Personal tools
You are here: Home > Classes > Thr 150 Intro to Theatre Design

Thr 150 Intro to Theatre Design


Course #: Theatre 150-001
Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 10:20am – 11:20am
Room:  AC/W 16


Kathleen Donnelly
e-mail :
Office: AC/W 220 / 424-7127
Office Hours: Tues: 8:00am – 10:00am, Wed: 11:30am-12:30pm, or by appointment

Roy Hoglund
Office:  AC/W 216 / 424-7043
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs: 9:00am – 10:30am, or by appointment

Mick Alderson

Office: AC/W 124 / 424-7051
Office Hours: Monday: 1:00pm – 2:00pm, or by appointment

Peer Mentor:
Name: Kimberly Prophett



Athol Fugard:  Master Harold and the Boys

William Shakespeare:  Romeo and Juliet



Karen Brewster and Melissa Shafer: Fundamentals of Theatrical Design


Based on goals established by the Theatre Department, the student will: have a broad knowledge of the processes of theatrical production; develop a comprehensive understanding of the history of the theatre; make effective use of the research tools available to the theatre artist, critic and historian; and develop a commitment to the pursuit of artistic excellence and integrity.

Value of a Liberal Education: 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. (AAC&U;

Connection to this course: 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.


Quest 1 Signature Question: How do people understand and bridge cultural differences?

Intercultural knowledge and competence is the understanding of one’s own culture as well as cultures beyond one’s own; the recognition of the cultural values and history, language, traditions, arts, and social institutions of a group of people; the ability to negotiate and bridge cultural differences in ways that allow for broader perspectives to emerge; and the skill to investigate a wide range of world views, beliefs, practices, and values.

The University Studies Program (USP) is your gateway to 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 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?
  • How do people understand and bridge cultural differences?

The Quest classes are designed to provide a solid foundation for the rest of your education here, no matter which major you choose.  Your USP courses will also provide the opportunity for you to Explore and Connect as you begin your college education.  For further information about the unique general education at UW Oshkosh, visit the University Studies Program website [insert link: note that the USP student website is currently in development and will be available in Fall 2013.]


LEARNING OUTCOMES AND CORE ABILITIES: After taking this course you should be able to:

  • Understand the basic elements of theatre from both Western and Non-Western drama.
  • Gain a cultural awareness of ethnic and regional differences through the medium of theatre.
  • Understand the various roles of artists who are involved in the process of creating theatre.
  • Use critical and creative thinking to solve design challenges in theatre
  • Engage in visual and literary research, and create a design research collage.
  • Work cooperatively on a design team to achieve a cohesive design.
  • Communicate in ways that honor diversity.


  • Students will be able to describe the value of a Liberal Education.
  • Students will become familiar with the expectations of a college-level education, the UW Oshkosh Essential Learning Outcomes, and the University Studies Program.
  • Students will begin their acculturation to life at this university, developing familiarity with the academic resources and community engagement opportunities at UW Oshkosh.
  • Students will engage in learning communities to enhance their connections to the class, the university, and one another.
  • Students will participate in campus and community life through co-curricular activities.
  • Students will begin to take personal responsibility for their intellectual development by archiving learning artifacts in the e-Portfolio

EARLY ALERT: After the third week of class, you will receive a grade for your overall progress in this course and each of the courses you are taking in your first semester.  This process is called “Early Alert.”  You will receive this information in an email during the 5th week of classes. Early Alert is designed to help you evaluate your study skills and your class attendance so that you know if you are on the right track. If you need to make some changes, there are resources available to support your academic success. These Early Alert grades are not permanent and will not appear on your transcript.

In this course, the Early Alert grade will be based on the work in Project 1A.

MAP-WORKS (Making Achievement Possible 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.  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 achieve your goals; please review it.  [Suggestion: Please bring your MAP-Works survey report with you when you come to talk with us during the office hour chat that we will schedule, or your meeting with your peer mentor.)

E-PORTFOLIO: 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 that you are ready for your Capstone course or experience as you near graduation. You can even use the ePortfolio after you graduate to show evidence of your learning to employers or graduate schools. In this course (and in all your USP courses), a specific assignment has been designated to upload to your ePortfolio. (see below)  Your peer mentor can assist you with getting your UW Oshkosh ePortfolio started.

In Project 2B, you will be required to create a visual research Powerpoint Presentation that you will place in your e-Portfolio. This assignment will explore the cultural environment(s) that will be the basis for your design of Romeo and Juliet.  By creating this portfolio item, you will have a greater understanding of the traditions, culture, history and art of the country.


