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Thr 367 Fundamentals of Directing


“You cannot create results. You can only create conditions in which something might happen.” – Anne Bogart

Classroom: Arts & Communication West 18 / Meeting Time: TR 9:40 – 11:10am

Instructor: Bryan M. Vandevender
Office Location: Arts & Communication West 120
Office Hours: TR 11:30am-12:30pm & by appointment

Prerequisite Coursework: Theatre 102 – Script Analysis for the Theatre


  • Hodge, Francis and Michael McLain. Play Directing. Seventh Edition. Boston: Pearson, 2009
  • Shanley, John Patrick. Doubt: A Parable. New York: Dramatists, 2007.
  • Additional documents can be accessed via Polk Library’s Electronic Reserves or D2L


  • Bus Stop / February 13-16 / Fredric March Theatre
  • Antigone / April 23-27 / Fredric March Theatre



This course is an introduction to the basic tenets of directing for the stage.  Attention will be paid to developing skills required of any stage director, including visual composition, script analysis, working with actors and designers, casting, blocking, and rehearsal techniques.  This course will not only look at the product of your directing but, more importantly, the directorial process.  To do so, this course will include a variety of learning activities from class discussions and readings to in-class exercises, presentations, and performance projects.



  • To develop a working, foundational knowledge of major tenets, principles, procedures, and challenges of theatrical directing.
  • To increase awareness of the role that visual composition in live performance.
  • To employ effective staging methods to create compelling, moving stage pictures.
  • To gain practical experience in aspects of play direction (casting, blocking, script selection, etc.).
  • To cultivate effective methods of collaborating and communicating with actors and designers.
  • To encourage critical thinking and observation skills as necessary for stage directing.
  • To communicate ideas and hone communication skills through both written and oral work.


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. science, culture, and society) as well as in-depth study in a specific area of interest. A liberal education helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings. Theatre is a collaborative and 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 a well-rounded citizen.  Theatre, as with all areas of the Liberal Arts, is most effectively employed when it is built on a broad base of knowledge.





Due Dates

700 Points Possible

Wordless Scene

Week Three


Prompt Book: Doubt

Week Six


Doubt Scene

Week Six


Final Scene

Week Thirteen


Prompt Book: Final Scene

Week Fourteen


Theatre Attendance (x2)

Throughout Semester


Critical Responses (x2)

Throughout Semester



Throughout Semester



Throughout Semester



A: 700-651

B: 608-581

C: 538-511

A-: 650-630

B-: 580-560

C-: 510-490

B+: 629-609

C+: 559-539

D: 481-420

F: 420-0



This Web-Enhanced Course will be supported by D2L:

What to Expect from a Web-Enhanced Course: This course is designed to meet both face-to-face and virtually.  It is essential that you consult the course site throughout the week to access course announcements, engage in online discussions, submit assignments, check grades, etc. All course documents—syllabus, rubrics, assignment guidelines and such—are posted there.

What the Instructor and Your Peers Expect from You: By enrolling in this course, you have agreed to contribute to weekly discussions by accessing the online discussion board regularly. This will require a team effort, with respect and help for each other, as we build a community of learners. I also expect that you will have a foundational understanding of Internet terms and functions.

What You May Expect from the Instructor: I will Monitor email no less than once a day and respond to messages within 24 to 48 hours, facilitate online discussions, and help build a learning community, both online and in our classroom.

Help Available: If you are having any technical difficulties (e.g., logging in, accessing the discussion board) please visit,, email, or contact the Learn@UW Help Desk toll free at 888-435-7589.



