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Course Descriptions

Please note: Almost all theater department courses take field trips to Chicago-area theater to allow students to see productions of the plays being discussed in the classroom. Tickets and transportation for most field trips are arranged by the College, and the costs are shared by the Center for Chicago Programs, the Theater Department.

  • THTR 105: Introduction to Dance
    In this course we will explore the basic elements of dance: space, energy, relationships, time, and the coordination of our bodies. We will develop our natural creativity and further our understanding of a variety of dance forms while gaining strength, flexibility, and technical dance skills. We will also study the historical development of modern dance.
  • THTR 120: Acting I: Being on Stage
    For beginners and experienced actors alike, this course is required for all theater majors but open to students from any discipline with any level of experience. What is acting? Is there a difference between being and acting? How do we draw from our own lives to create a performance? Is there a difference between performing and acting? This class explores these questions through performance, reading, and written analysis. Students will study scripts, acting theory, and one another's work as they sharpen their acting techniques and critical thinking skills.
  • THTR 160: Stagecraft for Stage and Screen
    An introduction to the technology employed backstage to create the magic of theatrical design and special effects. This course is open to beginning students of all disciplines, and will provide an experiential and practical orientation to stagecraft through projects in puppetry, set and prop construction, painting, makeup, and computer-assisted drafting (CAD). Other topics include theater terminology, safety procedures, and hand & power-tool usage.
  • THTR 200: Production Practicum
    The Production Practicum THTR 200 sections 01, 02, 03 and 04 provide theater students with an opportunity to earn college credits for supervised projects in any area of production, excluding performance. This includes developing contracts between students and the assigned instructor, and shop supervisors and staff, contracting to perform 40 hours on tasks, keeping track and reporting those hours and becoming accountable for completing assignments within the allotted time. Ideally, students should register for section 01 as a freshman; section 02 as a sophomore; section 03 as a junior; and section 04 as a senior. A total of four .25 credits of practicum are required for graduation. The Chair of the Theater Department must approve all registrations.
  • THTR 204: Theater Boot Camp
    (Theatrer Boot Camp: A Production in a Month.) Theater Boot Camp is a production-in-a-month experience designed to supercharge your theater skills. This practice-driven class immerses the student in the creative process of collaborative theater toward the production of an original work. The creative process focuses on composition, presentation, feedback, and re-writes, as we take students through the entire creative cycle of development and production. Students sharpen their playwriting, acting, directing, and technical production skills, and emerge from the experience with the career know-how necessary to make their own successful theater production. No prerequisites.
  • THTR 206: Grateful Dead and American Culture
    More than fifty years after the band's founding, the Grateful Dead looms larger than ever. From Haight-Ashbury acid-testers to visionary entrepreneurs, the band that grew up and out of the revolutions of the tumultuous 1960s found a way to mix everything from roots music to free jazz to rock into an "endless tour" that put them in the Fortune 500. The Grateful Dead provided a cultural soundtrack for not only the 1960s, but also the paranoia of the Watergate years, the Reagan-soaked 1980s, and on to the jam-band present. This course will focus on the band's performance of authentic "Americanness" throughout its half century run. We'll listen to their music, and also to their fans, enthusiasts, and scholars. We'll understand the various subcultures that separate the sixties and now, and in doing so, offer answers to this key question: Why do the Dead survive? (Elective for English, Theater, and Music)
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 251, MUSC 222
  • THTR 208: Costumes: Game of Thrones & Fantasy
    (Topics in Costume Design: Game of Thrones and Fantasy.) Learn the basics of designing costumes for stage and screen, with an emphasis on the style of Game of Thrones and other fantasies! You will develop skills in theatrical rendering and sketching, as well as the implementation of the design and basic sewing techniques. You will also learn the elements and principles of design; understand and experience the process of producing costumes for the theater, television, and film; analyze the text and structure of a play or screenplay, explore the production needs related to costumes, and prepare a finalized costume design for a theatrical, television, or film production. No prerequisites.
  • THTR 210: Advanced Dance
    An intermediate course incorporating the history and technique of one or more of the following styles of dance: ballet, modern, jazz, and hip hop. Classes will consist of warm-ups, exercises and choreography. Students will develop performance skills and demonstrate improved flexibility and strength by learning rhythm sequences and creating compositional studies. Students will also be introduced to professional musical theatre audition etiquette and procedures. Prerequisite: THTR 105 or permission of instructor
  • THTR 220: Acting II:Twentieth Century Realism
    An exploration of acting techniques required in modern and contemporary works from the early twentieth century to the present. Scene projects include written performances, script and character analysis, and in-depth critiques of class performances.
