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Thr 205 Fundamentals of Acting

Theatre #97-205
Course Syllabus Spring 2015
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Theatre Department

Professor: Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft Credits: 3
Email: Office phone: (920) 424-4425
Office Hours: Wednesdays, 9:30-11am and 1-3:00pm and by appointment.
Office Location: ACW 119
Class Meets: Tues &Thurs 11:30am -1:00pm
Location: ACW 18 and Theatre Labs


  • Read the syllabus for the class and understand the policies communicated.
  • Textbook:  The Actor in You, Sixteen Simple Steps to Understanding the Art of Acting

By:  Robert Benedetti; Fifth edition-paperback

(There is a sixth edition that has a change in the title-not that one.)

  • You are required to read the plays from which monologues and scenes are selected.
  • Additional reading assignments about the acting process will be distributed in class or posted on D2L.



  • To gain an understanding of basic acting principles and techniques.  Beginning principles emphasized will be developing trust in other ensemble members during activities, receiving and accepting feedback and taking risks through trial and error.
  • Learn theatre analysis skills; both written and verbal for creating a character.
  • Explore basic voice and movement skills.
  • Students will learn to work in an ensemble environment and create acting choices in a truthful and convincing manner through scene cuttings from plays and in monologues.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the acting process in the performance scenes and monologues and other performance based assignments.



Knowledge: To gain a broad understanding of the acting process and its effect on performance results.  Students will learn how to use theatre as a specific problem solving tool that can be used in other disciplines and as a lifelong learning tool.


Skills: To develop physical/vocal skills.  The student will learn vocal/movement warm-ups and approaches.  To analyze and understand a text for performance. The student will experience the acting process and learn how to interpret a character through analysis of the structure of the text and the given circumstances of the play.


Creativity: To enhance creative skills and artistry in building a character and developing acting technique.  Problem solving can be explored in an improvisational setting that promotes creative outcomes and unique possibilities in the creation of a character in scene work and in audition preparations.



  • Attendance at a performance of each of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Theatre Department Main Stage productions is required:  The Boy Inside and Oh, Pioneers are this semester’s shows. As a class, we will discuss each of these.  Attending each show is worth 25 points.  A brief quiz covering information about the production will be given in class to demonstrate that you attended.
  • You are strongly encouraged to participate in departmental auditions to gain practical experience in the auditioning process and to be considered for casting in the shows.  Oh, Pioneers has auditions at the start of the semester on Tuesday, February 3rd and Wednesday, February 4th. There are both singing and non-singing roles.  There may be one other set of auditions late in the semester depending on next season’s show choices.



  • Attend class and be punctual!
  • Complete assignments on time.
  • Commitment:  Listen, focus on the work at hand, be a supportive member of the class and disciplined in your work ethic.
  • As part of the homework for this class you are expected to rehearse both individually and with scene partners outside of class.
  • Be dressed appropriately and be ready to work at the beginning of class.
  • Participate in discussions.
  • All electronic devices must be turned off - phones, laptops, iPads, etc.  In case of an emergency the theatre office can serve as a contact number which is 920-424-7042 or contact campus security.  There will be times when I will let you use electronic devices as a tool for an assignment.  I will announce this in class.
  • Participate in class activities and exercises with a sense of discipline and commitment.
  • Participate in discussions.  Have opinions about what you have read. You need to be observant so as to make observations about your work and the work of others in the class.
  • No eating or gum chewing.  They interfere with the actor’s instrument.  Water is the only beverage allowed in class but it must be in a water bottle with a closeable top to prevent spilling.
  • There will be a brief break provided each class session to get water and use the rest room.
  • If you have a concern about any aspect of the class, please make an appointment to meet with me so we can discuss it and address it.
  • Treat other students, the professor and yourself with respect.  Harassment of any type won’t be tolerated. Use good judgment and appropriate behavior in class.
  • Academic honesty and integrity is expected at all times.  Plagiarism or other cheating will result in a zero on the assignment and appropriate official steps will be taken.


CLASS ATTIRE: Please wear clothes in which you can exercise such as work-out clothes that aren’t revealing.  You will be spending time on the floor, doing warm-ups and improvisational acting that require ease of movement.  No dresses, no tight fitting clothes such as jeans, no flip flops, high heels, baseball caps, hats, sunglasses etc.  If you are wearing a hat due to weather conditions, it still needs to be removed for class. If your hair blocks your face or line of vision, please bring something with which to secure it out of the way.  I will allow you a few minutes at the end of class for those of you who need to change clothes prior to your next class.


