Reed College Catalog

Kate Bredeson

Theatre history and literature, dramaturgy, playwriting, directing, gender and theatre. On sabbatical and leave 2012–13.

Catherine Ming T'ien Duffly

Acting, contemporary American theatre, directing, performance theory, socially engaged performance.

Peter Ksander

Scenography and design history.

Melissa Schlachtmeyer

Theatre design, history of clothing, costume design.

Kathleen Worley

Acting, directing, intercultural theatre, solo performance, playwriting.

The theatre department views performance work as a synthesis of an individual’s critical and creative faculties. Hence the great importance of the liberal arts experience to theatre artists, who must be able to analyze texts, research historical and cultural contexts, and make critical decisions, all of which contribute to imaginative and challenging performance work. Students use analytic and research tools in the projects they undertake as class assignments and in the larger productions that are produced for the Reed community and the public.

Classes and production work are open to majors and nonmajors, and first- and second-year students are eligible to enroll in many of the department’s courses. In two performance spaces, the department has produced a wide range of works by major playwrights from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Shepard. Recent productions include Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare, Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie, and Ellen McLaughlin's Iphigenia and Other Daughters. Each year, projects are directed both by faculty members and by senior thesis students.

Junior Qualifying Examination
Students are evaluated through a qualifying examination in the second semester of their junior year. Performance on this exam as well as departmental courses determines the student’s eligibility to proceed to senior standing and the nature and scope of the thesis project that may be undertaken. Students are expected to have completed the crew requirement (THEA 162) by the time this exam is taken.

Senior Thesis
The senior thesis of a theatre major may be a research-centered project or a project that integrates research with production. Recent production projects have been undertaken in directing, playwriting, acting, dramaturgy, and design.

Requirements for the Major

  1. Theatre 202 (Introduction to Theatre Design), 210 (Acting Laboratory), and 331 (Directing I) 
  2. Theatre 250 and 260 (Theatre History I and II)
  3. Four units of theatre electives.
  4. Two units of dramatic literature, which are to be taken outside the department.
  5. Theatre 470 (Thesis).

One unit selected from dance, music, or art is recommended.

Divisional requirements include proficiency in a foreign language at the second-year level and Humanities 210, 220, or 230 (generally used to fulfill the college’s Group B requirement).

Crew Requirement (Theatre 162)
Students majoring in theatre or combined theatre programs are required to complete two sections of Theatre 162. One section for zero credit is required. The second section may be taken for zero, one-half, or one full unit with departmental approval. Both sections must be completed before a student takes the junior qualifying examination. Students should fulfill this requirement in consultation with department faculty. Theatre 162 is also open to nonmajors.

Theatre 161 - Applied Performance Techniques

Variable credit: either one-half course or zero credit for one semester. Students will undertake intensive work in resolving acting and production problems, addressing problems of style, and developing techniques fundamental to performance. Conference and laboratory leading to performance and followed by written evaluation. Credit/no credit only. May be repeated for credit with departmental approval. Prerequisite: audition or interview required; Theatre 210 recommended. Conference-lab.

Theatre 162 - Applied Design and Technology

Variable credit: one full course, one-half course, or zero credit for one semester. Students undertake and fulfill production crew, stage management, or design responsibilities. This class provides experience in the creation and operation of live theatre. Theatre department productions provide lab experiences for applied learning in design and technical theatre and crew opportunities in scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, and stage management.
   One-half unit of credit may be earned for stage management or design responsibilities for a department-sponsored production. With departmental approval, a student may enroll for one unit. With departmental approval, stage managers may enroll concurrently for zero and for one-half units.
   Zero credit may be earned for completing a production crew responsibility (such as set, light, sound, costume, makeup, media) for a department-sponsored production, or for completing 50 hours of unpaid work in either the scene shop or the costume shop. Shop work can be used for only one section of the departmental crew requirement.
   Credit/no credit only. May be repeated with departmental approval. Prerequisite: interview required, theatre design recommended. Conference-laboratory. See “Requirements for the Major” above for more information about the crew requirement.

Theatre 200 - Introduction to Theatre

Full course for one semester. This course provides a creative and critical introduction to the major disciplines of theatre art as well as an exploration of the history and practice of Western theatre traditions. Students will examine dramatic texts from a theatrical standpoint, attend and review theatre performances, and participate in performance and production activities. Conference-lab.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 202 - Introduction to Theatrical Design

Full course for one semester. Introduction to the design of the physical environment of the stage. Unifying aesthetic principles and distinctions will be considered in relation to scenery, costume, lighting, makeup, and sound for live performance. The course emphasizes script analysis, the elements of design, and the principles of composition and design conceptualization with reference to historical and modern practices and technologies. Conference-lab.

