Theater



Associate Professor:  Prestininzi; Assistant Professors:  Anderson, Notarfrancisco; Adjunct Assistant Professors:  Dumond, Jett, Luber;  Associate Professor Jaffe, chair

The Major in Theater

The major in theater forms an integrated study wherein students develop a broad knowledge of theater by balancing creative experience in studio work and production with the study of literature, criticism, and history of drama.

In addition to the department faculty, students have an opportunity to work with guest artists in acting, directing, design, and technical theater.  The varied production program is designed to offer challenging theater to the community while setting professional standards.

After officially declaring the theater major, students are required to meet with the departmental faculty for a major declaration interview.  This interview, which typically takes place during the second semester of the sophomore year, is intended to help students design an integrated plan of study consistent with their interests and goals in theater and the wider College curriculum.  Students will show representative samples of their strongest work and discuss their creative/scholarly intentions for the completion of the major, their engagement in the department, and their activity in the arts beyond the College.

The major consists of a minimum of eleven courses.  Students must take the following required courses from both Areas of Study.

Area 1 - Performance and Production

Required:  Courses 104, 110 (formerly 120), 245, and two of the following 206, 212, 226, 252, 312,  322, 323, 324 and a total of four credit hours from the following practicum courses in production:  213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218

Area 2 - Dramatic Literature, Criticism, and History

Required:  Course 141; Course 241; Course 231; English 264, 265, or 331.

Additional Required courses:  Two of the following:  Course 297 (formerly 207),  298, 339D, Classics 204, 222, English 303, or any 300-or 400-level courses in Theater or dramatic literature in other departments.

The Minor in Theater

A minor consists of seven courses:  Course 104; 110 (formerly 120); 141; Course 206, 212, or 226; Course 231, Classics 204, 222, or English 303; English 264, 265, or 331; Course 241; and a total of two credit hours from the following practicum courses in production:  213, 214, 215, 216, 217, 218.

The National Theater Institute

Connecticut College is the college of record for all of the six programs offered by the Eugene O′Neill Theater Center’s National Theater Institute in Waterford, CT: 

  • National Theater Institute (NTI);
  • National Music Theater Institute (NMTI);
  • Advanced Directing Semester (AD);
  • Advanced Playwriting Semester (AP);
  • Theatermakers Summer Intensive (TM)
  • Moscow Art Theater Semester (MATS) in Moscow, Russia.

NTI, NMTI,MATS, Advanced Directing and Advanced Playwriting offer an intensive semester program providing students with a unique opportunity to experience the rigors and standards of professional theater within the context of a liberal arts experience.  The Theatermakers Summer Intensive offers a six-week immersion in training with professional observerships at the National Playwrights and Music Theater Conferences.

At the end of each program, grades are reported to Connecticut College. Connecticut College issues an official transcript and forwards it to the student’s college or university registrar upon request.  For Connecticut College approved course descriptions and more information on each program, please visit www.theoneill.org/national-theater-institute.  It is recommended that if a student completes a semester away, it should be taken in the junior year.

Learning Goals in the Theater Major

The major in theater exposes students to all aspects of dramatic production: acting, directing, design, technical theater, playwriting and dramaturgy, while providing a thorough grounding in dramatic literature and theater history.  Through their course of study, students develop an understanding of how theater is created and a critical cultural context through which they can interpret performance in a nuanced and informed manner.

Our curriculum is designed to produce graduates who have achieved proficiency in the following areas:

KNOWLEDGE OF THEATER

The Department of Theater emphasizes acting and directing, but we ask students to study and work on all elements of theater so that they understand process of creating theater.

               Through experience with historical, critical, and dramaturgical methods of research, students will learn how to consult a variety of sources and apply them to the creation and scholarship of theater.  Primary areas of investigation include:

  • Visual sources
  • Professional Public performances
  • Historical and literary sources

Development of critical reading and writing skills will strengthen students′ abilities in these areas:

  • Knowledge of the canon
  • Script analysis
  • Critical models to develop aesthetic sensibility
  • Models of historical and literary analysis

Performing creative material develops students′ understanding of the art and craft of the theater. Components of this work include:

  • Studio and classroom explorations
  • Continuing faculty guidance throughout production process
  • Public discussion after opening night
  • Critiques for performance and technical students after each performance

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AS AN OUTGROWTH OF THEATER

The Department of Theater encourages growth through the fulfillment of concrete tasks and responsibilities demanded of its practitioners.  These tasks promote learning by:

