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Department Chair: Willene Mangham

Faculty: Leigh Dillard, Mark Hennigs, Adam Houghton, Kaarin Johnston, Willene Mangham

The College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University theater department is supportive of the mission statements of both institutions and dedicated to the education of the general student as well as the theater major. This is achieved by helping the student understand that theater is a formalization of human experience usually requiring rehearsed behavior, linked to text, within a designed visual environment and intended for live public display. This formalization serves several functions. These functions include: a confrontation with our own humanity, an illumination of diverse constructions of reality and a celebration of our spirits. Coupled with this understanding of function is a developed appreciation of the many artistic contributions necessary to the making of theater art.

The department is committed to scholarly and artistic creativity, to the integration of theory as experience, to the dynamics of theatrical process and to positive and constructive human values. The program emphasizes the importance of a broad base of knowledge and theatrical experience as a foundation for later specialization. The faculty perceives the theatrical process as being a collaborative endeavor, unifying the diverse disciplines of costume, set and lighting with the acting of the text. This collaboration establishes a strong creative community which builds integrated theatrical events; events that reflect and examine the given historical, societal and cultural context in which they are embedded. The curriculum and performance schedule is structured with sufficient theatrical range to supply the fundamentals for all the production and scholarly areas. To encounter work other than their own, students are required to attend a variety of performances both off and on campus. The department vigorously encourages students to accept a life-long responsibility for expressing their artistic ideas. Acknowledging that their artistic ideas are an expression of who they are as human beings, this expression requires the development of self awareness, mindful reflection, a cultivation of their own integrity, intelligence and talent, as well as competence in basic theatrical skills.


The Theater Department assesses student learning in a variety of ways which provide insight into the success of the department in achieving our learning goals and objectives. These methods include: alumni/ae surveys at five year intervals, interviews of sophomores upon application to the major with follow-up interviews in their senior year, producing portfolios of student work in the department, student focus groups, and adjudication of departmental theatrical productions by external consultants.

Major (40 credits)

Required courses:
All theater majors take a common sequence of 36 credits to include 8 credits in technical theater, 113 and 213; 8 credits in acting, 117, 217; 8 credits in costume chosen from 253 and any other 4-credit costume course (321 or 353); 4 credits in theater history, 337 or 338; and 8 credits in dramatic literature, 327 and 368. Additional credits to complete the theater major will be selected with a department advisor.

In order to fully understand the “integration of theory as experience: and the collaborative nature of theater,” each theater major is expected to participate in the theatrical productions of the department. In addition to the classes above, each major is required to complete four semesters of either Theater 240 or 340. These production credits must be in two or more of the areas listed below: Acting, Scenography, Costume, Stage Management, and Dramaturgy.

Minor (None)

Courses (THEA)

105 Introduction to Modern Dance. (4)
This class is an exploration of movement fundamentals for the purpose of developing and strengthening individual creativity and artistic expression in dance. Class work is designed to: 1) Give individuals a basic understanding of anatomical structure and kinesiological principles as a foundation for developing technical skills needed to create articulate and expressive movement; 2) Provide an embodied experience of time and energy principles as related to dance; 3) demystify dance as an art form and make it accessible and relevant to all.
113 Technical Production I. (4)
Beginning theory and practice of scenography. Study of materials and techniques used in stage scenery. Also an introduction to the theories and equipment used in theater lighting and sound. Lab required. Fall.

117 Acting I. (4)
Introduction to acting. Designed to develop the actor's imagination, observation and concentration through sense awareness, relaxation, pantomime and theater games. Techniques will be introduced with the purpose of bringing the actor’s body, voice and mind together onstage to fully communicate choices through strong psychological and physical action. Also an introduction to building the foundation of a good voice. Training in breathing, physical structure and relaxation.

200 Theater Audience. (4)
A presentation of theater from the audience's rather than the performer's perspective. Designed to acquaint non-theater students with live theater as a meaningful and enjoyable event. Approached from the student's present exposure level. Lecture, group discussions and field trips to live performances required. Students may not receive credit for both THEA 200 and THEA 204.
204 Theatrical Experience. (2)
The class is designed to acquaint the general student with live theater as a meaningful and enjoyable event. The students will learn by lecture, group discussions and attendance at live theatrical performances. May not be repeated for credit, nor may students receive credit for both THEA 200 and THEA 204.

205 Dance Audience. (4)
This course is an overview of dance designed to give students information about dance as an art form and tools for understanding, appreciating, and critiquing dance as audience members. The class combines lecture, discussion, studio work (actual movement participation), and attendance at live dance performances (approximately 8). The course will include a brief survey of dance history and various dance forms (e.g., ballet, modern, ethnic/folk) as well as an exploration of compositional elements, choreographic forms, and different artistic styles/techniques. There will be an emphasis on: 1)learning to look at movement without expectation of content or meaning; 2)being able to articulate, in class discussions and written papers, what was seen/what was presented on stage; 3)learning about the audience’s role and participation in a live performance.

210 Dance Studies: Technique, Improvisation, Choreography and Performance. (2)
This course will offer students the opportunity to develop technical skills to improve flexibility, coordination, and strength and to use those skills to increase their range of abilities in creating and performing dance. Modern dance techniques will serve as the foundation for students to build a movement vocabulary, and students will be expected to develop their own movement material in improvisation and composition exercises. Choreographic elements, form, and styles will be explored to guide students in the creative process and performance will be an on-going focus within the class. The goal is for the students to be able to clarify and fulfill all movement so they can physically express their ideas and emotions in movement which is authentic and meaningful, i.e., dance. Prerequisite: THEA 105, or THEA 140, or permission of Instructor. May be repeated for up to 6 credits.