Theatre 210 - Acting Laboratory

One-half course for one semester. This course provides a basic introduction to the work of Stanislavski, exploring script analysis for the actor as well as an experiential analysis of the basic physical, vocal, and analytical tools of the actor’s craft through a series of group and individual exercises, leading to preparation of audition monologues and performance of scenes. Conference-lab.

Theatre 220 - History of Clothing in Society and Performance

Full course for one semester. This course will give an overview of the form and function of clothing through time to the present day. In it, we will examine how clothing and personal décor function as social tools; how cultural forces influence specific fashions, aesthetics, and traditions in dress; and how these tools have been used or altered for dramatic performance throughout history. Theatre 202 is recommended. Lecture-conference.

Theatre 240 - Race and Identity in American Theatre

Full course for one semester. The course explores the role American theatre has played in the construction, preservation, and interrogation of race and gender categories. Students analyze works that employ performance as a venue for political activism, for cultivation of intraethnic pride, and for explorations of social issues too sensitive to be addressed in other contexts. Drawing upon readings from the theatre and other humanities and social science disciplines, this course examines the ways dramatic texts help to foster intra- and cross-cultural understanding, and also how a familiarity with the politics of representation and various other concerns of identity-based cultural groups can inform performance practices. Students examine works from a variety of cultural traditions in an effort to understand how seemingly common institutions or value systems (family, gender, class dynamics) must always be viewed through specific historical and cultural lenses. This course provides students with a more nuanced understanding of what race is and how it functions in America, and how theatre has been implicated as both a tool of racism and a means by which to resist its effects. Lecture-conference.

Theatre 250 - Theatre History I: Antiquity to Naturalism

Full course for one semester. This course is a survey of theatre history from antiquity to the late 1800s. In it, we will examine the relationship between theatre and society, including how theatre both reflects and shapes the world outside its walls, and vice versa. This course focuses on reading plays, critical essays, and historical documents, as well as essay writing and a final project. We will address questions of physical performance space, performance style, audience, the development of design, and the political and social consequences of making theatre at different moments in history. Lecture-conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 260 - Theatre History II: Naturalism to Now

Full course for one semester. This course surveys developments in twentieth-century European and American experimental theatre by examining the work of influential directors, playwrights, designers, theorists, and theatre collectives. Changing views of the theatre’s aesthetic and social functions will be explored. Special topics will include the rise of the director, the evolution of theatrical space, models of theatrical organization, and the role of the avant-garde. Lecture-conference.

Theatre 270 - Intercultural Experiments in Theatre

Full course for one semester. This course examines the work of influential theatre practitioners who have drawn inspiration from Eastern theatre traditions (including Brecht, Artaud, and Mnouchkine). In order to contextualize those inspirations, it offers a basic introduction to selected performance practices from China, Japan, India, and Bali. We will also examine the effects of intercultural negotiations on contemporary culture. Conference-laboratory.

Theatre 280 - Gender and Theatre

Full course for one semester. This course examines the roles gender has played in shaping world theatre as well as the roles theatre has played in shaping various cultural conceptions of gender. We will focus particularly on twentieth-century performance, including cross-dressing, “re-dressing” of canonical plays, the ascent of performance art, and questions of theatre and gender raised by performers from Japan to Cuba. We will interrogate the historical, cultural, and personal variability of the notion of gender itself, asking ourselves: What are theatre artists doing with the idea of gender? Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 310 - Techniques of Acting: Contemporary Theatre

Full course for one semester. This course focuses on the theory and practice of various acting techniques employed in contemporary Western theatre. Emphasis will be placed on both physical and psychological aspects of performance and characterization. Readings and research will focus on major practitioners and playwrights. Topics for 2011–12 were Brecht, Bogart and devised theatre. Studio work is supplemented with writings by contemporary theorists and practitioners relevant to these topics. Prerequisites: Theatre 210, or approved alternate with audition. Conference-lab. Offered alternate years.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 320 - Techniques of Acting: Period Style

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the theory and practice of approaches to acting in “period plays” performed in contemporary theatres. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the motivation for stylization and the development of physical and vocal skill necessary to successful performance. Areas of focus may include commedia dell 'arte Shakespeare and Molière. Prerequisite: Theatre 210, or approved alternate with audition. Conference-lab. Offered alternate years.

Theatre 331 - Directing I

Full course for one semester. This course is an investigation of approaches to script analysis and directorial tools for working with actors in bringing a text from page to stage. We will explore the process of developing and implementing a production concept: its formulation through analysis, rehearsal processes, and realization in theatrical terms in performance. Lab work will be supplemented by relevant writing by influential directors. Prerequisite: Theatre 210 or approved alternate. Conference-lab.

