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Thr 308 Acting Studio I

Theatre #97-308
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Theatre Department
Course Syllabus, Fall 2013

Performance Program Professors: Merlaine Angwall and Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft
Office Phones: Purse-Wiedenhoeft:  (920) 424-4425   Angwall: (920) 424-7050
Office Locations: Purse-Wiedenhoeft = ACW 119 and Angwall=ACW 120 & ACW 101
Jane’s Office Hours: M and Wed from 1:00-1:50/Tu and Thur from 11:15-12:30 and by appointment.
Merlaine’s Office Hours: M, TU, Wed and Thur from 1:00-1:50 and by appointment.
Class Meets: Mondays and Wednesdays from 1:50-3:50 p.m.
Location: ACW 18 and the theatres as laboratories.  Credits:  4

Required reading, fees and materials:

  • Read the syllabus for the class
  • Read the plays from which monologues and scenes are selected.
  • Read text and articles on the craft of acting and careers in the theatre as assigned.
  • Pay for admission to required play performances on and off-campus
  • A spiral notebook for taking notes and journaling
  • For voice and movement work a yoga mat is recommended.
  • Warm-up clothes


Course Description

This class will focus on both experiential and theoretical based learning approaches to acting.  It is the first in a three course sequence of acting classes.  You as actors will explore characters’ internal and emotional life in relation to the external needs of the given circumstances specified in the text.  The initial focus of the class will be creating and experiencing a truthful reality in moment to moment work based on the teachings of Constantine Stanislavski, Stella Adler, Sanford Meisner, Uta Hagen and others.  The second focus of the class is on the use and care of the voice and relaxation and alignment of the body.  Laban movement work and Fitzmaurice Voicework® will be introduced.  The third focus of the class will be on the development of a thorough and disciplined work ethic as individuals and as a collaborative ensemble.

Course Goals


  • To gain a broad experiential understanding of the acting process and its effect on performance results.  You will learn how to use theatre as a problem solving tool that can be used as a lifelong learning tool.



  • To develop introductory/applicable physical/vocal skills.  You will learn vocal/movement warm-ups and approaches as well as ways to move and speak neutrally.  (Performance majors are required to take Voice and Diction, and Movement for the Actor where you will expand upon this introductory vocal and physical work.)

  • To analyze and understand a text for performance. You 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.



  • To enhance creative skills and artistry in building a character and developing acting technique.  You will explore problem solving and collaboration in an improvisational setting that promotes creative outcomes and unique possibilities in the creation of a character in scene work and in audition preparations.

Course Objectives

  1. Establish an effective working ensemble which will serve as a collaborative and creative environment for the three semester acting sequence and in preparation for performing in future productions together.
  2. Identify and perform simple actions/tactics in a truthful and convincing manner while pursuing a character’s objective.
  3. Demonstrate and gain expertise in the ability to use images to motivate responses in the self during the performance of a character in a monologue or a scene cutting.
  4. Demonstrate an understanding of basic objectives and obstacles that are used in the acting process in both improvised and scripted work.
  5. Identify and develop basic skills in voice and movement for the actor including release of physical tensions, alignment and relaxation techniques.  This also includes identifying habitual regionalisms in speaking and habitual movement patterns.
  6. Develop an actor’s analytical skills through observations and discussions of the individual’s work and others’ work, through written papers about the actor process, class discussions of the actor process and observing actors in the productions being attended.


Course Requirements

  • Successful completion of the prerequisite class of Script Analysis/or taking it concurrently with this class, an unscripted or open scene, one monologue, a performance response, a character analysis, two contemporary realism scenes, voice and movement assignments,  attendance at required theatrical productions, effective participation in the class and commitment to the expectations of the class.
  • Attendance at a performance of each of the following productions is required:

University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Theatre Department productions: The Underpants, by Steve Martin, and The Laramie Project by Moisés Kauffman and the Tectonic Theatre Project and attendance at a professional theatre production in Milwaukee or Appleton as scheduled.  We will discuss each of these performances.  You will have 50 points deducted from your semester point total per each required performance missed.

  • Students are required to participate in departmental auditions to gain practical experience in the auditioning process and to apply classwork to the production work when cast. Theatre majors are expected to be available to participate in productions-all roles are important and when auditioning, you need to be prepared for any casting result.  There will be two sets of auditions this semester.  The first one will be for the second show of the department’s season and the second set will be for the third show that will be produced next semester.  You will have 50 points deducted from your semester point total if you do not participate in an audition.


