Course Descriptions - Theater

PSU Course Planning Guide

As of Fall 2014 all film courses use the FILM prefix.  Film course descriptions.

As of Winter 2015 all dance courses use the D prefeix.  Dance course descriptions.

Courses with an asterisk (*) are not offered every year.

TA 101 Theater Appreciation (4)
This course is intended as a general introduction to the art of the theater: acting; directing; playwriting; scenic, costume, and lighting design. Emphasis is placed on theater as a performing art today rather than upon the history or origins of the theater. The class, in part, involved attendance at live performances and events in the Portland area.

TA 102 Introduction To Acting (4)
Introduction to the art form of acting seeks to give the beginning student: a basic understanding of the building blocks that lead to good acting, aesthetic appreciation for the art of theatre, and critical thinking as it applies to the examination of the world in which we live.

TA 111, 112 Technical Theater I, II (3, 3)
First term of sequence concerns the planning and building of sets and stage properties, and the production of organization skills needed to mount theatrical productions. Second term adds elements of stage lighting, scene painting, and theater sound. Both terms require a three-hour lab period per week and participation in departmental productions presented that term. Must be taken in sequence.

TA 114, 115 Technical Theater Production (1, 1)
Attached lab to TA 111, 112 will combine skills in practical construction of stage sets with actual production experience on departmental productions.

TA 144 Voice For The Actor I (3)
An introductory course in basic principles and techniques of voice production specifically for stage performance including physiology, breath support and resonance, articulation and projection. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing, TA 102 or permission of instructor.

TA 147 Movement for the Actor (3)
Introduction to concepts and techniques of theatrical movement and physical theater. Will utilize a variety of relaxation, centering, stylization, and imagery exercises designed to increase body awareness and expressiveness. Skills in ensemble, mime, mask, and light acrobatics will be developed.

TA 241 ,242 Improvisational Acting I, II (3, 3)
Seeks to acquaint the student through exercises, theater games, and study of basic techniques for creative role playing with the skills and techniques necessary for improvisational acting and development of material for public performance. Must be taken in sequence.

TA 248 Acting I: Process (4)
The first acting class for the major. Emphasis on the building blocks of actor technique leading into scene work: text analysis for the actor, preparation, commitment, character arc, boldness, rhythm, living a life onstage, and collaboration. This course is rigorous and demands outside time commitment for rehearsal. Prerequisites: TA Major; TA 111,112; Sophomore standing.

TA 252 Stage Makeup (2)
A study of the basic principles of the art and technique of stage makeup.

TA 253 Workshop Theater I (1-4)
Training in theater production though the intensive study and rehearsal of scenes and plays. Maximum 12 credits.

TA 301 Script Analysis (4)
Examination and analysis of fundamental principles of dramatic structure, form, and style though study and analysis of representative plays selected from major periods. Emphasis on the production implications of selected text.

TA 305 Understanding Theater (4)
An investigation of theater designed to develop a heightened awareness of how the theater arts express and communicate ideas and experiences. To expand critical awareness of the process by which theater creates meaning and communicates through performance to contemporary audiences. Course will examine the dynamic relationship between theater and the society it both mirrors and influences.

TA 311 Scene Design I (4)
A study of visual arts principles as related to scenic design. Projects in stage geography, design composition, and visual imagery are used to develop the student's communication skills in the area of scenic design. Prerequisites: TA 111, 112, 301, 316. Recommended: TA 114 and 115.

*TA 312 Scene Painting (2)
Training to extend the student's basic skills in traditional methods and techniques of scene painting. Prerequisites: TA 111, 112. Recommended: TA 114, 115, and 316.

*TA 313 Scene Design II (3)
Basic principles of scene design for the theater. Prerequisite: TA 311.

*TA 314 Lighting Design I (3)
Practical and theoretical study of lighting the stage. Developing student awareness of how light affects objects in the theater laboratory and the crafting of intelligent lighting plots. Prerequisites: TA 112, 301, 316.

TA 316 Technical Theater Lab (2)
Laboratory course designed to allow students to further develop stagecraft skills and gain additional practice production experience. Prerequisites: TA 111, 112. Recommended: TA 114 and 115.

TA 317 Theater Technologies (2)
The study and practical application of advanced techniques and materials in all aspects of stagecraft, including drafting and drawing for the scene shop, the organization and planning of scenery construction within a production calendar, and problem solving on current department productions. Prerequisites: TA 111, 112, 316. Recommended: TA 114, 115.