Theatre 332 - Directing Techniques: Contemporary Drama

Full course for one semester. This course will focus on advanced work in directing with emphasis on the interpretive and performance techniques requisite for the staging of contemporary drama. Topics for 2011–12 were Brecht, Bogart and devised theatre. Studio work is supplemented with writings by contemporary theorists and practitioners relevant to these topics. Prerequisite: Theatre 331. Conference-lab. Offered alternate years.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 334 - Special Problems in Directing: Period Style

Full course for one semester. This course is an advanced study that will focus on the problems of theatrical style, in particular the verse drama of Shakespeare and Molière. The course is introduced with background and reading relevant to these topics. Prerequisite: Theatre 331. Conference-lab. Offered alternate years.

Theatre 335 - Playwriting

Full course for one semester. This course is an exploration of the art and craft of playwriting. Structure, form, character, plot, and theme will be discussed, as will the art of critique and feedback. The course is structured around readings of published plays, discussions of essays about the theory and practice of playwriting, and practical writing exercises. Writing projects will lead to the development of short plays for public readings. Prerequisites: Completion of at least two theatre courses (including one from among 161, 200, 201, 202, 205, 210, 331) or admission through an approved writing sample (instructor approval). Conference-lab.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 336 - Dramaturgy

Full course for one semester. This course is an examination of the art, craft, and study of dramaturgy. In it we will attempt to build an answer for the vexing question “What is a dramaturg?” and, most of all, we will seek to discover who dramaturgs are, how they work and what they do. In this course we will study the large number of things that make up the art of dramaturgy: translation and adaptation, new play development, production dramaturgy, theatre criticism, in-depth research, literary management, season selection, and artistic collaboration, among others. We will also study established dramaturgs, their writings, and how they work in the theatre. This conference will combine theoretical and practical approaches, collaborative work and individual research. This conference will prepare students to work as dramaturgs on departmental productions, and give a solid foundation in how to do research and writing in the field of theatre. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and one 200-level theatre history course. Conference.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 345 - Advanced Playwriting

Full course for one semester. This course is an advanced workshop in writing for the theatre. In this conference, we will work on several larger projects over the course of the semester, culminating with staged readings of student works. We will focus on the workshop and revision processes, work with writing prompts, hold in-class readings, and study and view new plays by established playwrights. Prerequisite: Theatre 335 and/or approved writing sample (instructor approval). Conference-lab.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 350 - Scenic Design

Full course for one semester. This course investigates the tools, techniques and thinking behind the creation and shaping of three-dimensional space within a performance environment. Discussions and projects will center on finding visual images, creating physical spaces, and communicating meaning visually. The relationship between space, text, music, choreography, and architectural form will be explored. Prerequisite: Theatre 202. Conference-laboratory. Offered alternate years.

Theatre 355 - Costume Design

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the costume designer’s responsibilities as an artist and collaborator and explore the relationship among text, concept, and production as we undertake costume design projects throughout the semester. We will develop research, communication, and rendering skills as applied to the collaborative process of costume design. Discussions will include fabrication materials, performative movement, character and emotion, fashion, and pure visual expression as we work to create designs for clothing for text-based performances. Prerequisite: Theatre 202. Conference-laboratory.

Theatre 360 - Lighting Design

Full course for one semester. An exploration into the art and practice of lighting design for contemporary performance. The course consists of class projects and practical exercises exploring the relationship between light, space, movement, sound, and narrative. Detailed observations of light and its effect on different environments will be undertaken and current and historical conceptual approaches to lighting design will be presented and discussed. Prerequisite: Theatre 202. Conference-laboratory. Offered alternate years.

Not offered 2012-13.

Theatre 365 - Performance Technology

Full course for one semester. This course is an investigation into the technologies and techniques used for integrating media into the performance environment with a focus on sound and projected images. Contemporary and historical techniques for media integration will be examined through readings, viewings, and performance projects. Technologies examined include audio composition, live-feed video, prepared video content, and interactive performance. Prerequisite: Theatre 202. Conference-laboratory.

Theatre 396 - Seminar

One-half or full course for one semester. Students will perform advanced work in a selected area of inquiry. The course may include but is not limited to preparation of roles, directing of scenes or plays, and experimentation in performance theories and scriptwriting. Scripts, criticism, and artistic problems will be dealt with in an attempt to arrive at a creative synthesis. Prerequisite: prior coursework in the department (varies with the seminar topic). Conference-lab.

Solo Performance
Full course for one semester. Students will examine issues of representation and mimesis in theory and in practice. We will analyze the work of contemporary solo performers as well as create and perform solo performance pieces. Prerequisite: Theatre 210 or 335. Conference-laboratory.

Theatre 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.

Theatre 481 - Independent Study

One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: approval of instructor and division.