Intro To Theatre Studies Puppet Show Process.JPG

The shadow shows staged scenes that ranged from a walk through the forest to polar bears adjusting to climate change, an alien invasion to shape school, and the cycle of menstruation to childlike ghosts inhabiting a cemetery.


Theatre and Dance

THDA 21 - African-Based Movement I

 This African Based Movement course focuses on dance inspired by West Africa, as well as other regions of the continent, the Caribbean, Americas, and the African Diaspora at large. This physically rigorous class is rooted in a communal environment and is accompanied by a drummer. Students will learn African- based dance technique, characteristics, and the fundamental connection between the drums and the dance. They will also create in-class movement projects and presentations. Though this class may focus on traditional dance at times, it is not a tradition-specific class. All are welcome. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 22 - African-Based Movement II

This course focuses on dance inspired by West African and other African regions, the Caribbean, and the Americas. It is rooted in a communal environment and is supported and accompanied by a live musician/drummer. Students continue building on fundamental principles and technique, including more complex polyrhythmic aspects of the movement, while deepening the inter-connected relationship with the drums. They also create in-class dance projects and presentations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Spring semester.

Prerequisite(s)

THDA 21 or permission of instructor

THDA 31 - Dance Improvisation

Find expression and embodiment through the practice of movement improvisation. Open to all levels of ability. Come with a desire to move, an open mind and a willingness to explore in a non-competitive environment. We will learn to fall, roll and work with gravity in relationship to ourselves and others. The class will introduce you to contact improvisation, the "art-sport" developed by Steve Paxton in 1972. Relieve stress and balance your mind and body through physical awareness. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 41 - Modern Dance I

This introductory level course is a joyous and demanding exploration of the theory, technique, and terminology of modern dance as a performing art. Students engage fully with their bodies and minds as they deepen their strength, sense of rhythm, flexibility, and coordination. The course develops skills in inversions, floorwork, and balance based in clear alignment. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 42 - Modern Dance II

This beginning/advanced-beginning level course deepens further into the theory, technique, and terminology of modern dance as introduced in Modern Dance I. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 43 - Modern Dance III

In this joyous and highly physical intermediate course, students continue to build upon their skills as expressive dancers through active alignment, coordination, musicality, spatial awareness and nuanced moving. Clarity in increasingly complex movement sequences is emphasized. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 44 - Modern Dance IV

In Modern Dance IV, students continue to build upon their skills as efficient and expressive dancers through active alignment, strength, flexibility and coordination. They act, sing, speak, write, improvise, and explore - shaping their skills as a citizen artist. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 51 - Ballet I

This is a beginning ballet technique class. The goal is to demonstrate fundamental understanding and execution of ballet technique. It will include barre work, center-floor, and across-the-floor combinations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 52 - Ballet II

This ballet technique class is for students with some experience in classical ballet. The goal is to demonstrate a beginning to intermediate dancer's understanding and execution of ballet technique. It will include barre work, center-floor, and across-the-floor combinations. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 53 - Ballet III

This is an intermediate ballet class and is geared for students who have developed proficient skills at the barre and in the center. Center will include pirouettes, adage, beats, and more complex combinations. Students will develop a more advanced vocabulary while continuing to focus on placement, alignment, flexibility, strength, and fluidity and connection of movement. The refinement of technical skills and performance skills with longer combinations will be emphasized. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 54 - Ballet IV

This is the highest level of ballet at Macalester and is a continuation and progression of Ballet III. It is assumed at this level that the student has acquired and practiced work covered in previous levels. Students will refine vocabulary and strive to increase strength, flexibility, coordination, and artistry within their movements. Proper alignment, musicality, clarity of movement will be emphasized. Students are expected to pick up movement quickly and dance with speed and accuracy and demonstrate control. Corrections should be applied and refined quickly. May be repeated for credit. S/N grading only.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s)

THDA 51, THDA 52, and THDA 53 

THDA 60 - African-Based Movement Ensemble

Macalester's African-based Ensemble focuses on selected histories and techniques of dance forms from West Africa and the African diaspora, including the Caribbean and the Americas. Students perform in Theatre and Dance Department concerts, as well as Macalester events such as Africa Week, Black History Month, and Family Fest. Completion of African-based Movement I and/or II is recommended.

