The material on this page is from the 1995-96 catalog and may be out of date. Please check the current year's catalog for current information.

[Theater and Rhetoric]

Professors Branham, Andrucki, and Kuritz, Chair; Associate Professor Trompetter (on leave, 1995-1996); Assistant Professors Nero and Rogers; Ms. Plavin, Mr. Pope.L, Mr. Avram, and Mr. Williamson

The major in theater combines the study of dramatic literature from the Greeks to the present with work in acting, directing, dance, and design. Students thus acquire skills in production and performance while learning the history of one of the world's major forms of artistic expression. Majors are prepared for graduate work in the humanities or for further professional training in theater. The theater major is also a valuable asset for a wide variety of careers--such as business, law, or teaching--requiring collaborative effort, public poise, imagination, and a broad background in the liberal arts.

In addition to its academic work, the Department annually produces more than a dozen plays, dance concerts, and other performance events in its three theaters. These require the participation of large numbers of students, both majors and nonmajors. All members of the community are invited to join in the creation of these events.

The study of rhetoric is designed to provide interdisciplinary insight into the nature, media, and criticism of human communication. Students complete a series of core courses in rhetorical theory and criticism, complemented by courses in language and communication drawn from the curricula of other departments. The major requires course work in the following areas: communication theory, forms and forums of discourse, media analysis, textual criticism, and communication skills.

Majors in theater and rhetoric who are interested in secondary-school teaching should consult the Department of Education about requirements for teacher certification.

The theater major is required to complete the following: (a) Theater 101, 130, 200, 210, 220 or 225, 261 or 266, 231 or 232 or 233, 370 or 227 or 251, and one additional course or unit which may include English 213 or 214 or any theater course approved by the major advisor; (b) three courses or units in the Departments of Art and Music, including at least one in the history of art, one in the history and literature of music, and one in studio art, or in music theory, composition, or performance; (c) a comprehensive examination and one additional course in the senior year, except for those majors invited by the Department to enroll in Theater 457 or 458.

Theater majors must also earn five production credits by the end of the senior year. Students considering a major should consult with the Department Chair early in their careers for information on fulfilling this requirement. In addition, the theater major must enroll in one season of modern dance, fencing, or tai chi in the Department of Physical Education.

The major in rhetoric consists of eleven courses distributed as follows:

  1. Core courses. Required are:
    Rhetoric 185. Public Discourse. Staff. or Rhetoric 291. Introduction to Debate. Mr. Branham.
    Rhetoric 275. African American Public Address. Mr. Nero. or Rhetoric 386. Language and Communication of Black Americans. [Mr. Nero].
    Rhetoric 331. Rhetorical Theory and Practice. [Mr. Nero].
    Rhetoric 390. Contemporary Rhetoric. Mr. Branham. or Rhetoric 391. Topics in Rhetorical Criticism. [Staff].
    Rhetoric 457 (and/or 458). Senior Thesis. Staff.
  2. Theories of Communication. Two courses required from among:
    Anthropology 333. Culture and Interpretation. Mr. Kemper.
    Anthropology 334. Language and Culture. Mr. Danforth.
    Art 287. Women and Modern Art. Ms. Rand.
    Philosophy 195. Introduction to Logic. Mr. Okrent.
    Philosophy 266. Philosophy of Language. Staff.
    Political Science 352. Women as Political Subjects: The Politics of Identity and Voice. Ms. MacLeod.
    Psychology 380. Social Cognition. Mr. Moyer.
  3. Forms and Forums of Discourse. Two courses required from among:
    Art 375. Issues of Sexuality and the Study of Art. Ms. Rand.
    History 261. American Protest in the Twentieth Century. Mr. Jensen.
    Philosophy 241. Philosophy of Art. Mr. Kolb.
    Political Science 212. Media and Politics. Mr. Kessler.
    Political Science 346. Power and Protest. Ms. MacLeod.
    Psychology 315. Body Image and Eating Disorders. Ms. Lopes.
    Psychology 375. Seminar and Practicum in Group Dynamics. Mr. Wagner.
    Religion 212. Contemporary Moral Disputes. Mr. Tracy.
    Religion 247. City Upon The Hill. Mr. Bruce.
    Rhetoric/Theater 225. The Grain of the Black Image. Mr. Pope.L.
    Rhetoric 255. Moving Pictures. Mr. Branham.
    Rhetoric 285. Argument. Staff.
  4. Critical methods and theory. Required is:
    English 295. Critical Theory. Mr. Freedman, or American Cultural Studies 250. Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry. Mr. Nero.

