Theater, Dance & Media Courses

08/11/15: updated with courses for 2015-16.
08/17/15: room assignments are listed for Fall courses.

Harvard Course Catalog search page.

Drama, Theater, Theory
TDM 97
Martin Puchner
2016 Spring
Class Number: 16403  Course ID: 160648
Class Capacity: 30 Consent Required: Instructor

Description: This sophomore tutorial of the concentration in Theater, Dance, and Media, explores the theater as a medium that brings together all the other arts, from architecture and design to literature and music, through readings, discussions, and exercises. We also consider the intellectual traditions connected to theater, including philosophy, politics, and sociology. Key texts include Plato, Euripides, Brecht, and Churchill; sessions at the Harvard Theater Collection.

Recommended Prep: Required of all, and limited to, concentrators.


Junior Tutorial
TDM 98
Deborah Foster
2015 Fall
Class Number: 16766  Course ID: 160647
Consent Required: Instructor

Description: The junior tutorial is a unique opportunity for small groups of concentrators and a tutor to explore a creative or critical project.  The junior tutorial typically culminates in a longer project, which can be performance-based or critical/historical.

Recommended Prep: Required of all, and limited to concentrators.


Senior Tutorial
Deborah Foster
2015 Fall
Class Number: 17008  Course ID: 160704
Consent Required: Instructor


Senior Tutorial
Deborah Foster
2016 Spring
Class Number: 16458  Course ID: 160708
Consent Required: Instructor


Introduction to Dramaturgy (Adaptation and A.R.T. 2015-16 Season)
TDM 105
Ryan McKittrick, Diane Paulus
2015 Fall
Wednesday, 12:00pm - 01:59pm
Location: Loeb Drama Center, Room C
Class Number: 16948  Course ID: 118876
Class Capacity: 12  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: In this course, students will learn about the roles and responsibilities of a dramaturg in the rehearsal room and in a theater company, with a particular focus on the ways dramaturgs and playwrights adapt novels, screenplays, and personal memoirs for the stage. Focusing on productions in the American Repertory Theater's 2015-16 season and on work originally developed at the A.R.T. and subsequently staged in New York City, students will engage with artists and writers in discussions about adaptation, and write their own dramatic adaptation. In addition, students will explore performance histories, translations, and dramatic structures of plays and musicals, and learn about the steps a dramaturg takes to prepare for a production. Students will also read and evaluate new scripts submitted to the A.R.T. and the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training. Students will 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.


Beginning Acting
TDM 110
Thomas Derrah
2016 Spring
Tues/Thurs,11:30am - 12:59pm
Class Number: 11181  Course ID: 112880

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment determined by audition. Students will audition for the course with a short improvisation described by the professor at the first class meeting.


Advanced Acting: 20th-Century Texts
TDM 112R
Marcus Stern
2016 Spring
Tuesday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Class Number: 16404  Course ID: 122906
Class Capacity: 12  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment determined by audition on the first day of class. Please bring in a memorized and rehearsed contemporary monologue no longer than 2 minutes to audition with on the first day.


Practical Aesthetics
TDM 114
Scott Zigler
2015 Fall
Tues/Thurs, 11:30am - 12:59pm
Location: Loeb Drama Center, Room C
Class Number: 13094  Course ID: 123901

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment will be determined by lottery at the first class meeting.

Recommended Prep: Dramatic Arts course in Acting, previous study in Practical Aesthetics, or extensive undergraduate performance experience.


Acting Shakespeare
TDM 115
Remo Airaldi
2015 Fall
Tuesday, 04:00pm - 05:59pm
Location: Farkas Hall, Room 203
Class Number: 12545  Course ID: 119020

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment will be determined by an audition during the first class meeting.


Acting Workshop: Comedy
TDM 116
Scott Zigler
2015 Fall
Tues/Thurs, 10:00am - 11:29am
Location: Loeb Drama Center, Room C
Class Number: 12589  Course ID: 117460

Description: 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.

