Theatre and Dance
In the practice and study of performance, the Department of Theatre and Dance at Grinnell is committed to high standards of artistic expression and creative scholarship within the context of a liberal arts education. In the expansive fields within our department, students study the literature, history, and theory of theatre, dance, and performance. We also study the practices of performance making, those of design, acting and directing, dance and choreography in European, American, postcolonial and other non-Western forms. The major provides rigorous training in the analysis of performance forms in all of our classes. This provides a set of analytical “ways in” that students can apply to any of the texts (written or performed) with which they engage in all of our emphasis areas. These methods are predicated on understanding social, political, and historical contexts, and the ability to use theory to ground specific examples and forms. Our program coheres around a shared theoretical and methodological approach to the creation of performance in theatre, dance, and the multiplicity of cultural forms of identity-making (including sports, rituals, festivals, spectacles, and everyday life). All of our students will graduate knowing how to read and critique texts and to interpret them for performance and will be prepared for graduate study as well as professional programs. As one successful recent graduate commented of her studies, “I couldn’t learn everything there is to know about theatre at Grinnell, since it’s a liberal arts institution. But I learned how to learn.” This will continue to be the foundation for students within the multiple pathways in our discipline.
A minimum of 36 credits in Theater. Required are:
- Two courses or 8 credits at the 100-level from THE-111, THE-113, THE-115, THE-117)
- Four courses or 16 credits at the 200-level.
- Two courses in performance theory, criticism, and history from THE-201, THE-202, THE-203, THE-210, THE-211.
- Two courses focused primarily in creative inquiry from THE-217, THE-225, THE-235, THE-240, THE-245
- Two courses or 8 credits at the 300-level
- Four practicum credits at the 100-level in at least three of the following areas: theatrical performance, choreography, dramaturgical research, directing, stage and production management, performance technology, and performance crew, or two credits of THE-204: Dance Ensemble, plus two 100-level credits in other areas.
To be considered for honors in theatre, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate an underlying commitment to the discipline above and beyond simple completion of the classes for the major. This commitment is evidenced by excellent performance in class, sustained activity in department productions, and an Independent Project (such as a MAP 499). A maximum of 4 credits in Independent Projects (Theatre 397, Theatre 499) may be applied to the 36-credit major.
Guided participation, for major theatre and dance productions, in theatrical performance, choreography, assistant directing, stage managing, dramaturgy, or design and crew work on sets, lights, props, costumes, or makeup. Qualified students examine problems of production in the theatre while solving these problems in rehearsal and performance. S/D/F only. May be repeated for credit. (A maximum of 8 practica credits may count toward graduation.)
Beginning dance technique; the principles, terminology, basic history, developing a physical and kinesthetic understanding of concert dance techniques. Areas of emphasis include but are not limited to ballet or modern dance. Consult the Schedule of Courses for the specific area of emphasis each semester. May be repeated for credit.
An examination of dramatic performance in its broadest cultural contexts. This foundational course is designed to encourage critical thinking about the inclusive field of performance and how it is created, including orality, festivals, living history museums, trials, political conventions, and sporting events. Students explore both texts and performance events to analyze “What makes an event performance?” and “How is performance made and understood?” Because knowledge is embodied as well as textualized, students will both write and perform components of their final class projects.
Practical exploration of movement and bodily-based trainings such as pilates, yoga, body-mind centering, and Bartenieff Fundamentals and/or Laban Movement Analysis as preparation for performance. Studio-based exercises will investigate somatic and movement improvisation practices as an alternative means to theorize the relationship of mind to body and to develop greater physical awareness.
A hands-on, experiential introduction to the design elements of theatre and dance production. Topics include a history of western theatre architecture and stage forms, scene painting, properties, lighting, sound, drafting, make-up, and costuming. Emphasis is placed upon the design and implementation of theatrical scenes from a variety of historic areas and the analysis of the ways in which the design elements influence performance style.
A practice-based exploration of the theories and techniques of acting. Using Stanislavksi's seminal text An Actor Prepares as the foundation, students develop their skills at transforming dramatic texts from the page to the stage. The course culminates in publicly staged scenes.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 201. Study of major works in Western dramatic literature to 1850, with reference to cultural contexts, interpretive problems, and dramatic theory, beginning with Aristotle’s Poetics. Includes plays and performances (in translation) of Greek tragedy and Aristophanic comedy, English medieval cycle plays, Machiavelli, Marlowe, Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Tempest, Webster’s White Devil, Ben Jonson, Spanish Golden Age, Racine and Moliere, a Restoration comedy, the Brook Mahabharata, and Goethe’s Faust.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 202. Study of major works in Western dramatic literature from 1850 to the present, with reference to cultural contexts, interpretive problems, and dramatic theory. From the “classic moderns” of realism and naturalism through the Symbolists, Expressionists, Surrealists and Absurdists; dramatists and theorists include Ibsen, Chekhov, Strindberg, Yeats, Synge, Shaw, Buechner, Kaiser, Artaud, Pirandello, Lorca, Brecht, Sartre, Genet, Beckett, Grotowski, Weiss, Pinter, Cixous, and Stoppard.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 203. A study of American theatre from the early 20th century to the present. Students examine a variety of different theatrical styles, ranging from plays by canonical authors (including O’Neill, Williams, Miller, Albee, Wilson, Mamet, and Shepard) to experimental works by artists who challenged the conventions of mainstream theatre (including Cage, Kaprow, Beck, Finley, and Wilson).