ATTENDANCE: All students and the peer mentor will be required to attend two UWO Theatre Department productions during the semester.  Specific dates and events will be added for each semester.

CAMPUS RESOURCES: In the University Studies Program, we want you to be successful.  Please visit this resource page (or the D2L course page) to read about all the campus services available to support your success.

  • Writing Center: The Writing Center helps students of all ability levels improve their writing. Trained peer consultants help writers understand an assignment, envision possibilities for a draft, and improve their writing process. They even help writers learn to identify their own proofreading errors.  Students can make a free appointment or stop by to see whether a consultant is available. For more information, view their website (, call 920-424-1152, email, or visit them in Suite 102 of the Student Success Center.
  • 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
  • Polk Library/Information Literacy: Polk Library offers many professional librarians who can help you find library resources for your research. Specifically, Ted Mulvey, the Information Literacy Librarian, is available to assist you as you access, evaluate, and use information in University Studies Program classes. Phone: 920-424-7329; email: You may also set up a research advisory session with a librarian at:


PEER MENTORS: One of your best resources on this campus is your peers, especially those who have been there, done that. In this class we are fortunate to have someone who is specially trained and willing to help you become familiar with academic life at UW Oshkosh.  The peer mentor will attend campus events with the class, answer your questions about the campus, help you with your e-Portfolio, and refer you to various resources. You should not hesitate to get to know our mentor, Kimberly, as she is an important part of the Quest I experience.

MEETINGS: Each student will be required to meet with the faculty during the semester to discuss the concept and research focus for each project.  The meeting for Project I will be scheduled for Week 3 of the semester.  The meetings for Project 2 will involve all students that are working on a team and will be listed in the syllabus as Team Meeting 1 and Team Meeting 2.


Tracing Paper: 9” x 12”

Ruler with a smooth edge

Pencil – 2H

Pencil – HB

Pencil Sharpener

White eraser



Paper/ Project 1: Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard

The students will read the play Master Harold and the Boys by Athol Fugard. This project will introduce the student to the process of theatrical scenic and costume design.

This project will provide an opportunity to look at culture and race and the history of the Apartheid in South Africa.  In Part A, the research paper will explore the racial challenges that are perceived differently by the generational divide, and how the climate has changed in the present day.

Assessment: A meeting with the faculty will occur during the second week of classes to evaluate how clearly the student understands the analysis of the play and the cultural environment that will be the basis of the assignment, prior to completing the visual research for the play.

Based on the feedback from the meeting with the faculty, the student will provide images for characters and settings and drop the text/handout and images into D2L/ E Portfolio. Feedback will be provided based on the depth of research as it relates to their analysis and the play.

Part A:  Script Analysis and Research Paper – Project 1A due: 9/25

The student will create a script analysis of the play answering the questions on the handout provided. Based on the analysis, the student will research the racial climate at the time and as it relates to the plot line of the story.  The student will submit a 3-5 page paper based on the findings, and include a bibliography of source material. This paper will be placed in D2L.

Part B:  Scenery and the Environment – Project due: 10/12 (Group A), 10/14 (Group B)

Based on the research and analysis in Part A, the student will create visual materials to illustrate their intended scenic design for the play.  Materials should include: a groundplan, rough sketches, color indications and research.  Students will present their ideas to the class and receive feedback on how well their design related to both the play and the research provided.

Part C:  Costumes and Characters – Project due: 10/28 (Group B), 10/30 (Group A)

Based on the research and analysis in Part A, the student will create visual materials to illustrate their intended costume design for the 3 characters in the play. Materials should include: rough sketches, fabric samples, color indications and research.  Students will present their ideas to the class and receive feedback on how well their design related to both the play and the research provided.

Lighting Workday: 11/9

The students will work together on teams to choose color filters that will enhance the colors chosen for the scenic and costume elements and relate to skin tones for people of color.  The students will present the lighting ideas and receive feedback on how well the lighting worked with the other design elements.


Project 2:  Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

In this project the students will explore the techniques and processes of design as it relates to Scenery, Costumes and Lighting while working in teams.  The student will also explore the culture and aesthetics of a non-western environment (ie: China, India, or Japan) as it is applied to the play: Romeo and Juliet.