  • Fostering collaborative skills and the ability to work as part of a team
  • Strengthening of presentational and leadership skills
  • Developing administrative skills
  • Giving opportunities to develop creative abilities
  • Enhancing aesthetic sensibilities

CITIZENSHIP IN THE THEATRICAL COMMUNITY

Through completion of the major, students achieve an ethical awareness that will enrich both their artistic projects and other endeavors. Citizenship includes:

  • Fostering a dialogue with the college and the larger community
  • Presenting social concerns of a multi-cultural society and encouraging artistic dialogue about them
  • Discussing dimensions and facets of humanity presented through dramatic productions
  • Establishing life-long habit of theater attendance
  • Becoming an active patron of the arts

Courses at Connecticut College

THEATER  104  ACTING I:  PREPARATION  A foundation course in acting technique with extensive physical and vocal work, including an introduction to textual analysis and character development.  All students are required to work on a crew for a college production.

               No prior acting experience is required.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  Offered both semesters.  This course satisfies General Education Area 5.  Staff

THEATER  110  TECHNICAL PRODUCTION: DANCE AND THEATER  A foundational exploration of various technical and design components of dance and theater performance.  Lighting, scenery, sound, multi-media, and costume and makeup will be investigated as core elements of technical production.  This course is intended for both creative artists and technicians and is built around practical and experiential learning.  This is the same course as Dance 110.

               One three-hour session per week, plus required lab hours on departmental productions.  Prospective Theater or Dance majors and minors are encouraged to take this course during their freshman year.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  Offered both semesters.  This course satisfies General Education Area 5.  R. Dumond and S. Hove

THEATER  113  PUBLIC SPEAKING  Speech and vocal techniques emphasized to culminate in individual projects designed for public speaking and small group communications.

               Enrollment limited to 15 students.  Staff

THEATER  141  THE ART OF THEATER  An examination of the process by which theater is created in contemporary America.  Explanation of how each of the elements of theater−acting, directing, design, playwriting, dramaturgy, and theater spaces−contributes to the creation of the total theatrical production.  Attendance at several productions at professional regional theaters in the area and college productions required.  Prospective majors should take this course by the end of their sophomore year.

               Enrollment limited to 16 freshmen and sophomores, or with permission of instructor.  Special fee.  This course satisfies General Education Area 4 and is a designated Writing course.  Staff

THEATER  206  ACTING II:  PLAY ANALYSIS  Study and practice of script analysis for actors, with a focus on contemporary plays.  Scene work will focus on a play’s objectives, relationships, complexities, and key moments in order to interpret and shape the action of a play in rehearsal and performance.  Focus on freeing the voice and using the body as an expressive instrument.

               Prerequisite:  Course 104; and 110 (may be taken concurrently).  Enrollment limited to 12 students.  K. Prestininzi

THEATER  212  PLAYWRITING:  EXPOSURE TO THE ELEMENTS  Through writing exercises and the study of stage plays, students will creatively explore dramatic structures, stage strategies, and the necessity and power of their unique imaginations.  Along with explorative weekly writing assignments, students will complete a one-act play.  Writing will be shared in class and presented at least once to an invited audience.

               Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  K. Prestininzi

THEATER  213, 214  PRACTICUM:  CREW HEAD  Extended work as crew head (typically publicity or make-up) for one of the theater department’s mainstage productions.  Students work with director and designers, attend production meetings and appropriate rehearsals, and supervise crew.  One credit hour, pass/not passed marking.  May be repeated for credit.

               Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.  Staff

THEATER  215, 216  PRACTICUM:  MAJOR CREW HEAD/ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER  Extended work as a major crew head (typically props, sound, or costumes) or assistant stage manager for one of the theater department′s mainstage productions.  Students work with director and designers, attend production meetings and appropriate rehearsals, and supervise construction and running crews.  Two credit hours.  May be repeated for credit.

               Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.  Staff

THEATER  217, 218  PRACTICUM:  STAGE MANAGEMENT  Extended work as stage manager for one of the theater department′s mainstage productions.  Students work with director and designers, attend production meetings and rehearsals, and supervise assistant stage managers and running crews.  Three credit hours.  May be repeated for credit.

               Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.  Staff

THEATER  222  ANCIENT COMEDY  This is the same course as Classics 222.  Refer to the Classics listing for a course description.