Intermediate and advanced dance technique; physical and kinesthetic study involving more complex movement patterns and sequences, phrasing, musicality, and stylistic considerations. Areas of emphasis include but are not limited to ballet or modern dance. Consult the Schedule of Courses for the specific area of emphasis each semester. May be repeated for credit.
Qualified students rehearse as an ensemble for a final performance. In addition, students train in modern dance, yoga, pilates, and/or dance improvisation. The ensemble may focus its performance activities in a given year or semester on a special topic or theme, such as site-based dance, dance and community, or video dance. S/D/F only. May be repeated for credit. (A maximum of 8 practica credits may count toward graduation.)
A study of Western concert dance from the 19th century to the present. Studio-based exercises in modern dance technique and composition are combined with readings, video viewings, and lecture/discussion to provide a physical, conceptual, and historical understanding of dance as a performing art form.
This course examines non-naturalistic forms of theatre and performance-making. It explores the work of foundational avant-garde director/theorists and performance practices that have developed since the 1960s, including performance art and community-based theatre. It also focuses on non-Western performances, including textual and nontextual practices, and the ways in which Western and non-Western theatre have intersected interculturally during the last century.
An intensive performance laboratory for students to explore different modes of performance and further develop and refine their acting skills. With an emphasis on psychological realism, students stage a series of individual and group performances designed to enhance their critical engagement of performance as both the subject and method of their study.
A theoretical and practical investigation of dance composition and performance technique.
A theoretical and practical investigation of the responsibilities and techniques of the director in the theatre. Classroom exercises are supplemented by readings addressing different theories of directing. The final project is the directing of a one-act play.
An exploration of the design fundamentals common to each facet of theatrical design: scenery, lighting, costumes, and makeup. Such elements as design procedure from conception to realization, research techniques and materials, period style, and design history are emphasized.
Introduces the student to the art of lighting design, process, and the practice of lighting the stage for the theatre, opera, dance, industrials, television, and video. Students develop the knowledge, vocabulary, and skills necessary to become a master electrician, assistant lighting designer, and beginning lighting designer.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 303. A seminar-style course in dramaturgy, focusing on a central topic in the history and theory prior to 1850. The course will emphasize the development of methodologies and research strategies useful for the theatre practitioner and the researcher. A variable-content course past topics have included Greek Drama, Theory of Comedy (Aristophanes to Stoppard), English Medieval and Renaissance Drama; Hamlet and Revenge Tragedy, Shakespeare’s Comedies and Tragedies. See schedule of courses for topics. May be repeated once for credit when content changes.
Also listed as General Literary Studies 304. A seminar-style course in dramaturgy, focusing on a central topic in the history and theory of theatre and performance. Studies in Drama II covers topics after 1850. The course will emphasize the development of methodologies and research strategies useful for the theatre practitioner and the researcher. A variable-content course, past topics have included Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov; Beckett’s Prose and Plays; Beckett and the Theatre of the Absurd; British Drama since World War II; and Postcolonial Theatre. May be repeated once for credit when content changes.
A combined seminar and practice course for advanced study of a selected topic in dance or contemporary performance that will be detailed each time the course is offered (topics are announced in the Schedule of Courses). The course will employ a variety of materials and methods for advanced research in dance as a cultural, social, historical, and artistic phenomenon. Topics could include: Dance and Technology, Community and Performance; Dancing Gender and Sexuality; and The Choreography of Political Protest. May be repeated once for credit.
An advanced-level, variable-topic course that combines theoretical and historical study with practical investigation. Possible topics include adaptation and performance of literature or nonfiction and devised or community-based performance. Students will work as individuals or within groups to research, create, and present a final performance project.
This variable topic course focuses on classical and contemporary modes of performance. Possible areas of emphasis include Greek, Elizabethan, French neoclassic, contemporary docudrama theatre, Asian theatre, and performance art. Course emphasis is on scene study, performance, and directing. May be repeated when content changes.
An in-depth exploration of designing for the stage, with the specific area of design (scenery, lighting, costumes) announced each time the course is offered. Emphasis is on script or dance “text” analysis and the evolution of design from first reading to first performance.
- College Catalog