  • THTR 222: Voice and Movement
    This course is designed to develop and hone the actor's voice and body as instruments of storytelling. Students are introduced to the power of storytelling as an individual and as an ensemble through Viewpoints, Boal, Complicite, Neutral Mask, Character Mask, Clowning, Imaginative Storytelling, and others. Movement studies are combined with the voice techniques of Arthur Lessac, Cicely Berry, and Katherine Fitzmaurice. Our goal is to understand that the voice and body are not separate entities, and that they must be trained in order to achieve a harmonious body/voice communication that can improve the actor's ability to be expressive on stage. No prerequisites.
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  • THTR 224: Performance Art
    This course will provide students with an understanding of performance art as a constantly evolving and flexible medium. The class will trace the emergence and development of performance art as a form of expression both distinct from and yet dependent upon traditional and experimental forms of theater and other contemporary manifestations of theatricality. Students will negotiate, through reading, research, discussion and planning and practical application, the blurred boundaries between performing and living, entertainment and art.
    Cross-listed as: ART 237, ENGL 233
  • THTR 226: Improvisation Techniques
    This hands-on course will begin with a survey of the major philosophies of improvisational comedy groups (Second City, Annoyance, TheatreSports), and will incorporate paper assignments and field trips to Chicago to see a variety of improv performances. The primary focus of the course will be to exercise the practical essentials of the world-renowned 'Improv Olympic' (iO) long-form style of Chicago improvisation. We will immerse ourselves in techniques leading to proficiency with 'The Harold,' a thirty-minute group improvisation created in the moment from an audience suggestion. By the end of the course, we will be ready to improvise for audiences.
  • THTR 230: Hist Drama I: Greeks to Shakespeare
    (History of Drama I: Greeks to Shakespeare to Moliere) This required course for theater majors examines the history of drama and theater from its origins in religious ritual of ancient Greece to the productions of Shakespeare's London and Moliere's Paris. In addition to in-depth study of plays, emphasis is placed on acting styles, production techniques, stage and auditorium architecture, and the socio-political milieu that formed the foundation of the theater of each culture and period. Offered yearly.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 230
  • THTR 231: Hist Drama II: Modern Contemporary
    (History of Drama II: Modern and Contemporary) This required course for theater majors examines the history of drama and theater from the late nineteenth-century plays of Ibsen and Chekhov up until the present day. In addition to in-depth study of plays, this course explores the conventions of acting and stagecraft and cultural conditions that influenced each period's theater.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 234
  • THTR 235: Ritual in Contemporary America
    This course examines how ceremonies, festivals and other performative events enrich and define community. This study of ritual may include street fairs, parades, weddings, funerals, feasts and fasts as well as other public and private behaviors that comprise the diversity of American ritual life. Our course shall explore ritual as it occurs in many of the ethnic, racial, subcultural and countercultural communities in Chicago. We will investigate and attempt to understand both the invention and re-invention of community and personal identity through ritual action. Students should anticipate frequent field trips. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 275, AMER 213
  • THTR 236: Shakespeare
    Selected plays to show Shakespeare's artistic development; intensive analysis of major plays.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 220
  • THTR 237: Women in Theater
    This course will examine the involvement of women in the history of theater. Topics covered may include: the medieval plays of Roswitha, strong female characters (acted by men) in Shakespeare, the arrival of actresses on the Restoration stage, the eighteenth-century playwright Aphra Behn, the rise of 'star' actresses in the nineteenth century, and such twentieth-century figures as Marsha Norman, Maria Irene Fornes, Beth Henley, Wendy Wasserstein, Caryl Churchill, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Helene Cixous, and Ntozake Shange. Prerequisite: At least one course in theater history. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: GSWS 237
  • THTR 240: Shakespeare on Film
    This course will focus on major cinematic adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, with attention both to the original texts and to the process of transferring them to the new medium by film directors. We will pay special attention to plays that have been filmed a number of times, so that we can develop useful comparisons: Richard III (Olivier, Loncraine), Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli, Luhrmann, Shakespeare in Love), Henry V (Olivier, Branagh), Hamlet (Olivier, Zeffirelli, Almereyda), and Macbeth (Polanski, Kurzel). Major goals will be to develop our ability to do close readings of both the original texts and the films, to do creative film adaptation projects, and to develop effective ways of expressing both our analytical and our creative ideas. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: CINE 240, ENGL 239
  • THTR 241: African American Drama & Theater
    This course surveys the work African American theater artists from the nineteenth century to the present day. Playwrights surveyed may include Richardson, Hughes, Hansberry, Childress, Bullins, Baraka, Fuller, Wilson, Cleage, Shange, and Parks. Readings are supplemented by field trips to Chicago theaters that feature African American plays. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: AFAM 241, ENGL 241
  • THTR 250: Exploring Chicago Stages
    There's no better way to get to know Chicago - in all its cultural diversity - than by exploring its theatre scene, recognized as one of the best in the world. In this class students will read, discuss, and attend performances of classic and contemporary plays at theatres throughout the city, ranging from small 'storefront' companies to such institutions as the world-famous Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters. In this class, we will discuss how theatre both reflects and shapes our understanding of various identities in society at large, and we'll draw from the field of performance studies to think about how theatre can help us understand the politics of identity. Students will read scripts and criticism, write reviews and research papers, and participate in workshops with local artists. (There will be a lab fee for this course. Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement).
