Theater

The Theater Department curriculum aims to develop the student’s understanding of theater through courses in the theory and practice of performance, the study of theater history and dramatic literature, film, and playwriting. The development of practical skills for theater majors and minors as actors, directors, designers, technicians, and playwrights in actual stage production work is carefully structured by the department staff to coincide with course work in these areas.

For the non-major or minor, the curriculum provides several courses at the introductory level:

Introductory Level
THE-101Introduction to Theater1
THE-103Seminars in Theater0.5-1
THE-104Introduction to Film1
THE-105Introduction to Acting1
THE-106Stagecraft1
THE-202Introduction to Scenic Design1
THE-203Costume Design1

These are aimed at developing the student’s understanding and appreciation of theater and film as art forms. Courses on the intermediate level provide majors and minors (as well as non-majors) with various opportunities to expand their skills and to deepen their growing understanding and appreciation of theater and film. These courses will explore both the great works of the dramatic canon from all time periods and cultures, as well as important and challenging contemporary dramas and films.

Intermediate Level
THE-205Acting for the Camera1
THE-204World Cinema1
THE-206Studies in Acting1
THE-207Directing1
THE-209Scene Study and Dramaturgy1
THE-210Playwriting1
THE-215The Classic Stage1
THE-216The Modern Stage1
THE-217The American Stage1
THE-218The Multicultural Stage1

Majors and minors often pursue graduate study and careers in theater, film, and other allied fields, but for the non-major or minor the study of theater provides a unique opportunity for the student to explore an extraordinary and timeless art form, to learn about the ways plays and productions are created, and, most importantly, to study theater as it reflects and tests moral, social, political, spiritual, and cross-cultural issues.

Productions

Theater majors and minors are strongly urged to participate in the annual season of theater productions staged by the department. The department feels strongly that the serious theater student should have numerous opportunities to test his creative abilities in the myriad facets of theater performance. It is hoped that during the student’s four years at Wabash College he will have the opportunity to test in theatrical productions the many concepts he will encounter in his courses. The season of plays selected by the department is chosen with careful consideration of the unique opportunities for students offered by each play. The department expects that the student will work in a variety of performance areas including acting, stage managing, set and costume construction, lighting and sound, playwriting, and directing. Each year, during the second half of the fall semester, as part of the theater season, students will have the opportunity to produce workshop performances in the areas of acting, directing, design, playwriting, performance art, and, where appropriate, film. Students interested in knowing more about these opportunities should consult the department chair.

Every Theater Major and Minor must assume responsibility in a technical capacity (stage manager, assistant stage manager, master electrician, prop master, wardrobe assistant, board operator, etc.) for a mainstage production at least once over the course of their Wabash career.

Requirements for the Major

THE-105Introduction to Acting1
Select one from the following:1
Stagecraft
Magic and Manipulation: Prop and Costume
Introduction to Scenic Design
Costume Design
Select three from the following History, Theory & Criticism sequence:3
The Revolutionary Stage
The Classic Stage
The Modern Stage
The American Stage
The Multicultural Stage
Seminar in Theater
Select two from the following Creative Inquiry and Performance sequence:2
Magic and Manipulation: Prop and Costume 1
Introduction to Scenic Design 1
Costume Design 1
Acting for the Camera
Studies in Acting
Directing
Games and Interactive Media
Scene Study and Dramaturgy
Playwriting
Senior Seminar1
Special Topics
Theater Elective1
Total Credits9

Senior Comprehensives

Majors must pass two departmental examinations:

  1. a three-hour examination on the history, literature, and theory of theater or a project in those areas approved by the department chair;
  2. a performance/presentation on the production aspects of theater (acting, directing, design, dramaturgy, playwrighting).

Requirements for the Minor

Students may choose a minor track in General Theater or Theater Design. With written approval from the Department, a student may construct an alternate minor that better reflects his academic interest. These proposals should be submitted by the end of the first semester of the student’s junior year.

