Course Descriptions


Introduction to Theater

As a set of staged practices rich with social context, theater has sought to document, engage, and affect communities. This course introduces and explores theater from page to stage as a live performing art. Topics include the relationship between theater and society (historical and contemporary), dramatic structure, theatrical representation, and the crafts of theater artists such as directors, designers, playwrights, and actors. We will also engage with live performances and video archives of past performances.


THEA 7.01

Theater for Social Change

This course will trace particular developments in American and Western European Theater from the First World War through the present. Artists and theater groups under consideration will be those whose work has focused on contemporary social conditions and the potential of performance to effect social change. In addition, students will experiment with developing scripts and performances based on current events. Readings will include selections from the writings of Erwin Piscator, Bertolt Brecht, The Federal Theatre Project, Harold Pinter, Augusto Boal, etc. as well as newspapers, news magazines, and other media sources. In addition to creative and critical writing, students will be assigned one major research project. Emphasis will be on class participation.

This is a first-year seminar class.

THEA 10.08

Creativity and Collaboration

Creativity and collaboration are concepts found in all disciplines and regularly requested, although rarely taught. In this course, students will have the opportunity to develop creative abilities through experiences in performance-based arts, and apply these in a collaborative project. Faculty artists active in movement and theater design will teach the course, which is open to students with no performance experience, as well as those looking for a new approach to existing skills.

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.

THEA 10.13

Dramatic Storytelling: Plays and Screenplays

Why choose just one? In "Dramatic Storytelling," beginning and advanced students explore the two forms, discovering which form better suits a given story. Along the way, students study film adaptations of such playwrights as William Shakespeare, Marsha Norman, Arthur Miller and Edward Albee. In doing so, they develop an appreciation of the history and traditions of both forms, along with an understanding of the issues involved with adaptation. By the end of the term, students have developed the ability to access and adapt the vast reservoir of dramatic stories to the times, issues, and forms that lie ahead. The course ends with an evening of public readings, showcasing the work developed in the class. No experience necessary.

THEA 10.25

Music, Design, and Creativity

This introductory class breaks new ground by making music, rather than text, the driving force behind design for the performing arts. After being introduced to the principles of design, students will create visual artworks inspired by personal responses to specific pieces of music. Students will then create designs specific to dance, concert design, musical theatre, and opera. Various forms of idea-sharing will be taught, including collage, sketching, rough modeling, and painting. No previous experience required.

THEA 10.29

Text Analysis: Tools for Interpretation

A dramatic text is like a musical score. In order to understand a play, a theater artist must first learn to "read music." This course will focus on the tools that allow an artist to understand the dramatic "score" and ultimately to translate the playwright's words into action on stage. The playwright's tools: Style, Setting, Mood, Theme, Environment, Character, Language, Action, Objective, Obstacles, will be defined and discussed.  The reading list will include plays by Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Katori Hall, William Shakespeare, Lynn Nottage, Caryl Churchill, and others. This course is relevant for all theater artists regardless of area of specialization.


THEA 10.45/ARAB 81.04

Arab Theatre

This class is a survey of the main trends and themes in Arab theatre from the mid-19th century to contemporary times. Students will be introduced to some of the main playwrights, actors and directors who helped define the art in the Arab world over the last century and a half.

THEA 10.71

Plays OnStage: Acting Comedy

An advanced acting class in the art of performing comedy, focusing on David Ives' The Liar, his "translaptation" of the 17th century Corneille farce of the same name. Building on the basics of Acting I, this course will examine how the fundamentals of acting are adapted to playing a heightened comedic text, in this case, the rhymed couplets of one of the theatre's most brilliant current wordsmiths.  Students will be introduced to a broad range of comedic performance, past and present, from sketch comedy to standup to films and television, developing a vocabulary of reference points, styles, and approaches to be applied in their rehearsals of The Liar.  The course will culminate in a public presentation of the play. Roles may be shared.

Prerequisite: THEA 30 or equivalent academic or practical performance experience. Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


The Tragedy and Comedy of Greece and Rome

The course studies in translation selected works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca (tragedy), Aristophanes and Plautus (comedy), and some of their central themes and questions: law, community, revenge, passion, and justice. We will approach them both as texts and as scripts/librettos, considering their relationship to other types of performance (ritual, rhetoric, music, dance) and genres (history, philosophy) as well as to theatrical space. There will be practical workshop opportunities for those interested.


Theater and Society I: Classical and Medieval Performance

This course explores selected examples of world performance during the classical and medieval periods in Western Europe and eastern Asia.  Plays to be discussed might include those by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Seneca, Plautus, Terence, and Zeami. Through the reading and discussion of primary and secondary texts, we seek to situate selected performance texts within their sociopolitical and artistic contexts.