Frequency: Offered occasionally.

Prerequisite(s)

Admission to the Ensemble is by audition/permission of instructor only.

THDA 80 - Performance Practice

Students are involved in production as actors, assistant choreographers or choreographers, assistant directors or directors, assistant designers or designers, dramatrugs and playwrights. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every semester

THDA 81 - Technical Practice

Students are involved in set, costume, lighting and sound engineering and construction, and running crew. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every semester.

THDA 105 - Seeing Performance in the Twin Cities

In this course, first-year students critically attend live dance and theatre performances in the exciting arts scene of the Twin Cities, and articulate their individual reactions by writing reviews, responses, and essays. In this process of studied spectatorship, students acquire the vocabularies of the field. Readings include seminal texts in dance and theatre criticism, as well as manifestos and scholarly articles. We will attend dance and theatre performances at professional venues such as the Walker Arts Center, the Guthrie, Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood, Northrop Auditorium, and Cowles Center.

Frequency: Fall semester only.

THDA 110 - Introduction to the Study of Performance

This is a survey course that welcomes majors and non-majors. Students are exposed to a variety of modern contemporary dance and theatre pieces, screenings, plays, essays, and criticism to explore the intersections of performance and identity from a historical perspective. Assignments include attending screenings and/or performances; script analyses and close readings; individual research; short written projects and a final paper.

Frequency: Fall semester only.

THDA 120 - Acting Theory and Performance I

An introduction to the fundamental techniques of realistic acting. Through improvisation, physical and vocal exercises, text and character analysis, and scene studies, the student is introduced to the process of acting preparation and performance. Limited to 16 students.

Frequency: Offered annually.

THDA 125 - Technical Theater

This course grounds students in the technical and construction practices of performance-making: materials and their sources and histories; conventional and contemporary technologies and techniques; quantitative methods for calculating and assessing drawings for execution. Classroom instruction and a weekly studio/drafting lab allow students to learn and apply knowledge through working with materials. Students in this course also provide support to mainstage construction projects, further extending their learning in the course.

THDA 145 - Make-Up Design and Application

This course teaches students the theory and practice of make-up design and application, through a combination of lecture, discussion, demonstration and intense application. Students independently complete an extensive research portfolio called a "make-up morgue" while learning the principles of make-up design and application in weekly classroom laboratory format.

Frequency: Alternate years.

THDA 194 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 210 - Community-Based Theatres

In almost every town in the world, in a rich tradition spanning millennia, communities make theatrical representations of themselves: their heroes, their unsung neighbors, their struggles, their aspirations. Community-based theatre is made by, for and about communities, and the varieties, strategies, controversies and triumphs of this form are the content of this course. In the United States, which is the geographical focus of this course, community-based theatre has emerged from rural and urban communities, communities of color, communities of coalitions united toward a cause - we will learn from historical and scholarly accounts, and from participants, about many of these efforts. We also will explore the Twin Cities' own deep history of community-based theatre-making, and participate in at least one major community project during the semester.

Frequency: Offered every other spring semester.

THDA 213 - Cultures of Dance

This course will introduce you to dance forms from around the world. We will investigate a variety of forms and their cultural contexts through attendance at concerts, films, class discussions, readings, group research projects and movement activities. We will examine how dance functions in the lives of individuals and societies through various lenses including feminist, ethnographic, and africanist perspectives. We will move.

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 215 - Reading the Dancing Body: Topics in Dance History

Dance is an art of the body in time, space, and culture. It is a language that reflects individual, economic, social, and religious forces. This class will "read" the gender, race, and politics of the dancing body within African-American and Euro-American dance traditions from the 19th century to the early 21st century. The focus will be on theatrical dance forms in the United States including ballet, modern, and musical theater dance. Social dance will also be looked at as a predecessor to some of these genres. We will read, write, discuss, dance, view videos, and attend performances.

