Course Descriptions

Please note: Almost all theater department courses take field trips to Chicago-area theater to allow students to see productions of the plays being discussed in the classroom. Tickets and transportation for most field trips are arranged by the College, and the costs are shared by the Center for Chicago Programs, the Theater Department, and student lab fees for theater courses.

Lab fees will be charged (along with tuition) for all courses involving field trips. Field trips are arranged before the semester begins, and no refunds can be made after the add/drop date.

  • THTR 105: Introduction to Dance
    In this course we will explore the basic elements of dance: space, energy, relationships, time, and the coordination of our bodies. We will develop our natural creativity and further our understanding of a variety of dance forms while gaining strength, flexibility, and technical dance skills. We will also study the historical development of modern dance.
  • THTR 120: Acting I: Creating A Character
    For beginners and experienced actors alike, this course is required for all theater majors but open to students from any discipline with any level of experience. This course explores the basic methods of creating and developing realistic characters through truthful explorations of the 'self' and the 'text.' A variety of acting methods are studied and practiced through interpretive and physical exercises, monologues, and scenes. The course work culminates in final scene projects. Writing assignments include analytic response papers on productions attended, in-class exercises, projects, and daily journal entries. Offered yearly.
  • THTR 128: Introduction to Singing
    An introduction to vocal production for the beginning singer, including the physiology of the voice, how to sightread a vocal line, how to make your voice more beautiful and durable, how to communicate the lyrics clearly through improved diction, how to extend your range to reach notes you never thought possible, and how to deliver a song powerfully and effectively. Focusing on the novice musician, this class will prepare students to sing solos and to participate in choruses; it will also be useful for stage actors and public speakers.
    Cross-listed as: MUSC 118
  • THTR 160: Stagecraft for Stage and Screen
    An introduction to the technology employed backstage to create the magic of theatrical design and special effects. This course is open to beginning students of all disciplines, and will provide an experiential and practical orientation to stagecraft through projects in puppetry, set and prop construction, painting, makeup, and computer-assisted drafting (CAD). Other topics include theater terminology, safety procedures, and hand & power-tool usage.
  • THTR 200: Production Practicum
    The Production Practicum THTR 200 sections 01, 02, 03 and 04 provide theater students with an opportunity to earn college credits for supervised projects in any area of production, excluding performance. This includes developing contracts between students and the assigned instructor, and shop supervisors and staff, contracting to perform 40 hours on tasks, keeping track and reporting those hours and becoming accountable for completing assignments within the allotted time. Ideally, students should register for section 01 as a freshman; section 02 as a sophomore; section 03 as a junior; and section 04 as a senior. A total of four .25 credits of practicum are required for graduation. The Chair of the Theater Department must approve all registrations.
  • THTR 210: Advanced Dance
    An intermediate course incorporating the history and technique of one or more of the following styles of dance: ballet, modern, jazz, and hip hop. Classes will consist of warm-ups, exercises and choreography. Students will develop performance skills and demonstrate improved flexibility and strength by learning rhythm sequences and creating compositional studies. Students will also be introduced to professional musical theatre audition etiquette and procedures.
  • THTR 220: Acting II:Twentieth Century Realism
    This course offers an exploration of acting techniques required in modern and contemporary works from the early twentieth century to the present. Assignments include scene and monologue study, written script analyses, performance critiques, and field trips to local theatre productions. No prerequisites.
  • THTR 222: Voice and Diction
    Theory and practice of oral communication; voice production and breathing techniques; articulation drills; development of effective delivery and presentation techniques; relaxation and confidence-building exercises; public speaking practice; communication skills for business, the creative arts, and professions.
