Spring 2007

ARTS 610
Acting the Realists: Text and Performance

Jaffe,David B.

01/22/2007 - 05/05/2007
Monday 07:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Thea Studios/Dsgn 114 - East

Through text analysis, monologue work, and scene study, this course will examine the major works of modern and contemporary realistic playwrights. Scenes drawn from Ibsen, Chekhov, O'Neill, Williams, and Miller as well as contemporary writers such as Tony Kushner, August Wilson, Marsha Norman, and Beth Henley will serve as the texts for examination of given circumstances, subtext, and analysis of actions and objectives.

The course will begin with a focus on "give and take" improvisational exercises, physical and vocal exploration, and neutral scene work. Week to week, exercises and assignments will grow in complexity, with a strong focus on the development of monologues and scenes. Attention will be paid to the reading of plays for performance and character study, analysis of character arcs, and dissection of story through-lines.

The class will also attend at least one performance of a play at a major regional theater.

Major readings will include: Backwards and Forwards: A Technical Manual for Reading Plays by David Ball; The Plays of Anton Chekhov, Paul Schmidt translator; Ibsen: 4 Major Plays, Vol. 1, Michael Meyer translator. Additional readings to be assigned.

Examination and assignments will include a series of acting exercises, monologues, and scenes, and weekly reading assignments which augment the exercises. Students will be required to submit a written character and play analysis. In lieu of an exam, students will participate in a final performance of scenes and monologues. Students will also keep and submit a journal detailing the work process and explorations of the course.

Attendance at all class sessions and one outside performance is required. Regular rehearsal time outside of class will be required. The course is practical and technical, and full commitment and attention is required. Previous acting or theater experience is desirable.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

David Jaffe (BA Connecticut College, MFA Yale University) is Frank B. Weeks Visiting Professor of Theater at Wesleyan. For eight years he served as Director of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Jaffe taught advanced acting classes, audition technique, improvisation, ensemble process, and mentored the directing lab. As a professional actor he has worked in regional theater and in New York City in such venues as the Long Wharf Theater, American Shakespeare Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, the New York City Ballet, and was a member of the O'Neill Playwrights Conference acting company for three summers. Jaffe is also a professional observer at the Actors Studio in New York City. Click here for more information about David Jaffe.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 14

Texts to purchase for this course:
David Ball, BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS: A TECHNICAL MANUAL FOR READING PLAYS (Southern Illinois University Press), Paperback

Anton Checkhov & Paul Scmidt (Translator), THE PLAYS OF ANTON CHEKHOV (Harper), Paperback

Ibsen & Michael Meyer (Translator), IBSEN: 4 MAJOR PLAYS, VOLUME 1 (Signet Classics), Paperback

Eugene O'Neill, LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (Yale University Press), Paperback

Arthur Miller, DEATH OF A SALESMAN (Penguin), Paperback

Tennessee Williams, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (Signet), Paperback


Register for Courses

Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459