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 220 - Voice and Speech

An introduction to the fundamentals of successful playing of the vocal instrument of the individual human body. Using techniques of Lessac, Linklater, and Rodenburg, students learn elements of elocution: communication awareness; breath support; healthy voice production and projection; posture and poise; speech articulation; Standard American English pronunciation; vocal expressiveness and delivery. Essential for theatre performance majors, including singers, and very useful for anyone choosing a career such as law, teaching, politics, leadership, etc., which demands speaking to groups and presenting publicly. Students craft a personal process of vocal support practice through continuous self-analysis, journaling of exercises, rehearsal and delivery. This is a dynamic, physical, highly experiential, practical, and performance-based lab course. Semester culminates with a public solo performance of oratory and poetry. No previous experience required. 

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 221 - Dance Composition

This course is the study and discipline of dance-making. Students learn the tools of the choreographer - time, space, energy - and how they can be shaped to give the body expressive power. The relationships between form, content, and technique are explored. Students choreograph short studies, improvise, discuss, and view dance on film and in live performance. The course values risk-taking and collaboration in a supportive, shared space. Through the creative process, we seek energy from a sense of investigation as opposed to the pressure to "succeed". The solo form is emphasized. May be repeated for credit.

Frequency: Every year.

THDA 230 - Physical Approaches

This laboratory course offers intensive training in making theatre from action . Based on the teaching of Jacques Lecoq and his school of physical theatre training in Paris, work will focus on the observation, re-creation and transposition of daily life to create a theatre that is at once playful, emotional and creative. Course work will include an examination of the natural world and all its movements, our relationship with space and time, the neutral and larval masks and object manipulation. We will use improvisation, games and exercises to develop physical and creative skills with which to create original work; training includes basic acrobatics, balancing and juggling. Applied analyses of professional productions are required, as are written analyses of course work and individual progress. The goal of the course is to encourage curiosity and exploration to engage the student as creator, designer and performer. Enrollment limited to 12 students.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

THDA 120 or other performance training strongly encouraged.

THDA 232 - Crafting the Tangible

As our society shifts away from a human connection to the tangible, this course seeks to reconnect the student to the tangible object. Our focus will be on the process of "thinking through making." Through a series of project based learning opportunities, students will develop an understanding of themselves, the process of "critical making," and current performance production technologies. This course will meet in a seminar format 1-2 times a week and a studio format 1 time a week.

Frequency: Every year.

THDA 235 - Fundamentals of Scenography

Scenography is the creation of imagined spaces for performance. In this course we will study the fundamentals of scenography holistically, including scenic, lighting, costume, sound, and projection design. Students will demonstrate the ability to analyze and critique elements of performance design, articulating design ideas verbally and through writing, and completing a design project from analysis to tangible object. (4 credits)

Frequency: Every fall.

THDA 240 - Brain to Bone: Aliveness, from Rehearsal through Performance

The performance experience, for both actor and spectator, is a collaboration in "aliveness:" switched-on cognition, participatory embodiment systems (muscles, nerves, organs, etc.), moment-by-moment discovery. This course will establish effective, body0based practices for character exploration and original performance creation. The work of the class will involve anatomy study and research, exercises and explorations, and ultimately, solo performance work. The class is physical and meets six hours per week. Preference given to students with acting experience, though well-described curiosity and commitment will be considered favorably. Prerequisites: sophomore standing and permission of instructor.

Frequency: Offered alternating fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s)

sophomore standing and permission of instructor.

THDA 242 - Playwriting and Textual Analysis

Students will read a variety of plays that exemplify structural and genric concerns of writing for live performance: tragedy; comedy; the courtroom drama; farce; experimental, others. Students will elaborate their own interests in these forms through a series of time-bound conventions: the 3-minute, 10-minute and ultimately one-act form. In-class exercises and prompts, and small-group workshopping and reading will challenge writers' development. A mid-term and final playreading series will allow students to hear their work read in a supportive public setting.