TA 321 Introduction to Costume Design (4)
An introduction to the theory, techniques, and design principles of contemporary stage costumes. Prerequisites: TA 111, 301.

*TA 322U/323U History Of Dress I, II (4, 4)
Historical survey of dress in Western civilization from ancient Egyptian to modern times with emphasis on aesthetic, cultural, and political expressions of clothing. Course may be taken out of sequence. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

TA 325 Costume Production (2)
A study and practical application of stage costume construction techniques, beginning and advanced. Students will participate in the construction of costumes for departmental productions. Recommended prerequisites: 3 credits of theater arts. Maximum 6 credits.

*TA 326 Pattern Development (1-4)
A study and practical application of the methods for creating patterns for theatrical costumes, including flat drafting, draping, and period pattern adaptation. Prerequisites: TA 325. Recommended: TA 321.

*TA 327 Costume Technology (1-4)
A study and practical application of costume craft and decorative techniques, including fabric dyeing and painting and accessories fabrication. Recommended prerequisite: TA 321.

*TA 330 Multicultural Theater (4)
Exploration of the diversity of our society through theater - comparing and contrasting the works of certain ethnic specific writers and those writers often considered to be in the mainstream of modern theater.

TA 333 Workshop Theater: Directing/Stage Management Dramaturgy (1)
Offerings include stage manager, assistant director, dramaturg, choreographer, and music direction. Participants are required to audition or interview. For PSU Theater Department productions. Information about auditions/interviews is provided on the Theatre Arts Call Board. Meeting times are arranged by the director. Most performances and rehearsals are in the evening; therefore, evening classes will usually conflict. Technical rehearsal for mainstage productions requires a full weekend technical schedule. Course is repeatable for credit.

TA 334 Workshop Theater: Scenery and Lighting Production (1)
Offerings include scene construction and painting, costume construction and crew, stage/run crews, props, sound design and crew, lighting design and crew. For PSU Theater Department productions. Meeting times depend upon the assignment for which the student is registered, and may include daytime, evening, and/or weekend. Technical rehearsal for mainstage productions requires a full weekend technical schedule. Course is repeatable for credit.

TA 335 Workshop Theater: Management/Publicity (1)
Offerings include house management, public relations, audience development, publications, educational outreach, and display. For PSU Theater Department productions. This course meets each term for one hour per week as a group, with the remaining meeting times depending upon the specific assignments for the term in question. Meeting times depend upon the assignment for which the student is registered, and may include daytime, evening, and/or weekend. Course is repeatable for credit.

TA 340 Acting II: Scene Study (4)
Building on TA 248, course work deepens the student actor's understanding of arc, character development, commitment, rhythm of sound and language, and choices that ignite the text. Class demands commitment to intense scene work outside the classroom. Must be taken in sequence. Prerequisites: TA Major, TA 248, and by permission of instructor.

TA 341 Acting III: Classical Text (4)
Building on TA 340, and using increasingly difficult texts, this advanced class moves the actor further into technique. Language and epic style is a major focus of the work, with emphasis on such writers as Shakespeare, Moliere, Behn, and Ford. Class demands commitment to intense scene work outside the classroom. Prerequisites: TA Major; TA 248 and TA 340, and by permission of instructor.

TA 342 Advanced Acting (4)
This advanced acting class builds on past lessons and explores the way we rehearse and apply our craft. Individual acting blocks are addressed. Advanced acting problems are explored through complex texts. Must be taken in sequence. Prerequisites: TA Major; TA 341, and by permission of instructor.

TA 344 Voice for the Actor II (3)
An intermediate course in the principles of voice production for the stage, concepts and techniques for adapting the voice to various stage environments, and techniques necessary for analyzing stage speech problems and developing appropriate solutions. Prerequisite: TA 144.

TA 345 Topics in Acting: Auditioning (4)
n this course students will craft monologues for auditions, learn skills for cold readings; fashion solid resumes that reflect their work; discuss head-shots; practice 'entering' the room and the interview; learn about the difference between film and theater auditions; talk about how to find good material; learn about how to locate auditions and tailor your audition for that theater; and learn strategies for follow-up.oday.