  • ATTENDANCE: Because of the nature of the coursework, which is often interactive, participatory, and collaborative, regular and prompt attendance is not only expected, but will be crucial to your success in this class. More than two unexcused absences will drop your final grade one level per absence: 3 absences will drop an A to an A-; 4 will drop an A to a B+; 5 will drop an A to a B; 6 will drop an A to a B- and so on. Absences may be excused only in circumstances that are extraordinary and documented—serious illness, family death or medical emergency. Out of town travel, unless for a medical reason, is not excused. Absences due to a college-related activity or competition are also not excused. To excuse an absence, please bring me appropriate documentation as soon as possible after the absence; then we will discuss the necessity of makeup assignments for anything you may have missed.  Excessive absences, for any reason, are a problem, and any student who is not able to attend class regularly will be advised to drop. In some cases, your attendance will not only affect your own work, but also you classmates’ work as well.
  • TARDINESS: While some instances of tardiness cannot be helped, chronic lateness is disruptive and disrespectful. As our time together is limited, class will begin promptly at 9:40am. Late arrivals of more than fifteen minutes or early departures will count as 1/3 of an absence.
  • PARTICIPATION, & COMMITMENT: Students are expected to participate actively in all class assignments, discussions, exercises, performances, demonstrations, projects, etc.

  • MAKE-UP POLICY: If you miss graded work because of an absence, please schedule an appointment with me to discuss it. Late work will only be accepted in circumstances that are extraordinary or documented. There are no make-ups for performances.

  • GRADING/DUE DATES: Written assignments are due at the start of class on the due date or via D2L Dropbox by 4:00pm on the due date. Work received at 4:01pm or later is considered late. Late written work will be subject to a 10 % grade reduction for each class period the assignment is late. Assignment grades will be posted on D2L for your perusal. If you have any questions regarding grading or a grade for a particular assignment, please schedule an appointment to speak with me during office hours. Questions about a specific grade must be posed to me in writing within 72 hours of the grade distribution. Please follow your progress on D2L throughout the term. Once final grades have been posted on TitanWeb, they are final and will only be changed due to legitimate, clerical errors.

  • WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS: While this is not a writing intensive course, it is a university level course and you will be expected to record your thoughts and observations cogently and clearly in writing and to respond to writing prompts thoughtfully and critically. Please see our course D2L site for additional information about written assignments and expectations for writing assignments. If you need assistance with writing assignments, consider visiting the campus Writing Center:

  • PERFORMANCE ATTENDANCE: You will be required to see two live theatrical performances this semester. Tickets for these performances are available at the box office in Fredric March Theatre or by calling 424-4417. You can also purchase tickets online at <>. There is a chance that performances will sell out, so please purchase your tickets early. There is no excuse for missing a performance. If you fear that you might have a problem attending a performance, please speak to me as soon as possible. Please submit your program to receive credit for attendance.

  • DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION POLICY: If you need accommodations because of a disability, have emergency medical information to share with me, or need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please inform me—both in person and in writing—immediately. See me privately after class, or at my office. To request academic accommodations (a notetaker, for example) students must also register with Disability Services. For other resources for students with disabilities, visit

  • ACADEMIC INTEGRITY: Academic honesty is fundamental to the activities and principles of a university. All members of the academic community must be confident that each person's work has been responsibly and honorably acquired, developed, and presented. Any effort to gain an advantage not given to all students is dishonest whether or not the effort is successful. The academic community regards breaches of the academic integrity rules as extremely serious matters. Any acts violating the university’s policy of academic integrity (copying from another's quiz or exam, using unauthorized materials during academic exercises, submitting plagiarized work) will be reported to the Dean of Students and subject to disciplinary action. Sanctions for such a breach may include academic sanctions from the instructor, including failing the course for any violation, to disciplinary sanctions ranging from probation to expulsion. Including any published material (in print or online) within a paper you submit without proper citation is plagiarism. When in doubt about plagiarism, paraphrasing, quoting, or collaboration, consult the course instructor. Suspected instances of dishonesty will be reported to the Provost. For more information about academic dishonesty, visit

  • INTELLECTUAL PLURALISM: The University community welcomes intellectual diversity and respects student rights. Students who have questions concerning the quality of instruction in this class may address concerns to either the Departmental Chair or Divisional leader All students will have the opportunity to submit an anonymous evaluation of the instructor(s) at the end of the course.