101. An Introduction to Drama. A study of the elements of dramatic structure through the analysis of plays, films, and television. The primary emphasis is on theater, both classical and contemporary, with secondary consideration given to the electronic media. Some attention to the technical aspects of acting, directing, and visual design. Attendance at rehearsals, performances, and film showings supplements work in class. Intended for students with a general interest in drama. Not open to senior majors in theater. Mr. Andrucki. F

130. Introduction to Design. An approach to the principles and elements of design, offering instruction in drawing, simple drafting, sculpture, painting, and costume and mask construction. Accompanying research in world styles of visual expression informs the exploration of line, mass, shape, time, space, light, and color. Research topics may include African festival, Islamic design, Asian dance-drama, European carnival, and Russian fairground theater. The goal of the course is to "tease out" a fresh expression using the simplest of elements. No previous artistic or theatrical training is required. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 14. Staff. F

132. Stagecraft. An introduction to the technical skills and techniques used to mount theatrical productions. Topics include scenery construction and painting, electricity and lighting, theatrical rigging, properties and special effects, and sound engineering. Crew work on departmental productions is required. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 25. Staff. W

185. Public Discourse. This course is designed to develop an awareness of and skill in the techniques necessary to a speaker in varying situations, from the large gathering to the small group. Students study and compose public speeches on various political issues. Mr. Nero. F

200e. The Classical Stage. According to the mad Frenchman Artaud, classical drama was the original "theater of cruelty." This course studies the aristocratic violence and punitive laughter of about a dozen tragedies and comedies from Aeschylus to Racine. Correlated readings in the theater history and dramatic theory of classical Greece and Rome, Elizabethan England, and seventeenth-century France establish the social and intellectual context for the most challenging and disturbing body of drama in the Western tradition. Required of all majors. Open to first-year students. Not open to students who have received credit for Theater 201. [Mr. Andrucki]. F

210o. The Revolutionary Stage. From 1700 to 1900, Europe was transformed by the revolutionary currents of radical politics, industrialization, and romantic individualism. This course studies the impact of these forces on the central dramatic ideas of character and action in plays by (among others) Beaumarchais, Goethe, Ibsen, Strindberg, Chekhov, and Shaw. Correlated readings in theater history and dramatic theory establish the cultural and intellectual context for these subversive playwrights. Required of all majors. Open to first-year students. Not open to students who have received credit for Theater 202 or 221. Mr. Andrucki. W

215. Popular Performance in Urban America: 1820-1920. An examination of various forms of American popular performance in the context of changing urban social relations involving class, race, gender, and ethnicity. Students read and analyze secondary histories, as well as written and musical examples of melodrama, minstrelsy, musical comedy, ethnic theater, vaudeville, and cabaret. Prerequisite or corequisite: one of the following: History 141 or 142, or Sociology 236 or 240, or Anthropology 101, or Theater 101, or permission of the instructor to preregister. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 15. [Staff].

220o. The Modern Stage. A visionary modern theorist of the stage wrote from his asylum cell, "We are not free and the sky can still fall on our heads. And the theater has been created to teach us that first of all." By examining the mirrors and masks of Pirandello and Genet, the incendiary rallying cries of Kaiser and Brecht, the erotic and violent silence of Pinter and Handke, and the surreal iconoclasms of Apollinaire and Shepard, this course surveys the ways the contemporary theater seeks to elucidate the baffling condition of humanity. Correlated readings in theater history and dramatic theory explore a cultural context which proclaims "ALL WRITING IS GARBAGE." Required of all majors. Open to first-year students. Not open to students who have received credit for Theater 222. Mr. Andrucki. W

225. The Grain of the Black Image. A study of the Afro-American figure as represented in images from theater, movies, and television. Using the metaphor of "the grain" rendered by Roland Barthes and Regis Durand--"the articulation of the body...not that of language"--this course explores issues of progress, freedom, and improvement, as well as content versus discontent. Correlated readings in critical literature and the major classical plays by Hansberry, Baraka, Lonnie Elder, and others, as well as viewings of recent movies and television shows. Open to first-year students. [Mr. Pope.L]. F

226. Minority Images in Hollywood Film. African American scholar Carolyn F. Gerald has remarked: "Image means self-concept and whoever is in control of our image has the power to shape our reality." This course investigates the ideological, social, and theoretical issues important in the representation of racial and ethnic minorities in American film from the Depression to the civil-rights movement. It examines the genres, stereotypes, and gender formations associated with film images of Native Americans, Asian Americans, and African Americans. Open to first-year students. Mr. Pope.L. F