*TA 345 Topics in Acting: Commedia (4)
Do you love sketch and improv-based comedy? Try it out in a low-stress workshop that traces the roots of comedy back to Renaissance Italy through an exploration of Commedia dell’Arte. This historical, yet raw-and-ridiculous form draws on familiar stock characters, improvised dialogue and physical comedy to create original scenes, much like the character driven sketch comedy that remains popular today.

*TA 345 Topics in Acting: Musical Theater (4)
This course explores the role of the singing actor through the process of auditioning for musical theater, within a professional context. Emphasis is placed on song interpretation, learning how the music, lyrics and character all integrate to act as one dramatic or comedic function, musical theater scene analysis, and basic movement through character and circumstance. No previous dance training is required. Singing ability (beginner to advanced), loose comfortable clothing, notebook and pencil, comfortable footwear and an open heart is.

*TA 346 Stage Dialects (3)
An introduction to the method and techniques of dialect production for theatrical performance, including a survey of basic American, English, and European dialects.

TA 348 Acting For The Camera (4)
An introduction to acting before the camera for film and video. Development of performance techniques for camera and interpretation of comedy and drama for television, film, and emerging technologies. Study and practice in single- and multiple-camera productions. Prerequisites: TA 102 or TA 248.

TA 361 Theater Appreciation (4)
An intermediate course in the art of the theater: acting; directing; playwriting; scenic, costume, and lighting design. Emphasis is placed on theater as a performing art today rather than upon the history or origins of the theater. The class, in part, involved attendance at live performances and events in the Portland area.

TA 362 Contemporary Dance History - 1920 to the Present (4)
Historical foundations for the development of current dance forms studied through lectures, videos, readings and attendance at dance performances and events.

*TA 369 Women, Theater, and Society (4)
An examination of ways in which women and sexuality have been represented in Western theatrical production since the Greeks. Selected topics will be analyzed relating to feminist theories to the creation of the theater arts by women, with consideration of cultural contexts in which they work. Study of artistic practice by women in relation to issues of power, representation, and access. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

TA 399 SPST: Computer-Aided Design for Theater and Film (4)
A studio exploration of 2D and 3D design presentation techniques using industry standard software. Students will explore different methods of working in a hybrid 2D/3D environment. Topics covered will include: basic file structure and setup, importing and exporting, basic 2D and 3D drawing tools, modeling, rendering and presentation methods. Each of several projects will begin with a blank page and end with a rendered 3D model. Recommended: A personal computer (Mac or PC) to load a free student copy of the software for work outside of the computer lab; familiarity with the Mac OS. Open to non-majors with instructor’s consent or departmental approval.

*TA 399 Envisioning a Life in the Theatre (4)
This course exposes the student actor to the wide range of 'lives' possible for the American actor. Often we cannot develop a plan to succeed because we do not have the knowledge. In this course, we will explore: the life of a freelance actor based in mid and large-sized cities, life as an actor in smaller towns, founding a company, using theatre as a tool for social work, developing a vision, and developing a five and ten year action plan to fulfill that vision. Once a vision is in place, focus shifts to research, identifying obstacles, and problem-solving to reach goals. We will develop the actors' calling card: the head-shot/resume/audition, we will found theatre companies, found an outreach program, we will interview actors leading diverse lives, we will examine the roles of agents and casting people, and uncover the possibilities for living and working as an actor. Journal writing and engaging projects will mark our progression. By the end of this course, the student actor will have a stronger vision for their artistic life, and the tools to enact that vision. This course is collaborative in nature and invites only committed actors to enroll. Pre-requisites: TA major, TA248

*TA 399 SPST: How 2 B Funny (3)
An introduction to the world of comedy performance. Class will highlight 2 forms of comedy, sketch, and stand-up, with equal emphasis on performance and writing.

TA 399 SPST: Intro to Design (4)
A basic course introducing the four primary fields of theatrical design - scenery, costumes, lighting and sound. Emphasis will be placed on analysis, research, and the exploration of design ideas for each of the four areas. Students will not be expected to have strong technical skills at this level. Rather, they will need to be open to the exploration of ideas and how ideas are formed in a theatrical production. Basic artistic skills and techniques will be introduced to assist students in developing the skills required to communicate design.

TA 399 SPST Mainstage Production (1-4)
Students registered in this course have been cast in the upcoming mainstage production, and/or have been selected to be members of the artistic team, for example stage manager, assistant director, rehearsal secretary, designer, choreographer, rehearsal pianist, etc.

