Dramatic Arts Courses

Harvard Courses of Instruction Online

Dramatic Arts in the Online Catalog

For Undergraduates and Graduates

[Dramatic Arts 101. Introduction to Theatre]
Catalog Number: 0845 
Scott Zigler 
Half course (fall term). F., 10–12; Tu., at 3.
An introduction and overview of the major creative elements in professional theater including: acting, directing, playwriting, and designing. Special attention given to productions by the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.), the A.R.T. Institute and other productions in the Boston area. Students have the opportunity to attend and analyze at least five different productions and to engage in creative work throughout the term. Additionally, theater professionals from the A.R.T. give guest lectures in their areas of expertise.
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. 

*Dramatic Arts 105. Production Dramaturgy: A.R.T. 2014-15 Season and Civil War Project
Catalog Number: 7592 Enrollment: Limited to 12. 
Ryan Scott McKittrick 
Half course (spring term). W., 1:10–3.
In this course, students will learn about the roles and responsibilities of a dramaturg in the rehearsal room and in a theater company. Focusing on productions in the American Repertory Theater’s 2014-15 season and specifically on the A.R.T.’s Civil War Project, students will study and evaluate scripts and performances on the A.R.T. stages, and participate in developmental workshops and readings. By exploring performance histories, translations, and dramatic structures of plays and musicals, students will learn about the steps a dramaturg takes to prepare for a production. In addition, students will read and evaluate new scripts submitted to the A.R.T. and the A.R.T. Institute. Students will also use the Harvard Theater Collection to research a play, opera, or musical of his or her choice and write an essay analyzing the production history. 

*Dramatic Arts 110. Beginning Acting
Catalog Number: 3321 Enrollment: Limited to 20. 
Thomas Derrah 
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., 11:30–1.
An exploration of the basic techniques of acting, beginning with exercises that flex the imagination and heighten observation; the course will then move towards work on rhythm, an actor’s instincts, focus, concentration, and character with an ongoing emphasis in improvisation. The texts of Anton Chekhov will be used as a point of reference for the work. The latter part of the course will concentrate on selected scene study from Chekhov’s major plays.
Note: Enrollment determined by audition. Students will audition for the course with a short improvisation described by the professor at the first class meeting. 

[*Dramatic Arts 110a. Acting Lab: The Fusion of Intellect and Imagination for the Stage]
Catalog Number: 35526 Enrollment: Limited to 20. 
Thomas Derrah 
Half course (fall term). Hours to be arranged.
Following guidelines without a prescribed text, students will work on physical and vocal invention, exploring the many ways and styles in which dynamic and compelling stories can be told. In this course, we will aim to heighten imagination and observation, build confidence, and enhance extemporaneous speech and thought through exercises, exploring impulses, and imaginative courage. Techniques used will include both individual and group activities, Grotowski exercises, mask work, and classical commedia dell’arte. 
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. Enrollment determined by audition. Students will audition for the course with a short improvisation described by the professor at the first class meeting.

Dramatic Arts 111. Acting: 20th Century Texts
Catalog Number: 9738 
Karen L. MacDonald 
Half course (spring term). Tu., Th., 10–11:30.
An expansion of basic acting techniques, with an emphasis on the actor’s work done during rehearsal: creating a character, building a role and finding one’s own way of preparing for and making the most of rehearsal time. Actors will use exercises and improvs to help explore character and sharpen instincts, and do monologue and scene work using contemporary texts, both comic and dramatic.
Note: Enrollment determined by audition.

[*Dramatic Arts 112r. Advanced Acting: 20th-Century Texts]
Catalog Number: 8011 
Marcus Stern 
Half course (fall term). Hours to be arranged.
For actors interested in working in television, film and theater, this is a course of advanced acting techniques using 20th-century dramatic texts for scene work. The emphasis is on action based acting and the creation of an acting process that is specifically tailored to the individual actor. Includes character work -- making physical and vocal changes. Emphasis also on learning how to audition better, includes helping actors assemble a group of working monologues to use in auditions. 
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. Enrollment determined by audition on the first day of class.