Course Notes: 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.


[Acting Chekhov]
TDM 117
Remo Airaldi
Likely to be offered in 2017 Spring
Course ID: 123900

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment determined by audition. Each student will be asked to read a selection from one of Chekhov's plays. No memorization required.


Vocal Production for the Stage
TDM 119
Erika Bailey
2015 Fall
Thursday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Location: 2 Arrow Street, 1st Floor Meeting Room
Class Number: 12121  Course ID: 118497
Class Capacity: 18  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment determined by short interviews to be conducted on the first day of class.


What's so Funny?: Introduction to Improvisational Comedy
TDM 120
Remo Airaldi
2016 Spring
Monday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Class Number: 16302  Course ID: 160654
Class Capacity: 14  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: Comedy has often been thought of as the poor relation to Drama but, as Lenny Bruce said, "the only honest art form is comedy because you can't fake it." We will attempt to take comedy seriously by studying its component parts and engaging in committed, creative and collaborative "play" that will tap into each student's personal, individual sense of humor. The class will focus on the basics of improvisation: group games, narrative skills, patterns, offers, spontaneity, agreement, using the space around you, building on-stage relationships and, eventually, scene work.

Class Notes: Enrollment will be determined by an interview/audition on the first day of class.  (The former Dramatic Arts 120. Introduction to Choreography, is now TDM 140.)


Analysis Through Action: A Methodology for Actors, Directors, Writers, and Dramaturgs
David Chambers
2015 Fall
Monday, 01:00pm - 03:59pm
Location: Farkas Hall, Third Floor Studio
Class Number: 16768  Course ID: 160649
Class Capacity: 16  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: (Taught by Visiting Professor David Chambers.) Analysis Through Action is a Russian method of converting the written word (e.g. a playtext or other source) into onstage action (live performances). Rooted in the last experiments of Konstantin Stanislavski, Analysis Through Action has evolved through generations of theatre practitioners and remains very much alive today in the Russian avant-garde theatre. With Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard as our master text, this laboratory will examine and deploy the two interdependent components of this process: in-depth text analysis and focused physical/vocal improvisations, called études. The course will consist of 40% lecture/seminar study and 60% improvisatory rehearsal. scene work. Weekly outside assignments will range from contextual readings to rigorous text analysis to preparing études for classroom rehearsals.

Course Notes: The instructor for this course will be Visiting Professor David Chambers. In case of over-subscription a brief personal statement may be requested.


Physical Acting: Movement and Its Motivation
Jeanne Slater
2015 Fall
Thursday, 03:00pm - 04:59pm
Location: Farkas Hall, Third Floor Studio
Class Number: 15333  Course ID: 159989
Class Capacity: 14  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: (Taught by Visiting Lecturer Jeanne Slater.) This course is designed to allow the actor to explore physicality and physical storytelling in a wide variety of ways.   The ultimate goal is for the actor to be able to utilize his/her body in the most expressive, specific, communicative and imaginative way possible.  The class will work through a series of projects, each one building on the ideas and discoveries of the one before it.  The first of these projects will work with the most basic ideas of physical expression.  Each successive project will ask the actor to incorporate a new element (i.e. music, scene partner, dialogue, etc.) into their storytelling.  The class is lab-based and interactive; students are asked to work together on projects in pairs or groups, regularly observe each others work and actively participate in discussions of the ideas, issues, solutions and discoveries that are explored throughout the semester.

Course Notes: Taught by Visiting Lecturer Jeanne Slater. For the initial class the students should come prepared to present a monologue. The monologue can represent any period and should be between 1 to 2 minutes in length. *In the event that the class is over maximum capacity the monologue will serve as an audition for enrollment.



TDM 130R
Marcus Stern
2015 Fall
Tuesday, 01:00pm - 02:59pm
Location: 2 Arrow Street, 1st Floor Meeting Room
Class Number: 15332  Course ID: 123080
Class Capacity: Consent Required: Instructor

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment determined by short interviews to be conducted on the first day of class.