THEATER  226  DIRECTING ONE:  COACHING THE ACTOR  The fundamental elements of performance including:  script analysis of character function, relationship, and action; basic acting techniques and how they can be applied to creating performances by means of the collaboration between actor and director; and visual composition and metaphoric images.  Students will develop communication skills essential to professional interaction through in-class presentations, coaching, and discussions.

               Prerequisite:  Courses 104 and 120 and 206 or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 15 students.  Staff

THEATER  228  PLAY READING AS PUBLIC PERFORMANCE  Creating a performance context for the reading of new and classic texts for the theater.  Vocal and physical exercises, and analysis of dramatic texts.  Performances will be staged in various locations both on campus and in the community.  Student performances with evening rehearsals may be required.  Recommended for sophomores and juniors.

               Prerequisite:  Course 104 and permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 15 students.  Staff

THEATER  230  TECHNE:  PROJECTS IN PERFORMANCE AND TECHNOLOGY  An exploration of the rich and often contested relationship between performance and technology.  An historical investigation, from the deus ex machina of ancient Greece to the smartphone, will serve as the basis for examining contemporary issues of communication, connection, and shared values.  Academic analysis will be complemented by collaborative workshops and original artistic work.  This is the same course as Arts and Technology 230.

               Enrollment limited to 16 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 5.  S. Luber

THEATER  231  AMERICAN DRAMA  American dramatic literature from Mowatt to Mamet.  Themes of major American playwrights such as O'Neill, Hellman, Williams, and Hansberry explored.  Performance art and theater collectives included.  This is the same course as American Studies 231.

               Prerequisite:  Course 141.  Recommended for sophomores and juniors.  Staff

THEATER  238  SCREENWRITING  An introduction to the possibilities, problems, and conventions of dramatic writing for the screen.  Students will explore the concepts of character, story, dramatic structure, visualization and economy of dialog.  Through a series of exercises students will develop an idea into a finished script for a short film.  This is the same course as Film Studies 238.

               Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.  Permission of the instructor required.  Enrollment limited to 12 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  Staff

THEATER  241  THEATER AND CULTURE I:  ORIGINS THROUGH THE 17th CENTURY  Videos, visiting lectures, and field trips.  An overview of representative plays, people, spaces, and events from evolving trends in performance and practice from theater’s origins through the 17th century.  Production methods, acting styles, and plays are examined in relation to economic, social, and political contexts.

               Prerequisite:  Course 141 or permission of the instructor.  Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  This course satisfies General Education Area 4 and is a designated Writing course.  V. Anderson

THEATER  242  THEATER AND CULTURE II:  18TH TO 21ST CENTURY  An overview of plays, people, spaces, and events representing evolving trends in theatrical performance and practice from the 18th to the 21st century.  Production methods, acting styles, and plays are examined in relation to economic, social, and political contexts.
               Prerequisite:  Course 141 or permission of the instructor.  Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  This course satisfies General Education Area 4 and is a designated Writing course.  V. Anderson

THEATER  245  DESIGN AESTHETICS  Focus on overall visual design skills including individual and group projects.  Developing responses to plays and other media, and expressing those responses through set and light design.  Particular attention will be given to the ways by which artists communicate with other artists and the audience through visual imagery.  All students are required to work on a crew for a college production.

               Permission of the instructor required.  Enrollment limited to 12 students.  Staff

THEATER  252  THE SOLO PERFORMANCE EVENT  A study of seminal and influential contemporary works in various genres of solo performance (autobiography, creative writing, dance, drama, and music).  Through creative expression within these ever-changing literary and performance traditions, students will investigate and ″try out″ the solo performer as political activist, cultural dramatist, and truth-telling fabricator.  This is the same course as Gender and Women's Studies 254.

               Prerequisite:  Permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 5.  K. Prestininzi

THEATER  264  HAPPY ENDINGS:  SHAKESPEARE'S COMEDIES  This is the same course as  English/Gender and Women's Studies 264.  Refer to the English listing for a course description.

THEATER  265  SPEAKING WHAT WE FEEL:  SHAKESPEARE'S TRAGEDIES AND HISTORIES  This is the same course as English/Gender and Women's Studies 265.  Refer to the English listing for a course description.

THEATER  266  MUSICAL THEATER IN AMERICAN CULTURE  A survey of American musical theatre, including its origins, development, and influence on popular culture.  The course focuses on significant productions and the composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, designers, choreographers, performers, and producers who created them.  Artists may include Ziegfeld, Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Hammerstein, Bernstein, Robbins, Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, and Schwartz.  This is the same course as Music 266.

