students will be guided through a selection of components in their discipline during registration and will attend discipline-specific information sessions as part of the registration process.

  • Theatre students will take two or three additional theatre components, along with biweekly Theatre Meetings and periodic Think Tank meetings, and will fulfill Tech Credit requirements. Students are welcome to audition for theatre projects each semester.
  • Music students will take three or four additional components, including individual lessons, Music Theory, Music History, Music Technology (optional), and Performance Ensemble (by audition), along with concert attendance and periodic Music Tuesday meetings. Students are welcome to join more than one performance ensemble (recommended for students who have had previous training in music, such as instrumental lessons, beginning theory).
  • Dance students will take three or four additional components, including movement practice classes and creative practice, along with periodic Dance Meetings, and will fulfill the Dance Tech Production requirements. Students are welcome to audition for dance program performances each semester;

FYS in Performing Arts is a yearlong course comprised of a weekly component class and weekly individual donning conferences. Serving as a home base for students, it will be a core class from which explorations into various disciplines arise. Class meetings will incorporate both practice-based and theoretically-based activities, experimenting with interdisciplinary possibilities through collaborative exercises, reflection, discussion, reading, and writing. Class readings will be selected texts from within theatre, music, and dance, as well as fields beyond the arts. Conferences in the spring semester may be weekly or biweekly, according to students’ needs and progress. Over the course of the year, we will conceptualize and create a collective multidisciplinary performance work to be shown informally at the end of the spring semester, with elements contributed by each member of the class/collective. Independent research inquiries will be pursued throughout the year, supported by individual conferences and periodic working groups in class, culminating in the writing, revising, and presentation of a research paper in the spring semester. The aim of this course is to support the development of skills necessary for expansive artistic collaboration and sustained academic research. Supported by the immersive opportunities of SLC’s theatre, music, and dance programs, with emphasis on live performance, students in this course will acquire new abilities and critical insights through experiential and theoretical studies. FYS in Performing Arts is intended for students who have both a strong interest in theatre, music, and/or dance, as well as a desire to discover more about the interconnectedness of the disciplines.

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Gender and Sexuality in Greek Literature and Philosophy

Open, Seminar—Fall

Modern discussions of gender and sexuality have a predecessor in the literature and philosophy of ancient Greece, which have informed recent thought on the topic. Of the Greek discussions, we shall focus on just a few. We shall begin with poetry by Sappho, Sophocles’ Antigone, and Euripides’ Bacchae. We shall go on to Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae, Plato’s Symposium, Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazusae, and Book Five of Plato’s Republic.

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Contextualizing Communications: The Poetics of Seeing

Open, Seminar—Fall

Seeing is not a natural process or an individual activity; rather, it is embedded in social forces and imbued with historically and spatially constructed meanings. This seminar is designed to interrogate how we communicate and to make meaning from such a vantage point. While the course takes a broadly construed sociology of culture as its point of departure, it also understands sociology as what a British sociologist called a “parasitical” discipline that frequently disrupts and violates disciplinary borders and boundaries. This course will follow in that vein. Our initial readings—which will include Raymond Williams, Edward Said, Aime Cesaire, and John Berger—will set the conceptual framework for what follows. We will draw upon literature, film and music, (auto)biography, letters, diaries, oral histories, and archival and legal texts emanating from different parts of the globe, with an emphasis on cultural productions about and from the Global South and/or diasporic communities. Our analyses will be framed in terms of a number of themes and questions, relating these to the contexts within which the works were produced. We will start with an overview of historical and methodological questions; examine colonial texts and their critiques, the production of nationalism(s) and identities, censorship, postcoloniality and the violence of “home,” and conclude with transformative visions. It is hoped that this perusal of a diversity of genres and voices will enable us to rethink the relationship of objectivity and subjectivity, fiction, biography and fact, and political and social censorships to which their producers subscribe or against which they struggle, as well as struggles over voice and in the remaking of space. Our goal is to problematize naturalistic “ways of seeing” (a term borrowed from John Berger) and, thus, show how seeing (through sonic, cinematic, and literary constructions) is both an ideologically regimented activity and a creative form of emancipatory action. Rather than seeing our readings as the expression of individual genius, we will engage with them as a way to become astute readers of the material poetics of social life.

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Filming With Actors: A Workshop for Directors and Actors

Intermediate, Large seminar—Spring

Learning how to communicate with actors is the number-one job of a budding director. It has often been said, however, that “directing is 85-90 percent casting.” A successful actor/director collaboration can create magic on the screen. How does one choose the right actor for a role? How does one get a great performance from an actor? What are the tools needed for the director to have an effective and successful collaboration with an actor? How do actors communicate effectively with directors? In this workshop/seminar, open to FMIA and theatre students, we will explore the dynamics of the collaborative relationship between actors and directors from casting to filming. For the directors (FMIA students), we will explore the various stages of the directing process: the role of the director, casting, script analysis, rehearsals, and communication with actors. Directors will be assigned one or two scenes to rehearse and film in class with actors, with feedback provided by the instructor. For the actors (theatre students), we will explore the basics of acting on film, with a focus on script analysis and the elements of characterization. We will also explore methods that will allow the actor’s work on camera to be loose, spontaneous, and real. Students will leave class with a strong set of tools that will assist them in their continued work as directors and actors.