General Theater Track

THE-101Introduction to Theater1
Select one from the following:1
Stagecraft
Magic and Manipulation: Prop and Costume
Introduction to Scenic Design
Costume Design
Select one from the following:1
The Classic Stage
The Modern Stage
The American Stage
The Multicultural Stage
Select one from the following:1
Introduction to Acting
Acting for the Camera
Studies in Acting
Directing
Games and Interactive Media
Scene Study and Dramaturgy
Playwriting
Theater Elective1
Total Credits5

Theater Design Track

THE-101Introduction to Theater1
THE-106Stagecraft1
THE-201Magic and Manipulation: Prop and Costume1
THE-202Introduction to Scenic Design1
THE-203Costume Design1
Total Credits5

THE-101 Introduction to Theater

This course explores many aspects of the theater: the audience, the actor, the visual elements, the role of the director, theater history, and selected dramatic literature. The goal is to heighten the student's appreciation and understanding of the art of the theater. The plays we will encounter will range from the Greek tragedies of 2,500 years ago to new works by contemporary playwrights: from Sophocles' Antigone to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton. Students will see and write reviews of theater productions, both on- and off-campus. This course is appropriate for all students, at all levels.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-103 Seminars in Theater

These seminars focus on specific topics in theater and film. They are designed to introduce students to the liberal arts expressed by noteworthy pioneers and practitioners in theater and film. Please refer to the Registrar's page for course description.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-104 Introduction to Film

This course is intended to introduce students to film as an international art form and provide an historical survey of world cinema from its inception to the present. The course will focus on key films, filmmakers, and movements that have played a major role in pioneering and shaping film. Selected motion pictures will be screened, studied, and discussed, with special emphasis placed on learning how to "read" a film in terms of its narrative structure, genre, and visual style. Specific filmic techniques such as mise en scene, montage, and cinematography will also be considered. Genre study, auteurism, and ideology will be explored in relation to specific films and filmmakers, as well as the practice of adaptation (from theater to film, and most recently, film to theater).
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-105 Introduction to Acting

This course introduces students to the fundamentals of acting through physical and vocal exercises, improvisation, preparation of scenes, and text and character analysis. Students will prepare scenes for classroom and public presentation. Students will also collaborate with the directing class in producing an evening of original one-act plays for the community. This course is appropriate for all students, regardless of artistic background.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-106 Stagecraft

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts and practices of play production. Students develop a deeper awareness of technical production and acquire the vocabulary and skills needed to implement scenic design. These skills involve the proper use of tools and equipment common to the stage, basic theatre drafting, scene painting, and prop building. Students will demonstrate skills in written and visual communication required to produce theater in a collaborative environment.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-187 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-188 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-201 Magic and Manipulation: Prop and Costume

This course will guide the student through a hands-on exploration of some of the fundamental production processes of theater. At first, students will focus on multiple aspects of prop and costume craftwork including: life-casting, sculpting, molding, and carving. Later in the course, students will use these skills to create masks, puppets, and stage properties. The projects created for this course will challenge the student to learn contemporary methods of prop and costume craftwork, while also pushing them to develop innovative problem-solving skills. The students who take part in this course will gain experience working with a range of materials and techniques, as well as furthering their ability to research, design, analyze, and collaborate.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-202 Introduction to Scenic Design

This course traces the design and use of scenery as environments for theatrical performance from concept through opening night. Areas covered include the scene design process, collaboration and critique, model making, and creating appropriate design paperwork. This course will provide the liberal arts student with an exploration of the scenic design process from the page to the stage. This course is appropriate for all students, regardless of artistic background
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-203 Costume Design

This course is an in-depth look at the process of costume design from start to finish. Through a series of design projects, students will explore the relation of costuming to theater history and performance, and the culture at large. Combining historical research, character and script analysis, collaborative projects, and the intensive study of the elements and principles of design, color theory and rendering, students will gain a comprehensive understanding of the costume designer's creative practice.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-204 World Cinema

The course will survey non-Hollywood international movements in the history of cinema. It will explore issues of nation, history, culture, identity and their relation to questions of film production and consumption in contemporary film culture. Emphasis will be placed on major directors, films, and movements that contributed to the development of narrative cinema internationally. The course will investigate a variety of genres and individual films, paying close attention to their aesthetic, historical, technological and ideological significance. For example, African cinema introduces themes of colonialism, resistance and post-colonial culture, while the New Iranian Cinema articulates problems of politics and censorship within a new national film culture.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-205 Acting for the Camera

Through exercises, study of screen-acting techniques and scene study, this course will build the performer's range of emotional, intellectual, physical, and vocal expressiveness for the camera. Students will participate in on-camera and off-camera exercises, scripted scenes, and technique activities. This class meets at the same time as the Narrative Filmmaking class and students from both will work together to create short narrative films.
Prerequisites: THE-105
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-206 Studies in Acting

