Theatre Arts Immersion

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The theatre arts immersion offers courses in dramatic literature, theatre history, theory, and practice. Students expand their knowledge of dramatic and theatrical arts as well as study the role and function of theatre in the broader contexts of history, culture, and the communication of ideas.

Notes about this immersion:

  • At least one course must be taken at the 300 level or higher.

The plan code for Theatre Arts Immersion is THEATR-IM.

Curriculum for Theatre Arts Immersion

Choose three of the following:
   Theatre Ensemble*
The Theatre Ensemble is an experiential-learning course in which students will have various opportunities to apply theoretic knowledge to practice through participation in a faculty mentored or faculty directed theatre production on campus. Course content will include CLA main stage productions, as well as other ensemble productions that perform or develop theatre performances covering a range of genres, periods and cultures. Students will be expected to write, create and/or analyze texts as well as participate as actors, designers, and technicians. Studio 1 (Fall, Spring).
   Fundamentals of Acting
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. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Dramatic Theory and Text Analysis
The course is designed to provide students with a foundation in major dramatic and performance theories including works by Aristotle, Stanislavsky, Brecht, Grotowski, and a variety of other contemporary theorists and practitioners. In addition to surveying the work of key dramatic and performance theorists and theories, the course will engage students in the application of these theories in the study and analysis of play texts from a variety of periods, genres and cultures. Students will analyze these texts from the perspective of both the logistic and aesthetic requirements of production (as actors, directors and designers). Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Devising Theatre: Creating Ensemble Based Performance
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. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Traditions of Theatre in Europe
A survey of theatre and drama of selected European nations and periods, emphasizing plays and theatre productions in particular historical, artistic, and theoretical contexts (e.g. “Modernist European Theatre and Drama, 1890-1930” – “Romanticism and Realism on Continental Stages”; “France and Germany, 1789-1989”; “Theatre of the European Renaissance” ; “Major Dramatists of Scandinavia, Russia, and Central Europe”). Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Traditions of Theatre in the U.S.
A historical survey of American theatre and drama, from the Colonial period to the early 21st century, focusing on a selection of significant plays and stylistic movements in the twentieth century. Plays studied include those by Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, and Tony Kushner, along with alternating selections by less well-known and/or marginalized American dramatists, 1925 to 2000. The varied types of drama, styles and modes of theatre production, and contributions of actors, directors, scenographers, theorists, and critics provide a continuous context for this study of America’s developing theatre arts. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Traditions of Shakespearean Theatre
A course in Shakespeare’s drama that emphasizes the plays as potential theatre productions. Studying a selection of plays representative of the different acknowledged types of Shakespearean drama (comedy, tragedy, history, problem comedy, romance), students gain a broad understanding of the character and range of Shakespeare’s poetic-dramatic art. Experimenting with production activities such as oral interpretation, character presentation, and scene rendering, they acquire a practical appreciation of Shakespearean drama’s theatrical potency, of the original staging conventions, and of how each type of play makes particular generic demands on both performer and spectator. Augmenting the reading and expressive activities is a term research project focused on collaborative realization of a staging interpretation of selected scenes from the Shakespeare plays on the syllabus. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   African American Playwrights
A historical survey of African American playwrights and the significant moments, topics, and themes that informed their work from the late 1800’s to the early 21st century. Plays by American African Diaspora playwrights will be studied and will include works by Ira Aldridge, Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Lynn Nottage, August Wilson, George C. Wolfe, Ed Bullins, Anna Deavere Smith, and Ntozake Shange. The varied types of drama, styles and modes of theatre production, and contributions of actors, directors, scenographers, theorists, musicians, and critics provide a continuous context for this study of America’s developing theatre arts. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   American Musical Theater
This course is a survey of the development of the American Musical Theater, highlighting representative works, composers, librettists and performers of both the cultivated and vernacular traditions. It is further designed as an appreciation course, fostering the development of a greater appreciation for all types of stage music and the ability to better evaluate the quality of a work, the performance, and the performers. Lecture (Spring).
   Performing Identity in Popular Media
This class is a critical, theoretical, and practical examination of the constitution and performance of personal identity within popular media as it relates to identity politics in everyday life. Through lectures, readings, film, and critical writing, students will examine elements of personal identity and diversity in popular media in order to foster a deeper understanding of how identity is constructed and performed in society. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Fundamentals of Directing
This course examines the director’s creative process in translating a dramatic text into a theatre production. Key to this process is the need to develop deep capability in text analysis and interpretation, along with strong skills to meet the challenges brought on by the practical needs of production. Combining lecture and discussion with text analysis assignments and in-class exercises, students will learn how to approach the creation of a director’s production concept for a text, and then explore, through rehearsals and staging, the process of bringing a dramatic story to life on stage in an engaging and compelling manner. Particular emphasis will be placed on how to synthesize different elements with one another to create a coherent expression designed to elicit intellectual, emotional, and critical responses from audiences. Course will culminate with each student presenting a scene or short on-act play fully staged for peer and instructor feedback. Leadership, collaboration, presentation skills, creative problem-solving, and project management will be taught as crucial elements of the process. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Dance I: Jazz and Hip Hop†
This course provides students with a wide range of dance movement and dance vocabulary, which is created from jazz dance, hip-hop and other contemporary dance idioms. Students will experience a variety of dance form through physical movement including the styles of Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett and Frank Hatchett as well as elements of street dance, including the styles of Laurie Ann Gibson and Shane Sparks. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Appreciation of Theatrical Design
This course fosters the understanding and appreciation of design as part of theatrical productions with specific reference to the fields of scenic, lighting, and costume design and the personnel involved. Students will explore the historical and cultural aspects of theatre while examining the relationship to their activities in everyday life. Students will learn how theatrical scripts and stage directions influence the design, aesthetics, and use of space in a theatrical production, and how to use the script to visualize the design process. Deaf Theatre and other cultural references will be used to discuss the ever growing need to address diversity and accessibility in theatrical productions. Emphasis will be placed on using literary analysis of themes and metaphors inherent in a script to develop an appreciation for the artistic and aesthetic aspects of technical theatre. No artistic or technical skills necessary. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Dance II: Modern Dance and Ballet†
This course introduces the two important languages of dance: Ballet and Modern Dance. Through Ballet’s vocabulary (French, Sign Language, and English), discipline base, protocols, and specific movements, students perform floor, center, and barre work. This course also provides an introduction to dance that gives students access to the language as well as the fundamental movements of Modern Dance. The styles and technique of Martha Graham (contraction) and Jose Limon (fall and rebound) are explored. Ensemble work, performance standards and creation of character and theme are stressed. Each student is responsible for their own communication in the classroom. This course is open to all RIT students. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).

* Theatre Ensemble counts for one credit hour. The ensemble course may be taken up to three times for a total of three credit hours toward the theatre arts immersion.

† Only one dance class may be counted toward completion of the theatre arts immersion.

‡ At least one course must be completed at the 300-level or above.