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  • THTR 251: Intro to Performance Studies
    In this course, we will explore the flourishing new discipline of Performance Studies. This field of study began as a collaboration between theater director and theorist Richard Schechner and anthropologist Victor Turner, combining Schechner's interest in 'aesthetic performance' (theater, dance, music, performance art) with Turner's interest in performance as ritual within indigenous cultures, or (as Erving Goffman has written) 'the presentation of self in everyday life.' Performance Studies often stresses the importance of intercultural performance as an alternative to either traditional proscenium theatre or traditional anthropological fieldwork. In addition to the above and other authors, the course will include in-class performance exercises along with field trips to performances in Chicago. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement. )
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 251
  • THTR 255: Dramaturgy
    An introduction to the role of the dramaturg within the theatrical production process. Includes readings by and about dramaturgs and hands-on experience in the following areas of dramaturgical pursuit: evaluating new scripts; creating a production-specific 'protocol' (research compendium); analyzing and preparing a script for rehearsal; serving as an 'in-house critic'; collaborating with directors, designers, and actors; creating and running educational programs for school and adult audiences; rehearsal functions and decorum; documentation techniques.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 255
  • THTR 257: Theater Criticism
    An intensive course on reading and writing brief, journalistic play critiques designed to help theatergoers make informed consumer decisions. Attention to journalistic basics and issues of individual sensibility and taste. Class writings will be considered for campus publications. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 240
  • THTR 260: Design for the Stage
    This course is an introduction to the processes and principles of design. It covers the development of a design concept through script reading and analysis; the discussion and analysis of professional set, costume, lighting, and sound designs; training in basic drafting skills; and lecture information on theater technology and terminology. Several design projects are coupled with text readings and hands-on work with lighting instruments, and sound and lighting control systems.
  • THTR 270: Playwriting
    This course focuses on the collaboration between director, designers, and playwright in the creation and production of new works for the stage. Projects will include writing, script analysis, casting, and presentation of original student works and/or student-adapted works by professional authors. Offered every other year.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 242
  • THTR 285: Creative Arts Entrepreneurship
    Creative Arts Entrepreneurship will offer an overview of the processes, practices, and decision-making activities that lead to the realization of our creative ideas. Students from across the humanities, arts, sciences, and business will learn the unique contexts and challenges of creative careers, with an emphasis on collaborative projects. The course will help students understand the nature and structure of arts enterprise while cultivating their own career vision and creative goals. Creative Arts Entrepreneurship is designed for students interested in developing, launching, or advancing innovative enterprises in arts, culture, and design, and those who love the initiative, ingenuity and excitement of putting creative ideas into action. The course combines readings and in-class discussions with site visits, case studies, guest lectures by working artists and creative professionals, and student-driven projects. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: MUSC 285, ENTP 285, ART 285, ENGL 285
  • THTR 320: Acting for the Camera
    This course is an exploration of the acting techniques required in film, television, and other media. Knowledge and understanding of film techniques, vocabulary, and genre styles is accomplished through viewing and analysis of modern and contemporary film works from the early twentieth century to the present by noted authors and filmmakers. Acting projects center on the performance of scenes, monologues, voice-overs, and commercials. Other projects include written script and character analysis, daily actor journals, and in-depth critiques of self and peer performances. Papers of analysis on films viewed in and out of class and other research projects including adaptation of texts and acting styles for the screen are also required. Prerequisites: THTR 120, and either THTR 220 or permission of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: CINE 320
  • THTR 326: Comedy Writing
    This course teaches the art of writing comedic sketches for both live theatre and film. The course will employ literary analysis combined with creative assignments, group discussions and individual conferences, along with workshops and guided revisions. Students will learn to brainstorm ideas, write dialogue, and understand elements of storytelling, while also creating political and social satire, physical comedy, parody, and other comedic forms. The course will provide regular opportunities to perform in front of audiences as part of the feedback/review process. Prerequisite: ENGL 135 or THTR 226 or permission of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 327
  • THTR 340: Renaissance Drama
    Who were the other popular playwrights of Shakespeare's day? Have they been overshadowed by the Bard's fame? In this course we will discuss, watch films of, and stage scenes from the vibrant and stage-worthy plays of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in England, including the witty comedies of Jonson and Dekker, and the horrific tragedies of Kyd, Marlowe, Marston, Middleton, Tourneur, Webster, and Ford. The course will culminate in a discussion of the film Shakespeare in Love, which portrays playwrights, actors, managers, and other historical figures of the English Renaissance.