227. Seventies and Eighties Avant-garde Theater and Performance Art. This course is a hands-on poetic exploration of the binary territories of "language as object" and "subject as language" as they have been articulated in the work of contemporary performance-theater artists from Robert Wilson, Richard Foreman, and Fluxus to Holly Hughes, Karen Finley, and Jim Neu. Some background in performance is recommended. Open to first-year students. Written permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 12. Mr. Pope.L. W

231o. Scene Design. A study of the dynamic use of stage space, from Renaissance masters to twentieth-century modernists, offering instruction in scale drawing, drafting, scene painting, model-making, and set construction. Students may use scheduled departmental productions as laboratories in their progress from play analysis and research to the realization of the design. This course focuses on the use of visual imagery to articulate textual idea, and is recommended for students with an interest in any area of drama and performance. Prerequisites or corequisites: Theater 101 or 130, and permission of the instructor. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 14. Staff. F

232e. Lighting Design. This course offers skills in the artistic development of a design philosophy as well as "hands-on" experience in lighting for the stage. Script analysis and theater lighting history focus on noteworthy productions from the Baroque stage to the present. Workshop practice includes light sources and controls, instrument positions and angles, colors and effects, cue setting, scripting, and running. A final project involves work appropriate to ongoing theater productions. Prerequisites or corequisites: Theater 101 or 130, and permission of the instructor. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 14. [Ms. Trompetter]. F

233o. Costume Design. An approach to costume design offering instruction in drawing the figure, color rendering, script and character analysis, and the various skills of costume construction from pattern-making to tailoring. Work in fabric printing, mask-making, and make-up is available to students with a special interest in these areas. Research in period styles informs the exploration of the design elements of line, shape, and color. The goals of the course are skill in the craft and the flair of creation. Prerequisite or corequisite: Theater 101 or 130, or permission of the instructor. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 14. Staff. W

240. Playwriting. After reviewing the fundamentals of dramatic structure and characterization, students write one full-length or two one-act plays. Recommended background: two courses in theater or in dramatic literature. Open to first-year students. Written permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 15. Mr. Pope.L. F

250o. Twentieth-Century American Dance. Dance activity in America presents an overwhelming array of talent and diversity ranging from turn-of-the-century artists such as Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, through such mid-century innovators as Martha Graham and Doris Humphrey, to Merce Cunningham and the Judson Dance theater in the sixties. In addition to these artists, the course studies dances from musicals and ballets by choreographers such as George Balanchine and Agnes De Mille. Most works are seen on video, but students also attend live performances. Open to first-year students. Ms. Plavin. F

251. Dance Composition. Through movement experiences, discussions, and readings, this course explores a variety of approaches to the creative process, such as improvisation, short compositional studies, and problem-solving techniques involving imagery, art, and music. Emphasis is on creation and organization of these movement materials into a coherent and communicative whole. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 12. Ms. Plavin. W

252e. Twentieth-Century American Dance II. This course focuses on a variety of contemporary questions in dance, including the following: What is the "body image" that grows out of our culture's view of the body? How do cultural diversity and cultural blending influence contemporary dance? How are gender roles and sexuality finding expression through movement? Discussions center on the ways choreographers and dancers confront these issues. Most works are seen on video, but students also attend live performances. Open to first-year students. [Ms. Plavin]. F

255. Moving Pictures: The Rhetoric of Committed Documentary. Committed documentary filmmakers and photographers have traditionally sought to expose social problems, challenge ways of seeing, and mobilize support for political action. This course surveys the history and rhetorical techniques of documentary film and photography from the social reformers of the nineteenth century to the bold experimentalists of the present. Special attention is devoted to the work of women documentarists. Extensive film viewing is required. Open to first-year students. [Mr. Branham].

