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Thr 160 Intro to Acting

Quest #1 course:  Signature Question addressed-Sustainability
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh - Theatre Department
Course Syllabus Fall 2013

Professor: Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft, M.F.A. in Acting Credits: 3
Email: Office phone: (920) 424-4425
Office Location: ACW 119
Office Hours: M & W 1:00-1:50pm/Tu & Thur from 11:15am-12:30pm.
Class Meets: Tues & Thurs from 9:40a.m. - 11:10a.m. Location: ACW 18

Required Reading:

-“Liberal Education," published by the AAC&U covers the relevance of sustainability to a liberal arts education. It can be accessed through this link:

-D2L posted reading assignments:   Sustainability Learning Goals expected at UW Oshkosh and articles that further develop the definition of sustainability that will be used in this class including those that introduce the three pillars of sustainability.

-Students are required to read the plays from which monologues and scenes are selected.  (The instructor will assign individual scenes taking into account the individual student and her/his level of experience and/or development.)

-The syllabus for the class.

Definition of Sustainability to be used in this class:

“Sustainability implies that the critical activities of a higher education institution are (at a minimum) ecologically sound, socially just, and economically viable, and that they will continue to be so for future generations. The institution would function as a sustainable community, embodying responsible consumption of food and energy, treating its diverse members with respect, and supporting these values in the surrounding community. A truly sustainable college or university would emphasize these concepts in its curriculum and research, preparing students to contribute as working citizens to an environmentally sound and socially just society.”

--Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (

Liberal Arts Statement:  Why is the Sustainability Signature Question being incorporated into an acting class? By connecting our exploration of acting to the sustainability and environmental movement and using it as a topic of focus, we are on the cutting edge of a new frontier of producing theatre that is becoming more “green” and sustainable.  To quote the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society Journal, “Broadway shows are more than entertainment.  They have been shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics.  And now Broadway, through its work with the Broadway Green Alliance (BGA) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), is helping to shape opinions about environmentalism too.”

Liberal Education is an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. current issues, science and culture) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. Theatre in the Liberal Arts is most effectively employed when it is built on a broad base of knowledge that is demonstrated by the ability to explore knowledge in the laboratory of the classroom and learn how to apply it to real-world settings.  The importance of theatre in society is well documented and understanding the role it plays in society contributes to the development of well-rounded citizens.


Course Objectives and Goals:

In approaching the University Studies Program’s signature question of, “How do people understand and create a more sustainable world?” we will investigate how the craft of acting is not only relevant to this question but how it is a crucial vehicle of communication in the way society views sustainability now and in the future.  Theatre holds a mirror to society and teaches us what it means to be human and this can be applied to how humans have been able to sustain or not sustain resources, ideas, relationships, political systems, etc. 

You will be introduced to the topic of sustainability through lecture and research in order to use it as a lens or filter through which we undertake the acting portion of the class. Theatre is a tool that can be used in advocacy for or against an issue or idea.   Whether or not you are always able to make connections between your creative experiences in the class to sustainability issues, you will be practicing and applying your viewpoint to a current debate as a performing artist/advocate.  We are approaching the craft as citizens of the world not just as actors in a studio setting.  This course is an acting class that will have a very specific framework within which to have freedom to explore.  The goals below support the pursuit of the artistry of the craft of acting while opening the your awareness to a world view of that craft as it can be viewed and pursued with the topic of sustainability as a foundation for that world view:



The University Studies Program (USP) is your gateway into a 21st century college education at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.  This Quest I course is the first in a series of courses you will take to introduce you to the campus and all it has to offer, the vibrant Oshkosh community, and the challenges and opportunities of academic life as you pursue a liberal arts education.  In these courses, you’ll be exposed to three “Signature Questions” that are central to a UW Oshkosh education:

  • How do people understand and engage in community life?
  • How do people understand and create a more sustainable world? (This is the question addressed in this course.)
  • How do people understand and bridge cultural differences?

Early in the semester, you will be taught tools about sustainability that will help you to incorporate it into our semester together.  You will be introduced to a definition of sustainability that will be used as our reference for the semester and you will become familiar with the 3 "pillars of sustainability” while we focus on one pillar in particular. (Don’t worry; this is still an acting class…)


The Quest classes are designed to provide a foundation for your education at UW Oshkosh.  Further information about this cutting edge general education model is available at the University Studies Program website.



Acting Specific Goals-After taking this beginning level course you should be able to:

1.         Establish and be a contributing member of a supportive performance based ensemble.  This will serve as a stimulating and creative environment for understanding and putting into action the craft of acting in a safe group oriented environment.