 *TA 399 SPST: Movement Performance (4)
This class is an extension of Movement for the Actor TA 147 but may be taken by anyone with an interest in performance experience. The class will consist of a series of rehearsals culminating in a final class project: a weekend of performances in the Studio Theater (LH 115) in Lincoln Hall. The pieces(s) to be performed will be determined in the first few weeks of the session. The remaining classes will be absorbed in the production process. The performances created for this class will be largely original and definitely movement-based. The may incorporate music, stylized choreography, mime, manipulation of odd props, mask. Students are not limited to a nonverbal approach and script may be used. This course satisfies both the Fine Arts requirement and the requirement for upper division credits.

*TA SPST: 399 Staged Combat (3)
Exploration of concepts & techniques related to both armed & unarmed combat for the stage. REV: A participatory studio course that explores concepts and techniques related to both armed and unarmed staged combat for the purposes of stage and camera acting.

*TA 399 SPST: Auditioning (3)
Exploration of various approaches to auditioning for stage roles. Development of audition skills and techniques, including relaxation, self-presentation, cold readings, prepared monologues, and scenes.

*TA 4/508, 099 Suzuki Acting & Performing Original Noh & Kyogen Plays in English (4)
Students will learn basic movements and voice conventions of Japan's Suzuki acting method, Noh & Kyogen drama and develop new vocabularies to present an original Japanese/Russian/English fusion Noh play: The Dark Man, about Russia's beloved and tragic poet, Sergei Esenin. The fusion Kyogen play to be performed is "Laundry River", based on a medieval French farce.

*TA 4/514 History of Decor (4)
A historical survey of period decor focusing on furniture and interior architectural detail from Egyptian to modern times with emphasis on periods most commonly used in theater production. Recommended prerequisite: 6 credits of theater arts.

*TA 4/521 Costume Design (4)
An in-depth study of costume design principles. Emphasis is placed on the design of costumes for specific plays, using a variety of styles and rendering media. Prerequisite: TA 321. Recommended: TA 325.

*TA 4/530 Scene Design III (4)
Advanced study of scenic design problems and concept development. Maximum 6 credits. Prerequisite: TA 313.

*TA 435/535 Lighting Design II (3)
Advanced lighting design skills and techniques involving the practical application of script analysis and collaborative techniques while working in the department's Studio Theater lighting student-directed, one-act plays and/or participating in departmental stage productions. Prerequisite: TA 111, 301, 316.

*TA 440/540 Advanced Acting Studio (1-4)
Advanced studio work focusing on rehearsal technique, style, preparation, developing material, and working with diverse environments, all leading to a public performance. May be replicated for a total of 12 credit hours. Prerequisites: TA Major; TA 342, by audition/interview and permission of instructor.

TA 454/554 Directing I (4)
Study and practice in play analysis and directing of scenes. Prerequisites: TA 111, 112, 248, 301. Recommended: TA 311, 321.

TA 455/555 Directing II (4)
Advanced practice in analysis and directing of plays for public performance. Prerequisites: TA 111, 112, 316, 248, 454. Recommended: TA 114, 115.

*TA 460/560 Advanced Directing (3)
Specific problems in directorial methods and styles for presentation in public performance. Prerequisite: TA 455 or equivalent experience.

TA 464/564, 465/565 Development of Dramatic Art (4, 4)
Survey of dramatic literature and theater history from ancient times to the emergence of the modern theater in the 19th century. The course is chronological in its presentation but each term may be taken separately. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

TA 467/567, 468/568 Modern Theater I, II (4, 4)
A consideration of theater and drama from the late 19th and early 20th century to the present. Representative plays chosen from continental European, English, Irish, and American repertories. Examination of key directors and trends in staging. Course may be taken out of sequence. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

*TA 469 Women, Theater, and Society (4)
An examination of ways in which women and sexuality have been represented in Western theatrical production since the Greeks. Selected topics will be analyzed relating to feminist theories to the creation of the theater arts by women, with consideration of cultural contexts in which they work. Study of artistic practice by women in relation to issues of power, representation, and access. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

TA 471/571 Theater History: Periods and Topics (4)
Concentrated study of a particular period and/or topic in theater history: for example, Ancient Greek Theater and Drama, Medieval and Renaissance Theater, Restoration/18th Century Drama, American Theater and Drama, Theater and Science, Irish Cinema/Irish Drama, and Theatrical Expressionism. Recommended prerequisite: TA 464 and 465 or appropriate sophomore inquiry course.