  • THTR 224: Performance Art
    This course will provide students with an understanding of performance art as a constantly evolving and flexible medium. The class will trace the emergence and development of performance art as a form of expression both distinct from and yet dependent upon traditional and experimental forms of theater and other contemporary manifestations of theatricality. Students will negotiate, through reading, research, discussion and planning and practical application, the blurred boundaries between performing and living, entertainment and art.
    Cross-listed as: ART 237
  • THTR 225: Acting for the Camera
    This course is an exploration of the acting techniques required in film, television, and other media. Knowledge and understanding of film techniques, vocabulary, and genre styles is accomplished through viewing and analysis of modern and contemporary film works from the early twentieth century to the present by noted authors and filmmakers. Acting projects center on the performance of scenes, monologues, voice-overs, and commercials. Other projects include written script and character analysis, daily actor journals, and in-depth critiques of self and peer performances. Papers of analysis on films viewed in and out of class and other research projects including adaptation of texts and acting styles for the screen are also required. Prerequisites: THTR 120 (Acting I), and either THTR 220 or permission of the instructor.
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  • THTR 226: Improvisation Techniques
    This hands-on course will begin with a survey of the major philosophies of improvisational comedy groups (Second City, Annoyance, TheatreSports), and will incorporate paper assignments and field trips to Chicago to see a variety of improv performances. The primary focus of the course will be to exercise the practical essentials of the world-renowned 'Improv Olympic' (iO) long-form style of Chicago improvisation. We will immerse ourselves in techniques leading to proficiency with 'The Harold,' a thirty-minute group improvisation created in the moment from an audience suggestion. By the end of the course, we will be ready to improvise for audiences.
  • THTR 230: Hist Drama I: Greeks to Shakespeare
    (History of Drama I: Greeks to Shakespeare) This required course for theater majors examines the history of drama and theater from its origins in religious ritual of ancient Greece to the productions of Shakespeare's London. In addition to in-depth study of plays, emphasis is placed on acting styles, production techniques, stage and auditorium architecture, and the socio-political milieu that formed the foundation of the theater of each culture and period. Offered yearly.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 230
  • THTR 231: Hist Drama II: Moliere to Chekhov
    This required course for theater majors examines the history of drama and theater from the comedies of Moliere to the beginning of twentieth-century realism in the plays of Ibsen and Chekhov. In addition to in-depth study of plays, this course explores the conventions of acting and stagecraft and cultural conditions that influenced each period's theater. Offered yearly. Prerequisite: THTR 230.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 234
  • THTR 232: Hist Drama III: Shaw to Wilson
    An exploration of major playwrights from the early twentieth century to the present, including Shaw, O’Neill, Brecht, Williams, Miller, Baraka, Valdez, Fugard, Soyinka, Hwang, Kushner, and Wilson. We will consider theatrical styles such as realism, naturalism, and expressionism, as well as issues such as race and ethnicity, social class and gender, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 237
  • THTR 235: Topics: Ritual in Contemporary Amer
    Students may repeat different topics of THTR 235 for credit. THTR 235 Topics in 20th Century Theater: Ritual in Contemporary America.
    This course examines how ceremonies, festivals and other performative events enrich and define community. This study of ritual may include street fairs, parades, weddings, funerals, feasts and fasts as well as other public and private behaviors which comprise the diversity of American ritual life. Our course shall explore ritual as it occurs in many of the ethnic, racial, subcultural and countercultural communities in Chicago. We will investigate and attempt to understand both the invention and re-invention of community and personal identity through ritual action. Students should anticipate frequent field trips. (Cross-listed as AMER 213 and THTR 235. Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)

