Theater encompasses a wide variety of collaborative live art forms. THEA 001 gives students an introduction to the study of the theatrical event: its practice, its power, and its place in the world. Some questions we will address in this course include: What is theater? Why do we do it? What does theater contribute to our society? What role has it played in the past and what are its possibilities now and for the future? We will develop an appreciation for the importance of theater and performance throughout history, an introduction to various aspects and elements of the practice of theater, and help students identify areas of interest so that they can pursue them further.

Introduction to Theater is neither a history survey course, nor a dramatic literature course, although we will study some history, theory and plays. This class will focus on introducing the numerous ways in which theater is practiced and the issues raised in and by performance. Rather than asking what productions “mean” we ask what are they “doing”? How are they made and how do they function? Critical reflection will be balanced with opportunities to engage in practical research, creation, preparation and presentation of theatrical work through hands-on workshops and exercises.

We will also attend live performances (see syllabus for details) and watch video of performance in class. Students will learn to describe and analyze performance using different critical lenses, and contextualize work aesthetically, historically and socio-politically. We will use writing as a means to deepen our thinking about performance. To that end, we will spend class time discussing and critiquing student writing.