Theatre Arts and Performance Studies

The Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies (TAPS) is the intellectual and artistic center for the aesthetic, historical, literary, practical, and theoretical explorations of performance in global perspective – theatre, dance, speech, time-based art, and even performative “roles” in everyday life. The TAPS concentration offers three tracks with many points of overlap among them: Performance Studies, Theatre Arts, and Writing for Performance. Concentrators gain exposure to a broad spectrum of performance modes  and methods -- acting, directing, dance, and writing, and chose an avenue of focus among them.  Everyone graduates having studied craft, gained familiarity with history, and investigated the role of performance arts in culture.

Theatre Arts Track

This concentration combines the study of dramatic literature, theatre history, performance theory, and studio work in the various theatre arts. All concentrators in Theatre Arts will gain practical experience through the study of acting and directing as well as in the technical production of plays, preparing students in the practical study of a cross-section of the vital aspects of theatre craft, including one class in either dance or speech. An essential aim of the concentration track is the engagement of students in performance procedures (acting, dancing, directing, choreography, design, playwriting, dramaturgy, etc.) in order to experience the inter-relationships among social contexts, dramatic texts and theatrical enactments. Along with practical study in craft, concentrators will graduate having studied theatre history and performance theory in global perspective. The study of theatre history provides a Theatre Arts concentrator with the necessary background to understand a variety of dramatic and theatrical forms. The study of performance theory enhances a student’s ability to ask fundamental questions about the role of theatre in social, political, cultural and cross-cultural arenas.
Of the ten courses required, at least four must be in theatre history and dramatic and theatrical theory that forms a backbone for further study in these areas. Students should take at least one course that exhibits geographic or topical breadth beyond what might loosely be called “mainstream” Euro-American tradition. Basic courses in technical theatre and design are required of all students, as is a senior seminar, taken by students in their seventh semester. The remaining three courses for the concentration may be taken in areas of applied theatre arts (though this is not a requirement); there are sequences of courses available in acting/directing, playwriting, design/technical theatre, and dance.
Students wishing to enroll as concentrators in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and take the Theatre Arts track should see the undergraduate Theatre Arts track advisor, in order to discuss options that will best serve their interests.

Required Courses

TAPS 0230Acting1
TAPS 0250Introduction to Technical Theatre and Production1
TAPS 1230Performance Theory: Ritual, Play and Drama in Context1
TAPS 1240Performance Historiography and Theatre History1
TAPS 1250Twentieth-Century Western Theatre and Performance1
Select one of the following:1
Persuasive Communication
Any dance history or practice course.
Three electives to be selected from applied areas and/or from relevant theoretical and text-based studies throughout the university, at least one of which must show geographical breadth.3
TAPS 1520Seminar in Theatre Arts1
Total Credits10

Performance Studies Track

The Performance Studies track in the Theatre Arts and Performance Studies concentration offers a base for students interested in a variety of performance forms, performance media, or in intermedial art. A concentrator in this track will study the multiple modes in which live performance articulates culture, negotiates difference, constructs identity, and transmits collective historical traditions and memories. Because Performance Studies is not primarily invested in one performance mode over another (such as theatre or dance), a concentrator will gain exposure to a broad spectrum of performance modes. Studying ritual, play, game, festival, spectacle and a broad spectrum of “performance behaviors” under the umbrella of Performance Studies, a concentrator will graduate having investigated the role of performance in culture, including performative acts in everyday life, political enactment, ritual behavior, aesthetic or representational practices, and social role or the performance of subjectivity. The history of aesthetic performance practices (such as the histories of theatre and/or dance) will be an important part of this track, serving to ground inquiry into the broader spectrum of performance study. Students will craft their electives on this track from a wide selection of courses both within the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and across the university. The study of performance behavior across mediums such as dance, theatre, ritual, and orature allows for geographic and historical flexibility as not all cultures parse theatre from dance, nor, historically, genres of religious or political ritual from genres of entertainment, play, or game.
At least two of the ten required classes must show geographic or cultural breadth, and be approved as such by the undergraduate concentration advisor. Participation in practical classes in modes of performance is also required.

Students wishing to enroll as concentrators in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies and take the Performance Studies track should see the undergraduate Performance Studies track advisor, in order to discuss options that will best serve their interests.

 Required Courses

TAPS 1230Performance Theory: Ritual, Play and Drama in Context1
TAPS 1240Performance Historiography and Theatre History1
Select three of the following (one of which must show geographical breadth):3
Twentieth-Century Western Theatre and Performance
Performance in the Asias
Dance History: The 20th Century
New Theories for a Baroque Stage
Mise en Scene
Contemporary Mande Performance
Russian Theatre and Drama
Political Theatre of the Americas
Performativity and the Body: Staging Gender, Staging Race
Theatre and Conquest in Greater Mexico: From Cortes to NAFTA
21st Century American Drama
Latino/a Theatre and Performance
Performance, Art, and Everyday Life
Revolution as a Work of Art
Black Lavender: Black Gay/Lesbian Plays/Dramatic Constructions in the American Theatre
Voices Beneath the Veil
African American Folk Traditions and Cultural Expression
Two full credit courses based in performance craft in either Acting, Directing, Speech, Dance, Design, Literary Arts (with a performance emphasis), Visual Arts, or Music. These classes must be approved by the concentration advisor.2
Two additional courses in the academic study of performance and performance culture(s) to be culled from those listed above as well as other courses in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies or throughout the university in consultation with advisor. An extensive list of courses that might be considered Performance Studies can be made available to interested students.2
TAPS 1520Seminar in Theatre Arts1
Total Credits10