*Dramatic Arts 114. Practical Aesthetics
Catalog Number: 8994 Enrollment: Limited to 16. 
Scott Zigler 
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., 11:30–1.
Practical Aesthetics Acting Technique was developed by playwright David Mamet and actor William H. Macy, based on the work of the American acting teacher Sandford Meisner and the Russian acting teacher Konstantin Stanislavski. In this course, students will focus on rigorous text analysis combined with emphasis on enhancing the actor’s spontaneity through training in Meisner’s "Repetition Exercise." Students will do scene work drawn from a wide selection of plays. 
Note: Enrollment will be determined by lottery at the first class meeting.
Prerequisite: Dramatic Arts course in Acting, previous study in Practical Aesthetics, or extensive undergraduate performance experience.

*Dramatic Arts 115. Acting Shakespeare
Catalog Number: 6659 Enrollment: Limited to 14. Enrollment will be determined by an audition during the first class meeting. 
Remo Francisco Airaldi 
Half course (fall term). M., 1–3.
This course is an intensive study of Shakespeare’s dramatic works from the point of view of the actor. It is important to remember that Shakespeare’s verse dramas were written to be performed and that only when they are approached this way—as playable, theatrical texts—that they have their maximum impact. Through text analysis, scene study, vocal work, and acting exercises we attempt to find, not only the meaning, but the music and theatrical power of Shakespeare’s words.

*Dramatic Arts 116. Acting Workshop: Comedy
Catalog Number: 9926 Enrollment: Limited to 16. 
Scott Zigler 
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., 10–11:30.
A course developing the actor’s approach to and playing of comedy and humor. The class will focus on marrying comedy’s need for technical precision with a truthful and spontaneous approach to acting based on the methodology of Konstantin Stanislavski. Specific comic skills studied will include timing, focus, choreography, and the mechanics of how a joke builds from set up to punchline. Acting skills will focus on moment to moment pursuit of objective and creation of character. Styles of comedy will include farce, drawing room/comedy of manners and contemporary comic playwriting such as David Lindsay-Abaire, Nicky Silver, Christopher Durang and Sarah Ruhl. 
Note: Enrollment determined by audition on the first day of class. Students are asked to prepare a 30 second comic monologue, classical or contemporary, for the audition.

*Dramatic Arts 117. Acting Chekhov
Catalog Number: 1465 Enrollment: Limited to 14. 
Remo Francisco Airaldi 
Half course (spring term). M., 1–3.
An exploration of Chekhov’s plays from an actor’s point of view in order to develop a practical approach to any dramatic text. We will balance the use of analytical skills - playable actions, active verbs, subtext and beats - with the need to free the actor’s creative imagination, through exercises and improvisations. A variety of acting techniques will be used in scene work from the plays, including the techniques of Stanislavski, Michael Chekhov, Strasberg, Adler and Meisner as well as non-text-based approaches. 
Note: Enrollment determined by audition. Each student will be asked to read a selection from one of Chekhov’s plays. No memorization required.

[*Dramatic Arts 118. Acting Alone: The Monologue]
Catalog Number: 18309 Enrollment: Limited to 14. Enrollment determined by audition on the first day of class. 
Remo Francisco Airaldi 
Half course (spring term). M., 1–3.
The analysis, rehearsal and performance of theatrical monologues. The ability to work on a monologue, whether in the context of a play or as an audition piece, is a foundational skill for all actors. Students will begin with work on classical monologues and then move on to contemporary material. We will study specific techniques to help students "act alone" creatively, honestly and spontaneously. In the later part of the course, students will have an opportunity to work on on-camera monologues and develop specific skills for acting and auditioning in that medium. Students will also learn how to choose, prepare and perform a monologue under the particular pressures of an audition.
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. 

*Dramatic Arts 119. Vocal Production for the Stage
Catalog Number: 8900 Enrollment: Limited to 18. Enrollment determined by interview. 
Instructor to be determined 
Half course (fall term). Th., 1–3.
Whether one is performing in a play, speaking professionally, teaching a class or leading a group, the ability to use one’s voice effectively is a primary element of the success of the presentation. Using several major techniques of speaking training, students learn not only how to use the voice, but how these various approaches to voice training correspond to specific performance challenges.