  • THTR 236: Shakespeare
    Selected plays to show Shakespeare's artistic development; intensive analysis of major plays. Students who have taken English 221 or Religion 221 may not take this course.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 220
  • THTR 237: Women in Theater
    This course will examine the involvement of women in the history of theater. Topics covered may include: the medieval plays of Roswitha, strong female characters (acted by men) in Shakespeare, the arrival of actresses on the Restoration stage, the eighteenth-century playwright Aphra Behn, the rise of 'star' actresses in the nineteenth century, and such twentieth-century figures as Marsha Norman, Maria Irene Fornes, Beth Henley, Wendy Wasserstein, Caryl Churchill, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Helene Cixous, and Ntozake Shange. Prerequisite: At least one course in theater history. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: GSWS 237
  • THTR 241: African American Drama & Theater
    This course surveys the work African American theater artists from the nineteenth century to the present day. Playwrights surveyed may include Richardson, Hughes, Hansberry, Childress, Bullins, Baraka, Fuller, Wilson, Cleage, Shange, and Parks. Readings are supplemented by field trips to Chicago theaters that feature African American plays. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: AFAM 241, ENGL 241
  • THTR 250: Exploring Chicago Stages
    There's no better way to get to know Chicago—in all its cultural diversity—than by exploring its theatre scene, recognized as one of the best in the world. In this class students will read, discuss, and attend performances of classic and contemporary plays at theatres throughout the city, ranging from small 'storefront' companies to such institutions as the world-famous Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters. In this class, we will discuss how theatre both reflects and shapes our understanding of various identities in society at large, and we'll draw from the field of performance studies to think about how theatre can help us understand the politics of identity. Students will read scripts and criticism, write reviews and research papers, and participate in workshops with local artists. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.) (Not open to students who have completed THTR 102: Theater in Chicago.) (There will be a lab fee for this class of $150.)
  • THTR 251: Intro to Performance Studies
    In this course, we will explore the flourishing new discipline of Performance Studies. This field of study began as a collaboration between theater director and theorist Richard Schechner and anthropologist Victor Turner, combining Schechner's interest in 'aesthetic performance' (theater, dance, music, performance art) with Turner's interest in performance as ritual within indigenous cultures, or (as Erving Goffman has written) 'the presentation of self in everyday life.' Performance Studies often stresses the importance of intercultural performance as an alternative to either traditional proscenium theatre or traditional anthropological fieldwork. In addition to the above and other authors, the course will include in-class performance exercises along with field trips to performances in Chicago. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement. )
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 251
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  • THTR 252: World Performance
    This course covers the history and appreciation of several types of non-Western performance, with the goal of developing students' ability to understand non-Western performance traditions and their influence on Western drama and performance traditions. Students will view videos and attend out-of-class field trips to performances, museums, and special events in order to develop skills of analysis and appreciation for non-Western performance, as well as to master English- and foreign-language vocabulary. Through focused units on Chinese Drama, Indian Drama, Indonesian/Oceanic Drama, Japanese/Korean Drama, African Drama, Caribbean/Native and South American Drama, we will practice comparing trends across cultural groups, learn to identify political, social, and cultural motivations for performance, and experiment in using non-Western techniques in our own creative work. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement).
  • THTR 255: Dramaturgy
    An introduction to the role of the dramaturg within the theatrical production process. Includes readings by and about dramaturgs and hands-on experience in the following areas of dramaturgical pursuit: evaluating new scripts; creating a production-specific 'protocol' (research compendium); analyzing and preparing a script for rehearsal; serving as an 'in-house critic'; collaborating with directors, designers, and actors; creating and running educational programs for school and adult audiences; rehearsal functions and decorum; documentation techniques. Offered every other year.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 255
  • THTR 257: Theater Criticism
    An intensive course on reading and writing brief, journalistic play critiques designed to help theatergoers make informed consumer decisions. Attention to journalistic basics and issues of individual sensibility and taste. Class writings will be considered for campus publications. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 240
  • THTR 260: Design for the Stage
    This course is an introduction to the processes and principles of design. It covers the development of a design concept through script reading and analysis; the discussion and analysis of professional set, costume, lighting, and sound designs; training in basic drafting skills; and lecture information on theater technology and terminology. Several design projects are coupled with text readings and hands-on work with lighting instruments, and sound and lighting control systems. THTR 160: 'Being Backstage' is recommended.
  • THTR 270: Playwriting
    This course focuses on the collaboration between director, designers, and playwright in the creation and production of new works for the stage. Projects will include writing, script analysis, casting, and presentation of original student works and/or student-adapted works by professional authors. Offered every other year.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 242
  • THTR 280: Evolution of Fashion in Western Wld
    The Evolution of Fashion in the Western World introduces students to the study of fashion history in a historical and cultural context.  The course will explore the many forces that influence the development of fashion in various European and Mediterranean cultures, such as climate, religion, trade, technology, aesthetic philosophies, and gender roles.  It will also explore the relatively new field of fashion theory and the impact of that field on more traditional methods of studying historic dress.
  • THTR 320: Topics in Advanced Acting
    Students may repeat different topics of THTR 320 for credit.