2.         Perform simple psychological actions in a truthful and convincing manner when applied to both improvised activities and scripted scenes.

3.         Demonstrate and gain expertise in the ability to use psychological actions and images to effectively perform a monologue audition piece.

4.         Demonstrate an understanding of the basic objectives used in the acting process in improvised and scripted work as well as in written analysis of this work.

5.         Identify, develop and incorporate basic skills in voice and movement.

6.         Observe and recognize action choices and vocal/movement results of actors in viewed productions and effectively communicate those observations through written communication.

7.         Complete the Learning Outcomes listed below.


Sustainability Specific Goals-After taking this course you should be able to:

  1. Define sustainability.
  2. Have a working understanding of one of the pillars of sustainability.
  3. Have a general understanding of the three pillars of sustainability.
  4. Use critical and creative thinking to solve problems and explore the connections between theatre and the issue of sustainability.  (A midterm paper will focus on this.)
  5. Carry out library research on a focused topic of sustainability, present an oral presentation about it and write a research paper to be kept in your permanent ePortfolio.
  6. Complete the Learning Outcomes listed below.


Learning Outcomes


To gain an overview and understanding of the acting process and the issues of sustainability:

Acting Knowledge:

You will learn how to use acting as a problem solving tool that can be applied to other disciplines and as a lifelong learning tool.  Specifics include reading and analyzing a play text, writing about what you observe in performance situations and participating in discussions about the reading assignments. You will be prepared to move on to additional acting classes in the department.


Sustainability Knowledge:

Sustainability issues are the lens or filter through which the acting process will be viewed during the semester.  Formal researching of an area of sustainability and presenting your findings both orally and in a paper format needs to include the following:

  • A definition of sustainability.
  • Identifies the three pillars of sustainability (economic, ecological and social) and can describe at least one in detail.
  • Identifies sustainability problems/issues at local, national, or global level
  • Identifies and describes data, measurements, or indicators related to sustainability use in theatre as a discipline.


Application of both areas:

Engage your ideas about how people understand and create a sustainable world when participating in discussions:  You will be expected to combine elements of understanding about both acting and a sustainable world into written work and observations about acting activities.  When are these connections most obvious and effective?  When are these connections not an issue and not related to each other?


Sustainability Application:

  • Identifies different strategies that can be used to address sustainability issues at local, national, and global levels.
  • Relates sustainability to own life and values.


Acting Application:

To gain an understanding and experiential appreciation of acting skills by applying the principles and techniques that are specific to live theatrical performances:

  • Beginning principles covered will be developing trust in ensemble members, receiving and applying feedback and taking risks in acting activities through use of specific choices.  You will learn to create fundamental psychological and physical actions in a truthful manner through improvised situations and scripted texts.


Sustainability Analysis:

  • Explains the basic interconnections among (ecological, economic, and social) as they relate to an activity, practice, or policy.
  • Compares and contrasts divergent or competing perspectives on a sustainability issue.
  • Explains how individual, campus, or community behaviors/practices/policies impact sustainability issues at the local, national, and global levels


Acting Analysis:

To analyze and understand the text of plays and make appropriate choices which highlight the completed analysis:

  • This will be accomplished through the analysis of the structure of the text of the play.
  • You will develop critical thinking skills through critical analysis of acting, both written and verbal, while exploring the creative aspects of character development.  This will be accomplished through discussion, research and written papers.


Skills (both analytical and experiential):

Skills for both areas:

To recognize and identify the acting process of other actors in scene work and in performances that are required viewing:

  • You will write responses to performances that you attend.  The off-campus performance will require you to use your knowledge of sustainability and include it in the discussion and observations you make regarding the acting process observed.


Acting Skills:

To learn, develop and explore physical and vocal skills that are tools of the actor:

  • You will be introduced to vocal/movement warm-ups and approaches and be expected to apply them in the acting work.


Engagement through Creativity

Acting Engagement only:

To experiment with and enhance creative skills and artistry in building a character and developing an experiential appreciation for acting technique:

  • Problem solving will be explored in an improvisational setting that promotes creative outcomes and unique possibilities in the creation of a character in scene work, in audition preparations and in communicating.  You will demonstrate an understanding of the problem solving and critical thinking that is incorporated in the acting process through research, rehearsal and performance.



USP Related Assignments:

1 informal opportunity to visit with me and chat☺                            =   15 pts.

Attend an off-campus performance as a group                                =   25 pts.

Performance Critique Paper                                                                =   50 pts.