Dramatic Arts 120. Introduction to Choreography
Catalog Number: 2983 
Instructor to be determined 
Half course (fall term). Hours to be arranged.
This introductory choreography course utilizes movement exploration to tap into the participant’s aesthetic and interpretive skills as they are challenged to make dances. Explorations into the use of time, weight and space inform their creative process. Through a combination of readings, writings, discussions, videos and dance improvisation, the course focuses on how movement choices develop dances that are kinesthetic, dramatic, and artistic for both the performer and the audience. No previous dance experience necessary. 
Note: Enrollment determined by interview during the first week of class.

*Dramatic Arts 130r. Directing
Catalog Number: 8160 Enrollment: Limited to 9. 
Marcus Stern 
Half course (spring term). Tu., 1–3.
A directing class for directors interested in theater, television and film, as well as for actors, dramaturgs, and designers investigating all aspects of theater. The class accommodates beginning to advanced levels of work. Students may bring in video or film scenes as part of the class work. Through constant scene work the course examines the directorial tools of text analysis, staging, design, and working with actors. The focus is on how to tell a story clearly and effectively. 
Note: Enrollment determined by short interviews to be conducted on the first day of class.

*Dramatic Arts 131. Directing Lab
Catalog Number: 50633 Enrollment: Limited to 12. Enrollment determined by short interview to be conducted on the first day of class. 
Shira Milikowsky 
Half course (spring term). M., 3–6.
This class is designed for students interested in expanding their understanding of directing for theater. The course will focus on the work of American experimental theater artists from the 1960’s to the present, examining the various ways avant-garde directors and ensembles have experimented with form to seek out radical new modes of storytelling. Students will create work inspired by the artists and productions studied, applying theory to practice in rehearsals and presentations.

[Dramatic Arts 132. Directing Contemporary Drama]
Catalog Number: 84938 
Diane Paulus and Marcus Stern 
Half course (fall term). Tu., 4–6.
A great opportunity for undergraduate directors to explore the musical Pippin with A.R.T.’s Artistic Director Diane Paulus as she develops the professional A.R.T. production for the Loeb Drama Center mainstage, as well as the chance to learn vivid directorial story-telling techniques from resident A.R.T. director Marcus Stern. The class will consist of a unit of core directing tools in the context of contemporary drama, and will culminate with student presentations of excerpts from Pippin.
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. 

[*Dramatic Arts 133. Directing Film: Telling the Story and Working with Actors]
Catalog Number: 83976 Enrollment: Limited to 10. 
Alfred F. Guzzetti and Marcus Stern 
Half course (spring term). M., W., 10–1.
Students will build scenes based on observed incidents, act and direct them, then, using high-definition video, record and edit them. The course will include study of scenes in film and instruction in the techniques of directing, working with actors, and video production. Emphasis will be placed on clarity of storytelling, eliciting performances from actors, and visceral impact of the filmed events.
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. 

[*Dramatic Arts 135. Design for the Theatre: History and Practice]
Catalog Number: 9503 Enrollment: Limited to 12. 
Instructor to be determined 
Half course (fall term). Tu., Th., 1–2:30.
The practice of designing scenery for the theatre is explored through the history of stage design and the architecture of the theater building. Students complete projects of research and design for plays from various periods. The projects will introduce basic techniques in drawing, drafting, and model making. No previous experience in design or art necessary.
Note: Expected to be given in 2015–16. 

*Dramatic Arts 136. Scenography Studio
Catalog Number: 1116 Enrollment: Limited to 12. 
Sara Brown (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) 
Half course (spring term). Tu., 12–2.
Theater designers use figures, space, objects, time and light to create environments that are integral to performance events. The potential for action and the integration with the performance as a whole is key to the design process. Like any artist, the designer needs to create visual studies to explore possibilities and communicate ideas. In Scenography Studio students will respond to architecture, photography, fiction, painting, sculpture, etc., to develop a series of performance design projects. In the course of developing these projects, students will gain skills in a variety of digital and manual media as well as study significant 20th and 21st century artists and theorists. Artists studied include but are not limited to - Robert Rauschenberg - John Cage - Sol LeWitt - Adolph Appia - Richard Serra - Alan Kaprow - Cindy Sherman - Italo Calvino - Bertolt Brecht.

