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Thr 161 Intro to Theatre



“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” – Oscar Wilde

Classroom: Sage Hall 1214
Meeting Time: MWF 10:20 – 11:20am


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

Instructor Assistant: Gabriela Peterson



  • Glaspell, Susan. Trifles. New York: Baker, 1916.
  • Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage, 1959.
  • O’Hara, Michael and Judith Sebesta. Explore Theatre: A Backstage Pass. New York: Pearson, 2012.
  • Shakespeare, William. Much Ado About Nothing. (Link Available on D2L)
  • Simonson, Eric. Lombardi. New York: Dramatist’s Play Service, 2011.
  • Sophocles, Oedipus Rex. (Link Available on D2L)
  • Additional materials can be accessed via “Course Documents” on D2L



  • Our Town / October 15-18 / Fredric March Theatre
  • These Shining Lives / November 19-22 / Fredric March Theatre


This course examines the form and meaning of theatre in civilizations from the ancient Greeks to modern times and is designed to expose the student to the live performance experience through the study of various elements of theatre and performance, the history of theatre, and dramatic literature. Attention is paid to the relationship between live performance and other mediatized forms, like film and television, with which the student likely will already be familiar. Students will be required to read and analyze various plays and films of plays, to view two live productions, take an audio walking tour of UWO’s theatre spaces, and to explore the process of theatrical production.


  • To identify and explicate the central tenets of Western theatrical practice.
  • To increase students' understanding of theatre's relationship to the society of which it is a part, and its significance as an art form, a cultural resource, a social institution, and a commercial enterprise.
  • To develop appreciation of the theatrical past as a resource for contemporary practice.



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. We will use theatre and performance as tools for understanding self, relationships, and as a means of making ourselves more adept at critical thinking, conflict resolution and cooperative methods. 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. What we refer to as the theatre is most effectively employed when it is built on a broad base of knowledge that extends beyond skills-based training. Exploring this knowledge in the laboratory of the classroom and learning how to apply it to real world settings is an aim not only of this course, but also of liberal education in general.



Due Dates

1000 Points Possible

Audio Tour Scavenger Hunt

Week Six


Exam One

Week Seven


Exam Two

Week Twelve


Exam Three

Week Thirteen


Quizzes (x5)

Throughout Semester


Theatre Attendance (x2)

Throughout Semester



Throughout Semester



A: 1000-930

B: 879-830

C: 779-730

A-: 929-900

B-: 829-800

C-: 729-700

B+: 899-880

C+: 799-780

D: 699-630

F: 629-0


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, submit assignments, check grades, etc. All course documents—syllabus, rubrics, assignment guidelines and such—are posted there.

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.


IMPORTANT: It is your responsibility to be knowledgeable regarding all of the following course policies. You are required to sign and submit the final page of this syllabus to the instructor by Monday, September 28 to indicate your understanding and acceptance of these policies. Failure to do so by September 28 will result in a loss of ten participation points. Furthermore, asking the instructor to make an exception to any of the following policies may result in the loss of twenty participation points per incident.


  • ATTENDANCE: You are expected to attend all class sessions; however, formal attendance will not be taken at the start of each class. While attendance will not be recorded, you are still responsible for the information presented each day. Be forewarned that the class schedule outlined below is subject to chance. If it does change (i.e. the date of a quiz or exam shifts), having made plans to miss a class when you thought there would not be a quiz or exam is not an excused absence. If you make plans to miss class ahead for time for an unexcused reason (i.e. family travel, a Green Bay Packers game, an Maroon 5 concert, an early start to your holiday break, etc.), then you do so at your own risk. 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 must be documented (on university letterhead) in order to be excused and documentation must be provided in advance of the absence. To excuse an emergency-related absence, please bring the instructor appropriate documentation within 48 hours of the absence. If documentation is not provided within 48 hours, then the absence will not be excused. It is your responsibility to determine anything you may have missed. In such instances, you are encouraged to speak to your classmates and consult the syllabus. E-mails sent to the instructor inquiring as to what material was missed will not be answered.

  • PARTICIPATION: Over the course of the semester, you have the opportunity to earn up to twenty-five points through participation in class discussion and activities. Points can be earned in the following ways: sharing an insight, answering a question, taking part in a demonstration, or contributing to an exercise. Each instance of participation is worth five points. If you participate during one of our class sessions, please confirm your participation with Gabriela at the end of that class.


  • GRADES: Any questions about a quiz or exam grade must be submitted to the instructor in writing (email is fine) within 48 hours following the posting of the grade on D2L. An announcement will be made on D2L to let you know when grades have been posted. No adjustments will be made after the deadline has expired. This policy, however, does not apply to final course grades. Final course grades are final and will only be changed due to legitimate clerical errors or after the student successfully appeals a grade through the university. Official grades are submitted almost immediately following the administration of the third exam. Do not bother to e-mail the instructor to ask if your 899 points can be treated as an A- instead of a B+, or your 929 points can count as an A instead of an A-. The grading scale above is firm and final grades will already have been submitted by the time that you see your grade. Please note that the only grounds for an appeal are the proven “arbitrary” or “capricious” assignment of grades by the instructor.


  • PERFORMANCE ATTENDANCE: By selecting this course you have chosen to investigate a live performing art, which necessitates that you attend the theatre. You are required to see Our Town and These Shining Lives in the Fredric March Theatre. Tickets are available for purchase in person at the Fredric March Box Office or by calling 920-424-4417. 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 cannot attend the performance for any reason, then you will forfeit the points attached to the theatre attendance assignment. Please sign the attendance roster following the performance in order to receive credit for attending the performance.