*TA 471/571 THH: Irish Cinema and Drama (4)
Concentrated study of significant developments in modern Irish cinema and drama. In addition to viewing contemporary films by directors like Pat O'Connor (Cal), Neil Jordan (The Crying Game), and Jim Sheridan (The Boxer), students will examine plays by Sean O'Casey (Juno and the Paycock), John B. Keane (The Field), and Brian Friel (Philadelphia, Here I Come) along with the film adaptations made from them. Special attention will be paid both to the challenges involved in adapting narrative fiction to film and to the complex dialectic that exists between dramatic text, theatrical production, and cinematic adaptation. Recommended prerequisite: TA 464 and 465 or appropriate sophomore inquiry course.

*TA 471/571 THH: American Theatre and Drama (4)
American Theatre/Drama: Beginning with with Susan Glaspell and Eugene O'Neill, the class studies a wide range of playwrights, who reflect the rich diversity of twentieth- and twenty-first-century American drama. Also examined are historically significant theatre companies like the Provincetown Players, the Group Theatre, and the Federal Theater. Recommended prerequisite: TA 464 and 465 or appropriate sophomore inquiry course.

*TA 471/571 THH: Ancient Greek Theatre (4)
This class explores the drama and theatre conditions of Ancient Greece—emphasizing the Classical Age but also examining the Hellenistic Period. The tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, as well as the comedies of Aristophanes and Menander will be studied. Recommended prerequisite: upper-division standing.

*TA 471/571 THH:  Elizabethan-Jacobean Revenge Dramas (4)
Revenge – a primordial thirst for inflicting harm for a wrong suffered — was rampant in English Renaissance drama. What prompted the “eye for an eye” desire for revenge in this Christian culture and how was it expressed through theater? We will focus on Elizabethan – Jacobean Revenge Tragedies in order to mine the cultural meanings of revenge during this period in history. We will explore the nature of justice, economic inequality, the law, and punishment in a range of texts including Kyd, Middleton, Beaumont and Fletcher, Webster, and Shakespeare. Course work will emphasize several critical skills: close reading of selected dramatic texts, understanding the plays as drama, and analyzing the texts within their historical and cultural contexts. Recommended prerequisite: upper-division standing.

*TA 471/571 THH: Theatre and Science; 19th Century European Theatre (4)
This class explores how developments in theatre practice and drama paralleled larger shifts in nineteenth-century culture. We will consider a number of significant playwrights and theatre practitioners in terms of how they sought to give form to a theatre for the "scientific age." Recommended prerequisite: TA 464 and 465 or appropriate sophomore inquiry course.

*TA 471/571 THH: Medieval and Renaissance Theater (4)
In this course we will focus on Saxon, Italian and English Renaissance and Spanish Golden Age drama. We will concentrate on several important dramatists of these time periods: Hrotsvitha, the Cycle playwrights, Machiavelli, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Calderón de la Barca and Cervantes. We will also study other lesser known plays that provide important background for understanding the drama or that raise interesting critical issues. Class work will emphasize several critical skills: close reading of selected dramatic texts, understanding the plays as drama, and placing these texts within their historical and cultural contexts. Recommended prerequisite: upper-division standing.

TA 472/572 Theater History: Major Figures (4)
Concentrated study of the contribution of one of more major theater artists: for example, Ibsen, Stanislavsky, Appia, Brecht, and Artaud. Recommended prerequisite: upper-division standing. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

*TA 472/572 THH: Craig/Appia (4)
The purpose of this course is too gain an understanding of the two monumental figures of theatre history, Gordon Craig and Adolph Appia, and the effect they have had on not only the theatre of their time but also the Theatre, as we know it today. In classroom discussions we will view the world of the Theatre at different time periods: late 1800's, 1895-1930, and today's modern theatre. We will see that both Appia and Craig were much more than just stage designers. Their theories and experiments forever changed the way the business of theatre is done. From the actor to the director to the physical environment of the auditorium, much of how we practice theatre today is based on the works and dreams of these two men. Prerequisite: upper-division standing.

TA 4/574, 4/575 Dramatic Writing I, II (4)
A sequence in playwriting involving analysis of dramatic structure, practical application of playwriting techniques. Must be taken sequentially. Recommended prerequisite: 8 credits of theater arts and/or English.

TA 511 Introduction to Theater Research (2)
An introductory course in research methods and bibliography for graduate study in theater.