The process of acting, its history, theory, and practice, are examined through classroom exercises, text analysis, and scoring. Students will explore acting styles and perform scenes from the extant works of Greek tragedy, Renaissance drama, commedia dell'arte, Neoclassical comedy, and modern and contemporary drama.
Prerequisites: THE-105
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-207 Directing

The art and practice of stage directing is best learned by hands-on experience. This course enables students who have completed the introductory acting course (THE 105) to work on the other side of the stage with student actors. Scene analysis and the development of a fully-formed production concept are also core experiences in the course. The semester culminates in the Studio One-Acts, which the directors will conceive and stage with students enrolled in THE 105, offered concurrently.
Prerequisites: THE-105
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-208 Games and Interactive Media

Digital artists are building immersive interactive worlds that provoke us to reflect on enduring questions facing the human race. Games like This War of Mine, The Last of Us, Kentucky Route Zero, Celeste, and Undertale are challenging the very definition of "game" and pushing designers to explore the power of a new art form to illuminate our minds and spark our imaginations. To produce these rich narrative environments, programming and systems architecture must work hand-in-hand with sturdy dramaturgy, aesthetics, and thoughtful design. This requires creative, problem-solving collaboration among people with wildly disparate talents: coders and poets; AI designers and psychologists; engineers and actors. In this complex creative environment, our liberal arts credo has never been more relevant: it takes a broadly educated mind-or, better, many such minds working together-to grapple with complexity. In this course, we will leverage the power of games and interactive media to convey meaning through channels of communication unavailable to traditional media.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-209 Scene Study and Dramaturgy

In Scene Study and Dramaturgy, students examine the journey "from page to stage." Students learn how to perform textual analysis and historical research, and also discover how these practices help directors, actors, and designers bring a script and characters to life. Students learn hands-on with in-class performance and analysis of plays, as well as by having dramaturgical and research assistant responsibilities on a Wabash mainstage production.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-210 Playwriting

An introduction to the basic techniques of writing for the stage and screen, this course begins with a discussion of Aristotle's elements of drama. Students will read short plays, analyze dramatic structure, study film adaptation, and explore the art of creating character and writing dialogue. Course responsibilities included writing short plays and/or film treatments, participating in classroom staged readings, and discussing scripts written by other students in the class. Selected plays from this course will be presented each fall semester as part of the Theater Department's Studio One-Acts production.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Language Studies, Literature/Fine Arts

THE-212 The Revolutionary Stage

The class will study the history of theater and the diverse forms of drama written between 1660 and 1900. Representative plays from the era, as well as theoretical and critical response to the works, will be the major focus of the course. Attention will also be paid to theatrical conventions and practices, along with discussion of varying interpretations and production problems discovered in each play. The works to be studied include The Misanthrope, Phedre, The Rover, The Way of the World, The London Merchant, The Love Suicides at Sonezaki, She Stoops to Conquer, The Dog of Montargis, Woyzek, A Doll House, The Master Builder, Miss Julie, The Ghost Sonata, A Flea in Her Ear, and Ubu Roi. The plays will be discussed as instruments for theatrical production; as examples of dramatic structure, style, and genre; and, most importantly, as they reflect the moral, social, and political issues of their time.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1

THE-215 The Classic Stage

This course will focus on the theater history and dramatic literature between the golden age of classical Greek drama and the revolutionary theater of Romantic period: 2,000 years of theater in one semester. We will study representative plays of various periods and genres-the "old comedies of the Greeks, the morality plays of medieval Europe, the tragedies of Shakespeare and his contemporaries-while also considering how the plays reflect the moral, social, and political issues of their time. This course is appropriate for all students, regardless of artistic background
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-216 The Modern Stage

