Introduction to Theatre [CRN 27411]

Discipline: Theatre
Instructor: Lewis
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 0930
End: 1050
Field Work: Day 1 | February 8, 2018 | Vietnam
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

In this introductory course, we will:

  • SEE theatre – in its rich variety, potency, design and complexity;
  • UNDERSTAND theatre – as a social and political entity capable of changing the world;
  • THINK about world theatre – in new and insightful ways; and
  • MAKE theatre – by staging a final project as a group.

We explore what theatre is, who makes it, and how they turn words on a page into meaning on a stage.  You will gain an understanding of the various components of theatre: playwriting, directing, acting, costume, scene/lighting design, and dramaturgy. We explore the ways in which theatre and performance make meaning in cultures, serve as sites of engagement and dissent within societies, and are shaped by – and help shape – the historical, political, and aesthetic world in which we live.

We will learn how to do a close reading of a playtext, study play structure and storytelling techniques, examine how playwrights, directors, and designers create for the theatre, and analyze how actors’ bodies read (differently) on stage. We will also explore the politics of performance, including the influence of figures like Bertolt Brecht and Augusto Boal, non-Western theatre forms, and gender-bending on stage. And we will learn about various genres of theatre, from musical theatre to performance art.

We will read and discuss plays in class, and see performances (live on excursion and video recordings in class), and have the chance to make theatre in short group projects (no prior theatre experience necessary).

Field Work

Country: Vietnam
Day: 1
Date: February 8, 2018

Students will experience two forms of Vietnamese performing arts: water puppetry and musical training and performance. First, we will visit the History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City where we will watch a 40-minute water puppet show made exclusively for our class. After the show we will have time for discussion with the artists and to learn more about the water puppet mechanics and construction. Students will have the opportunity for hands-on manipulation of the puppets (including in the water if you wish – so bring a change of dry clothes!)

Next, we visit the SOUL Music Academy, a renowned youth music school in Ho Chi Minh City, where we will learn about traditional Vietnamese music and storytelling and have the chance to learn and sing a song together. As we travel to Di Mai Restaurant for dinner and a debrief discussion, we will have some free time to walk and explore – paying specific attention to the “performances of everyday life” we witness in the city. You will be asked to journal and document what you see – and be ready to share these experiences during our dinner discussion.

Learning objectives:
  1. Experience and compare two forms of Vietnamese performing arts live and in person: water puppetry (Múa ri nước) and musical training and performance
  2. Learn how both human and non-human actors tell stories through the creative expression of performing arts
  3. Learn how to read/experience live theatre and encounter culturally different performances
  4. Analyze puppetry and stagecraft practices as well as music training