(use sustainability information as a filter for your observations)

Attend a Sustainability related event (I will give you info on this)    =   20 pts.

Making Connections Paper-Midterm:                                                 =   50 pts.

(Your assessment of theatre and a specific sustainability issue)

Sustainability Research Paper                                                            =   50 pts.

Oral presentation of this research                                                       =   25 pts.

Successful posting of Sustainability Research paper to ePortfolio    =   15 pts.

=250 points

Acting Specific Assignments

Open/non-scripted Scene                                                                    =   50 pts.

Monologue-50pts process/50pts performance                                  = 100 pts.

Voice and movement assignment                                                        =   50 pts.

Attend two UW Oshkosh Theatre Dept. shows@25pts each           =   50 pts.

(A brief five question quiz will be the tool for confirming attendance.)

Character Analysis Paper of the Final Scene                                      =   50 pts.

Final Scene-50pts process/50pts performance                                   = 100 pts.

=400 points

Total Points possible                                                                                = 650 pts.

Grading Scale:

Letter Grade




100 – 93

650 – 604.5


92.9 – 90

604 – 585


89.9 – 87

584 – 565.5


86.9 – 83

565 – 539.5


82.9 – 80

539 – 520


79.9 – 77

519.5 – 500.5


76.9 – 73

500 – 474.5


72.9 – 70

474 – 455


69.9 – 67

454.5 – 435.5


66.9 – 63

435 – 409.5


62.9 – 60

409 – 390


Less than 60

Less than 390


Listed below are brief descriptions of the assignments required for this class:

  • A sustainability research paper that will inform your viewpoint on sustainability throughout the semester and will be uploaded to your ePortfolio, an oral presentation in which you share your research with your peers in the class, a sustainability midterm paper that explores the issues you are studying in both acting and sustainability, attendance at an off-campus performance in Appleton or Milwaukee, attendance at a campus sustainability event to inform the research and discussion that has taken place in the course, completion of a Map-works Survey to help us assist you in your progress as a student here and schedule a time to visit with me outside of class.
  • One open/non-scripted scene, a monologue as a tool for auditioning, a written performance critique that uses your knowledge of acting and observation skills, a scripted scene with character analysis that is the culmination of the work in the class, a voice/movement assignment, attendance at productions and other campus events as required,

  • Attendance at a performance of each of the following productions is required:

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Theatre Department productions: The Underpants, by Steve Martin, and The Laramie Project by Moisés Kauffman and the Tectonic Theatre Project and attendance at a professional theatre production in Milwaukee or Appleton as scheduled.  We will discuss each of these performances.  You will have 25 points deducted from your semester point total if a performance is missed.  Brief quizzes will be completed to determine students’ attendance at the productions.

  • Attendance at an off-campus production is required as a group activity.  The plans for this will be announced at the beginning of the semester and you will write a performance response from your observations while using sustainability as a lens through which you view the performance.  Is sustainability an issue covered in this production? How or how not?  Specific criteria for the paper will be posted on D2L.
  • Attendance at a sustainability event on campus.  Each year there is a sustainability week of events that cover many areas of sustainability.  This activity will help us to gain additional information in the use of sustainability issues in the class.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to participate in departmental auditions to gain practical experience in the auditioning process and to be considered for casting in the shows. Auditions for Laramie Project are scheduled for September 9th and 10th.


  • Attend class and be punctual-I need you to be here or you will miss things!  Being on time is one of the most important expectations of actors.
  • Commitment:  Listen, focus on the work at hand, be a supportive member of the class and disciplined in your work ethic.
  • You will be expected to rehearse outside of class time although there will occasionally be time available to rehearse during the regular class time. This is considered homework for this class.
  • Specific assignment criteria and due dates will be distributed and discussed in class.
  • Be dressed appropriately and ready to work by the time class is scheduled to begin.
  • Complete assignments on time.
  • Participate in discussions.
  • All electronic devices must be turned off during class - phones, laptops, iPods, etc.  These can be very distracting during acting explorations.  Occasionally, we will use these devices as part of our work in class-these I will announce.  In case of an emergency, distribute the phone numbers of the Theatre Department office, 920-424-7042 and campus security as back-up.
  • No eating or gum chewing in class.  They interfere with the actor’s instrument. You may have water in a closeable/reusable water bottle in class. No other beverages allowed.
  • If you have concerns or questions about ANY aspect of the class, please make an appointment to talk with me so we can address your concerns as soon as possible.  My door is open!
  • Treat other students, the professor and yourself with respect.  Bullying or Harassment won’t be tolerated.  Use good judgment regarding appropriate behavior in class.
  • Academic honesty and integrity is expected.  Plagiarism or other cheating will result in a zero on the assignment and appropriate official steps will be taken as listed in university level materials.