  • COURSE EVALUATIONS: Because I value your feedback and want to be sure the class best meets your educational goals and needs, we will issue both mid-semester course evaluations and end-of-semester course evaluations as well. Both types of course evaluation are anonymous.
  • WITHDRAWL: The final day to withdraw from this course is March 19.


Some Final Thoughts and Expectations from the Instructor

  • I’m happy to talk with you about assignments and/or your progress in the course during the office hours listed above.  Please see me to schedule an appointment. Feel free to contact me with questions or concerns at any time.

  • Please consult our course D2L site regularly for announcements and updates, especially if you have been absent. All course documents—syllabus, rubrics, assignment guidelines and such—are posted there. Please consult your syllabus first when in doubt about due dates and course policies.

  • Please turn off and put away all cell phones, electronic games, CD players, mp3 players before class starts.

  • Always bear in mind that learning is a process. You will work closely with your classmates. You will need to give and receive constructive criticism. Everyone’s contributions are welcome. It is important that we applaud and encourage each other’s work. At the same time, constructive criticism is essential and necessary for you to grow. You will be expected to give each other honest and thoughtful feedback. This feedback should be given and taken in the spirit of helping you to improve.

  • As this is a college level course, some of the material we consider might be “R-rated.” We are all adults here, so please conduct yourself as such. If you have a question or concern about the appropriateness of any material, please speak with me privately.




This Calendar is Subject to Change



Reading: Hodge: Chapter 1

Viewing: The Artist


T 2/4: Introduction to Syllabus, Class, Each other

R 2/6: Discuss Hodge



Reading: Hodge: Chapters 8, 12 & 13

Visual Storytelling:

T 2/11: Discuss Hodge

R 2/13: Discuss The Artist and “Visual Storytelling”



Reading: Hodge: Chapters 9 & 14

T 2/18: Discuss Bus Stop; Critical Analysis One Due

R 2/20: Discuss Hodge; Watch “Simon Stone on Theatre & an Empty Space” In-Class



Reading: Shanley: Doubt

T 2/25: Wordless Scene Presentation

R 2/27: Discuss Shanley



Reading: Hodge: Chapters 2, 3 & 4

T 3/4: Discuss Hodge; Scene Selection from Doubt Due

R 3/6: Watch Doubt In-Class



Reading: Hodge: 5 & 6

T 3/11: Discuss Hodge

R 3/13: Script Analysis Activities



Reading: Hodge: Chapter 7, 11, 15 & 16

T 3/18: Discuss Hodge; Working with Actors Videos; Final Ten-Minute Play Selection Due

R 3/20: Doubt Scenes & Promptbook Due



T 3/25: No Class Meeting – Happy Spring Break!

R 3/27: No Class Meting – Happy Spring Break!


WEEK EIGHT – WORKING IN CONCEPT (Hold Auditions This Week!)

Reading: Hodge: Chapters 17-21; Burgoyne: Thinking Through Script Analysis – Chapter 8 (D2L)

T 4/1: Discuss Burgoyne and Downey

R 4/3: Discuss Hodge



Reading: Hodge: Chapter 22

T 4/8: Discuss Hodge

R 4/10: Watch American Theatre Wing’s Directors on Directing In-Class



T 4/15: Rehearsal Day: No Class Meeting

R 4/17: Rehearsal Day: No Class Meeting



T 4/22: Rehearsal Day: No Class Meeting

R 4/24: Rehearsal Day: No Class Meeting



T 4/29: Antigone Discussion; Critical Response Two Due

R 5/1: Rehearsal Day: No Class Meeting



T 5/6: In-Class Production Meeting

W 5/7: Ten-Minute Scene Presentations

R 5/8: Debrief Performances



T 5/13: Ten-Minute Scene Promptbook Due

R 5/15: Debrief Course


by Alderson, James M last modified Feb 10, 2014 01:19 PM