Course Descriptions


1 Perceiving the Performing Arts Professional artists in the fields of dance, music and theatre introduce students to the fundamental concepts of their respective disciplines. Students go to Bay Area performances in each art form studied. Team taught.

142 Theatre Production Practicum (.25, .5 or 1.0) Either partial or full course credit is available for participation in the technical aspects of a Performing Arts departmental production: elements of stagecraft, costuming, marketing, front of house, etc. Required for all Theatre majors and minors, but open to all interested students. 

160 Special Topics in Performing Arts Offered periodically, this course covers in-depth a specific aspect of the performing arts only touched on in other courses.  Rotating topics include: African-American Dance, Great Composers, American Musicals, Dance and Film, Theory and Practice of Comedy, among others. Although this upper-division course is open to all interested students without prerequisites, prior completion of Performing Arts 1 is strongly recommended.

197 Special Study An independent study, internship or research course for students whose needs are not met by the regular course offerings of the department. Permission of the chair and instructor required.

198 Senior Project During their senior year, majors in dance, music or theatre, under the supervision of a faculty member, are required to develop a project that demonstrates their expertise and creativity. The project may take the form of a solo performance, involvement with a performing arts group off campus, a substantive essay, or directing / designing / choreographing a student production. Written proposal must be approved by the appropriate program director prior to registration for the academic year in which the project will occur. Prerequisite: Completion of all lower-division major courses.



30 Foundations of Theatre I Through this course, students acquire a solid foundational knowledge of theater history, theatre literature, and theatre theory, from the ancient Greeks through the end of the 18th century. While centered primarily on Western European theatre developments, the course also offers a look at important Asian theatre developments during the same span, such as Noh and Kabuki.

33 Acting I: Principles of Performance An introduction to the theory, history, and styles of realistic acting with emphasis on personalization, script analysis and the dynamics of performance. This course satisfies both Artistic Understanding (Analysis and Creative Practice) requirements of the Core Curriculum.

35 Theatre Masterpieces: Western Drama (.5) Discussion and analysis of masterworks of dramatic literature. A global perspective, showcasing playwrights working in diverse styles, eras and genres, helps students discover the richness and complexity of the Western theatrical tradition, from the classical world to the present. May be repeated as play selection varies.

36 Theatre Masterpieces: Modern Drama (.5) Discussion and analysis of masterworks of dramatic literature. This course focuses on the modern era in playwriting, beginning with the emergence of the style called realism in the 1880s.  Students then encounter key playwrights of the 20th C., including those who challenged realism’s concern with “likeness to life” through such styles as Expressionism and Theatre of the Absurd. May be repeated as play selection varies.

37 Performance Lab (.25) Introductory hands-on training in specific performance skills: for example, audition techniques, playwriting, stage combat, clown and physical theatre, and voice for the actor. May be repeated for credit as topic varies. This course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

50 Theatre for Social Justice: Interactive Theatre An introduction for actors and non-actors to the performance practice and underlying philosophy of the radical theatre-maker Augusto Boal. Through games, exercises, and performance projects, students will question and critique the dynamics of power, class, and privilege in contemporary society, and rehearse alternative actions aimed at social transformation. The course builds confidence and a sense of broader possibilities for improvisation, both on stage and in life. This course satisfies the following Core Curriculum requirements: Artistic Understanding (both Artistic Analysis and Creative Practice); the Common Good; and Community Engagement.

61 World Theatre Experience The course explores theatrical and performance traditions from Asia, Africa, and South America - with a focus on the relationship between theatre and identity, the impacts of racism/colonialism/nationalism, and the specific social and artistic history of each culture. Students approach these topics from two perspectives: through the eyes of the artist (to see how he/she captures and conveys the lived experience and core values of his/her culture); and through the eyes of the audience (who can discover in an artwork the expression of specific national identities and traditions.) Across the semester, students are encouraged to explore “difference” and to expand beyond the horizons of their own assumptions. This course satisfies both the Artistic Understanding (Artistic Analysis) and Global Perspectives core requirements.

130 Foundations of Theatre II A continuation of the survey of major developments in theatre begun in Foundations I. This course pays special attention to the rise of modern theatre, contemporary forms of theatre and various performance theories.  Weekly analysis of specific social, historical, and cultural components provides opportunities for students to develop and broaden their understanding of how theatre arises out of, and is embedded within, a given time period. Prerequisite: Foundations I [Perfa 30] or consent of instructor. This course satisfies the Social, Cultural, Historical Understanding requirement of the Core Curriculum.

132 Play in Production (.25, .5 or 1.0) Quarter, half or full credit is available for participation in theatre mainstage productions and workshop projects as a performer. Open to all interested students; audition and consent of instructor are required to enroll. This course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice) requirement of the Core Curriculum. 

133 Acting II: Characterization and Scene Study A continuing exploration of the tools and techniques used to bring a character to life onstage. Emphasis is given to the development of the actor’s instrument — body, voice, emotion and imagination — while partner and ensemble exercises build toward the performance of scripted scenes. Prerequisite: Acting I [Perfa 33] or consent of instructor. This course satisfies both Artistic Understanding (Analysis and Creative Practice) requirements of the Core Curriculum.

135 Theatre in Performance: Bay Area Theatre A critical engagement with current theatre productions and practices. Students attend performances throughout the Bay Area, while studying the contributions made to each production by the playwright, director, designers and actors. Prerequisite: English 5 or equivalentThis course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Analysis) requirement of the Core Curriculum. 