261. Beginning Acting. This course introduces the student to the physiological processes involved in creative acting. The student studies the Stanislavski approach to the analysis of realistic and naturalistic drama. Exercises leading to relaxation, concentration, and imagination are included in an improvisational context. Studies in motivation, sense perception, and emotion-memory recall lead the student to beginning work on scene performance. Not open to senior majors in theater. Written permission of the instructor is required. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 16. Mr. Kuritz. F W

262. Acting for the Classical Repertory. An extension of the Stanislavski approach to the realm of poetic drama. The student begins to exercise voice and body to meet the challenges of the fifth-century Greek and Elizabethan theatrical environments. The course introduces mask work, and requires performance and study of selected scenes from Euripides, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, and Kyd. Prerequisites: Theater 261 and permission of the instructor. Open to first-year students. [Mr. Kuritz]. W

265. Mask and Movement. Working with masks and body puppets, from life-size to large scale, and from comic to tragic, this course offers movement technique for the actor, dancer, designer, and puppeteer. Exploring literal storytelling, as well as the abstract "feeling-story," participants strengthen skills in improvisation, play creation, and performance, and familiarize themselves with non-Western classical theater traditions. Students develop a vocabulary of gestural nuance, rhythm, and pacing, in conjunction with vocal and musical elements. The course culminates in studio performance. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 15. [Ms. Trompetter]. F

266. The Singing Actor. An extension of the Stanislavski approach to the musical theater. The student considers libretto and lyric analysis, energy, concentration, focus, and stylization as they apply to the vocal and physical performance of Italian opera buffa and opera seria, French opéra-comique, English ballad opera, German Singspiel, American musical comedy, epic music theater, operetta, revue, and cabaret. Recommended background: singing experience or vocal training. Open to first-year students. Written permission of the instructor is required. [Mr. Kuritz]. F

275. African American Public Address. This course is a study of the history of oratory by African-American women and men. Students examine religious, political, and ceremonial speeches. Historical topics include the abolition of slavery, Reconstruction, suffrage, the black women's club movement, Garveyism, and the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Contemporary topics include affirmative action, gender politics, poverty, education, and racial identity. Open to first-year students. Mr. Nero. F

278. The Rhetoric of Nuclear Culture, 1939-1964. The first quarter-century of the nuclear age witnessed the development, use, testing, and threatened use of atomic weapons. This course examines the diverse political, social, and cultural responses to life in the shadow of the Bomb, including government public-relations campaigns, schoolhouse rehearsals for Armageddon, and organized political protest. Weekly laboratory sessions feature documentary and fiction films on nuclear issues, from Duck and Cover to Dr. Strangelove, from Godzilla to The Atomic Cafe. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 40. Mr. Branham. F

285. Argument. The aim of this course is to develop skills in the analysis, preparation, and presentation of argument. Students examine and compose reasoned claims from various forums and pursuits, including legal advocacy, public-policy analysis, literary criticism, and daily life. Open to first-year students. [Staff]. W

291. Introduction to Debate. A theoretical and practical study of academic debate designed for students without extensive previous experience in the activity. Lectures in debate theory are accompanied by student participation in several different debate formats, including a regularly scheduled public-discussion forum. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 20. [Mr. Branham].

331. Rhetorical Theory and Practice. A study of the historical evolution of rhetorical theory through reading and analysis of primary texts, from classical times to the present. Students write, present, and discuss papers analyzing divergent rhetorical perspectives and refining their own. Specific attention is given to feminist and African-American rhetoric. Prerequisite: at least one previous course in rhetoric. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 15. Mr. Nero. W

360. Independent Study. Independent work in such areas as stage management, directing, and speech. Departmental approval is required. The course may be taken twice. Staff.

363o. Advanced Techniques in Acting. The student begins to explore the peculiar demands placed upon the actor when studying and performing farce, comedy of manners, and fantastic realism. Particular attention is placed on performance techniques in playing Congreve, Wycherley, Molière, Aristophanes, Pinter, Ionesco, Beckett, Stein, and Shepard. Prerequisites: Theater 261 or 262, and permission of the instructor. [Mr. Kuritz].

365. Special Topics. Offered occasionally in selected subjects. Staff.

370. Directing. An introduction to the art of directing, with an emphasis on creative and aesthetic problems and their solutions. Included is an examination of the director's relationship to the text, the design staff, and the actor. The approach is both theoretical and practical, involving readings, rehearsal observation, and the directing of scenes and short plays. Prerequisite or corequisite: Theater 261. Permission of the instructor is required. Mr. Kuritz. F

386. Language and Communication of Black Americans. Charles Dickens wrote in 1842 that "all the women who have been bred in slave states speak more or less like Negroes, from having been constantly in their childhood with black nurses." This course examines the linguistic practices of African Americans, alluded to by Dickens. Readings focus on the historical development of "Black English" as a necessary consequence of contact between Europeans and Africans in the New World; on patterns and styles of African American communication, such as call-and-response, signifying, and preaching; and on sociopolitical issues, such as naming traditions, racial/ethnic identity, gender and language acquisition, and education and employment policy. Recommended background: Philosophy 266. Enrollment is limited to 15. [Mr. Nero]. W

