Through text analysis, monologue work, and scene study,
this course will examine the works of contemporary American playwrights.
Scenes drawn from the works of David Mamet, Tony Kushner, Paula Vogel,
Suzan-Lori Parks, August Wilson, and Theresa Rebeck and others will serve as
the texts for examination of given circumstances, subtext, and analysis of
actions and objectives. The course is designed to explore these playwrights'
works as active performative texts, in addition to their literary content
Week to week, exercises and assignments will grow in
complexity, with a strong focus on the development of scenes and monologues.
In addition to exploration of acting technique, attention will be paid to
the reading of plays for performance and character study, analysis of
character arcs, and dissection of story through-lines.
Attendance and Presence
The nature of theater training, and this course in particular, requires
punctuality and attendance at all classes. You must be there and be there
on time. Scene study work involves partner work, and as such any absence
affects the progress of someone else. Two absences, either for illness or
schedule conflict, will be excused only if advance notice is given, either
via email or voicemail, by 6:00pm on class day at the latest. Any
un-notified (unexcused) absence or any absence beyond two will lower the
final grade by one level, i.e. B+ to B. Your energetic presence is a
requirement in this course. Your concentration, focus, and attention to the
task at hand are essential to the work we do in class.
Scene Work and Monologues
Over the course of the summer session each student will develop a
minimum of two three-minute monologues and, with partners, two ten-minute
scenes. The text for these exercises will be drawn from the contemporary
American playwrights on the Reading List, as well as additional readings
that may be assigned. The selections will be made in consultation with me,
must be rehearsed outside of class, and will brought into class for regular
work sessions. There will be a final showing at the end of the term.
All plays should be read in full at least once before any scene work
begins. Additional readings are expected during your work process to deepen
your understanding of the character and given circumstances. We may select
other plays during the course of the semester, so please be prepared to
purchase additional texts.
Course Reflection Essay
You are required to hand in a written (4 – 7 typed pages) reflection of
your work in the class. You should cite your response to different
exercises, texts, and scenes, and address your growth, or lack of same, over
the course of the sessions. Examine your strengths and weaknesses, the
obstacles you faced, and the breakthroughs you may have had. In addition to
the depth and detail of the content and the level of honest self-evaluation,
the organization and clarity of this paper is a key element in the grading
process. A journal, while not required, is an invaluable tool for the
tracking of this process.
You are encouraged to keep a journal of the in-class
work sessions, outside rehearsals, and your responses to them. Your
attention to your own creative process is a crucial aspect of this course.
Your ability to challenge yourself with each scene and monologue is central
to your growth as an actor. The journal is a tool for examining that
process. While not required, the journal will play a major role should
missed classes need to be made up.
David Ball, BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS (Southern Illinois
Tony Kushner, ANGELS IN AMERICA, PART ONE: MILLENIUM APPROACHES (Theatre
David Mamet, OLEANNA (Vintage)
David Mamet, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (Grove Press)
Susan-Lori Parks, THE RED LETTER PLAYS (TCG)
Theresa Rebeck, COLLECTED PLAYS VOLUME 1 (Smith & Kraus)
Paula Vogel, THE BALTIMORE WALTZ AND OTHER PLAYS (TCG)
Paula Vogel, THE MAMMARY PLAYS (TCG)
Additional or substitute readings may be assigned
Scene and Monologue Presentations
Course Reflection Essay
Class Participation (as illuminated below)
The key areas for evaluation are: how much effort you
put into the work, how you work to expand your own potential, and how you
challenge yourself with each task or opportunity. Your attitude toward the
work, preparation, punctuality, and contributions to the ensemble are also
vital areas. Above all, the quality of the work itself is considered.
Please feel free to consult with me at any time to see how you're doing.
Professionalism: attendance and promptness;
enthusiasm; organization; complete and polished presentations.
Ensemble: willingness to work as a member of the
group; demonstration of ability to inspire others; involvement and
willingness to take risks; participation in class discussions.
Demonstration of growth: as evidenced by work in
studio, homework and/or presentations.
Reserved for accomplishment that is distinctive and demonstrably
outstanding. It is not handed out automatically.
Given for work above acceptable standards. Student demonstrates originality
and creativity. Often demonstrates initiative
Grade for average work that shows a reasonable amount of time and effort was
Student shows limited understanding of subject. Work falls below acceptable
standard of class and shows little evidence of effort or creativity.
Attendance is very weak, but assignments are completed.