Class Attire

Please wear clothes in which you can exercise such as work-out clothes that aren’t excessively revealing.  You will be spending time on the floor, moving around, doing warm-ups and improvisational acting that requires ease of movement.  No dresses, no tight fitting clothes such as jeans.  No flip flops, high heels, baseball caps, hats, sunglasses etc.  If your hair blocks your face or line of vision, please bring something with which to secure it out of the way.

Attendance Policy

You are expected to attend class and to be on time or you will miss out on important parts of our process.  Participation is an integral part of the work being done in this class. Two absences are allowed.  Those absences are to be used for sickness and/or emergency.  If sick, email me or call my office phone and leave a message so class work that might be affected by the absence can be considered.  This should occur prior to class time. For each absence beyond the two allowed absences, the end of semester grade will be lowered one grade level for example: A student with a B+ for the semester who has had three absences will receive a final grade of B. (If there is a major medical reason for multiple absences a specific doctor’s note is required and the student should be contacting the Dean of Students regarding all classes affected.)

If you arrive after class has begun, it is up to you to inform me at the end of class or immediately following the class that you arrived late so I give you credit for that day. If you are late to class on a regular basis, points will be subtracted from the total semester points at the end of the semester at my discretion depending on what was missed.   Arriving a ½ hour late or more to class is considered an absence.  If the weather conditions are questionable, the professor will follow the recommendations as recorded on the UW Oshkosh weather line which is (920) 424-0000 and/or as announced on local television and radio stations.  Weather alerts are usually announced on campus digital displays and sent out through email.

General Information

-Papers will be graded on successful completion of criteria, grammar usage, spelling and paper writing skills.  All papers must be word processed using black ink, contain consistent spacing-double spaced is preferred and a 10-12 point font.  Back to back pages are acceptable in order to save paper. Papers need to be turned in on time which is at the beginning of class on the due date. Late papers will have 15 points deducted from them per day. (After class = a day)

-Performance assignments must be performed on the due date – no make-ups allowed.

-No class:  Thursday, November 28th (Thanksgiving).

MEET WITH YOUR PROFESSOR-You need to schedule an informal time to talk with me about how things are going for you at UW Oshkosh and in the class.  The new experiences that are part of college life can be both exciting and daunting. I am here to listen and to help when you need a faculty member’s outlook or input.


USP Peer Mentor-As a part of this course you will have access to an upper-class student to help guide you on your Quest.  The peer mentor will attend campus events with us, answer questions you have about UW Oshkosh if I am unable to answer them and help you with MAP-Works.  Our mentor is Morgan James and you can reach him at


MAP-Works (Making Achievement Possible Works)

MAP-Works is a survey that is all about you!  To help you have a wonderful first-year of college, we need you to take this survey.  You will receive an email from inviting you to take the survey September 22-30 and again October 20-28.  Advisors, hall directors, instructors and many other people on campus will use this information to help you be successful and to provide you with what you need.  You will receive a report with suggestions on how to achieve your goals; please review it.  (Suggestion: Please bring your first MAP-Works survey report with you when you talk with me during the office hour chat that we will schedule.  We can also talk about the second MAP-Works once it is complete.)


Early Alert Grades: After the third week of class, you will receive a grade for your overall progress in this course and each of your first semester courses.  This program is called, “Early Alert” and it provides you with an Early Grade Report from faculty.  Early Grade Reports will indicate if you have academic performance or attendance issues.  You will receive specific steps you can take and resources you can access to improve your performance in the class. It is common for students to be unaware of or over-estimate their academic performance so this will help you to realistically know how you are doing in the course. You will receive an email during the 5th week of classes.  It is important to read the entire email carefully.  (These Early Alert grades are not permanent and will not appear on your transcript.)

ePortfolio Requirements: As you move through your courses at UW Oshkosh, you will archive your learning in an ePortfolio.  The ePortfolio can be found in D2L.  The ePortfolio will help you keep track of papers, speeches, reports, projects, and other assignments in your Quest and Explore courses, so that you can see your progress and connect ideas across different classes.  You can continue to use this portfolio in your major classes, so you are ready for your Capstone course or experience as you near graduation. You can also use the ePortfolio after you graduate as evidence of your learning to employers or graduate schools.  In all USP courses, a specific assignment has been designated to be uploaded to your ePortfolio.  Morgan, your peer mentor can assist you with accessing your UW Oshkosh ePortfolio.