  • THTR 351: Performance Ethnography
    Performance Studies stresses the importance of intercultural performance as an alternative to either traditional proscenium theatre or traditional qualitative fieldwork. Looking at behavior through the lens of performance offers new ways for ethnographers to understand how identity is formed and expressed. As a discipline concerned with non-textual forms of knowledge, scholars engaged in this field sometimes use performance to present their research, recognizing the modes of knowledge that cannot be reduced to words. Students in this course will study Performance Studies scholarship, learn the basics of ethnographic practice, and create performances based on their research. They will study the work of scholars such as Dwight Conquergood and Erving Goffman and artists such as Tectonic Theater, which specialize in documentary theatre. There will also be required field trips and site visits. Prerequisite: THTR 251 or permission of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 351
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  • THTR 354: The Mind Onstage
    (The Mind Onstage: Theatre and Cognition.) In the last decade, prominent theater scholars have integrated neuroscience research into their studies. Their excitement stems from the realization that current scientific research seems to speak directly to one of the major concerns of theatre scholars for decades: How does performing and/or watching a performance affect the brain? In this interdisciplinary class, students will read the work of scholars such as Rhonda Blair and Rick Kemp, in addition to creating their own performances, as we explore the ways science and the humanities can intersect. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: NEUR 354
  • THTR 375: Directing
    An introduction to directing for the stage, including both scholarly study of directing and practical work. Students learn the fundamental principles of stage direction through a series of in-class exercises and then apply them to short directing projects. Emphasis is on directing projects and production research. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 120.
  • THTR 390: Internship
    Our Chicago connection allows us to offer internship opportunities at a variety of local theaters, while also allowing students to utilize their theatrical skills in an array of non-theatrical work opportunities. Internships are available in such areas of stage management, dramaturgy, education, public relations, and development, but we also encourage students to think more broadly about the applicability of their theater skills is such areas as business, law, public service, teaching, and many others. Students can work at such major theaters as Steppenwolf, Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare, and Second City, while smaller companies such as Victory Gardens, Writers, Timeline, and Lookingglass also offer valuable opportunities. Internships must be applied for in the semester prior to enrollment and applications include on-campus consultation with faculty and staff along with off-campus interviews with members of the host organization. Junior class standing and other prerequisites apply based on the nature of the internship and its requirements. THTR 390 does not fulfill the 300-level requirement for the major. For application information, interested students should consult with the campus internship liaison and their department chair or advisor.
  • THTR 480: Sr Sem: Business of Show Business
    (Senior Seminar: The Business of Show Business) The aim of this course is to provide a "capstone" experience for students majoring in theater. The course allows students to reflect on why one makes theater and to develop their own conceptual and economic basis for making theater. The course will stress issues that confront the theater artist, including professional practices and financial realities. Students will divide their time between independent research and the classroom. Classroom work will focus on student research presentations and discussions of practices and issues confronting the contemporary theater artist. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing in the major or permission of the instructor. This course counts as an elective toward the Entrepreneurship and Innovation minor.
  • THTR 492: Creative Project
    To fulfill their senior studies requirement, students may choose to work on a creative project that includes a substantial critical component, to be designed in collaboration with their thesis advisor. Possible projects include (but are not limited to) writing an original script, creating and performing a solo show, participating in a devised performance, or choreographing an original dance. The critical component will not only document the creative process, but also include an analysis of the texts and artistic influences that inspired the project and a rigorous post-performance critique.
  • THTR 494: Senior Thesis
    A well-documented and well-executed senior project completed in the senior year may count as a senior thesis. (See Academic Regulations in the Student Handbook for details.) As with other theses, the final project will be reviewed by a thesis-examining committee consisting of three faculty, at least one from outside the Theater Department. Students are encouraged to consult with members of this committee during the planning and execution of the project.