*Dramatic Arts 137. The Art of Scenography: 20th and 21st Century Directorial Concepts and Set Design
Catalog Number: 34704 Enrollment: Limited to 20. 
Julia Smeliansky 
Half course (fall term). Tu., 2–4.
In this course, students will study the work of the great 20th and 21st century auteur directors and set designers. Students will explore a range of artistic movements including Constructivism, Futurism and Dada, and discuss how the theater became a place to experiment with the concepts and discoveries of these movements. Examining primary source materials in the Harvard Theatre Collection, students will research the work of artists including Gordon Craig, Richard Wagner, Leon Bakst, Pablo Picasso, Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold. The course will also focus on the work of such contemporary directors and designers as Robert Wilson, George Tsypin, and Robert Lepage.

*Dramatic Arts 171x. Participatory Theater Practicum: The Universe is a Small Hat - (New Course) 
Catalog Number: 10477 Enrollment: Limited to 16. Audition required. 
César Alvarez 
Half course (fall term). W., 1–4.
A course in which students study participatory theater and system-based story telling while forming the performing ensemble of a new participatory theater work "The Universe is a Small Hat". Students design their characters, perform the narrative and musical elements, learn the system and game mechanics, investigate concepts behind the piece, and develop their own participatory pieces. The semester culminates in a full production of the work with live music and a hybrid student/professional cast followed by a creative final project from the students. Students augment their participation in the piece by designing and play testing their own participatory theater works throughout the semester. 

*Dramatic Arts 172x. China on Stage - (New Course) 
Catalog Number: 74502 Enrollment: Limited to 12. 
Claire Conceison 
Half course (fall term). Th., 3–5.
Survey of plays from 20th and 21st century China that examines text and performance through the lens of spoken drama’s adoption in China and its reflection of socio-political upheavals and cultural shifts. Reading and research-based, but can culminate in public stage reading of selections from Chinese plays (no acting experience necessary.) 

*Dramatic Arts 173x. Performance Elective: Acting and Authenticity - (New Course) 
Catalog Number: 45856 Enrollment: Limited to 12. 
David Levine 
Half course (spring term). W., 4–6.
This is a text- and studio-based seminar that explores the realist idea of ’acting’ alongside philosophical, psychological, and scientific notions of authenticity and falsehood, presence, mimesis, and empathy. What does it mean to turn into someone else? How total is the transformation? And what are the implications for our understanding of the individual? Various texts, from the acting primers of Stanislavski and Strasberg, to works of literary criticism, natural science, cognitive psychology, and philosophy of mind will be considered. 

*Dramatic Arts 174x. The Creative Producer: Arts Management and Creative Production in the Theater - (New Course) 
Catalog Number: 96472 Enrollment: Limited to 12. 
Instructor to be determined 
Half course (spring term). Tu., 3–5.
An introduction to theater production and arts management in theater. We will compare different models of producers and their instruments, while putting special emphasis on the role of the creative producer - a new type of producer, where the creative producer is working at the interface between classical production, development of screenplays, and artistic direction. The students will get an overview of the major phases in the history of theater, they will learn to analyze and compare existing theater systems, and they will assess the vital role of the creative producer in fostering innovation and experimentation across drama, opera, dance, concert, and (multimedia) performance as well as the role and function of the other "players" in theater (actors, directors, dramaturgs, designers, etc.). In order to gain practical experience in arts management, theater production and playing, the students will form production teams and experience in their functions and roles (producer, director, dramaturg, playwright, actor) in the production of a play, which will be rehearsed and performed during the semester. 
Note: No background in theater history, theory or practice necessary. Recommended for all students concentrating in Dramatic Arts, Languages, Economics, Psychology, Education, and with general interest in Arts and Theater.