    THTR 320 Topics in Advanced Acting: Performing Verse Drama
    An actor's buffet of verse and period style roles requiring special techniques and stylistic awareness. Scene work is coupled with intensive study of verse drama, written analysis and historical research on the plays, and attendance at a variety of Chicago-area productions. Written assignments include analytic papers, journals, and critiques of in-class and outside performances. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 220. THTR 222 (Voice & Diction) strongly recommended.

    THTR 320 Topics in Advanced Acting: Performing Farce & Comedy
    A practical study of comic techniques for modern, classic, and contemporary works. A variety of on-stage projects, film/video viewing, research projects, and field trips to local and regional performances combine to provide a detailed investigation of what makes us laugh and how it is best achieved. Scene work is coupled with intensive study of verse drama, written analysis and historical research on the plays. Written assignments include analytic papers, journals, and critiques of in-class and outside performances. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 120.

  • THTR 325: Advanced Scene Study
    An opportunity for advanced students of acting to explore in depth scenes from historical and contemporary dramas of various styles. This course is designed to work in conjunction with the directing course. Advanced scene study students participate in directing exercises and final projects as needed. In addition to working with directing students, we will pursue our own readings, discussions, and exercises, emphasizing an actor's reading of a script, research and preparation for a role, a relationship with the director, and creating a strong ensemble with other cast members. Prerequisites: THTR 120, THTR 230, THTR 231, as well as either permission of the instructor or THTR 220.
  • THTR 326: Comedy Writing
    This course teaches the art of writing comedic sketches for both live theatre and film. The course will employ literary analysis combined with creative assignments, group discussions and individual conferences, along with workshops and guided revisions. Students will learn to brainstorm ideas, write dialogue, and understand elements of storytelling, while also creating political and social satire, physical comedy, parody, and other comedic forms. The course will provide regular opportunities to perform in front of audiences as part of the feedback/review process. Prerequisite: ENGL 135 or THTR 226 or permission of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 327
  • THTR 340: Renaissance Drama
    Who were the other popular playwrights of Shakespeare's day? Have they been overshadowed by the Bard's fame? In this course we will discuss, watch films of, and stage scenes from the vibrant and stage-worthy plays of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries in England, including the witty comedies of Jonson and Dekker, and the horrific tragedies of Kyd, Marlowe, Marston, Middleton, Tourneur, Webster, and Ford. The course will culminate in a discussion of the film Shakespeare in Love, which portrays playwrights, actors, managers, and other historical figures of the English Renaissance.
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  • THTR 350: Dramatic Theory
    Discussion and application of major theories of drama, including Aristotle, Dryden, Stanislavski, Brecht, Artaud, and others. We will apply each theory to appropriate plays from each theorist's time period, plus we will apply all the theories to a selected work in order to come up with a range of theoretically informed producible production concepts for the play. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231. THTR 255 strongly recommended.
  • THTR 351: Performance Ethnography
    Performance Studies stresses the importance of intercultural performance as an alternative to either traditional proscenium theatre or traditional qualitative fieldwork. Looking at behavior through the lens of performance offers new ways for ethnographers to understand how identity is formed and expressed. As a discipline concerned with non-textual forms of knowledge, scholars engaged in this field sometimes use performance to present their research, recognizing the modes of knowledge that cannot be reduced to words. Students in this course will study Performance Studies scholarship, learn the basics of ethnographic practice, and create performances based on their research. They will study the work of scholars such as Dwight Conquergood and Erving Goffman and artists such as Tectonic Theater, which specialize in documentary theatre. There will also be required field trips and site visits. Prerequisite: THTR 251 or permission of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 351
  • THTR 353: Bringing Chicago's Art to Life
    This course explores the connections between plastic, two- and three-dimensional art and time-based art such as music, dance, and theater. Using the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago and performances by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, students will choose particular works of art and explore how they can inspire new works of theater art. These explorations can be in the genres of traditional theater, music, dance, or performance art, but they must be created and performed by the students. Additionally students will read, discuss and write about a variety of theoretical works on the nature and creation of art. Several small-scale projects and one longer performance project will be required. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231. An additional course in performance or dramatic theory is strongly recommended.
    Cross-listed as: AMER 353
  • THTR 354: The Mind Onstage
    (The Mind Onstage: Theatre and Cognition.) In the last decade, prominent theater scholars have integrated neuroscience research into their studies. Their excitement stems from the realization that current scientific research seems to speak directly to one of the major concerns of theatre scholars for decades: How does performing and/or watching a performance affect the brain? In this interdisciplinary class, students will read the work of scholars such as Rhonda Blair and Rick Kemp, in addition to creating their own performances, as we explore the ways science and the humanities can intersect. No prerequisites.
    Cross-listed as: NEUR 354
  • THTR 355: Dramatic Criticism
    Reading and discussion of principles and examples of dramatic criticism, from longer essays in scholarly books, academic journals, and magazines. We will write our own dramatic criticism in response not only to plays on the page, but also to performances on campus and in Chicago theater. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231. THTR 255 strongly recommended.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 343
  • THTR 360: Topics in Advanced Design
    Students may repeat different topics of THTR 360 for credit.

