Summer Theatre Studies Courses

Precise course information about summer 2021 will be announced on March 22, 2021, when the course search opens. Courses below reflect what was offered in summer 2020.

African-American Theatre: Harlem Renaissance (Online)

THEA-UT 708 | 4 units | Instructor: Stefanie Jones

This course explores one of the richest artistic, social, and intellectual milieus in US history: the Harlem Renaissance. The class will cover the texts and contexts of black drama, performance, and cultural production from the end of the 19th century up to the second world war. While we will look at popular culture, art, and political theatre influencing and influenced by this movement, the course will center on the artists who were positioned as part of the Harlem Renaissance movement itself, from its roots in the work of Georgia Douglas Johnson and W.E.B. DuBois, to contributors such as Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. Taking advantage of our proximity to Harlem, we will also visit historical sites and review original papers from these artists, practicing hands-on techniques of theatre research and bringing this vibrant period to life.

View course schedule in Albert.

Directing Practicum (Online)

THEA-UT 676 | 4 units | Instructor: Frederick Ertl

This class introduces students to fundamental directing tools: principles of stage composition and visual story telling, action based script analysis, basic directing theory, applied Viewpoints and theatrical conceptualization. Through weekly composition and scene exercises students learn to create communicative stage imagery, physicalize dramatic action and articulate sub-textual behavior. Class work includes written analysis and production concept papers. Readings include writings of Brecht, Erving Goffman, Stanislavski, Grotowski, Bogart and Francis Hodges.

View Course Schedule in Albert

Ecology of New York Theatre (Online)

THEA-UT 679 | 4 units | Instructor: Liz Bradley

New York City is celebrated in the English speaking world as a center of theatrical production, making a consequential contribution to the culture. The sheer volume, range and scope of activity can make the theater scene challenging to navigate, especially as an emerging professional. The course "Ecology of New York Theater" unpacks the power structures, operating systems and business models currently underpinning the live theater industry.

From the commercial theater to not-for-profit companies to presenting organizations and festivals, how does each part of the sector function and where do they interact? Who are the power brokers within the current ecosystem and, perhaps more importantly, who are the influencers that are driving innovation - the makers and disrupters moving the field forward? With which producing companies, unions and institutions is it essential to become familiar as a matter of professional literacy? And who are the creatives and power brokers that are most significant in the field right now?

How is new work developed in both the commercial and the not for profit theater? Who really decides what gets produced - how and why?

Upon what should one rely for cultural information? Do critics still matter?

What about new trends such as immersive theater, illusion, hybrid concerts, autobiographical and testimony theater, circus and burlesque?

And what of the audience? What does the live experience offer - and has the responsibility of the artist toward the audience changed? Who is coming to the theater and who is not?

There is a $100 ticket fee connected to this course. This course counts towards the BEMT & Producing minors.

View course schedule in Albert.

Modern British Drama: From Pax Britannica to Brexit (Online)

THEA-UT 604 | 4 units | Instructor: Warren Kluber

If England was relatively late to construct a National Theatre, it is because the meanings of both “England” and “Theatre” were widely assumed: defined by Shakespeare, the monarchy, the English language, and unending imperial dominance. This course picks up as these terms, no longer taken for granted, are contested onstage by figures ranging from Oscar Wilde to Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Taking feminist and postcolonial perspectives, we will ask how 20th- and 21st-century plays interrogate histories and identities, grapple with enduring legacies of imperialism, and show us what it looks, sounds, and feels like to live in the modern UK. How do different theatrical forms (comedies of manners, theatre of the absurd, devised theatre, docudrama, performance writing), reflect changing anxieties about social life, power, and truth? How are categories of difference — such as race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class — constructed, critiqued, or parodied on the stage? In what ways is the artform of theatre uniquely suited to explore these issues? In addition to studying the plays themselves, we will pay particular attention to the cultural and institutional frameworks promoting or preventing their production: censorship laws, the allocation of Arts Council funding, and recent controversies around issues of free speech and offense. Playwrights covered include Noel Coward, Samuel Beckett, Caryl Churchill, Tom Stoppard, Sarah Kane, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, and Debbie Tucker Green.

View course schedule in Albert.