Theater and Society II: Early Modern Performance

This course explores selected examples of world performance during the early modern period (fourteenth through the eighteenth centuries). Plays to be discussed might include those by Shakespeare, Calderón, Sor Juana de la Cruz, Molière, Racine, Marivaux, and Carlo Gozzi. Through the reading and discussion of primary and secondary texts, we seek to situate selected performance texts within their sociopolitical and artistic contexts.


Theater and Society III: 19th and 20th Century Performance

This course explores selected examples of world performance in the 19th and 20th century. Plays to be discussed might include those by Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, Lorca, Ionesco, Beckett, Williams, Miller, and Brecht, as well as contemporary U.S. playwrights such as Suzan-Lori Parks and Charles Mee. Through the reading and discussion of primary and secondary texts, we seek to situate selected performance texts within their sociopolitical and artistic contexts.


Russian Theater

This course is devoted to Russian drama and theater from the 19th through the 21st century. We will read eight plays that are central to Russian literary and theatrical tradition and then discuss their most significant interpretations on both the Russian and the world stage. The meetings will be conducted in a non-traditional format. In our examination of the plays, we will attempt to model the process of stage production in accordance with the principles developed by Konstantin Stanislavsky, a celebrated Russian director whose approach to theater transformed acting in Russia and beyond. The course will culminate in the production of a play by a Russian playwright which students themselves will cast, direct, and design. All readings are in English.

THEA 19/COLT 34.02

Human Rights and Performance

What can theatre do for human rights, and human rights for theatre? How do playwrights translate violations of human rights to the stage? Through class discussion and creative exercises, we will explore selected plays from around the world that address human rights through various genres and dramatic forms, including theatre of testimony, documentary theatre, realism, allegory, and surrealism.

This course will not be offered in the 2018-19 academic year.

THEA 21 / WGSS 59.04

Race, Gender and Performance

Students will explore the cultural, critical, and artistic works of contemporary Arab American, Asian American, Black, Latinx, and indigenous theater artists/performers. Our examination will consider the socio-historical and political contexts engaged through these artists' works. We will also consider the relationship between the construction of identity and strategies of performance used by playwrights/performers to describe race, gender, sexuality, class, subjectivity, and ideas of belonging. Texts examined will include works by Jacobs-Jenkins, Parks, Moraga, Yee, McCraney, Pamatmat, Hudes, and El Guindi.


Black Theater, U.S.A.

This course will examine African American playwrights, drama, and theater from 1959 to the present. Further exploration will focus on the impact of civil rights, the Black Arts movement, and cultural aesthetics on the form, style, and content of African American plays. Readings will include plays of Hansberry, Baldwin, Baraka, Kennedy, Childress, Shange, Wolfe, Wilson, Parks and others.



Postcolonial African Drama

This course explores selected theatre and performance traditions of sub-Saharan Africa. How do African playwrights negotiate and transform the colonial legacy of Western drama, and how do they use theater to challenge neocolonial regimes and to advance ideas of democracy, human rights, and gender equality? Plays from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda receive special emphasis. No prior knowledge of African studies or theater is necessary, just a willingness to expand critical and creative horizons.

This course will not be offered in the 2018-19 academic year.


Asian Performance Traditions

This course studies the performance traditions of Asia, focusing on China, Japan, Indonesia and India. Classical forms studied include Noh, Bunraku, Beijing opera, Sanskrit drama, Balinese dance and Japanese puppet theater. Attention is paid to social, religious and aesthetic influences on these traditions, theories on which they are based, the history behind the theatrical practices, and training and dramatic techniques. Students gain an appreciation of the rich variety and scope of theatrical conventions of Asia. 

THEA 25 / LACS 24.70

Solo Performance

This course will introduce and engage the history, texts, topics, theoretical guideposts, and landmark figures/performances central to the genre of solo performance. Working between critical examination and practice, participants will analyze the form and content of leading solo performers while also composing a series of short exercises that activate solo performance strategies and methods. The course will culminate in the creation of a participant's self-authored, short solo performance piece.



Movement Fundamentals I

An introduction to movement for the stage, this course will animate the interplay between anatomy, movement theories and performance. Through exploration of physical techniques, improvisation and movement composition, students will experience a fundamental approach to using the body as a responsive and expressive instrument. Assignments will include readings, written work, class presentations, mid-term exam and final paper.


Movement Fundamentals II

A continuation of THEA 26, this class will explore further the relationship between efficient and expressive movement and body connectivity. Contact improvisation, conditioning, kinesiology and movement repertoire form the foundation from which the class will explore individual performance. Assignments include readings, written work, class presentations and a final paper.