    THTR 360 Topics in Advanced Design: Scenic Design
    A study of advanced problems in scene design including multiple-setting shows, period classics, and operas/musicals. Lab work is combined with scholarly study of the history of design, and some emphasis is placed on visual research and student design projects. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 260. Please note: Only one of the three topics in advanced design courses is offered every other year, according to student interest.

    HTR 360 Topics in Advanced Design: Costume Design
    A study of advanced problems in costume design including contemporary shows and period classics. Lab work is combined with scholarly study of the history of design, and some emphasis is placed on visual research and student design projects. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 260. Please note: Only one of the three topics in advanced design courses is offered every other year, according to student interest.

    THTR 360 Topics in Advanced Design: Lighting and Sound Design
    A study of advanced problems in lighting and sound design. Lab work is combined with scholarly study of the history of design, and some emphasis is placed on visual research and student design projects. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 260. Please note: Only one of the three topics in advanced design courses is offered every other year, according to student interest.

  • THTR 370: Advanced Playwrighting
    This is a writing-intensive course in the craft of dramatic writing. Problems of writing for the stage will be studied through reading and careful analysis of published play scripts, theater attendance, and in-class and out-of-class writing projects. Group discussions and individual conferences are also required. Prerequisites: ENGL 135 or 235 (only accepted for registration under English number), or THTR 230, THTR 231, and THTR 270.
  • THTR 375: Directing
    An introduction to directing for the stage, including both scholarly study of directing and practical work. Students learn the fundamental principles of stage direction through a series of in-class exercises and then apply them to short directing projects. Emphasis is on directing projects and production research. Prerequisites: THTR 230, THTR 231, THTR 120.
  • THTR 390: Internship
    Our Chicago connection allows us to offer unique, outstanding internship opportunities at a variety of world-famous theaters. The cornerstone for the program is internships in areas of production management, dramaturgy, technical direction and design, artistic direction, advertising, and public relations. Opportunities are available at Steppenwolf Theater, Goodman Theater, and Second City. Smaller companies, yet no less well-respected, specializing in specific genres also offer internships. These include Bailiwick Theatre, Black Ensemble Theater, About Face Theater, and Lookingglass Theatre. Internships must be applied for in the semester prior to enrollment and application includes on-campus interviews with faculty and staff and off-campus interviews with members of the host theater company. Junior class standing and other prerequisites apply based on the nature of the internship and the requirements of the host organization. THTR 390 will not fulfill the 300-level requirement for the major unless specific permission is granted from the Department Chair. For application information, interested students should consult with the faculty liaison.
  • THTR 480: Sr Sem: The Business of Show Biz
    The aim of this course is to provide a "capstone" experience for students majoring in theater. The course allows students to reflect on why one makes theater and to develop their own conceptual basis for making theater. The course will stress issues that confront the theater artist, including professional practices. Students will divide their time between independent research and the classroom. Classroom work will focus on student research presentations and discussions of practices and issues confronting the contemporary theater artist. Prerequisites: THTR 120, THTR 130, THTR 230, THTR 231, and senior standing in the major or permission of the instructor.
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  • THTR 492: Creative Project

  • THTR 494: Senior Thesis
    A well-documented and well-executed senior project completed in the senior year may count as a senior thesis. (See Academic Regulations in the Student Handbook for details.) As with other theses, the final project will be reviewed by a thesis-examining committee consisting of three faculty, at least one from outside the Theater Department. Students are encouraged to consult with members of this committee during the planning and execution of the project.


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