Realism & Naturalism: European Origins (Online)

THEA-UT 705 | 4 units | Instructor: Joseph Jeffreys

This course will examine the primarily 19th century European movement toward Realism and Naturalism that remains a major influence in today's theater, shaping both dramatic practice and audience expectation. The question of how to define these sometimes synonymous and often divergent terms will be tackled head-on, leading to a recognition that neither can be separated from each other or from the larger historical and theoretical context from which they arose. We will look at the relationship of Realism and Naturalism to the philosophical climate of the 1800s (Hegel, Darwin, Marx, Freud), to other theatrical movements (Romanticism, Symbolism, Expressionism and Aestheticism), to contemporaneous dramatic and literary forms (melodrama, the well-made play, the novel, photography), and to concrete historical trends (the rise of nation states, changing sex roles and family structures). The course focuses on the plays of the major European dramatists who defined the movement (Zola, Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Shaw), and tentatively traces its transformation in early to middle 20th century American drama. The inevitable question as to whether "the real" and "the natural" can ever be truly represented will be faced, but not at the expense of failing to ask what may or may not be gained from the attempt. 

View course schedule in Albert

Studies in Shakespeare: On Film (Online)

THEA-UT 700, Class #3575 | 4 units | Instructor: John Osburn

The study of Shakespeare on film offers an opportunity for observing actual historical performances (the films) in relation to the texts on which they were based (the plays). By engaging directly with realized versions of the scripts, it is possible to more fully consider how changing social, cultural, political, and technological mores affect the reception of texts that are often the object of cultural reverence and a purist devotion to the “original.” Looking at both English and non-English speaking filmmakers from the silent era to the present confronts the fluidity of the scripts and the contingency of taste and value as they relate to styles of acting, textual fidelity, technological polish, and identity issues such as race, gender, class, and colonialism.

View course schedule in Albert.

Studies in Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s Women: Maids, Monsters, Daughters (Online)

THEA-UT 700, Class #4548 | 4 units | Instructor: Christina Squitieri

“Shakespeare’s Women: Maids, Monsters, Daughters” will analyze Shakespeare’s familiar and less familiar works with a special emphasis on the place of women, arguing that the precariousness of a woman’s position in the early modern period is one of Shakespeare’s ongoing interests. Plays may include Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew, and Measure for Measure, for a focus on love and violence; Henry VI: Part 3 and Titus Andronicus for a critical view of women with political power; and Pericles, The Winter’s Tale, and King Lear for the strained—yet redemptive—dynamic between fathers and daughters. This class will use close reading, literary analysis, and contemporary performance to unpack the complex ways women—as maids, daughters, and wives—must survive in a world dominated by men, and the dangers, powers, and resilience that come with it.

View course schedule in Albert.

Theatre and Therapy (Online)

THEA-UT 673 | 4 units | Instructor: Stephanie Omens

This course explores the healing and therapeutic aspects of theatre and drama using drama therapy. Beginning with a study of play in child development, we will explore the three types of play - practice play, symbolic play, and games with rules - and examine their purposes in child development. We will then examine the four major techniques in drama therapy and their relationships to play and performance. We will study the Five Phase Model (Emunah), Developmental Transformations (Johnson), Rose Method (Landy), and Psychodrama (Moreno). The course will be theoretical, experiential, and technical. Students will have the opportunity to participate in each method of drama therapy, as well as lead drama therapy training sessions.

View course schedule in Albert.

Theatrical Genres: Classics & Social Justice (Online)

THEA-UT 732 | 4 units | Instructor: Peter Meineck

Classical material (texts, theatre, history, culture, art, philosophy, military history, rhetoric, medicine, etc.) is currently being put into service addressing a variety of important social justice themes including, gender and sexuality, prison education and reform, addressing racism, cultural and social inequality, poverty, education, veterans and cultural appropriation. The course will examine several of such active programs that use classical theatre, theatrical devices derived from classical works, and applied classical theatre techniques to analyze how the relevance and effectiveness of such work and its place in our wider culture today.

This is an active course involving group work, in person and virtual visits from experts and a final project presentation. We will analyze and discuss existing programs and students will develop their own ideas for a classical theatre applied project in this area. We will also examine the concepts and ideas surrounding classical theatre and the notions of the “canon” and how this is changing. The definition of classical theatre is shifting and is no longer restricted to European historical works. Even then Greek and Roman drama was more diverse and intersectional than has been previously allowed and the plays of Elizabethan England, so called Renaissance Europe and 19th and 20th century drama are also being re-examined. Students are expected to complete readings prior to each class and prepare at least two questions to ask the speakers at each session. 

The members of the seminar will be required to attend all meetings, participate fully and vocally in the question and answer sessions and discussions and prepare and present two presentations with one written report. The first presentation will count as a midterm exam (alongside participation) and will consist of an analytical report of a classical theatre and social justice program. The final presentation will be a proposal for a new classical theatre and social justice program (students will work in groups of three for the final report). Students will also complete a written report based on their final presentation.