Attendance Policy

We need you here, so attendance is a requirement.  You need to attend class and to be on time.  Participation is an integral part of the work being done in this class so if you aren’t here you miss out on work that can’t be made-up... You are allowed two absences for emergencies and illness which is a week of class.  For each absence beyond the two allowed ones, the end of semester grade will be lowered one grade level.   For example: if you have a B+ for the semester and you have had 3 absences your final grade becomes a B. If you are late to class on a regular basis, points will be subtracted from the total points earned for the semester at the discretion of the professors-depending on the severity of the late arrivals.  Arriving a ½ hour late to class is considered an absence.  Please talk to us about your situation if there is a reason that you will have trouble making it to class on time.

If you are sick, email or call us. This should occur the day of the absence.  If you arrive after class has begun, please inform us of your attendance immediately following the class to be sure that we are giving you credit for attending that day.

If the weather conditions are questionable, we will follow recommendations as recorded on the UW Oshkosh weather line, (920) 424-0000 and/or as announced on local television and radio stations regarding possible class cancellations.



  • Attend class, be punctual and start warming up when you arrive!
  • Be dressed appropriately and ready to work at the beginning of class.
  • Commitment:  Listen, focus on the work at hand, be a supportive member of the class and disciplined in your work ethic.
  • You are expected to rehearse outside of class-this is considered homework.
  • Specific assignment criteria will be distributed in class as needed.
  • Complete assignments on time.
  • Participate in discussions.
  • There are no “make-ups” of performance assignments.
  • All electronic devices must be turned off during class unless permission to use the devices has been announced. This includes:  Phones, laptops, iPods, etc.
  • No eating or gum chewing in class.  They interfere with the actor’s instrument. You may have water in class in a non-breakable bottle with a closeable top.
  • If there are concerns about any aspect of the class, please make an appointment to meet with us so we can discuss them and/or address them.
  • Treat other students, the professor/s and yourself with respect.  Harassment of any form won’t be tolerated! Use good judgment and appropriate behavior in class. Civil behavior is an expectation campus wide.
  • Academic honesty and integrity is expected at all times.  Plagiarism or other cheating will result in a zero on the assignment and appropriate UW Oshkosh policies will be followed.


Class Attire

Wear clothes in which you can exercise.  Freedom of movement is essential for the actor.  No jeans, dress pants, dresses, tight fitting clothes, flip flops, high heels, baseball caps, hats, sunglasses, etc.  Secure your hair out of the way so your face can be seen. If we know in advance that you won’t need your workout/exercise clothing we will try to let you know which isn’t always possible.


General Information

Papers will be graded on successful completion of criteria, grammar usage, spelling and general paper writing skills.  All papers must be word processed using black ink, contain consistent spacing-double spaced is preferred with a 10 or 12 point font.  Back to back pages are acceptable in order to save paper. Papers need to be turned in on time which is at the beginning of class on the due date. Late papers will have 15 points deducted from the total points earned per day late. (After class = one day late.) Electronic submission of papers is not an automatic option-special permission to do so would be required. 

Grading Criteria

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 the grades that are assigned.  You are graded on an individual basis, not compared against one another.  Attitude, effort, class attendance, and completion of work – in and out of class - are critical for being successful in this class.  In scene and/or monologue work; growth in the application of feedback received from the professors and commitment to applying new skills, following criteria and taking risks in your acting choices are of greatest importance.


Assignments and Grading

1 Open Scene                                                                                      =   50

Movement Assignment/s                                                                    =   75

Voice Assignment/s                                                                            =   75

1 Performance Analysis of off-campus production                           = 100

1 Contemporary Monologue                                                              = 100

Contemporary Scene  #1                                                                    = 100

1 Character analysis – Scene #2                                                          = 100

Contemporary Scene #2                                                                     = 100

700 Total Points

Grading Scale:

Letter Grade




100 – 93

700 - 651


92.9 – 90

650 – 630


89.9 – 87

629 – 609


86.9 – 83

608 – 581


82.9 – 80

580 – 560


79.9 – 77

559 – 539


76.9 – 73

538 – 511


72.9 – 70

510 – 490


69.9 – 67

489 – 469


66.9 – 63

468 – 441


62.9 – 60

440 – 420


Less than 60

Less than 420


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.


Continuation in the Acting Program: Continuation in the acting sequence of studio classes requires the permission of the performance professors.  The decision will be discussed with you at your end of semester conference or sooner if major concerns are evident.

The professors reserve the right to modify the syllabus to accommodate the needs of the students in the class. If any such modifications are needed, they will be announced in class.

(This syllabus was developed by Jane Purse-Wiedenhoeft and Merlaine Angwall.)

by Alderson, James M last modified Sep 09, 2013 09:54 AM