Frequency: Offered alternate spring semesters.

Cross-Listed as

ENGL 285 

THDA 245 - Performance Methods: Shakespeare to Butoh

This course is an experiential survey of influential performance histories, practitioners and methods, 1600-present. Through readings in performance history and theory, students will investigate the social forces and performance lineages that have shaped contemporary embodied performance on the spectrum from acting to dancing.  Material covered may include: Shakespeare in performance; commedia dell'arte's contemporary clown forms;  court dance; classical Indian dance forms; Stanislavski's "magic if,"  contemporary Japanese butoh. In a weekly intensive lab component, students will learn the specific techniques developed by these practitioners and genres, taught by guest specialists in rotation with the course professor. How these forms get passed on, through embodied transmission, documentation and pedagogies will be a focus of the course.  Final projects will culminate in an open community workshop of exercises and techniques, taught by the students in the course. Required for Theatre and Dance majors.

Frequency: Fall semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Preference given to Theatre and Dance major and/or minors.

THDA 250 - Experiential Anatomy and the Mind Body Connection

 Through reading, writing, research, hands-on exercises, and structured movement activities, this course will explore the body's design and function of the respiratory, musculo-skeletal, skin, and organ systems. We will use dance and the Alexander technique as tools to cultivate direct knowledge of anatomy and alignment. This course is designed to integrate scientific models of anatomy and one's lived experience of body and movement. We will also practice mindfulness meditation. The emphasis is on embodied exploration.

Frequency: Every spring.

THDA 255 - Lighting Design

This course is an introduction to basic lighting design and the history of lighting. While emphasis is on theater, it also teaches the lighting design of film, television, dance, opera, and environmental settings. This course is primarily an approach to lighting design, but the student will be expected to have a basic grasp of lighting hardware as well. The first aim of the course is to make the student more aware of color and light around him/her every day. Demonstrations are an integral part of the lectures.

Frequency: Alternate years.

THDA 262 - Performing Feminisms

Feminisms in performance - whether on an actual theater stage or in offstage force fields of politics, history and culture - are the concern of this course. Through feminist, queer and performance theories of the body, representation, identification and spectatorship, and through the reading of plays, students will engage with the historic and contemporary practices of feminisms and performance-making. Attending performances, viewing films and performance documents will contribute to students' capacities to write critically about feminist performance practices.

Frequency: Offered alternate spring semesters.

Cross-Listed as

WGSS 262 

THDA 263 - African American Theatre

This course is an overview of the development of theatre by and about Black Americans. It examines the historical, social, political, and cultural context of African-American Theatre. After investigating the roots of African-American Theatre in African culture, performance modes, and social values, it focuses on a study of plays written by Black Americans in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

sophomore standing or permission of instructor

Cross-Listed as

AMST 263 

THDA 285 - Clothing in Performance

From classic theater and dance performance to CosPlay and Re-enactments, clothing as costume is one of the main ways we visually build a character and present it to the viewer. This class will present an overview of fashion and costume history as the basis for the design process. We will examine design techniques and media, both traditional and digital, and design the clothing for characters based on scripted, devised, or choreographer work. We will then look at the systems for translating these two-dimensional designs to fit the human form via drafting and crafting methods.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

THDA 232 

THDA 287 - Creative Technologies: Tools of Performance Design

Today's theatre artist has many tools at their fingertips to create the environments for performance. In this course students will develop skills in Adobe Creative Suite, QLab and Isadora. A final project of the student's design will demonstrate use of one or more of these technologies in creating performance.

Frequency: Alternate fall semesters.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor

THDA 294 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 341 - Intermediate Dance Composition

In this course, the student has the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the craft of dancing-making. They embody the tools of space, time and energy with greater clarity, and become fluent with compositional structures as they choreograph solo, duet, and group forms. They begin to touch more deeply into their distinct power and vision as an artist. Collaboration, risk-taking, investigation, and joy are valued within the support of a shared space.

Frequency: Every fall.

