Theatre and Dance Studies
Offered by the Theatre and Dance Studies department.

The Department of Theatre and Dance Studies offers students a wide array of courses in acting, directing, theatre design and history, dance, dramatic literature, playwriting and film theory. Central to the department’s mission are the development of communication skills—both oral and written—careful attention to how theatre and dance function as collaborative art forms, and an emphasis on theatre and dance as windows to diverse cultures, lifestyles and intellectual perspectives.

Theatre fits with the liberal arts education and is an ideal microcosm of the liberal arts practice. It is a point of intersection and mediation between any and all other liberal arts disciplines, and it does its work by socializing and humanizing content that may otherwise be deprived of those qualities. In fact, it is that deprivation that is so often the impetus for a piece of theatre. We try to give a social and moral voice to content that has in one way or another had its soul denied or perverted. The content’s native origin may not even have the vocabulary to initiate that discourse, let alone the desire, but good theatre has both. Other art forms can do that too, but theatre/performance is the most social way.

Major requirements

The major in Theatre and Dance Studies is administered jointly by the theatre and English departments. It includes a minimum of twelve courses: eight from theatre and four from English (or other departments offering dramatic literature courses during a given semester–see explanation below).

Three concentrations are available within the major: acting/directing, theatre design and dance. The major must include three courses at or above the 300 level.

With careful planning and appropriate approval, double majors and self-designed majors are also welcome possibilities.

Acting/Directing and Design/Tech

Acting/Directing and Design/Tech major worksheet

Required courses

Theatre
THEA 101 Beginning Acting
THEA 103 Introduction to Theatre
THEA 205 Stagecraft
THEA 275 The History of Western Theatre
THEA 276 World Theatre: Global Perspectives
THEA 471 Ensemble Experiments
(by department interview only)
or THEA 399 Selected Topics

THREE courses in one of the following areas as specialization:

Acting/Directing

THEA 202 Beginning Directing
THEA 211 Intermediate Acting
THEA 311 Intermediate Directing
THEA 351 Advanced Acting

Design/Tech

THEA 210 Introduction to Design
THEA 302 Introduction to Lighting Design
THEA 310 Intermediate Stage Design

Dramatic Literature

ONE course from:
ENG 309 Shakespeare and the Performance of Cultures
ENG 310 Shakespeare and the Company He Keeps

TWO of the following courses:
CLAS 254 The Drama of Fifth-Century Athens
ENG 241 Modern Drama
ENG 246 Modern Irish Literature
ENG 252 Contemporary Drama: The Tip of the Iceberg
ENG 273 Malcontents, Monarchy and Revenge in Early Modern Drama
ENG 274 Restoration Theatre and Beyond
CW 287 Writing for Performance
CW 288 Playwriting: Form and Craft
CW 388 Advanced Playwriting
MUSC 292 Broadway Bound: American Musical Theatre
THEA 215 Theatre and Social Change
A second semester of Shakespeare.

 

Dance Track

The Dance Studies Track in Theatre at Wheaton College trains students in the creative art of movement, through both practical experience and intellectual inquiry. Students work towards proficiency in a particular tradition, acquiring both physical and verbal language skills pertinent to their focus, while being exposed to a global awareness of movement and its ability to articulate and express ideas of identity, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, race and nationalism. Students learn to recognize and distinguish the many diverse sources of dance, including historical and contemporary streams of socio-cultural influence and the ever-inspiring natural world that surrounds us. The integration of body, mind and spirit informs intellectual and expressive pursuits essential to the dance track such as dance technique, choreography, production, aesthetic integrity, dance history and dance ethnography. The dance track is one step towards preparing students for further study and/or careers in the fields of performance, choreography, dance education and administration.

Dance Track major worksheet

Required Courses

THEA 103 Introduction to Theatre
THEA 275 The History of Western Theatre
THEA 276 World Theatre: Global Perspectives

TWO courses in Theatre/Production:
THEA 101 Beginning Acting
THEA 205 Stagecraft
THEA 210 Introduction to Design
THEA 302 Introduction to Lighting Design

TWO courses in Technique:
THEA 110 Jazz Dance
THEA 140 Ballet
MUSC 222 West African Mande Dance and Music

TWO courses in Dance History:
MUSC 262 Vernacular Dance in America
MUSC 292 Broadway Bound: American Musical Theatre
MUSC 315 Politics of Movement 

ONE course in World Dance:
MUSC 211 World Music: Eurasia
MUSC 212 World Music: Africa and the Americas
MUSC 221 Music and Dance of South Asia

ONE option from the following:
THEA 320 Dance Company
THEA 399 Selected Topics

Theatre minor requirements

Theatre and Dance Studies minor worksheet

The theatre and dance studies minor consists of at least five interrelated courses, at least one of which normally shall be at the 300 level. The minor includes THEA 103, /THEA 471 and three other courses approved by the department chair in one or more of the following areas of specialization: acting/directing, theatre design, theatre history, dance, dramatic literature, playwriting and film theory. In special circumstances and with approval from all department faculty, minors may substitute independent projects for /THEA 471.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 020 – Rehearsal and Production

    Students receive a half-credit for participating as actors, assistant directors, designers, stage managers or technicians in a faculty-directed mainstage production. Limited to two course credits.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 098 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 099 – Selected Topics