  • Attendance is required and you are expected to be on time. Participation is an integral part of the work being done for this class.
  • Three absences are allowed for emergencies including: illness-yours or a family member, death in the family, etc.  Do not use an absence to attend an advising meeting or because you don’t feel like coming to class-students seem to always get sick or have something crop up for which they do actually need the allowed absences.  Please email me if you won’t be in class because due to the nature of the class an absent student can affect what is planned for a given day.  If you are working with a partner or group, I can let them know your won’t be in class so they can adapt their plans accordingly.
  • For each additional absence after 3 absences, 20 points will be subtracted from your total number of semester points earned as well as 20 points from the participation points. This means that if you have 4 absences you lose 40 points; if you have 5 absences you lose 80 points.
  • If you arrive after attendance has been taken, it is up to you to inform me immediately following the class in order to receive credit for attending.  If you forget to inform me, an email received that same calendar day will suffice.
  • Arriving a ½ hour late or more to class is considered an absence-you may still participate, but it will count as an absence.
  • If you establish a pattern of often being late to class, you will have additional participation points subtracted accordingly. This will be at my discretion depending on how late you arrived.  (The same thing goes if you need to leave class early.)



  • If weather is questionable, we will follow announcements found on Titan Alerts, T.V. and radio and/or listed on the UWO recorded weather line @ (920) 424-0000 regarding cancellations.



  • Email is the official communication tool for this class in alignment with the university. Please check it often.
  • All papers must be typed.  Papers will be graded for completion of required content criteria and general writing skills.  Papers are expected to be turned in on time.  Criteria sheets for the written assignments will address how points will be handled if the written assignment is late. If asked to turn in papers electronically, that information will be communicated in class. If asked to print hard copies, then back to back pages are acceptable in order to save paper.
  • Missed performances or presentations can’t be done after the date the assignment is due unless prior permission is granted by the professor.  This is in keeping with professional expectations in the discipline of theatre.
  • NO CLASS DATES:  Thursday, March 19th - Outside of class assignment

Tuesday and Thursday, March 24th and 26th - Spring Break

  • An assignment schedule will be distributed near the beginning of the semester.



Participation in and commitment to daily exercises, improvisational explorations, discussions, using a disciplined work ethic and being a supportive member of the class will inform grades received.  You are graded on an individual basis, not against one another.  Attitude, effort, class attendance, and completion of work – in and out of class - are the key components of the class.  In scene and/or monologue work; growth in the application of feedback received from me-which means spending time out of class rehearsing as homework, working supportively with a scene partner or group members and commitment to applying new skills are of most importance.


Participation Points assigned at the end of semester                                          =  100 pts.

This area covers participation in and commitment to daily work, improvisational explorations, discussions about reading assignments and working collaboratively as a member of the class.  You start with 100 points and can only have points taken away.  Items that will take away points are being a disruptive member of the class, not being prepared with an assignment and absence/tardy points listed earlier.


2 Performance Analysis Papers                              50 points each                       = 100 pts.

1 Character/script Analysis Paper of the final scene                                           =   50 pts.

Attendance at The Boy Inside and Oh, Pioneers 25 points each                       =   50 pts.

(A five question quiz on each show will determine this)

1 Open Scene                                                                                                                        =   50 pts.

2 Miscellaneous assignments                                 25 points each                       =   50 pts.

1 Monologue-50pts. Process/50 pts. Performance                                                             = 100 pts.

1 Scene-50pts process/50 pts performance                                                                       = 100 pts.

Total Points possible                                    = 600 pts.

Grading Scale:

Letter Grade




100 – 93

600 – 558


92.9 – 90

557 – 540


89.9 – 87

539 – 522


86.9 – 83

521 – 498


82.9 – 80

497 – 480


79.9 – 77

479 – 462


76.9 – 73

461 – 438


72.9 – 70

437 – 420


69.9 – 67

419 – 402


66.9 – 63

401 – 378


62.9 – 60

377 – 360


Less than 60

Less than 360


Liberal Arts Statement: 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 well-rounded citizens.  Theatre holds a mirror to society and teaches us what it means to be human.  Theatre, as with all areas of the Liberal Arts, is most effectively employed when it is built on a broad base of knowledge.

I reserve the right to modify the syllabus to accommodate your needs as students in the class. If any such modifications are required, I will announce them in class and/or post them on D2L.

by Alderson, James M last modified Feb 03, 2015 02:10 PM