Prerequisite(s)

THDA 121 or permission of instructor

THDA 350 - Directing and Devising: Making Meaning on the Stage

You want to learn how to be a theater director?  Students in this course will have hands on experience at developing directing skills that include composition, visual and textual storytelling, staging, script analysis, vocabulary, creative collaboration, casting, and communication practices.  The first part of the semester will be focused on composition and non-textual storytelling and the second half will be creating a theatrical work based on a dramatic text.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s)

 THDA 120, THDA 125 and THDA 235, or permission of the instructor

THDA 360 - Acting Theory and Performance II

Advanced work in characterization and additional acting techniques with continued focus on voice, movement, improvisation and textual analysis. A continuation of Acting I, this course is designed to deepen the student's understanding of his/her instrument as well as develop an individualized working method. Included in the course is a consideration of style through scene work in other genres. Enrollment limited to 12 students.

Frequency: Every year.

Prerequisite(s)

 THDA 120 sophomore standing and permission of instructor required.

THDA 394 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 465 - Advanced Lighting Design

Continuation of THDA 255. Meets simultaneously with THDA 255. Emphasis will be on furthering skills and techniques used in developing lighting design concepts. Projects are more complex and require more precision in their execution. Group discussion/critiques and field trips are included. Students' final projects will be a mock United Scenic Artist Lighting Design Exam.

Frequency: Alternate years.

Prerequisite(s)

 THDA 255 or permission of instructor

THDA 475 - Advanced Scene Design

Continuation of THDA 235. Meets simultaneously with THDA 235. Emphasis will be on furthering skills and techniques used in developing a design concept and how those design concepts are presented in three dimensional models or color renderings (paintings). A design portfolio will be the outcome of this course.

Frequency: Every spring.

Prerequisite(s)

 THDA 235 or permission of instructor

THDA 489 - Seminar in Performance Theory and Practice

What are the hopes of performance and performance theory in the current era of globalization? How do aesthetic and social projects, including visual art, theatre, performance events, and dance, engage with the many registers of thinking, what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak calls 'a planetary' arts and criticism? In this class we assess some of the ways that performance artists and theorists conceptualize and address formal artistic methodologies, culture, and the politics of performance in an era of globalization. Our premise is that all researchers are cultural producers, at once located within processes of globalization and mapping their terrains. Understanding theory as the attempt to practice and articulate methods of action (nothing more, nothing less) we examine some of the essential critical vocabularies for thinking performance and the social together. Readings in Performance research, in addition to Critical Theory, Feminist/Queer Theory, and critical race theory contribute to our study of contemporary Performance Theory. Specific theme may vary by semester, depending on instructor.

THDA 490 - Capstone: Senior Research Collective

This course synthesizes the research, artistic and technical practices acquired by all Theatre and Combine Theatre and Dance majors. Each senior completes a capstone project in her/his area of emphasis, and these projects are supported through weekly advising, a monthly senior seminar format, and several presentation/evaluation formats throughout the arc of the senior year.

Frequency: Offered every year.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor.

THDA 494 - Topics Course

Varies by semester. Consult the department or class schedule for current listing.

THDA 601 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 602 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 603 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 604 - Tutorial

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 611 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 612 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 613 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 614 - Independent Project

For the advanced student capable of independent study requiring library research and/or experimental work in the theatre.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 621 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.

THDA 622 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.

THDA 623 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.

THDA 624 - Internship

The theatre and dance department allows up to eight credits for approved internship experiences, which may be applicable to a major in theatre arts (and non-majors, by approval from and in consultation with a department faculty member).

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Internship Office.

THDA 631 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.

THDA 632 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.

THDA 633 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.

THDA 634 - Preceptorship

Through a preceptorship, an advanced student assists a faculty member in the planning and teaching of a course.

Frequency: Every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Junior or Senior majors. Permission of instructor and department. Work with Academic Programs.

THDA 641 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 642 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 643 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.

THDA 644 - Honors Independent

Independent research, writing, or other preparation leading to the culmination of the senior honors project.

Frequency: Offered every semester.

Prerequisite(s)

Permission of instructor and department chair.