Prerequisite: THEA 26 or equivalent experience. Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll in this class.


Dance Composition

An in-depth study of the principles of dance composition leading to choreographic projects. Students will receive training in both dance composition and criticism, developing the requisite tools for choreography while acquiring the vocabulary for sophisticated choreographic analysis. Reading and writing assignments on contemporary issues in dance will be the departure for students' theoretical and creative exploration. To this end the class will concentrate on individual student choreography. Students' class work will be performed in an informal showing at the conclusion of the term.



Dance Theater Performance

Students will examine movement theories and techniques, utilizing these elements to create physical language while developing enhanced ensemble skills. Emphasis will be placed on the creation of a dance theater ensemble piece, which culminates the term in a final performance. The creative process, collaboration, and individual performance are key components of the experience. Readings in Dance Studies and critical reviews of performances are included to contextualize the course’s creative work. 

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll in this class.


Acting I

This course is a basic introduction to acting technique for the stage. It is designed to develop the ability to play dramatic action honestly and believably, using realistic/naturalistic material as well as self-scripted autobiographical writing. Course work includes exercises and improvisations exploring awareness, relaxation, observation, the senses, voice, and physical and emotional life. Work in preparation of the monologue will be introduced. Scene work, in the second half of the term, will focus on breaking down the play, analysis, identity, motivation and action. Out-of-class assignments include required readings from acting texts and plays. Attendance at, as well as responses to, a number of stage productions scheduled during the term is required. A commitment to regular journal writing in the form of an Observation Notebook will be expected. Open to all classes.

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


Acting II

An advanced scene study class that focuses on developing a process for performing non-realistic, “heightened” acting texts.  Students will encounter plays that present unique challenges for actors in terms of language, physicality, characterization, style, content and text analysis.  The class will structurally fuse the traditionally separate disciplines of acting, voice, and movement into a comprehensive unit by approaching the text simultaneously from these three perspectives. The work will proceed from the assumption that the actor’s performance must emerge from an expressively free and integrated instrument.

Prerequisite: THEA 30.
Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.

THEA 10.33

Contemporary Performance

This course introduces and examines trends in international performance practices since 2000, with an emphasis on the past decade. All of this work is theatrical, but none of it is traditional theater. Topics include virtual performance, theater as activism and social practice, documentary performance, eco-performance, visual "live art," movement performance, and interactive work that centers the spectator's experience. The course will feature multiple visits with artists who are in residence, performing, or developing interdisciplinary work at the Hopkins Center. We will experience works live when possible and view video documentation of many others. Artists' writings and articles from performing arts journals will offer theory and context.

 As a discussion-based seminar, active participation during class is essential as we seek to situate performances within their sociopolitical and artistic contexts and conceptualize the role and possibilities of performance in our rapidly changing world, including its potential to reflect and reshape its cultures and societies. In addition to gaining critical perspective and honing analytical skills, students in this course will join with those in THEA 90 for an intensive hands-on workshop in physical theater technique led by Quinn Bauriedel of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training. The course will culminate in a final project in which students create their own work of contemporary performance, paired with a theoretical paper describing and contextualizing the choices and goals of their piece.


THEA 10.30 / COLT 34.01

Theater of Ideas: Britain and France

An exploration of the main intellectual movements, dramatic forms, and playwrights that shaped the evolution of British and French theatre in the post-war period. Particular attention is given to modern drama history, theory, and performance and how they relate to the wider social and political context. Writers drawn from some of the following: Osborne, Pinter, Stoppard, Churchill, Hare, Bennett, Ravenhill, Sartre, Beckett, Genet, Cixous, and Mnouchkine, Koltes, Reza, and Ndiaye.

Dist:LIT; WCult:W

THEA 10.55/AAAS 32.15

The Making of 21st Century Exhibits: Curating a National Black Theater Museum/Institution

This course is designed for those interested in theatre and performance, African American studies, history, and culture. Students will study influences on the development of black theater and performance in the USA as well as processes for preserving, curating, and exhibiting culture in institutions, examining how museum concepts intersect and/or collide with representations of black history and culture. In collaboration with the Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, who are drafting plans for an institution devoted to black theatre practitioners, students will determine and develop content for an interactive venue. They will consider strategies for the use of technology and live exhibits, involving black communities in exhibits and curation, and providing access to diverse communities. Projects and findings will be shared with the institution’s developers and will beconsidered in their ongoing plans. The course will include a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