View course schedule in Albert.

Theatre Genres: Comedy & Performance (Online)

THEA-UT 632 | 4 units | Instructor: Frederick Ertl

What is comedy? WHY do we laugh at all? WHAT makes us laugh? How is comedy today different from yesterday; how is it the same? Combining theory with practice, this class endeavors to explore comedy both critically and in performance, embodying the comic even as we theorize about it. The primary focus of this class will be stand-up, and we will screen a variety of performers, cataloguing the various topics that each bases their comedy on. We will consider the importance of cultural taboos, ethnic and racial humor, politics, and the body in all humor; and attempt to draw a distinction between comedy that challenges cultural norms and comedy that affirms it. A third of our classes will be practical, focusing on comedic timing, spontaneity, and surprise, and working towards a stand up routine that captures each student’s own comic voice.

View course schedule in Albert.

Topics in Musical Theatre: The Outsider & the Broadway Musical (Online)

THEA-UT 661 | 4 units | Instructor: Aleksei Grinenko

This course examines the history of American musical theatre through the lens of difference and marginality. The stage musical has always been preoccupied with outsiders. What cultural functions has the figure of the outsider performed at various historical moments? How does difference manifest itself through the form and content of musical theatre? What distinguishes the dynamic between powerlessness and empowerment in the stage musical on the level of production and reception? Moving chronologically from the “golden age” to the present, we will consider musicals within their respective historical moments as we take an in-depth look at the role of outsiders at the heart of each production. Among our case studies will be Oklahoma!West Side StorySweeney Todd, Wicked, and other shows.

Topics in Performance Studies: American Burlesque (Online)

THEA-UT 650 | 4 units | Instructor: Lynn Sally

Coined in the 16th century as a literary or theatrical form that inverts form and content, burlesque is a subset of parody that either elevates the mundane or vulgarizes the lofty. When Lydia Thompson and the British Blondes brought their unique brand of burlesque to New York City in 1868, the public understanding of burlesque transformed from a literary form to a performance style, and the worlds of “leg shows” and burlesque became largely synonymous in the public imagination. These early burlesque shows were evening-length parodies of classical texts or myths and focused on women “putting on” the other gender (rather than its later association with “taking off” via striptease).

This course will cover some of the major historical shifts in American burlesque traditions including Thompsonian burlesque (and those that followed), female minstrel shows, hootchy cootchie dance, burlesque wheels, the emergence of striptease, queens of burlesque, exotic dancing, and the neo-burlesque movement. Rather than codify the defining characteristics and time periods of these historical moments, we will seek to understand and trace how the definitions, conceptual preoccupations, and performance techniques of burlesque have adapted and changed over time. Special consideration will be given to understanding burlesque in relationship to other entertainment genres such as vaudeville, minstrelsy, early film, melodrama, musical theatre, world’s fairs, and to the larger social, cultural, and historical contexts in which burlesque has taken place. We will watch films that document burlesque; read biographies of major figures and scholarly work about burlesque, theatre, and popular culture; attend neo-burlesque performances, and discuss the neo-burlesque and performance art movements with guest artists.

View course schedule in Albert.

Topics in Performance Studies: Museums, Fairs, Sideshows (Online)

THEA-UT 750 | 4 units | Instructor: Robert Davis

A fascinating look at the history and design of museums and other shows: from medieval fairs to contemporary institutions. In particular, a focus on how museums and shows have presented displays using theatrical contentions as well as a how objects “perform” for an audience. Course work will cover the histories of museums, world’s fairs, circuses, zoos, and freak shows, as well as include field trips throughout New York City.

View course schedule in Albert.

The Villain: Scoundrels, Scapegoats & the Other in Performance (Online)

THEA-UT 629 | 4 units | Instructor: Corey Sullivan

What makes a villain and who decides? In this course, we will track the evolution of the villain across the globe and through the ages, exploring representations of evil in myth, literature, and art history, as well as on the stage and screen. We’ll identify the origins of iconic imagery and characteristics, interrogate the scapegoating of certain characters or populations, and question our own perceptions of villainy. Our material will include sacred text, Shakespeare, political documents, psychological studies, horror films of early cinema, and relevant works of today from Disney to Bong Joon Ho. Assignments will take the form of textual analysis and research, as well as artistic responses in the form of photography, video, and music, all seeking to understand new perspectives on those we label “villain.”

View course schedule in Albert