The class will study the history of theater and the diverse forms of European drama written between 1870 and the present. Emphasis will be placed on an examination of the major theatrical movements of realism, expressionism, symbolism, epic theater, absurdism, existentialism, feminism, and postmodernism, as well as on the work of major dramatists including Henrik Ibsen, Anton Chekhov, August Strindberg, Bertolt Brecht, and Samuel Beckett, and Caryl Churchill, among others. Attention will also be paid to theatrical conventions and practices, along with discussion of varying interpretations and production problems discovered in each play. The works to be studied include Woyzeck, A Doll House, The Master Builder, Miss Julie, The Importance of Being Earnest, Ubu Roi, The Cherry Orchard, From Morn until Midnight, Galileo, Waiting for Godot, No Exit, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Top Girls, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and Terrorism. The plays will be discussed as instruments for theatrical production; as examples of dramatic structure, style, and genre; and, most importantly, as they reflect the moral, social, and political issues of their time. This course is suitable for freshmen and is typically offered in the spring semester of odd-numbered years.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-217 The American Stage

This course will examine the rich dramatic heritage of the United States from the American Revolution to the present, with emphasis on the history of the U.S. stage and the work of major dramatists including Eugene O'Neill, Thornton Wilder, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Edward Albee, among others. Plays to be studied include The Contrast, Secret Service, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Long Day's Journey Into Night, A Moon for the Misbegotten, Awake and Sing!, The Little Foxes, Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, Mister Roberts, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Night of the Iquana, Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, A Raisin in the Sun, The Zoo Story, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Glengarry Glen Ross, True West, Brighton Beach Memoirs, The Colored Museum, A Perfect Ganesh, Fences, Angels in America, How I Learned to Drive, and The America Play. The plays will be discussed as instruments for theatrical production; as examples of dramatic style, structure, and genre; and, most importantly, as they reflect moral, social, and political issues throughout the history of the United States. Students taking this course for credit toward the English major or minor must have taken at least one previous course in English or American literature. No more than one course taken outside the English Department will be counted toward the major or minor in English.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-218 The Multicultural Stage

This course will examine multicultural and intercultural theater and performance both in the United States and around the world. From the shadow puppet theaters (piyingxi) of China to the Black Arts Repertory Theatre of Harlem, live performance has always expressed of the values, cultures, and histories of the diverse racial and ethnic groups in America and throughout the world. The course will be roughly divided into two sections: the first part of the course will focus on how theater has served as a way for members of historically-marginalized racial and ethnic groups to express identity in America. The second part of the course will offer an overview of the state of contemporary global performance.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-287 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-288 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-303 Seminar in Theater

These seminars focus on specific topics in theater and film. They are designed to introduce students to the liberal arts expressed by noteworthy pioneers and practitioners in theater and film. Please refer to the Registrar's page for course description.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-317 Dramatic Theory & Crit

This course will survey the significant ideas that have shaped the way we create and think about theater. The objective of the course is to examine the evolution of dramatic theory and criticism, and trace the influence of this evolution on the development of the theater. Ultimately, the student will form his own critical and aesthetic awareness of theater as a unique and socially significant art form. Among the important works to be read are Aristotle's Poetics, Peter Brook's The Open Door, Eric Bentley's Thinking About the Playwright, Tony Kushner's Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness, Robert Brustein's Reimagining the American Theater, and Dario Fo's The Tricks of the Trade, as well as selected essays from numerous writers including Horace, Ben Jonson, William Butler Yeats, Constantin Stanislavski, Vsevolod Meyerhold, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin, Gertrude Stein, Antonin Artaud, Eugene Ionesco, Peter Schumann, Robert Wilson, Athol Fugard, Ariane Mnouchkine, Edward Bond, Augusto Boal, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, and Eugenio Barba. This course is typically offered in the fall semester.
Prerequisites: THE-215, THE-216, THE-217, or THE-218
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-318 Performance and Design

Individual students will work with a faculty member to advance and present a performance or design project (scene, lighting, costume, stage properties), and complete assignments related to a Wabash stage production. The course is designed for majors and minors active in performance areas of design, acting, directing, dramaturgy, and playwriting. This course is typically offered in the first and/or second half of each semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-319 Production & Stage Management

Individual students will work with a faculty member and the production staff in the development and stage management of a Wabash stage production. Students will study the entire production process, develop a prompt book and production documentation, and complete all assignments related to the management of rehearsal and performance. This course is typically offered in the first and/or second half of each semester.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-387 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-388 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-487 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-488 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

THE-498 Special Topics

"This course is designed as a capstone course for senior theater majors. Students will design and develop a major project in consultation with theater faculty. These projects will receive significant peer review and culminate in public presentations.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

Theater Faculty

Michael S. Abbott

Andrea Bear

James M. Cherry (chair), Sabbatical

Robert K. Johansen

Heidi Winters Vogel