THEA 10.56/ AAAS 31.50

Black Theatre Workshop: The August Wilson Experience

Using legendary playwright, August Wilson’s ten-play cycle of African Americans' experiences throughout American history as our inspiration, this course provides hands-on, experiential learning of acting, script analysis, and theatrical production. With no previous performance, design, or production experience required, students will read Wilson’s plays and related commentary with opportunities to perform selected scenes from the Wilson cycle while exploring possibilities for design and technical elements. In this process-oriented course, students also learn basic acting techniques by strengthening observation and listening skills, risktaking, imagination, improvisation, concentration, exploration of self, voice, and body. Activities include textual analysis of Wilson’s plays and related works as well as documenting and revising performance philosophy and process. While providing a safe space for exploring the roles we play in our daily lives and taking on the roles of others in given or imagined circumstances, students will learn widely accepted theories, practices, and terminology of the actor’s craft in order to facilitate the practice, writing, and discussion of acting and producing Wilson’s plays and others.

THEA 10.57 / AAAS 31.10

Dance Theatre of Harlem Workshop: The Hazel Scott Project, Artist as Activist

Synthesizing aspects of cultural storytelling, theater, movement, activism, and biography, this course is focused on the creation of new performance work. Students will have a rare opportunity to engage with the singular Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) during their summer residency at Dartmouth College as they begin original choreography of a performance work inspired by the legendary entertainer Hazel Scott. This course explores all elements of the new dance theater work, from the point of view of the choreographer as storyteller, to the business realities of running a major performance company. During THEA 10.57, students will also create and organize performances of their own movement-based biographical works.  

Dist:ART; WCult:CI


Acting for Musical Theater

This course will introduce students to the techniques used by actors/singers to play musical theater scenes believably, honestly and dynamically. Basic acting techniques will be taught as well as work in singing, text analysis, movement and speech. Students will begin with individual songs, then prepare, rehearse and present two-person musical scenes from Company, West Side Story, Side Show, Jane Eyre, Into the Woods, Passion, She Loves Me, The Secret Garden, Follies and others.

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.

THEA 10.32

Acting for Musical Theater II

This course is a continuation of the study of Musical Theater, building on the curriculum of Acting for Musical Theater I. The class will further the student’s technique in building character for this genre from various periods and styles. Acting techniques using American Musical Theater of the 1930s through the 1950s will be studied, as well as voice and speech techniques for Shakespearean texts. The course will culminate in a staged reading of scenes from a contemporary musical(s), performed before an invited audience.  

Prerequisite: THEA 35 or equivalent experience. Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


The Speaking Voice for the Stage

This course is an examination of the principles and practice of freeing the natural voice. It proceeds from the notion that "voice" and "acting" are inseparable. Although it is an introduction to the use of voice in the theater, it is in no way limited to the actor. A specific progression of exercises will be presented to facilitate freeing the body of tensions, discovering the natural breath, releasing vibrations of sound from the body, and opening the channel for sound (throat, jaw, tongue). Resonance, vocal freedom, and articulation will also be explored. Techniques for accessing emotional and psychological truth will be practiced as fundamental to the actor's creative process. A groundwork will be laid for physical and vocal presence.

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


Technical Production

An introduction to the technical aspects of live theater, exploring both traditional and modern approaches. Topics include the stage and its equipment, materials and construction of scenic and property items, lighting, sound, rigging, design, stage management, and more. This course includes both lectures and hands-on learning.



Stage Management

An introductory course in the theories, techniques, and practices of stage managing a production from its initial stages to the conclusion of the run. Plays, musicals, opera, dance, and touring productions will be examined from the perspective of the stage manager. Working with directors, choreographers, and other members of the production team will be discussed as well as calling shows. Students will acquire practical experience through assignments on Department of Theater productions. Open to all classes.

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


Scenic Design

An introduction to the basics of scenic design through weekly projects in scale models, drawings, research, lighting and storyboards. Students will also study the collaborative process among scene designers, directors, costume and lighting designers. Suitable for students interested in theater, visual and video art, installation, film, architecture, and sculpture. Students will have the opportunity to assist student and faculty scene designers on Department of Theater productions. Open to all classes.


Lighting Design

An introduction to the practical and artistic elements of theatrical lighting design. The course will include topics in color theory, form, movement, composition, and the creative process. Through analyzing the script and studying light in nature, film, and art, students will prepare projects that explore the possibilities of light in the theater. Students will have the opportunity to work on Department of Theater productions with faculty and student lighting designers. Lectures, discussions, design projects, and critiques.


Costume Design

An introductory course in the appreciation of the costume design process as part of the dramatic production. Through weekly projects, students will study the principles of line, texture, and color as well as the history of costume from the Renaissance through the eighteenth century. Lectures, design projects, and critiques. 