211 Playwriting. (4)
The theory and practice of writing plays for theater performance. Writing exercises and reading assignments will culminate in the writing of an original one-act play. Prerequisite: Successful completion of First-year Symposium.

213 Technical Production II. (4)
A continuation of 113 pursuing an understanding of the standard practice in stage lighting and sound, culminating in the study of lighting and sound design. Spring. Prerequisite: THEA 113.

217 Acting II. (4)
Continuation of 117 with more advanced levels of theory and performance. Includes intensive scene and monologue work, with emphasis on text analysis and rehearsal techniques designed to expose the emotional and relational content of the scenes and monologues. Introduction to the training methods of Sanford Meisner. Furthers work on the voice including the development of tone, resonance, range, power, articulation and projection. Prerequisite: 117.

250 Make-Up. (2)
Principles and application of various make-up techniques. Laboratory projects. Alternate years.

253 Introduction to the Costuming Process. (4)
A basic comprehensive study of the process a stage costumer employs from character analysis to costume execution. Practical application and production-work are emphasized through laboratory experience. Spring. Prerequisite to all costume classes.

271 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the lower-division level. Permission of department chair required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

310 Dance Studies: Technique, Improvisation, Choreography and Performance. (2)
Continuation of THEA 210 Dance Studies for more advanced students, taught concurrently with THEA 210.  Prerequisite: Thea 210 or permission of Instructor. May be repeated for up to 6 credits.

321 Costume History. (4)
A study of historic costumes from the primitive through the present through the use of great works of art from each period. Alternate years. Prerequisite: 253 or instructor's consent.

327 Drama Form. (4)
Analysis, through representative dramatic texts and theories, of the development of literary and theatrical elements in the major dramatic forms and modes from the Greeks to the late 19th century. Open to sophomores. Fall.

328 Directing. (4)
Laboratory course covering the basic responsibilities of the director. Concentration on developing the beginning director's rehearsal methods for working with actors. Script analysis, auditioning, rehearsal schedules and blocking will be addressed. Direction of class projects. Prerequisites: 113, 117, 217 or permission of instructor. Alternate years.

332 Basic Costume Design. (2)
Introduction to the art of costume design through study of contemporary designers, assigned readings and weekly critiques of sketch problems. Prerequisite: 253 or instructor's consent. Alternate years.

334 Basic Scene Design. (2)
Introduction to the art of scenic design through study of contemporary designers, assigned readings and weekly critiques of sketch problems. Prerequisite: THEA 113. Alternate years.

337 History of Theater to 18th Century. (4)
Survey of theatrical activity in the West: acting styles, theater architecture, dramatic literature and theory, production techniques such as costuming, scenery and directing in the context of the historical social milieus. Content will include Western and Asian theater. Alternate years.

338 History of Theater 18th Century to the Present. (4)
A continuation of 337 from 18th century to the present. Alternate years. Spring.

353 Theater Materials and Techniques. (4)
Advanced work in costume and set materials which are useful to the theater practitioner. Materials such as plastics, fiber glass, foams and fabrics will be investigated. Prerequisites: 113, 213, 253. Alternate years.

368 Modern Drama Seminar. (4)
Analysis and interpretation of English, Continental and American drama from Ibsen to the present. Prerequisite: Junior/Senior status. Spring.

371 Individual Learning Project. (1-4)
Supervised reading or research at the upper-division level. Permission of department chair and completion and/or concurrent registration of 12 credits within the department required. Consult department for applicability towards major requirements. Not available to first-year students.

385 Topics in Theater (4)
Study of a major theater topic in design and technology, aspects of performance, dramatic literature or theory. Prerequisites: Vary according to the particular offering. Upper-class standing. Offered irregularly.

395 Senior Project in Theater. (1-4)
Working with a faculty advisor, the student plans and implements a creative project, a research project, or a thesis. This project might be in any area of theater including acting, design, technical production, theater history, dramatic theory and criticism. Prerequisite: senior theater major.

397 Internship (4-16)
A full semester or summer placement in a variety of professional theater settings doing supervised work. The individual projects are tailored to student needs/career. Subject to approval of faculty advisor and department chair.

398 Honors Senior Essay, Research or Creative Project. (4)
Required for graduation with "Distinction in Theater." Prerequisite: HONR 396 and approval of the department chair and director of the Honors Thesis program. For further information see HONR 398.

Special projects (240-340)
These courses, offered every semester, are designed to meet special needs of students in laboratory experiences.

240 Production Laboratory. (0-2)
A minimum of 50 hours work in acting or technical theater involving a crew responsibility. Prerequisite: instructor's permission. May be repeated for up to 6 credits.
Topics: Acting, Scenography, Costume, Stage Management, Dramaturgy

340 Technical Problems. (1-4)
Independent projects by advanced theater majors in an area of special interest. Consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit.
Topics: Acting, Scenography, Properties, Costumes, Stage Management, Dramaturgy, Sound, Lighting

350 Theater Practicum. (8-12)
A specialized program for the theater major to work in a theater situation away from the Saint Benedict's/Saint John's campus theaters. An internship program arranged with another college or professional company or a touring theater company. Arranged with the department chair the previous semester.