ME!! I am here for you so don’t hesitate to ask me for help.  If I don’t know, we will find the answer!

Center for Academic Resources: The Center for Academic Resources (CAR) provides free, confidential tutoring for students in most undergraduate classes on campus.  CAR is located in the Student Success Center, Suite 102.   Check the Tutor List page on CAR’s website ( for a list of tutors.   If your course is not listed, click on a link to request one, stop by SSC 102 or call 424-2290. To schedule a tutoring session, simply email the tutor, let him/her know what class you are seeking assistance in, and schedule a time to meet.

Writing Center: The Writing Center employs specially trained students with a passion for helping their peers become better writers.  The services it offers are beyond merely checking for grammar; instead, the Center strives to teach students the process of good writing.  Appointments are free, confidential, and are at your convenience.  For more information, email, view their website ( ), visit them at SSC 102, or call 424-1152.

Reading Study Center:  The Reading Study Center is an all-university service whose mission is to facilitate the development of efficient college-level learning strategies in students of all abilities.  The center offers strategies for improved textbook study, time management, note-taking, test preparation, and test-taking.  For more information, email, view the website (, visit them in Nursing Ed Room 201, or call 424-1031.

The professor reserves the right to modify the syllabus to accommodate the needs of the students.  If any such modifications are needed, they will be announced in class.

Introduction to Acting

THTR 160 – fall 2013

Assignment Schedule

September, 5th

-WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS/Anyone confused about anything? Let’s figure it out together!

-Ensemble building acting activities.

-Introduce how to approach an audition

-Introduce syllabus and schedule.

Assign:  Open Scenes/to be memorized for 9/12

Assign:  Read syllabus and bring in any questions you have

Announce Audition Information, open house and majors/minors meeting


**Friday, September 6th, Theatre Department Open House-Fredric March Theatre Lobby 2-4pm




September, 10th

Due: Have questions prepared from your reading of the class syllabus

Ensemble building activities and intro to voice and movement work

Assign:  Voice and Movement Assignment

September 12th

Due: Voice and Movement Assignment/Share observations with the class and explore voice and movement principles.

Due: Memorization of Open Scenes/Rehearse Open Scenes


September, 17th

(Non-movement day/wear casual clothes rather than movement based clothes)

Introduction of Signature Question and 3 pillars of sustainability.

Assign:  Sustainability Research Assignment, Sustainability and the world of theatre.  A presentation of your research will be due early in the semester.  The paper is due at the end of the semester and needs to be downloaded to your E-portfolio as a record of your early University Studies work at UW Oshkosh.

September, 19th

Due: Perform Open Scenes and receive feedback on your performances

Review and check-in regarding the sustainability aspects of the course

Assign:  Attendance at a Sustainability event-several options available-Due date will be announced.





September, 24th

(Non-movement day/wear casual clothes rather than movement based clothes)


Monologue/Audition Lecture   Assign: find a monologue

Attend UW Oshkosh Production #1, The Underpants, 9/25-9/28 at 7:30pm and 9/29 at 2:00pm.

September, 26th

20th century American Acting/Blocking and working with a partner

Due: Quiz on Production #1


October 1st

Due: Outline for Sustainability Research Paper

Due: Bring in 2 final monologue choices for approval

Due:  Schedule a time to chat with me.  A sign-up sheet will be posted.


October 3rd

DUE: First time to present Monologues


October 8th

Due: Performance #1 of Monologue-off book/memorized

October 10th

Due: Final version of Sustainability Research Assignment

This must be posted to your ePortfolio prior to the last week of class.



October 15th

Lecture on acting choices, given circumstances

Assign scene #1:  not to be memorized


October 17th

Work monologues and scenes


October 22nd

Rehearse/get feedback on Monologues


October 24th

To be announced



October 29th

Due:  Work scenes


October 31st

Due: Monologue Performances



November 5th

Rehearse Scenes

November 7th

Due: Perform Scene #1


November 12th

Assign Scene #2: To be memorized

Assign: Character/script Analysis Paper

Due: Quiz Production #2


November 14th

To be announced

Attend UW Oshkosh Production #2, The Laramie Project, Nov 20-23 at 7:30pm & Nov 24 at 2:00pm


November 19th

Review blocking destinations, reasons for movement and prop usage

Rehearse scenes

November 21st

Rehearse scenes

Due: Character/script Analysis Paper of scene 2


November 26th

Due: Scenes memorized




Rehearse Scenes



Due: Performances of Scene #2

We treat these like actual performances with invited audiences.



by Alderson, James M last modified Sep 04, 2013 04:54 PM