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Thr 204 Survey of Theatre History



“The pit of a theatre is the one place where the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.” – Denis Diderot

Classroom: Arts & Communication South 118 / Meeting Time: TR 8:00 – 9:30am

Instructor: Bryan M. Vandevender


Office Location: Arts & Communication West 120 / Office Hours: TR 11:30am-12:30pm & by appointment



  • Zarilli, Phillip B., Bruce McConachie, Gary Jay Williams, and Carol Fisher Sorgenfrei. Theatre

Histories: An Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Service, 2006.

  • Additional documents can be accessed via Polk Library’s Electronic Reserves or D2L


  • Bus Stop / February 13-16 / Fredric March Theatre
  • Side by Side by Sondheim / March 6-8 / Experimental Theatre
  • Antigone / April 23-27 / Fredric March Theatre



This course surveys the historical development of selected theatrical traditions from the documented origins of theatrical performance to the present. The scope of the course prevents a comprehensive, chronological and geographic survey, but it does attempt to provide a reasonable sampling of the diverse ways theatrical performance has developed across time and cross-culturally.


  • To increase students' knowledge of theatre practices in the eras surveyed.
  • 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 cultivate an awareness of (and subsequently practice) theatre historiography—how we know what we know about theatre history and how that knowledge is communicated.
  • To cultivate skills related to historical research, oral and written communication, and collaboration.
  • To develop appreciation of the theatrical past as a resource for contemporary practice and to reinforce understanding of the relationship between research and production (art and scholarship).


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

500 Points Possible

Exam One

Week Eight


Exam Two

Week Sixteen


Collaborative Research Project

Throughout Semester


Theatre Attendance

Throughout Semester



Throughout Semester



A: 500-470

B: 434-420

C: 384-370

A-: 469-450

B-: 419-400

C-: 369-350

B+: 449-435

C+: 399-385

D: 349-300

F: 299-0



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 8:00am. 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.

  • 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 three 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





T 2/4

Introduction to class, syllabus, each other


R 2/6

Theatre Historiography/Theatre’s Origins

Zarilli: 2-14, 31-44, 65-70

Watch “Rabinal Achi” clip on D2L




T 2/11

Greek Theatre

Zarilli: 52-65, 88-96

R 2/13

Greek Theatre, Continued

Agamemnon scenes on D2L




T 2/18

Library Tutorial


R 2/20

Roman Theatre

Zarilli: 103-110, 126-132




T 2/25

Theatre In Christendom

Zarilli: 71-80, 96-102

R 2/27

Early Chinese Drama

Zarilli: 118-123




T 3/4

Noh & Kabuki

Zarilli: 157-169, 203-210, 219-226

R 3/6

Sanskrit Drama & Kathakali

Zarilli: 110-118, 133-156




T 3/11

Italian Renaissance Theatre

Zarilli: 171-179, 185-186

R 3/13

Italian Renaissance Theatre, Continued

Group Research/Performance Project #1: Commedia




T 3/18

English Renaissance Theatre

Zarilli: 177-179, 206-210

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

R 3/20

English Renaissance Theatre, Continued

Group Research/Performance Project #2:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream




T 3/25

No Class Meeting – Spring Break


R 3/27

No Class Meeting – Spring Break





T 4/1

Spanish Renaissance

Zarilli: 179-182

Feunte Ovejuna Scenes on D2L

R 4/3

French Renaissance

Zarilli: 182-184, 187-197, 200-202

Phedre Scenes on D2L




T 4/8

Review for Exam One


R 4/10

Exam One





T 4/15

British Theatre: Restoration & 18th Century

Zarilli: 235-238, 240-245, 253-262

She Stoops to Conquer Scenes on D2L

R 4/17

Musical Theatre, Western Traditions: 18th and 19th Century

Zarilli: 245-252, 326-346




T 4/22


Zarilli: 177-179, 206-210, 272-277

Goethe’s Rules for Actors on D2L

R 4/24

Realism & Naturalism

Zarilli: 309-314, 389-392

Mrs. Warren’s Profession Scenes on D2L




T 4/29

Realism & Naturalism, Continued

Group Research/Performance Project #3:

The Seagull

R 5/1

20th Century Western Modernisms

Zarilli: 361-365, 367-371

Scenes from Machinal and The Blind on D2L




T 5/6

Bertolt Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble

Group Research/Performance Project #4:

Mother Courage and Her Children

R 5/8

American Musical Theatre: 20th Century

Zarilli: 336-337, 426-427




T 5/13

Review for Exam 2

R 5/15

Exam 2


STUDENT INFORMATION: Please complete, sign, and hand in to the instructor on February 11



For Theatre Majors, focus area :

Email /Phone:

Other theatre classes taken:

Other history classes taken:

Favorite playwrights?

Favorite era (other than our own)?

Group project preferences (please rank all 4 in descending order): __

Group 1 – Commedia performance (Comici Gelosi, c. 1580)

Group 2 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (The Globe, London, c.1595)

Group 3 – The Seagull by Anton Chekhov (Moscow Art Theatre, 1898)

Group 4 – Mother Courage and Her Children, Bertolt Brecht, Berliner Ensemble, 1941


I affirm that I have read and understand this syllabus, including all policies related to requirements, attendance, academic integrity, and grading.



Signature: ____________________________________________  Date: ___________________

by Alderson, James M last modified Feb 10, 2014 12:54 PM