Personal tools
You are here: Home Theatre Arts Understanding Theatre Syllabus


Document Actions
  • Content View
  • Bookmarks
  • CourseFeed
Goal of Course: Understanding the Arts of Theatre and their application to daily life and to the enjoyment of theatre as an art form. This course requires that you try to show enthusiasm about learning and that you engage the course and do your best to learn things. That is basically all I ask. If you can show me that you have learned things, this is a good thing! Meanwhile, I will try to inspire you to WANT to learn by:
  1. providing fun, interesting, and relevant course material
  2. keeping frequent contact with you
  3. being here to help you with specific concerns

In a traditional classroom, you would spend 3 hours a week in class with approximately 3 hours a week for homework. 6 x 16 weeks is 96 total hours. Adding up the hours in this ONLINE course, my math comes to approximately 76 hours. I want to be conservative, however, in case you have trouble or in case some assignments take longer than I think they will. But plan on about 76 total hours of work for the course; that's about 4-5 hours per week (this total includes the seeing of plays).

All lesson materials are online in the Virtual Workshops area.

Assignment #1: Do the Virtual Workshops and complete a Course Workbook.You can find the Virtual Workshops by clicking on "Virtual Workshops"in the Course Menu—the nagivation bar at left). The Virtual Workshops are just that: workshops that will help you understand theatre and performance in a (hopefully!) non-threatening, engaging way. As you do the virtual workshops, they will ask you to write comments or do other activities. These comments and other activities will comprise your workbook. As you create the workbook, most of the assignments of the course will be fulfilled. Here are some things you should know as you do the Virtual Workshops and create your workbook:

  1. Keep your "workbook" on a computer, using your favorite word processing software (like Microsoft Word or WordPerfect or others).
  2. I have tried to make the activities to put into your workbook thought-provoking and engaging. If you have other ideas as to how to make it even more enjoyable and relevant, please let me know! Lessons take an average of 20 minutes to complete, though many take 30 seconds and a few take an hour or two.
  3. FYI: Major assignments for the workbook (ones that will probably take over 40 minutes) are as follows (the rest are usually short answer, or short thoughtful paragraphs):
    • Writing a Play Critique
    • Read a few plays
    • Building your Student Home Page for the course
    • Tragedy: Making a poster of a Tragedy about yourself
    • High Comedy: Writing a 1 page comic scene
    • Dramaturgy: Creating program notes for a play
    • Playwriting: Crafting a 3-5 page play
    • Shakespeare: Write a 1 page newspaper article
    • Design: Researching and doing a rudimentary design concept for a play
  4. Your workbook will ultimately be divided into three parts which correspond to the six learning units found in the Virtual Workshops area of the website (see blue bar on the left). 
  5. The more in-depth your workbook is, the more you are showing me that you are thinking, learning and applying. These are good things!

Assignment #2: See four (4) plays and write 1 page thought papers for three (3) of the plays. Your fourth play will be the subject of your Play Critique, mentioned above under Assignment #1. These must be live plays at a theatre. If you live in an area in which you think there is no theatre, you may be surprised at how much is actually offered at high schools, community groups etc. Call your local chamber of commerce, or call a nearby college or university. Two of the plays you see must be at either a university or at a professional/semi professional theatre (yes, that may mean a trip to a larger city if you live in Koosharem or Beaver or someplace like that). For each play seen, write a one page, informal but thoughtful paper about the following:

  • The themes or subject matter(s) of the play,
  • Who the protagonist is and what he/she/they want (their objectives and the obstacles that stand in their way of reaching their objectives)
  • The things you have in common with either the characters or the themes.

Though your paper can be informal, I do grade on grammar and spelling, as well as depth of thought.

Assignment #3: Theatre Service Project. Propose and do a service project that will take approximately 10 hours in a theatre in your community. Document your service with a short 1 page report on (1) how things went and (2) what was learned. Here are a few examples of past student projects:

  • Work backstage in a theatre or with publicity for a theatre
  • Help a local classroom do a short play
  • Attend a local classroom and do drama workshops based on workshops found in this course
  • Visit local community groups or classrooms and do workshops or tell stories
  • Create web pages about specific interest areas of theatre (puppetry, children's theatre, etc.)

Futher Notes on a few Significant Assignments in the Virtual Workshops Area of the Course

  • The following assignments sometimes cause some confusion. These short descriptions are here to help clarify them.
  • Readings of Plays: Throughout the course, you will be asked to read some plays (seeing a video of a required play is okay!). For each of these plays, other activities will be provided to help you explore both the plays read as well as the arts of theatre. In sum, you will be reading or viewing the following plays:
  • Oedipus the King by Sophocles
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • Any play by Shakespeare
  • The Bald Soprano by Eugene Ionesco
  • A play of your choice (from a selection) for which you will do a final group project.
  • Write a Play Critique of 3-5 pages. See "How to Write a Play Critique" found in the "Literary Arts of Theatre" section in the Virtual Workshps area of the course.
  • Write a Short Play. Please use playwriting format when writing your play. Remember that a play is NOT a story; it is not written in paragraph form. See the assignment in the "Literary Arts of Theatre" section of the course for more information.
  • Build a Student Home Page for the Course. Some students are very web savvy; others aren't. If you need help with your web page, just try for a few minutes (about a half hour or so?).
Copyright 2008, David Sidwell. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, December 02). Syllabus. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License