  • AUDIO WALKING TOUR: You also are required to download an audio tour (from D2L) of the Theatre Department. You should download the tour, available under the “Assignments” tab in D2L, to a portable digital audio device, like an smart phone or iPod, and then listen to it while walking to and through the various spaces. There will be a quiz on information given during the tour. This tour is provided as a service to you to familiarize yourself with the theatre spaces as well as the UWO Theatre Box Office and its ticket sales procedures. If you do not have access to a portable digital audio device, please speak with the instructor soon, as these devices can be checked out from the Office of Learning Technologies.


  • QUIZZES: During the course of the semester, you will be assessed four times on the plays that you have read and once on the audio tour described above. These short, multiple-choice quizzes and will be available for students to take outside of class via D2L. The days in which quizzes are due have been indicated on the course schedule. Quizzes will become active on D2L upon the conclusion of the preceding class meeting and are due by the start of class (10:20am) on the indicated date. Quizzes received following 10:20am on the due date will not be accepted.

  • EXAMS: You will be assed via multiple-choice exam three times during the course of the semester. These exams will be non-cumulative. You are required to bring a #2 pencil to all exams. There will be an in-class review session for the first exam. The first two exams will be administered in the Testing Center, located in Room 2 of Polk Library. You are expected to adhere to all of the Testing Center’s policies and procedures when sitting for your exam. These policies can be found at The third test will be administered in our classroom. Unless shifted by the instructor, exams will only administered on the dates indicated on our course schedule. Exams can be made up only in the event of an excused absence (see above). There will be no exceptions to this policy.


  • EARLY ALERT GRADES: Early Alert is a program that provides you with an Early Grade Report from faculty. Early Grade Reports will indicate if you have academic performance or attendance issues and specific steps you can take and resources available to help you improve. It is common for students to be unaware of or over-estimate their academic performance in classes so this will help you be aware early on of your progress and provide strategies for success in the classroom. You will receive an email during the 5th week of classes. It is important to read the entire email carefully.


  • 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 note taker, 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. 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. 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.



  • 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, or visit them in Nursing Ed., room 201, or call 424-1031.


  • CENTER FOR ACADEMIC RESOURCES: The Center for Academic Resources (CAR) provides confidential, free 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.


* I’m happy to talk with you about your progress in the course during the office hours listed above.  Please see me to schedule an appointment.

* Please consult our course D2L site regularly for announcements and updates, especially if you have been absent. All course documents 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, and mp3 players before class starts. If you use any electronic devices for purposes not pertaining to class, you will lose ten participation points.  Repeated instances will result in dismissal from the class: three strikes and you’re out.

* Lecture notes and power-point presentations will not be posted online. If you miss a class, please obtain notes from a fellow student.

* As this is a college level course, some of the material we consider might be “R-rated.” As you are all adults, I expect that you will conduct yourself as such. If you have a question or concern about the appropriateness of any material, please speak with me privately. Moreover, some of the conversations that we will have this semester have the potential to trigger strong reactions. It is important that all of us acknowledge and respect each other’s personal response to the course material.

* Different students are likely to have different issues that interest them, different understandings of class materials, and different opinions on a wide range of topics. It is important to the environment of this class that we are able to speak honestly and to disagree openly. It is essential, however, that we do so from a position of respect for each other. Any student who is disrespectful to instructors, teaching assistants, fellow students, or guests will be asked to leave, and will lose all participation points for the semester. Repeated instances will result in expulsion from the class.

* The last day to register, add or change sections is September 15, 2015

* The last day to drop the course without a grade is October 23, 2015.




This Calendar is Subject to Change




W 9/9



F 9/11

Review Syllabus





M 9/14

What is Performance?

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter One

W 9/16

What is a Text?

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Two

F 9/18

How to Read a Play

“Tips for Reading a Play” on D2L




M 9/21



W 9/23

The Play

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Ten

F 9/25

Greek Theatre

Oedipus Rex / Quiz One




M 9/28

Greek Tragedy


W 9/30

The Audience


F 10/2

The Critic and the Dramaturg




M 10/5

Theatre as Business

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Three

W 10/7

Producing Contexts

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Four

F 10/9

Theatre Spaces

Quiz Two







M 10/12

Exam One Review


W 10/14

Exam One


F 10/16

The Playwright

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Five




M 10/19

Our Town / The Director

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Six

W 10/21

The Director (Continued)


F 10/23

Scenic & Costume Design

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Seven




M 10/26

Lighting & Sound Design

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Eight

W 10/28



F 10/30

Shakespeare (Continued)

Much Ado About Nothing / Quiz Three




M 11/2

The Actor

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Nine

W 11/4

The Actor (Continued)


F 11/6

Exam Two





M 11/9

Musical Theatre

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Twelve

W 11/11

Musical Theatre (Continued)


F 11/13

Musical Theatre (Continued)





M 11/16



W 11/18



F 11/20








M 11/23

Rent / These Shining Lives


W 11/25

No Class Meeting – Happy Thanksgiving


F 11/27

No Class Meeting – Happy Thanksgiving





M 11/30

Musical Theatre (Continued)

W 12/2

These Shining Lives (Continued)

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Eleven

F 12/4

Theatre for Civic Dialogue

A Raisin in the Sun / Quiz Four




M 12/7

Theatre for Social Change

W 12/9


Lombardi / Quiz Five

F 12/11

Popular Entertainments

O’Hara and Sebesta: Chapter Fourteen





Popular Entertainments (Continued)


Popular Entertainments (Continued)


Exam Three







Theatre 161 – Fall 2015

I have read the syllabus for this course. I understand the policies and expectations for Theatre 161 and agree to comply with them. Failure to return this signed page to the instructor by Monday, September 28 will result in a loss of ten participation points.


Student Name (Print): ____________________________________________________________


Student: Signature ____________________________________      Date: _____________

by Alderson, James M last modified Sep 16, 2015 08:15 AM