By exploring the setting of the play in a non western country, the student will compare the traditions of western culture, as evident in the original version of the play, and find the comparisons and contrasts in the given culture and environment.  This play also provides an opportunity to explore the given prejudices of each culture, and has in the past been used as a basis to discuss those prejudices in a more modern context such as the film West Side Story.

Part A:  Script Analysis– Project 2A due: 11/18

Each student will read the play and create an analysis of the play answering the questions on the handout provided. It is important that each student create their own analysis of the play before approaching the design as a team.

Part B: Concept and Research - Project 2B due: 12/7 (Group A), 12/9 (Group B)

The students will work as a team to choose a concept and non-western setting for the production they will design.  Each student on the team will be assigned a specific design area- Scenery and Costumes.  The students will develop a concept statement for their approach to the play as a team. Once the concept is set, the students will research the culture/environment and answer a set of questions relating to the characters and setting of the play in this environment.  Each student on the team will create a collage of visual images of research based on the approach for their particular design area – scenery or costumes.  This project will be uploaded to D2L and your E-portfolio

Part C:  Design -  Project 2C due: 12/7 (Group A), 12/9 (Group B)

Based on the research and concept developed in Part B, the students will create visual materials to illustrate their design for the play.

For the Scenic Designer, the materials should include: a groundplan, rough sketches, and color indications.

For the Costume Designer, the materials should include: rough sketches, fabric samples (can be digital), and color indications. The costume designs should include the characters of Romeo, Juliet, Tybalt, Mercutio, Lady Capulet and either the Nurse or Friar.

Part D:  Lighting and the Balcony Scene – Project due: 12/14 (Group B), 12/16 (Group A)

Using one of the most famous scenes in the play, the students will work in teams to explore the aspect of lighting in theatrical productions.  The students will research visual images to be used in creating this lighting moment and create a presentation showing their lighting concept.  Materials will include: Research images or color rendering, simple Area Lighting layout, and Color filter choices to create the moment. The students will present the lighting ideas and receive feedback on how well their lighting related to both the play and the research.


Project 3: Theatre Participation – Attendance dates listed on schedule

The student will be required to attend the two Theatre Department Productions during the semester:

Our Town and These Shining Lives. Class discussion will explore the choices made in design elements.



Unexcused absences in excess of two will affect the overall grade in the class.  Excused absences require documentation in accordance with the Dean of Student’s policy on attendance.



(15%)  1 A

(10%)  1 B

(10%)  1 C

(15%) 2 A

(10%) 2 B

(10%)  2 C

(10%)  2 D

(20%)  3


Schedule for Fall 2015: Intro to Theatre Design (Quest I)












Intro to class/ Theatrical Design Process

Auditions for Our Town



Read and Analyze the script/Themed Event Proj

Theatre Open House



Visit to Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit




Intro: Master Harold and the Boys



Themed Event Class Presentation




Intro to Scenic Design Process




The Research Process for Design

Study Abroad Fair



Rough sketches/ Proj 1A due




Scenic Groundplans

Aud: These Shining Lives




Theatre Major/Minor Mtg



Elevations: Wall and Floor Details



Color Theory and application to Theatre Design




Intro to Costume Design Process




Figure Drawing/Croquis




Present Scenic Design, Proj 1B/ Group A




Present Scenic Design, Proj 1B/ Group B

Attend Performance of



Intro to Costume Drawing

Our Town (10/15-10/18)



Costume Drawing Workday




Choosing Color and Fabric




Intro to Lighting Design Process




Creating a Light Plot

Aud: Clybourne Park



Present Costume Design, Proj 1C/ Group B




Present Costume Design, Proj 1C/ Group A




Color in Lighting




Lighting scenery & costumes



Lighting persons of color




Light Lab workday - Master Harold…Boys




World of Shakespeare/ Intro Romeo and Juliet




Collaboration in Theatre/ Developing a concept




Theatre Traditions of India, Japan and China




Team Meeting #1/ Discuss concept/Proj 2A due

Attend Performance of



Team Meeting #2/ Share Research Material

These Shining Lives (11/19 – 11/22)



Rough Sketches: Scenery and Costumes




Thanksgiving - School Closed




Thanksgiving - School Closed



Groundplan and Costume drawings




Choosing Color and Fabric




Design Workday




Proj. 2B & 2C Team Presentations – Group A



Proj. 2B & 2C Team Presentations – Group B




Light Lab Workday




Present Lighting Design, Proj 2D/ Group A




Present Lighting Design, Proj 2D/ Group B




Final Class Meeting


by Alderson, James M last modified Sep 17, 2015 10:24 AM