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Thr 338- Improvisational Acting

Theatre 97-338-01
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Theatre Department
Course Syllabus
Spring 2012

Professor: Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft Credits: 3
Office phone: (920) 424-4425 Class Location: ACW18 & Lab
Time: Tues and Thurs 11:30a.m.-1:00p.m.
Office Location: ACW119 Office Hours: By appointment


No required texts for this class. Reading assignments will be distributed in class or posted on D2L that will relate to the creative work of the class. Please bring a notebook for recording improvised ideas, exercises, explorations and personal observations.



Through the use of improvisational techniques create performance pieces that are connected to a specific topic of inquiry. The focus for this semester is the topic of sustainability.


Goals for Objective Completion:

-Build an ensemble of actors who are comfortable working together in a creative process.

-Explore informal and formal improvisational strategies for creating theatre including Viola Spolin and Paul Sills’ improvisational techniques.

-Research local communities’ sustainability successes, struggles and practices. For our purposes, these local communities are defined as the UW Oshkosh campus or the City of Oshkosh and the immediate vicinity.

-After completing the research and exploring the improvisational strategies, use them to develop original performance pieces.

-Incorporate these sustainability stories into improvisational/educational performance pieces that will be performed in local school and/or community settings.


Special Expectations: There will be performances that take place off-campus. Most will be scheduled during our regular class time. There may be several that are scheduled at other times still to be determined but will be scheduled around the availability of class participants.



-Email is the official communication tool for this class in alignment with the university.

-Commitment: Don’t worry about doing something right or wrong – explore and enjoy!

-Attend class regularly and punctually!

-Be dressed appropriately and ready to work at the beginning of class. Wear comfortable workout type clothing that allows you to move freely. We will be doing improvisational movement activities and floor/mat work. Footwear: bare feet, socks or tennis shoes.

-Complete assignments on time.

-Participate in class activities and exercises with a sense of discipline and commitment.

-Participate in discussions. This means making observations about your own work and

others’ work in the class.

-All electronic devices must be turned off. Cell phones, laptops, iPods, etc. In case of an emergency the theatre office can serve as a contact number which is 920-424-7042 or contact campus security.

-No eating or gum chewing in class. They interfere with the actor’s instrument. Water is the only beverage allowed in class but it must be in a water bottle with a closeable top.

-If there are concerns about any aspect of the class, please make an appointment to meet with me to discuss them so they can be addressed.

-Treat others in the class, the professor and yourself with respect at all times. There will be no tolerance of harassment of any form including racial or sexual in nature.

-Academic honesty and integrity is expected at all times. Plagiarism or other cheating will result in a zero on the assignment and appropriate official steps will be taken.


Attendance Policy: Students are expected to attend class and to be on time. Two absences are allowed for emergencies and illness. For each additional absence, 25 points will be subtracted from the total number of semester points earned. Participation is an integral part of the work being done in this class. Students who establish a pattern of being late to class will have participation points subtracted accordingly. If a student arrives after attendance has been taken, it is up to the student to inform the professor immediately following the class in order to receive credit for attending. If a student forgets to inform the professor at the end of class an email received that same calendar day will suffice. If weather is questionable, we will follow the university recommendations as shown on T.V. and/or listed on the UWO recorded weather line @ (920) 424-0000.


General information:

-All papers must be typed. Papers will be graded for completion of required criteria and general writing skills.

-Papers are expected to be turned in on time. Criteria sheets for the written assignments will address how points will be handled if the written assignment if late.

-Missed presentations can’t be made up unless prior permission is granted by the professor.

-NO CLASS DATES: Thursday, March 1st – Outside of class assignment

Tuesday and Thursday, March 20th and 22nd - Spring Break



Participation: 75

This area covers participation in and commitment to daily work, improvisational explorations, discussions, attendance and working collaboratively as a group member of the class. (Students will receive additional information in class regarding how daily work will be assessed.)

Individual Improvisation Performance 100

(50 points for process, 50 points for performance)

Sustainability Research Assignment 100

Attendance at Almost, Maine and Tartuffe (50 points each) 100

Group Improvisational Performance Piece 200

Completion of Campus/off-Campus Performances 75

Total number of points = 650

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

Liberal Arts Statement

Theatre is a collaborative creative process requiring a broad knowledge of the human condition to be successful. 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. Theatre holds a mirror to society and teaches us what it means to be human. Theatre, as with all areas of the Liberal Arts, is most effectively employed when it is built on a broad base of knowledge.

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


by Alderson, James M last modified Jan 27, 2012 03:42 PM