136 Theatre: Special Studies An intensive study of a selected era, genre or movement particularly rich in theatrical significance. Analysis, research and concentrated writing practice are key components of the course. Recent topics have included Modern Theories of Acting, Contemporary Women Playwrights and History of American Musical Theatre. May be repeated as content changes. Prerequisite: Foundations II [Perfa 130] or consent of instructor. This course satisfies the Writing in the Disciplines requirement of the Core Curriculum.

137-01 Acting III (.5) Students learn advanced performance skills through focused work on topics such as: Shakespearean scene study; heightened and stylized genres (contemporary tragedy, theatre of the absurd); and the challenges of period style. May be repeated for credit as topics vary. Prerequisites: Acting I [Perfa 33] and Acting II [Perfa 133] or consent of instructor.

137-02 Acting III Lab (.5)  Acting III students co-enroll in this required lab.

138 Portfolio Preparation (.25) Through peer and faculty feedback, students receive assistance in preparing for their required portfolio review forum at the end of the senior year. Topics addressed include preparing an artist’s statement, organizing an e-portfolio, and crafting written reflections. Normally taken in the spring of the junior year, this course is a requirement both for theatre majors and theatre scholarship students, whether majors or minors.

152 Making Theatre: One Act Plays (1.0 or .25) This course creates opportunities to act, direct, dramaturg, design and/or serve as stage crew in an evening-length program of short plays.  Students receive individual mentoring and production support, while working as part of a creative ensemble to bring a script from the page to public performance. For full-credit students, a weekly roundtable (with assigned readings and a research project) deepens the studio-based investigations of rehearsals. The course culminates in an annual festival of one-act plays, performed for a campus audience. Open to all interested students; an audition or interview is required. This course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

161 Theatre and American Cultures (Multicultural Performance) By studying the contributions of theatre and performance artists, this course addresses the shared cultural legacies of the United States. The theory of intersectionality is used to examine the ways that gender, sexual orientation, race, class, religious affiliation, and physical ability impact individual and collective identities. While increasing their awareness of major contemporary artists, students also use theoretical models from dance/movement/spoken work composition to explore family histories and individual experiences. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing.

162 Directing for the Stage This course offers an experiential investigation of the art of directing for the stage. The focus is on the development of such skills as composition and the use of theatrical space; picturization and stage imagery; dramaturgy and historical research; and script analysis and textual interpretation. Students also gain experience in developing a production concept, casting, collaboration and communication, ensemble development, and the creation of “style.” The course asks students to think as directors and to bring diverse aspects of their own identities to the work. Prerequisites: Perceiving the Performing Arts [Perfa 1]Acting I [Perfa 33] or Foundations I [Perfa 30] or consent of instructor.



42 Introduction to Technical Theatre (0.5) This course is for students with little or no prior experience in technical theatre. In it, students will learn the basics of the theatrical production process, including: roles of the production process; basics of tool use and scene shop safety; introduction to carpentry and stagecraft; basics of electrics, sound and costume/ wardrobe; and fundamentals of working on a stage crew. In addition to weekly class meetings, students will have assigned readings, and hands-on assignments to be completed during lab hours, addressing each of the areas noted above. This course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

47 Technical Theatre/Design Lab (.25) An introductory hands-on training in specific technical theatre/design skills: for example, Lighting Lab, Scenic Painting, Stage Makeup, Historical Periods and Styles, and Professional Issues. May be repeated for credit as topic varies. This course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

140 Stage Management (.5) A course in the responsibilities and functions of a stage manager, from the first rehearsal through opening night and beyond. Students develop the skills to run a show in an efficient and positive manner. Prerequisite: Perfa 42.

142 Theatre Production Practicum (.25, .5 or 1.0) Full or partial course credit is available for participation in the technical support of Performing Arts productions and events. Students will be introduced to elements of stage carpentry, lighting, costuming, marketing, or front of house. All enrolled students will also serve as members of the backstage crew for one or more Performing Arts productions. Required for majors and minors, but open to all interested students. Prerequisite: Introduction to Technical Theatre [ Perfa 42] or Stagecraft [Perfa 48] (concurrent enrollment acceptable); or demonstrated production experience with permission of instructor. This course satisfies the Artistic Understanding (Creative Practice) requirement of the Core Curriculum.

147 Costume Design (.5) A concentrated study of costume design for the theatre. Students in this course explore costume design as a visual language, comprised of character traits, color, silhouette and sociological cues. Special focus is placed on play analysis, concept development, and visual communication skills.  Prerequisite:  Masterpieces: Western Drama [Perfa 35] or Masterpieces: Modern Drama [Perfa 36] or permission of instructor.

148 Stage Lighting Design (.5) A concentrated study of lighting for the theatre. Students in this course explore lighting design as a visual language, while also learning about the technology of stage lighting. Special focus is placed on the development of a design concept and a light plot through parallel processes. Prerequisite: Stagecraft [Perfa 48] or Introduction to Technical Theatre [Perfa 42].

149 Scenic Design (.5) A concentrated study of scenic design for the theatre. Students in this course explore scenic design as a visual language, one that supports the action of a theatrical event. Special focus is placed on play analysis, concept development, and visual communication skills. Prerequisite: Masterpieces: Western Drama [Perfa 35] or Masterpieces: Modern Drama [Perfa 36] or permission of instructor.