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Special Topics

Theatre & Dance Topics Courses 2016-17 


Gender Trouble on the Acropolis

This is a course on Greek drama and society in fifth century Athens.   The Athenian acropolis prominently featured Athena, the masculine patron goddess of the city, and Dionysos, the most feminine of the male Olympians, and in whose cult gender reversal is prominent. Likewise, three of the most important civic festivals, the City Dionysia, the Lenaia, and the Panathenaia were in honor of these peculiarly gendered deities. In this course we will consider the major monuments on the acropolis, the three major festivals of the city, and the dramas performed at those festivals.  Athenian drama originated and for centuries was performed in the cult of Dionysos at festivals of Dionysos, a site where Athens explored many of its most profound conflicts.  This study of gender in Athenian tragedy and comedy takes as its starting point the significance of the location of the theater of Dionysos, on the Acropolis so dominated by Athena, patroness of the city. The relationships between men and women in the plays, and in the city, as well as Athenian concepts of justice can be better understood by reflecting on the importance of the highly ambiguously gendered gods, thus we will read dramas paying specific attention to the issue of gender relations and the creation of civic ideology. We will look at tragedies from Aeschylus, and Euripides, as well as comedies from Aristophanes, as we attempt to answer these questions.  The course will be given in Athens, Greece and will include trips to important and relevant sites. (CO200, CL219, FG206) 1 unit - Hughes



Costume Design into Narrative

This experimental course will explore the relationship of costume design to sculpture and architecture, and the capacity of 3-D design to create narrative. In a reversal of the traditional process of designing costumes to support a concept, students will first make studies in costume and then devise environments and narratives that respond to the costumes.  Emphasis will be placed on using surplus, recycled, and found objects as a way to give new life to otherwise discarded materials, to introduce sustainability as a viable educational component, and to challenge students to realize aesthetic goals without relying on intrinsically valuable media. 

Collaboration will be encouraged within the class structure and beyond to engage students from other courses or unrehearsed audiences to investigate new meaning in projects.  While the course will emphasize studio work, class discussions and lectures will also allow understanding the topic from analytical and theoretical perspectives. Lab Fee Required, Class Limited to 12.  (AS210) 1 unit -  Ames/Reed


BLOCK 3 & 4

Finding your Own Voice

This class is designed to instill confidence in you every time you speak - whether it be as a character in a play, speaking in front of a group, or speaking to prospective employers - knowing that your voice is being heard and understood and that your thoughts and emotions are being clearly conveyed. You will be led through a series of physical exercises for breath support, resonance, and articulation in order to explore all of your vocal possibilities. Then we will apply this work to interpreting texts: poetry, non-fiction essays, short stories, and scenes from plays.  You will be encouraged to bring texts to class that you would like to work on. This class is not only for actors, singers, public speakers, and storytellers, but anyone who has a desire to dig deep in order to find your true voice. 1 unit -  Aronson



Naked States of Being

Delicious Movement is an experiential and experimental course taught by Eiko Otake, dancer/choreographer and interdisciplinary artist. This course combines the "Delicious Movement Workshop" with the study of postwar Japanese arts.  Through the study of movement, readings, videos, and films we will learn that space/time is not a white canvas that stands alone and empty. Here and now are continuous parts of a larger geography (space) and history (time) and as such are dense with memories, shadows, and possibilities. We will see art works and films from postwar Japan as examples of artistic representations of despair and perseverance. What is it to forget, remember, mourn, and pray? How do we transcend violence and loss? How does being or becoming a mover or dancer affect our emotional rigor, seeing/learning, and creativity? These are some of the many questions we will explore.  This is not a dance class, nor is it geared toward performers. We will learn some movement together, but we encourage you to think about movement as a method of accessing human experiences and building knowledge, a way to explore sensations, thoughts, and reactions to a particular space. (FG206, PA250, DA200, RM200) 1 unit – Otake




An exploration of various creative approaches to the retelling and repurposing of stories. Examples across fiction and drama will serve as basis for student conceived adaptation projects. (EN286) 1-unit - Goodwin/Hayward



Theatre for a New Audience in New York City: (Skin of our Teeth or The Winter’s Tale)

This course is of variable content, and is taught partly or wholly in New York City at the Theatre for A New Audience. Taking guidance from a play on the season of the esteemed theatre company, the course utilizes New York City and its cultural and performance resources as a laboratory for discussion of the themes, polemics, cultural approbations, and aesthetic strategies that the text and the particular production conceptualization present. The class is taught as a seminar. Honor Code applies. Variable syllabi and subject matter.  COI and Program Fee (EN280) 1 unit—Lindblade/Hayward



The Art of Insurgency: Performance and Political Order

Students will explore the role of performance in insurgencies against political and social order. Particular focus is on the instrumental use of constructs of gender, nation, sexuality and race in both repression and rebellion. Two weeks will be spent in Belgrade, Serbia where we will study and collaborate with artists from Dah Theatre, Women in Black, Gay Straight Alliance and CANVAS/Otpor. Students may choose a paper or performance track for their final projects. Prerequisites: A passport, COI and program fee (PS203, DA200) 1 unit -  Gould/Womack