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Thr 102 Play Analysis

THEATRE 102 / FALL 2013

Classroom: Arts & Communication North 213 / Meeting Time: TR 8:00-9:30am


Instructor: Bryan M. Vandevender


Office Location: Arts & Communication West 120

Office Hours: TR 2:00-3:00pm and by appointment



  • Burgoyne, Suzanne and Patricia Downey. Thinking Through Script Analysis. Newburyport, MA: Focus, 2012.
  • Brockett, Oscar and Robert J. Ball, eds. Plays for the Theatre. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning, 2010.
  • Additional documents can be accessed via E-Reserve or D2L



  • The Underpants/ September 25-29 / Fredric March Theatre
  • The Laramie Project/ November 20-24 / Fredric March Theatre


This course is intended to introduce you to a variety of approaches to analyzing plays, especially as they are employed by actors, directors, designers, dramaturgs, and other theatre arts. You will be given multiple opportunities to apply these methods of analysis through class discussion and written essays. We will approach the topic of script analysis with an eye toward theatrical production, recognizing each play script as the blueprint for a potential production. Particular attention will be paid to genre, structure, style, character, theme, language, imagery, and dramatic action, among several other topics.


  • To identify and explicate the concepts of plot, character, thought, spectacle, diction and music—the essential components of a play.
  • To analyze play scripts from the perspective of an actor, director, and designer.
  • To justify interpretive claims with textual evidence and persuasive rhetorical strategies.
  • To critically assess and evaluate plays scripts and performances both orally and in writing.
  • To demonstrate understanding of course concepts and readings through online discussion.
  • To collaborate with peers in the development of a production metaphor planning of a production.
  • To cultivate effective communication skills.



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 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

1000 Points Possible

Structural Analysis: A Doll’s House

Week Six


Character Biography: Tartuffe

Week Eight


Unit Analysis: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Week Ten


Production Concept: Hamlet

Week Twelve


Final Project

Week Fourteen



Throughout Semester


Online Discussion Board

Throughout Semester


Theatre Attendance

Throughout Semester


Attendance & Participation

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, 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 8:00. If you are more than fifteen minutes late, you will be marked as absent.


  • PARTICIPATION: Active participation is required. Active participation means arriving to class on time with the appropriate assignments read or written, contributing to class discussion, maintaining a positive attitude, focusing on the task at hand, asking questions, and trying everything to the best of your ability. Bear in mind that 25% of your final grade goes to participation. You will begin the semester with 250 participation points. I reserve the right to deduct participation points if I feel that you are not participating to the best of your ability. Talking or being disruptive during class, doing other homework, text messaging, surfing the web, or using any electronic devices during class, coming to class unprepared, and refusing to participate in assignments/discussion will automatically result in a loss of ten participation points per instance—no questions asked.

  • 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. If you have an unexcused absence on the day of a performance, your grade for that project will also receive a 10 % reduction per class period until the performance has been made-up. Rubrics will be used to assess both your performances and writing assignments, and are available for your perusal on our course D2L site. 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 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: Writing assignments will be used to assess your comprehension of the central course concepts. 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:

  • ONLINE DISCUSSION BOARD: You will be required to contribute to online discussions via the Discussion Board on our course D2L during at least five weeks of the semester. You will be given a topic/question in class on select Tuesdays (discussion weeks are denoted with a * on the course calendar) to discuss with your classmates during the course of the week. A discussion assignment is worth ten points. In order to receive all ten points, you must post at least one discussion thread of your own by 4:00pm the following Saturday and respond to two of your classmates' threads by 4:00pm on Monday. Late postings will not receive credit. Please see our course D2L site for grading rubrics and additional information related to the Discussion Board.

  • PERFORMANCE ATTENDANCE: You will be required to see The Underpants and The Laramie Project in the Fredric March Theatre. 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. You will have a written assignment attached to the performance; therefore, you will need to see the performance in order to complete the assignment. 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, signed by the House Manager, 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. 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.


  • WITHDRAWL: The final day to withdraw from this course is October 18.



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.


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Course Schedule, Assignments & Objectives

This Calendar is Subject to Change



Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 1


R 9/5: Course Introduction; Technology Orientation


Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 2; Oedipus Rex


T 9/10: Discuss B&D

R 9/12: Discuss Oedipus Rex




Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 3; A Doll’s House


T 9/17: Discuss B&D

R 9/19: Discuss A Doll’s House


Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 4


T 9/24: Discuss B&D

R 9/26: Peer Response Groups – Bring Draft of Structural Analysis to Class



Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 5

T 10/1: The Underpants Discussion

R 10/3: Discuss B&D


Reading: Tartuffe


T 10/8: Structural Analysis Due

R 10/10: Discuss Tartuffe



Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 6


T 10/15: Discuss B&D

R 10/17: Peer Response Groups – Bring Draft of Character Analysis to Class



Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 7; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


T 10/22: Discuss B&D; Character Biography Due

R 10/24: Discuss Cat on a Hot Tin Roof


Reading: Burgoyne & Downey – Chapter 8


T 10/29: Discuss B&D; Final Project Play Due

R 10/31: Peer Response Groups – Bring Draft of Unit Analysis to Class


Reading: Hamlet


T 11/5: Guest Speaker: Kathleen Donnelly; Due: Unit Analysis

R 11/7: Discuss Hamlet



Reading: TBA


T 11/12: Discuss Tragedy

R 11/14: Discuss Comedy



Due: Production Concept


T 11/19: Hamlet Presentations

R 11/21: Hamlet Presentations



T 11/26: The Laramie Project Discussion

R 11/28: No Class Meeting – Happy Thanksgiving


T 12/3: TBA

R 12/5: TBA



T 12/10: Final Project Presentations

R 12/12: Final Project Presentations; Final Project Due



Theatre 102 – Fall 2013



I have read the syllabus for this course. I understand the policies and expectations for Theatre 102 and agree to comply with them. Failure to return this signed page to the instructor by Tuesday, September 17 will result in a loss of ten participation points.


Student: ________________________________________  Date: _______________________









by Alderson, James M last modified Sep 10, 2013 03:56 PM