390. Contemporary Rhetoric. A seminar devoted to the close textual analysis of recent and provocative political discourse. The texts for analysis are drawn from various media, including controversial political speeches, documentaries, music, and advertising. This course is designed to offer students extensive personal experience in criticism and to introduce key concepts in critical theory and practice. Written permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 15. Mr. Branham. F

391. Topics in Rhetorical Criticism. The topic varies from semester to semester. The seminar relies largely upon individual student research, reports, and discussion. May be taken for credit more than once if different topic. Enrollment is limited to 15. [Staff]. F

457, 458. Senior Thesis. A substantial academic or artistic project. Both semesters are required for honors candidates. By departmental invitation only for theater majors. Staff.

Short-Term Units
s20. Performance of African American Literature. A study of literature by black Americans, culminating in the public performance of selected works. The material performed may include black American folklore, as well as poetry, fiction, and drama by such authors as James Baldwin, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Langston Hughes, and Lorraine Hansberry. Enrollment is limited to 24. Mr. Nero.

s21. Documentary Video Production. In this unit, students direct and produce video documentaries on subjects of their own selection. Classic documentaries are viewed and discussed in class. Students make weekly presentations of their work-in-progress and analyze the works of others. Prior course work or production experience in film or video is recommended. Written permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 12. [Mr. Branham].

s22. Contemporary Performance Poetry. An investigation of poetry as a performance medium. Included is a historical overview comparing the European traditions of Dadaism, Futurism, and their proponents in America to the Afro-American tradition exemplified by Shange, Baraka, and present-day Hip-hop Rappers. The approach is theoretical and practical, utilizing readings, discussion, film, recordings, and texts created and performed by students. Written permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 15. [Mr. Pope.L].

s23. Debate Touring. Students research, analyze, prepare briefs upon, and debate a public-policy topic selected by the instructor for presentation to various audiences. Recommended background: Rhetoric 291. Open to first-year students. May be taken for credit more than once. Written permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 4. [Staff].

s26. Theater Production Workshop. Working under faculty supervision and with visiting professional artists, student actors, directors, designers, and technicians undertake the tasks necessary to produce a play. Readings and discussions explore various ways of understanding and producing a text. May be taken more than once for credit. Permission of the instructor is required. Mr. Kuritz.

s27. Film and Theater. Films have always looked to the theater for stories and characters. This unit studies the transformation of plays into movies, paying particular attention to such fundamental differences between stage and screen as the use of space and time, the manipulation of point of view, and acting versus stardom. Students read extensively in dramatic literature and film theory, and view a variety of films based on plays. Included are works by such playwrights as Shakespeare, Shaw, Williams, Albee, Pinter, and Shepard, and such directors as Olivier, Kurosawa, Hitchcock, Kazan, Nichols, and Altman. Open to first-year students. Enrollment is limited to 30. [Mr. Andrucki].

s28. The Living Stage: Theater in New York. A study of contemporary theater focusing on the experience of live performance in New York City. An initial on-campus period of reading and discussion of relevant modern texts precedes about two weeks of intensive theatergoing in New York. The unit surveys works from the Broadway mainstream to the farthest reaches of "Off-off-Broadway," and includes performances by artists and ensembles representing the enormous variety of cultural perspectives available in America's largest city. Permission of the instructor is required. Enrollment is limited to 15. [Mr. Andrucki].

s29. Dance as a Collaborative Art. A practical investigation of the processes of collaboration involving dance and allied arts. An initial period of study examines important examples of collaboration, and experiments with techniques for integrating dance with other arts. Students participate in all aspects of the dance production necessary to tour for a two- to three-week period of teaching and performing in schools throughout Maine. Open to dancers and nondancers. May be taken more than once for credit. Enrollment is limited to 25. Ms. Plavin.

s36. Work-Study Internship in Theater. Qualified students participate in the artistic and educational programs of professional theater companies. Each intern is supervised by a staff member. By specific arrangement and departmental approval only. Recommended background: two courses in acting, directing, design, or playwriting; participation in departmental productions. Open to first-year students. May be taken for credit more than once. Written permission of the instructor is required. Staff.

s50. Individual Research. Registration in this unit is granted by the Department only after the student has submitted a written proposal for a full-time research project to be completed during the Short Term and has secured the sponsorship of a member of the Department to direct the study and evaluate results. Staff.

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