               Required field trips and screenings.  This course satisfies General Education Area 4 and is a designated Writing course.  V. Anderson

THEATER  297  COSTUME HISTORY  The development of dress in the West, from Ancient Egypt to the present.  Emphasis on style and silhouette, including textiles, cosmetics, hair dressing, and fashion accessories that created the differing ideals of beauty throughout history.  Concentration on the social, political, and historical events that contributed to the evolution of clothing.  This is the same course as Art History 297.

               Enrollment limited to 40 students.  Students may not receive credit for this course and Theater/Art History 207.  This course satisfies General Education Area 4.  S. Notarfrancisco

THEATER  298  THE PSYCHE OF DRESS:  COSTUME DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION  An introductory studio course examining the theory and practice of costume design.  Garment construction and fabric manipulation skills will be developed as students explore how clothing, personal adornment, and body language influence the way characters perceive others and present themselves.  Emphasis on the thematic meanings of costume in theater, film, dance, and performance art.  Special fee.

               Prerequisite:  Theater/Art History 297 (formerly Theater/Art History 207) or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 10 students.  This course satisfies General Education Area 5.  S. Notarfrancisco

THEATER  299  ART OF PROTEST:  OCCUPY_____  This is the same course as Sophomore Research Seminar 299C.  Refer to the Sophomore Research Seminar listing in College Courses for a course description.

THEATER  301  DIRECTING TWO:  BUILDING A CONCEPT  The study and practice of the directing process through examination of production styles and concepts, analysis and staging of dramatic texts, and discussion of performance theory.  Each student is expected to direct a one-act play for public performance as the culmination of the semester's work.  Extensive rehearsal time is required in addition to class meetings.

               Prerequisite:  Courses 226 and 236, and permission of the instructor.  Recommended for juniors and seniors.  Enrollment limited to 8 students.  Staff

THEATER  308  SPECIAL PROJECTS IN THEATER  Explorations of the techniques of creating original work.

               Prerequisite:  Courses 104 and 120, and permission of the instructor.  Recommended for juniors and seniors.  Student performances with evening rehearsals may be required.  Staff

THEATER  308B  GENDER ISSUES IN CONTEMPORARY PERFORMANCE  An exploration of gender issues in contemporary dramatic literature and performance with an emphasis on collaborative practices used to create performance works.  Student performances with evening rehearsals may be required.  Staff

THEATER  312  PLAYWRITING WORKSHOP  An advanced playwriting class that builds on Course 212 or a similar theater foundation.  Students write complete plays and explore their writing through rehearsals, readings, and performances.  Writers will strengthen their own voices as they share and creatively respond to each other’s compositions.  The workshop focuses on the creative process (individual strategies of attention, commitment, imagination, and play) as well as the demands of dramatic structures and traditions.

               Prerequisite:  Course 212 or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 10 students.  This is a designated Writing course.  K. Prestininzi

THEATER  322  ADVANCED SCENE STUDY:  CHEKHOV, IBSEN, STRINDBERG, AND O'NEILL  Intensive text analysis and performance of scenes from the major plays of  Chekhov, Ibsen, Strindberg, and O'Neill, together with readings in acting theory.

               Prerequisite:  Course 236 or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 10 students.  Staff

THEATER  323  ADVANCED SCENE STUDY:  STYLES  Intensive text analysis and performance of scenes from plays that demand a heightened performance style.  Class will focus on playwrights such as Molière, Beckett, and Coward.  Two two-hour class meetings per week plus extensive rehearsal time.

               Prerequisite:  Course 236 or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 10 students.  Staff

THEATER  324  ADVANCED SCENE STUDY:  SHAKESPEARE  Intensive text analysis and performance of scenes and soliloquies from the major plays of Shakespeare, together with readings in acting theory.

               Prerequisite:  Course 236 or permission of the instructor.  Enrollment limited to 10 students.  Staff

THEATER  330, 430  CONCENTRATION PROJECT  This is a studio class for theater majors who are completing their concentrations or seek to develop their production work beyond the curricular offerings.  Admission to the course is based on demonstrated excellence in related theater department courses and demonstrated ability to develop and pursue effort with a high degree of initiative and responsibility.

               Permission of the instructor.  Staff

THEATER  339, 340  SEMINARS IN THEATER  Open to junior and senior majors, and to others with the permission of the instructor.