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


Playwriting I

The aim of this course is for each student to write the best one-act play he or she is capable of writing. It is open to students both with a theater background and those without. This course will involve a number of preliminary exercises, the preparation of a scenario, the development of the material through individual conferences, and finally the reading and discussion of the student's work in seminar sessions.


Playwriting II

A continuation of THEA 50: Playwriting I.

Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll. 



An introductory course in directing for the stage. Topics include the role and function of the director in the contemporary theater; the basic tools of proscenium blocking and staging, such as composition, picturization, movement, and gesture; structural script analysis; and basic actor coaching techniques.

Prerequisite: THEA 30. Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


Classical Performance I

This course is taught by the LAMDA faculty. THEA 60 is an intensive course in classical theater training focused on acting (including improvisation), movement (including movement theater, clown and historic dance), and voice (including singing). Texts include Shakespeare and either Jacobean or Restoration plays. This typical British conservatoire experience is designed for students interested in acting, directing, playwriting, design, stage management, dramaturgy or criticism.

Offered only as a part of the Theater Foreign Study Program in London. This program requires submission of an application and acceptance as a participant. This course is graded as credit/no credit.


Classical Performance II

A continuation of THEA 60: Classical Performance I.

Offered only as a part of the Theater Foreign Study Program in London. This program requires submission of an application and acceptance as a participant. This course is graded as credit/no credit.


Plays in Performance: Perception and Analysis

Offered only as a part of the Theater Foreign Study Program in London, this seminar integrates the study of theater with the experience of plays in performance. By providing intense, comparative experience of playgoing, the course intends to broaden students' knowledge of the dramatic repertoire, to heighten their awareness of production approaches and values, and to encourage them to develop considered critical response to theater. Students attend a number of required performances and in addition attend performances of their own choosing - normally a total of three plays per week. Productions will represent a variety of periods and styles of playwriting, and a similarly diverse range of production companies and approaches to performance.

Offered only as a part of the Theater Foreign Study Program in London. This program requires submission of an application and acceptance as a participant. This course is graded as credit/no credit.


Summer Theater Lab

This class is designed to investigate methods for the development of new work for the theater. Students will participate in all aspects of a mainstage production designed for this course. In addition, students will intern with the New York Theatre Workshop during their August residency at Dartmouth. The class will also include field trips, visits by guest artists, and independent work in each student's area of concentration.

CLICK HERE for more details about the Summer Theater Lab. Instructor permission is required; CLICK HERE for more information about receiving permission to enroll.


Independent Study

This course is designed to enable qualified upperclass students, who have completed the appropriate supporting coursework, to engage in independent study in theater under the direction of a member of the department. A student should consult with the faculty member with whom he or she wishes to work as far in advance as possible, and not later than the term immediately preceding the term in which the independent study is to be pursued.

A written proposal and the approval of the faculty member and the Chair are required. CLICK HERE for more information about proposing an Independent Study in Theater.


Contemporary Practices in U.S. Theater

This course draws upon faculty and guest artists of the Department of Theater to explore what it means to be a theatre artist of the new millennium. What are the plays, theatre artists, and practices that describe our era? What are the relationships among and between designer, actor, playwright, and scholar? What is the nature of interdisciplinary work? How do you see yourself participating? Course materials include contemporary plays, readings on current practices, and research about contemporary companies.

This course is mandatory for senior theater majors. Instructor permission is required.


The Honors Thesis

An Honors project, which normally extends through two terms and receives two major credits, must include a thesis or thesis project. This course must be elected by all honors candidates.

CLICK HERE for more information regarding the Honors Thesis in Theater.


The Art of Adaptation and Storytelling

(Ndounou & Kwayana) 

This theoretical and practice-based course is a study of the conversion of oral, historical and fictional narratives into stage drama, cinema and literary texts. Special attention will be given to the cultural and political implications of cross-generic transformation, formulaic conventions and concepts of “genre,” “crossover appeal” and “adaptation.” Throughout the term, the intersections of race, culture and economics will be regularly questioned. Black cultural storytelling in various mediums and genres will be examined to serve as a point of entry into discussion of cultural worldview and storytelling in order to aid and encourage students to explore the theories, concepts and practice of adaptation from multiple, diverse vantage points and areas of interest. Building upon the adaptations they created in the first half of the quarter, students begin translating their stories visually in the “production” phase of the course. They assess how emotional information is translated in the original form and invent new ways of translating this content in their new visual format. Final projects can be interactive stage pieces, video installations or films.

Dist:ART; WCult:CI