Creative / Intermediate / Advanced Drama
Northwood's acting classes are standards based yearlong courses, which introduce all areas of the theatre arts to the student. Using the National Theatre Arts Standards, the courses will include:
Artistic Perception – Vocabulary of the theatre.
Creative Expression – Acting and design for the stage.
Historical and Cultural Context – History of theatre through design and acting styles.
Aesthetic Valuing – Reviewing movies, live theatrical productions, and in class projects.
Connections and Interconnections – Careers in theatre/film, television performance, and literary analysis.
When and where do we meet?
The classes meet on odd days and even days in room 605. Days in the theatre will be posted on the door. Additional coaching: Tuesdays and Thursdays during tutorial.
Why should you care about theatre arts?
Have you ever felt nervous speaking in front of a group of people and wish you knew specific skills that could help you overcome this? Have you ever been in an argument or misunderstanding and wished you/they knew how to better communicate in a way that allows another person to understand you? Have you ever seen a performance and wondered “how did they do that?” Did you know that you can study theatre arts in college? Did you know people can be offered full-rides to study theatre arts in college? Did you know that there are many careers in theatre arts and entertainment?
How can you as a theatre artist foster understanding between self and others through critical awareness, social responsibility, and the exploration of empathy? How can theatre change the world? These are just a few of the challenges theatre artists face when beginning to train. During these courses, we will explore questions such as these and you will be provided with the building blocks needed to begin your practice in theatre arts.
How will this course help your career development?
Grand challenges are fundamental questions in theatre arts with broad applications to humanities, communications, performance, and the development of empathy and perspective taking (seeing what it’s like to live in another person’s shoes / deepening your understanding of other people’s experiences). This class will help you acquire a conceptual and practical framework that you can apply to solve complex grand challenges in your future presentations, theatre practice, and/or future management/leadership positions. By the end of the courses, you will be able to answer the following questions:
What happens when theatre artists use their imaginations and/or learned theatre skills while engaging in creative exploration and inquiry?
How, when, and why do theatre artists’ choices change?
How do theatre artists transform and edit their initial ideas?
Why are strong choices essential to interpreting a drama or theatre piece?
What can I do to fully prepare a performance or technical design?
What happens when theatre artists and audiences share a creative experience?
How do theatre artists comprehend the essence of drama processes and theatre experiences?
How can the same work of art communicate different messages to different people?
How are the theatre artist’s processes and the audience’s perspectives impacted by analysis and synthesis?
What happens when theatre artists foster understanding between self and others through critical awareness, social responsibility, and the exploration of empathy?
What happens when theatre artists allow an understanding of themselves and the world to inform perceptions about theatre and the purpose of their work?
In what ways can research into theatre histories, theories, literature, and performance alter the way a drama process or production is understood?
Where can you look for important information?
Anywhere you want! Occasionally, we will bring a chromebook cart to class as well. “Real” theatre artists use scripts, notebooks, journals, online resources, articles, and personal communications with colleagues, etc. to learn what they need to know to answer complex questions like the ones listed above. I will recommend some resources and post my notes on Canvas, but you should not feel limited to only the materials I suggest. In fact, you will probably need additional resources to complete the full story surrounding some of these challenging questions.
How will you succeed in this course?
Participate. You are expected to participate actively in the course based on your own learning goals. We will regularly work in collaborative teams. This approach facilitates learning and mimics your future role as a member in teams of presenters, theatre artists, businesspeople, and/or managers/leaders. Since you all come from different backgrounds and theatre experiences, your peers are valuable resources for learning. Don’t shortchange them and yourself by coming to class without preparing or by sitting quietly during class discussion/rehearsal time.
Communicate. This course may be unlike any of your previous courses, with increasing complex content and new kinds of theatrical challenges. Because I am committed to helping you address these new challenges, I have an open door policy in addition to class and tutorial; I will meet with you or respond to your email within 24 hours whenever possible (sometimes tech week and show week make this challenging!) You should let me know what ideas and tools are challenging to you and how you are doing in the class. If you start this habit early in the semester, then I will be able to better tailor our activities to help you learn.
Take risks. Theatre arts often require putting yourself out there in the audition process, interviews, networking and especially in rehearsals when making artistic choices. Sometimes the “right” choice may not be believable or clear to your audience. Sometimes you may audition / interview for something and not get a role / position. Developing your growth mindset is key to having the courage to take risks artistically and personally while fostering your development of perseverance which will affect you in so many ways as you learn and grow. Many former students have shared with me how they wish they had auditioned for productions sooner or they wish they had gotten more involved with theatre sooner. The great thing is, if you are reading this, you’re here! My goal is to create a safe classroom environment in which you will be rewarded for going out on a limb to try new things, share, and defend your ideas. Do your best to have the courage to create! Don’t be afraid to go for it!
Have fun. These things we do in theatre are called “plays” after all. Sometimes we all need a mental break. During each class, you will likely have group time in which I will always encourage you to take some time to check in and catch up with each other. Other times we may decide to play some games. Enjoy!
How will you and I evaluate your progress?
Out-of-class practice - Practicing by doing is very effective in helping you begin to master the skills necessary to develop a theatre artist practice. The at home rehearsal opportunities are designed to give you practice developing your vocal techniques, ability to enunciate (and be understood!), develop your understanding of the way you move about the world and to help you broaden your observations and understanding of the way individuals interact with one another in the world around you. I am available during tutorial every week for coaching sessions to help you when you feel unsure or get stuck. The unit guides will help you with deepening your understanding of the skills you are developing and will also include your grading rubrics. In some cases, you will be evaluating each other’s work.
In-class practice - In the professional world, theatre artists sometimes need to work with one another to provide feedback on the fly - whether it be in preparation for a last minute audition or to refresh a scene after having performed the show on Broadway over 100 times! Being able to think on your feet and engage in work with one another quickly can also generate fun conversations socially! During many classes you will act as directors, producers, costumers, makeup artists, designers, writers, as well as actors as you engage in the rehearsal process. Rehearsal etiquette is in full play during these times and you will see how engaging in a professional rehearsal practice will bring you to your goal to participate in a functioning, well thought out, and well rehearsed performance.
Helping yourself learn - In order to evaluate your own progress in learning each day’s concepts, you will be asked to answer short questions before or during each class. Some questions help you review and check your understanding of key concepts. Other questions ask you to reflect on your learning process. Specific instructions will be provided each day. These answers will not be graded individually, but completing them thoughtfully will count towards your grade. Some will be submitted anonymously. In order to help you reflect on your own learning, we will immediately discuss your answers (in aggregate), and I will provide individual feedback.
Professional and Academic Integrity
As practicing professionals, theatre artists are trusted to maintain the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, and personal responsibility. Since you have joined the community of trust to prepare for your future career, I expect you to fully comply with all of the provisions of the Northwood Values: Mutual Respect, Compassion, and Integrity. In addition to pledging that you have neither received nor given aid on a non-group assignment, your signature also affirms that you have not knowingly represented as your own any opinions or ideas that are attributable to another author in published or unpublished notes, study outlines, articles, textbooks, or web pages. In other words, I expect that all assignments and reports are your original work and that references are cited appropriately. Breaking this trust agreement not only will result in zero credit for the assignment in question and referral to administration but also may jeopardize your future transcripts. Don’t let yourself down.