THEATER  339A, 340A  SEMINARS IN THEATER:  PRACTICAL DRAMATURGY  This course is designed as a practical approach to the study of dramatic literature.  Since the emphasis of such a course is to read for production and performance, rather than for academic research, the course will focus on a limited number of plays from the world repertoire.  These plays will be covered in depth in class as hypothetical production projects.  Each play project will require external research:  reading and writing assignments; it will also require students to participate in individual and group exercises, reports or demonstrations in class.  Staff

THEATER  339B, 340B  SEMINARS IN THEATER:  THEORIES OF PERFORMANCE  Modern and classic approaches to performance art explored through the work of theoreticians, directors, and critics such as Aristotle, Wagner, Brook, Craig, and Chaikin.  Appropriate videos, films, and plays considered in tandem with theoretical and critical readings.  Staff

THEATER  339C, 340C  SEMINARS IN THEATER:  HISTORY OF THE AVANT-GARDE  A study of the contemporary theater of Europe and the U.S. focusing on the anti-realists who shaped the avant-garde response in this country to the "fourth wall convention."  Playwrights such as O'Neill, Brecht, and Pirandello will be studied as well as directors, theorists, and performance artists.  Staff

THEATER  339D, 340D  SEMINARS IN THEATER:  EUGENE O'NEILL AND HIS AMERICA  The life, times, and works of the United States' most honored playwright, with special emphasis on the New London roots of many of his dramas.  This is the same course as American Studies 339.

               Open to juniors and seniors.  Enrollment limited to 15 students.  This is a designated writing course.  Staff

THEATER 339E, 340E  SEMINARS IN THEATER:  PERFORMANCE STUDIES  This course employs ″performance″ as a lens through which Vietnamese culture and society can be scrutinized.  Through site visits and readings, students will investigate such topics as the performance of nationality, cultural dynamics of tourism, and representations of history from the interdisciplinary perspective of performance studies.

               Open to juniors on SATA Vietnam.  Enrollment limited to 16 students.  Staff

THEATER  339F, 340F  SEMINARS IN THEATER:  THE BREAKOUT/BREAKTHROUGH MUSICAL:  FORM AND CONTENT  An examination of the context and impetus of some of the most important American musicals of the 20th and 21st centuries, from Show Boat to Fela!  The music, book, and lyrics will be used to look at the creators' lives, the socio-political climate in which they lived, and the cause, issue, or cultural blindspot they were trying to bring to light.  The course will focus on how the creators′ mission informed their methods and allowed them to make theatrical history.

               Enrollment limited to 20 students.  Staff

THEATER  295, 296  FIELD WORK  Supervised practical work at an established theater company or organization.  Students will work under the supervision of an official or director of the field theater and will keep a journal or record of the experience, including analysis from a theoretical viewpoint, which will be submitted to the supervising faculty member.  Under exceptional circumstances, students may enroll for more than four hours in field work credit in a given semester.

               Prerequisite:  Completion of four courses in theater, recommendation of the supervising faculty member, practical experience, permission of the participating organization and field supervisor and approval by the advisory committee on theater.  Staff

THEATER  291, 292  INDIVIDUAL STUDY

THEATER  391, 392  INDIVIDUAL STUDY

THEATER  491, 492  INDIVIDUAL STUDY

THEATER  497-498  HONORS STUDY

Barbara Walen Long Wharf Theater Internship

THEATER  260  PERFORMANCE AND PRODUCTION  (Long Wharf Theater Internship)  To be taken concurrently with Course 261 during residence at the Long Wharf Theater.  Practical experience in one or more of the following areas and departments of Long Wharf Theater:  Backstage (scenery, electrics, stage management, costumes) or front-of-house operations (box office, development, communications, literary office).  Significant responsibility in the managerial and practical aspects in chosen areas which culminate in professional public contact or performance.  Eight hours credit.

               Prerequisite:  Completion of a major crew and permission of the supervising faculty member and appropriate Long Wharf director.

THEATER  261  THEATER REPERTORY AND PERFORMANCE CRITICISM  (Long Wharf Theater Internship)  To be taken concurrently with Course 260 during residence at the Long Wharf Theater.  Following written material required:  Reviews and critiques of the plays in performance there and other area professional theaters which address how the production concept reflects the historical, social and aesthetic background of the plays; a "profile" on one of the playwrights produced at the theater during the internship; journal of day-to-day activities during the internship; paper describing the professional insights gained and activities pursued during the internship.  Eight hours credit.

               Prerequisite:  Courses 226 and 241, permission of the supervising faculty member and appropriate Long Wharf director.