Directing Lab
TDM 131
Shira Milikowsky
2016 Spring
Monday, 03:00pm - 05:59pm
Class Number: 14268  Course ID: 126812

Description: 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.

Course Notes: Enrollment determined by short interview to be conducted on the first day of class.


[Directing Film: Telling the Story and Working with Actors]
TDM 133
Marcus Stern
Likely to be offered in 2017 Spring
Course ID: 109653

Description: 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.


Introduction to Argentine Tango: Music and Dance
Deborah Foster
2016 Spring
Tues/Thurs, 03:00pm - 04:29pm
Class Number: 16405  Course ID: 160652
Class Capacity: 18  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: A thorough introduction to, and immersion in, the culture and history, music and dance, of one of Latin America's richest art forms, tango argentino. This course, taught by Thomas Wisniewski (expert in Argentine Tango), will combine academic work with studio training and offer an interdisciplinary and comparative study of both theory and practice. Throughout the semester, we will analyze tango music, films, and literature from the early twentieth century to the present day. Weekly dance lessons will provide a progressive introduction to tango salon. Students will learn the dance by studying it and by doing it, as they engage regularly in critical and creative work drawing on both mind and body.

Course Notes: This course will be taught by Thomas Wisniewski.


The Art of Scenography: 20th and 21st Century Directorial Concepts and Set Design
TDM 150
Julia Smeliansky
2015 Fall
Tuesday, 03:00pm - 04:59pm
Location: Sever Hall, Room 206
Class Number: 10944  Course ID: 110319

Description: 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.


Scenography Studio
TDM 151
Sara Brown
2016 Spring
Tuesday, 12:00pm - 01:59pm
Class Number: 10413  Course ID: 109545

Description: 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.

Class Notes: Sara Brown (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


Multimedia Experimental Theatre and Performance
Magda Romanska
2015 Fall
Wednesday, 02:00pm - 03:59pm
Location: Farkas Hall, Room 203
Class Number: 16769  Course ID: 160650
Class Capacity: 15 Consent Required: Instructor

Description: (Taught by Visiting Associate Professor Magda Romanska.) With Netflix, YouTube and other Internet services providing any type of entertainment on demand, in the privacy of one's own home, the ritual of going to see a live performance is becoming increasingly endangered. At the same time as our social and cultural habits are changing, the digital, new-media revolution is also changing the theatre-making process, accelerating the transformation towards non-linear, non-narrative, immersive theatrical experience that is increasingly reflective of a fragmented global cultural landscape and its audiences. As Robert Lepage put it: "We are confronted with audiences whose narrative vocabulary has evolved. . . They can read stories backwards now, and jump cut, and can flash forward." The Multimedia Experimental Theatre workshop-style course will focus on multimedia theatre as symptomatic of postmodern "disintegration of meaning" of words, and concepts. The students will explore new ways of analyzing and developing multimedia narratives that move across different genres, incorporating both film, video and live performance. They will also map their own non-linear narratives based on found multimedia, classic texts and their own writing.

Course Notes: Taught by Visiting Associate Professor Magda Romanska.


Live Art in the Theater Environment
Dean Moss
2016 Spring
Class Number: 16301  Course ID: 160651
Class Capacity: 10  Consent Required: Instructor

Description: (Taught by Visiting Lecturer Dean Moss.) A fast-paced intensive introduction to multidisciplinary performance art practice. Open to a mix of students with dance, visual, video, and/or theatrical backgrounds, the course will focus on practical strategies employed in the blending of movement, sound, image, and presence in contemporary performance works. Students will use themselves, each other, the immediate environment, and an assortment of media production tools, to embody alternative, non-traditional theater processes and create multidisciplinary performance art projects. Discussion, screenings and reading assignments will provide conceptual and historical context for the course.

Course Notes: This course will be taught by Visiting Lecturer Dean Moss. The course is both physical and technical, performance and audio/visual production skills are suggested, but not required.