Writing for Performance Track

Concentrators explore the craft and sensibility of writing for live performance in the broad context of art in a changing society. Moving through a graduated series of skill-based writing classes, students additionally encounter theater history in core courses and focused seminars, engage with the practical aspects of production, and relate theatre to other disciplines. Writing is viewed neither as an alienated cause nor a terminal outpost, but as a co-equal aspect of a creative ecology, sharing space with orature, acting, scenography, ethics, and all fields that focus attention, invoke fascination, and alert the will to the possibilities of transformation.
Ten courses are required: A minimum of two writing-skills classes relevant to live performance; a writing or composition class outside of live performance (literature, screenplay, computer programming, video editing); a technical production class; a performance-based class; and ; one elective drawn from inside or outside the department that broadens the cultural and disciplinary reach of the track, for example concerning the study of social phenomena from a scientific, philosophical, or political perspective (chosen in consultation with an advisor); senior seminar.
Students wishing to enroll as concentrators in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies on the Writing for Performance track should see the undergraduate Writing for Performance track advisor, in order to discuss options that will best serve their interests.

Required Courses

TAPS 0100Playwriting I (or other equivalent Introductory level Playwriting course, to be approved by the advisor)1
Select one of the following:1
Advanced RPM Playwriting
Intermediate RPM Playwriting
RPM Playwriting
Unpublishable Writing
Reading, Writing and Thinking for the Stage
Advanced Playwriting
What Moves at the Margins
Playwriting II
A course from the TAPS 1500 series (A-Z)
A writing or composition class in a discipline outside of playwriting (e.g., literature, screenwriting, digital media), to be approved by advisor. For example: 1
Solo Performance
Libretto Workshop for Musical Theatre
Screenwriting
Script Adaptation
Wild Literature in the Urban Landscape
Ethnic Writing
Fiction I
Poetry I
Fiction Writing II
Poetry Writing II
Digital Language Art II
Cave Writing
Strange Attractors: Adaptations/Translations
Short Fiction Experiments
Acting Together on the World Stage: Writing and Political Performance
TAPS 0250Introduction to Technical Theatre and Production1
TAPS 1230Performance Theory: Ritual, Play and Drama in Context1
TAPS 1250Twentieth-Century Western Theatre and Performance1
One performance-based class. Options include Acting, Directing, Speech, Dance, Visual Arts, Music, or Sign Language.1
Select two additional Theatre/Performance History/Theory classes to be culled from those listed below, as well as other courses in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies or throughout the university in consultation with advisor:2
Performance Historiography and Theatre History
Performance in the Asias
Dance History: The 20th Century
New Theories for a Baroque Stage
Mise en Scene
Contemporary Mande Performance
Advanced Performance
Global Queer Performance
Russian Theatre and Drama
Political Theatre of the Americas
Performativity and the Body: Staging Gender, Staging Race
Theatre and Conquest in Greater Mexico: From Cortes to NAFTA
21st Century American Drama
Latino/a Theatre and Performance
Performance, Art, and Everyday Life
Black Lavender: Black Gay/Lesbian Plays/Dramatic Constructions in the American Theatre
Voices Beneath the Veil
African American Folk Traditions and Cultural Expression
Revolution as a Work of Art
Abstraction and Resistance
TAPS 1520Seminar in Theatre Arts1
Total Credits10

For all concentrators, regardless of track:

In cases where dual concentrations are declared, the Department allows two courses to be counted toward both concentrations.

Honors

The standard pattern above, plus an honors thesis course taken in Semester VII  (TAPS 1990), the topic of which would be determined before Semester VII. Candidates for the honors program should have an outstanding academic record and must apply to the Department by April 1 of Semester VI.  Proposals can be submitted electronically.  Honors are awarded for theses in all concentration tracks.  All theses are substantive pieces of writing.  Some these are strictly academic.  Other honors theses may include a creative component (such as the directing of a play, a solo performance piece, the study and performance of a major role, or the design of a production) but the thesis itself will be a critical, written work based in research relative to that artwork.  For plays submitted for honors, the essay should accompany the play, reporting on the research and the process of writing, through the play itself counts as the substantive written work.   See the Honors Advisor for more information about proposal and thesis guidelines.

Capstone Experiences

The tracks come together in several courses but also in a culminating senior seminar. In addition to the senior seminar there are a wide variety of ways students who concentrate can construct a “capstone” experience– such as directing a production, a solo performance, a dance piece, an honor’s thesis, or a design project.