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Senior Studio

Advanced, Seminar—Year

This course is intended for seniors interested in pursuing their own artmaking practice, both more deeply and for a prolonged period of time. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. The course will incorporate prompts that encourage students to make art across disciplines; it will culminate in a solo gallery exhibition during the spring semester, accompanied by a printed book that documents the exhibition. We will have regular critiques with visiting artists and our faculty, discuss readings and myriad artists, take trips to galleries and artist’s studios, and will participate in the Visual Arts Lecture Series. Your artmaking practice will be supplemented with other aspects of presenting your work—writing an artist statement, interviewing artists, and documenting your art, along with a range of professional-practices workshops. This is an immersive studio course meant for disciplined art students interested in making work in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Visual and Studio Arts Fundamentals: Materials and Play

Open, Seminar—Fall and Spring

This course serves as an introduction to the fundamental elements, processes, and techniques of the visual arts. It will center on prompts based in foundational areas across the visual arts: drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture, sound art, collage, and related mixed-media processes. We’ll discuss these mediums through image presentations, videos, and gallery/museum visits. Students will then make art in those areas, experimenting with new materials, processes, and ideas. Materials will be provided, and you’ll be encouraged to discover through play. Emphasis will focus on developing your creative imagination and building visual literacy. This class culminates in an end-of-semester exhibition.

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Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Spring

Since the early 20th century, artists have explored performance art as a radical means of expression. In both form and function, performance pushes the boundaries of contemporary art. Artists use the medium for institutional critique, social activism, and to address the personal politics of gender, sexuality, and race. This course approaches performance art as a porous, transdisciplinary medium open to students from all disciplines, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, filmmaking, theatre, dance, music, creative writing, and digital art. Students learn about the legacy of performance art from the 1970s to the present and explore some of the concepts and aesthetic strategies used to create works of performance. Through texts, artists’ writings, video screenings, and slide lectures, students are introduced to a range of performance-based artists and art movements.

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Performance Art

Open, Seminar—Fall

Experiment and explore contemporary performance art. Surveying a range of important artworks and movements, we will review the histories, concepts, and practices of performance art. Born from anti-art, performance art challenges the boundaries of artistic expression through implementing as material the concepts of space, time, and the body. Examples of artists that we will review are John Cage, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Martha Rosler, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Pope.L, Laurie Anderson, Anne Imhof, Joseph Beuys, Janine Antoni, Suzanne Lacy, Narcissister, Pauline Oliveros, Aki Sasamoto, and Anna Halprin, to name a few. Dialogues introducing performance art are utilized in sculpture, installation art, protest art, social media, video art, happenings, dada, comedy, sound art, graphic notation, scores, collaboration, and movement. Students will be able to relate the form and function of performance art though workshopping ideas, experimentation, improvisation, and movement—thereby developing the ability to confidently perform in any manner of the performance-art genre.

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Episodes

Open, Seminar—Spring

The use of the episode is both ancient and modern and is central to storytelling in everything from The Arabian Nights to telenovelas, from Netflix to The Canterbury Tales, from comics to true-crime podcasts. Episodes differ from chapters in a novel and from short stories and can have many changing characters and plot lines. Episodes are disinclined toward resolution but love time, hunks of it, and do well depicting both the daily and the historical. We will be reading, looking at, and discussing episodes in several forms and, for conference work, writing six episodes over the semester, supported by small brainstorming groups as we go forward. This course may be taken with Words and Pictures as a year course.

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Writing About the Arts

Open, Seminar—Fall

This class will examine and produce a range of work from the journalistic to the critical, from the practical to the mystical, in the vast landscape of arts writing. We will write liner notes, catalogue copy for gallery shows, short reviews, long reviews, critical essays, and deep and subjective interior meditations on our experience of artists and their work. We will read broadly across time—possibly including, but not limited to, Samuel Johnson on Richard Savage, Wordsworth and Coleridge on themselves, Nietzsche on Wagner, Adorno (via Thomas Mann) on Opus 111, V. S. Naipaul on Flaubert, Amiri Baraka on Billie Holiday, Virginia Woolf on Thomas Hardy, Thomas De Quincey on Shakespeare, James Baldwin on Richard Wright, Glenn Gould on Barbra Streisand, Mark Strand on Edward Hopper, Jean-Luc Godard on Nicholas Ray, Pauline Kael on Sam Peckinpah. Students should feel confident in their familiarity with one or two art forms, broadly understood, and should expect, along with the reading, to write several small and two larger (7-12 pages) pieces. Conference work will comprise research projects on those artists or works of art, or both, that class members, in consultation with the instructor, decide are their special province.

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Poetry: On and Off the Page

Open, Seminar—Spring

We will read a book of poetry each week, a mix of work from the late-20th century as well as more recent texts. We will spend half of each class discussing the weekly reading and the other half discussing student work. At the end of the semester, students will turn in a portfolio of poems, with at least two earlier drafts for each poem. In addition to the reading and writing for class, students will have two major conference projects. Before spring break, each student will theatrically present a poem by a dead poet. This is more than just memorizing and reciting a poem; this is knowing a poem so well that you can speak it as if the words are springing from you. Later in the term, students will pick a location on campus and then theatrically present one of their own poems in that specific location. Both of these conference projects will require additional rehearsal time beyond class time.

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