Ryan Underbakke Headshot

Ryan Underbakke

Visiting Assistant Professor

School of Performing Arts
College of Liberal Arts

Ryan Underbakke

Visiting Assistant Professor

School of Performing Arts
College of Liberal Arts

Currently Teaching

ITDL-415
1 - 3 Credits
This is an intensive, hands-on workshop introducing students to a specialized technology or mode of storytelling (ASL poetry, photojournalism, graphic narratives, digital literature, XR storytelling, memoir, etc.), and or context for storytelling (health care, science communication, engineering, translation studies, k-12 education, corporate leadership,etc.). Students will learn about a particular genre, technology, or context for storytelling, exploring its creative potential and social, cultural, and artistic meaning and potential applications through hands-on work with an expert instructor. It provides an opportunity for students to study emerging or influential modes of story – fictional and nonfictional – and methods of storytelling such as memoir, photojournalism, scientific communication, VR storytelling, among potential workshop foci. Through collaborative activities, students will put their newly acquired story skills to practice with a small group of peers and with instructor guidance and feedback. The workshop is designed for students interested in exploring these areas at every stage, from those interested in a focused introduction, to those interested in adding work to their professional portfolio.
PRFL-130
3 Credits
An introduction to theatre as a performing art. Students develop skills in reading, analysis and evaluation through an examination of theatre’s forms, constituent elements, and its cultural, stylistic and historical development.
PRFL-221
3 Credits
This course will introduce students to the history and theory of acting in Western Culture from the late 19th century up to the present day. Particular focus will be paid to the theories of Stanislavsky and Stanislavsky-based approaches along with complementary and contrasting methods developed by such theorist/practitioners as Jerzy Grotowski, Lee Strasberg, and Sanford Meisner. Students can expect a course that combines lecture/discussion with practical exercises designed to apply concepts and theory using acting techniques designed to strengthen vocal and physical expression and to stimulate the imagination. In addition, actors will be introduced to scene work and develop skills for text analysis as a basis for character development. Assessment will include quizzes, papers, and in-class participation in exercises and scene work. As an introductory course, the course objectives are to provide students with a broad survey of the aesthetics, theory, and practice of acting.
PRFL-222
3 Credits
This course is an in-depth and hands-on study of improvised storytelling. Students will investigate the creative process by exploring the primary tools and techniques for creating improvised scenes, progressing from basic to advanced to theatrical compositions. Students will engage in various long-form improv structures to create compelling and crafted performances that explore themes, situations, and references situated in a modern cultural context. Major topics include foundations of physical storytelling, character creation and role playing, developing unscripted work, and extemporaneous presentation. The course highlights interpersonal communication through ensemble-based creation and collaboration.
PRFL-230
3 Credits
Devising theatre is a collaborative process in which a group of individuals produce a wholly new or adapted piece of theatre. This course is a hands-on exploration of that collaborative process and places students at the center of their own artistic expression. Through a series of class discussions and lectures, readings, writing assignments, creative exercises, brainstorming sessions, and acting workshops, students will learn about the history and theories of devised theatre as a tool for social change, while also generating their own theatrical pieces for individual and group presentation. Above all, this course fosters an ensemble-building atmosphere and imparts to students the importance of teamwork and communication in working toward a shared goal.
PRFL-334
3 Credits
This course will continue to develop concepts introduced in PRFL 221: Fundamentals of Acting and PRFL 333: Auditioning Techniques and will focus on scene study. Through scenes from a variety of play texts such as contemporary, American classic, European Realism, Shakespearean, as well as tv/film scripts, students will hone their skills of text reading, script analysis, character development with a critical eye, personalization, memorization, collaboration, teamwork, improvisation, and confidence in presenting their work. Students can expect a course that is highly experiential, but supported by readings, lecture, and discussion. By the end of the semester, students will have gained experience and understanding of the acting styles and conventions related to several major theatrical periods. The skills built in this course can be applied to most other careers and disciplines.
PRFL-489
3 Credits
Allows examination of a special problem or topic area in the theatre, dance, music, visual arts, and other performing and fine arts. Topics and specific content and methods vary from term to term. Each term’s offering, however, features an introduction to a historical period, movement, phenomenon, practitioner(s), or other subfield of study within performing arts and/or visual culture. In so doing, students develop theoretical and experiential knowledge of an artistic period, movement, phenomenon, practitioner(s) or other subfield of study within performing arts and/or visual culture.

In the News

  • June 6, 2023

    four actors on a stage, with two on top of a box labeled toys.

    RIT/NTID and School of Performing Arts present 2023-2024 theatrical season

    The 2023-2024 theatrical season featuring a partnership between RIT’s School of Performing Arts and NTID's Department of Performing Arts will include a celebration of Deaf rap and hip hop, an adaptation of Hamlet, a multimedia dance production, and several immersive theatrical performances, among others.