    An opportunity to do independent work in a particular area not included in the regular courses.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 101 – Beginning Acting

    Students in this course are introduced to the internal and external demands of turning psychology into behavior. The bare necessities of investing yourself in the moment, genuinely talking and listening, playing objectives and personalizing material are initially explored via games, improvisations and exercises. A midsemester monologue and final scene are also presented.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 102 – Public Speaking

    This course provides the student with greater self-confidence and ease with speaking, while enhancing use of language, delivery and organization. Students will participate in an intensive series of prepared speeches, debates and impromptu exercises. Appropriate for all majors.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 103 – Introduction to Theatre

    A survey of plays from the ancient Greeks to the present with an emphasis on how to transform the written word into relevant live performance. Appreciation of the theatre through a brief study of its history, acting-directing-design theory and practicum, and discussion of tragic vs. comic visions.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 110 – Jazz Dance

    Introductory through intermediate jazz dance technique, including the study of body isolations, syncopation and specific jazz dance traditions. Emphasis is placed on enhancing musical and rhythmic phrasing, efficient alignment, clarity in complex movement combinations and the refinement of performance style. A working knowledge of jazz dance is the desired goal of this course of study.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 140 – Ballet

    Introductory through intermediate study of the principles and vocabularies of classical ballet. Class comprises three sections: barre, center and allegro. Emphasis is placed on correct body alignment, development of whole body movement, musicality and the embodiment of performance style. The fundamental requirements of classical dance are taught in conjunction with dance combinations.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 198 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 199 – Selected Topics

    Independent research and/or practicum at the introductory level monitored by a faculty member.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 202 – Beginning Directing

    Examination of the myriad theories/practices of play direction with special emphasis on the fundamentals of script analysis, overall organization, use of space and collaborative creation. Practical directing problems encountered via scene work from plays both classical and modern.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 205 – Stagecraft

    Examination of the technical challenges encountered in mounting a major production. Backstage procedures, construction techniques, theatre safety, tool operation and maintenance, drafting, materials and supplies. Students will be assigned crew positions in department productions as a practical aspect of their training.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 210 – Introduction to Design

    This class is intended to provide students with a basic understanding of the elements and principles of two- and three- dimensional design. Through a combination of lectures, readings, and hands-on projects, students will gain knowledge regarding the elements of design, the principles of composition, and their practical application in visual composition and communication. This knowledge provides the core foundation for work in visual media, both on stage and off.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 211 – Intermediate Acting

    This course takes the acting fundamentals put forth at the beginning level to a critical next step. Students confront the emotionally high stakes of more demanding and more complicated dramatic worlds. The plays of Russian writer Anton Chekhov serve as an important focal point in the class. Limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 215 – Theatre and Social Change

    A course that investigates how theatre can be used to help communities talk about difficult issues regarding race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, economic status, religion and politics. Writers and/or performance artists studied include Anna Deavere Smith, Moises Kaufman, Tony Kushner, Danny Hoch and Suzan-Lori Parks.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 220 – Stage Management

    An introduction to managing the backstage activities and the production process for the performing arts. Topics include: scheduling, time management, communication, paperwork, performing arts organizations and managing artists.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 225 – Stage Makeup

    Every design component in the Theatre is based on a process of making informed choices, and Makeup is no different. This course will provide the foundations for making informed choices regarding stage makeup, and will provide theory and instruction on standard stage makeup applications. Students will explore color theory, facial anatomy, visual research and character analysis to design and execute makeups for specific projects. Projects will include Corrective (Beauty) Makeup, Old Age Makeup, and certain special application techniques as bruising, scarring, bald caps, and Death and Gore Makeup.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 250 – Costume Construction

    This course is an examination of the technical challenges encountered in mounting a fully designed set of costumes for a fully realized stage production. Emphasis will be on hand and machine sewing vocabulary and skills and costume construction techniques. Fabrics and textiles, and some costume history will be covered, as well as equipment operation and maintenance. The course will be used to create costumes for the department’s faculty-directed production. Production responsibilities will be required.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 275 – The History of Western Theatre

    Focus on the evolution of Western drama from ancient to modern times. Diverse theatrical styles, movements and production modes are examined via scripts, research projects and videotapes.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 276 – World Theatre: Global Perspectives

    An overview of various non-Western performance traditions and methodological approaches. The course investigates a wide variety of performances, carnivals and religious rites from Melanesia and Asia (Papua New Guinea, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, China, Korea, Tibet, Java and Bali), the Caribbean, and Africa. Live performance and film complement assigned readings of scripts, theoretical writings and anthropological studies.

Previously:
Non-Western Theatre and Performance
; Asian Theatre and Performance.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 292 – Broadway Bound

    See Music 292 – Broadway Bound (MUSC 310) for course description.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 298 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 299 – Selected Topics

    Independent research and/or practicum at the intermediate level monitored by a faculty member.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 302 – Introduction to Lighting Design

    An examination of the fundamental principles of light. The development of original design projects from the perspective of a lighting designer. The skills of a lighting designer: script analysis, drafting, instrument and color selection. Students will be assigned crew positions in department productions as a practical aspect of their training.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 310 – Intermediate Stage Design

    This course builds on the elements and principles of two- and three-dimensional design as they pertain to theatrical design. Students will work intensively on script analysis and visual research to create production concepts for given plays. Working both individually as artists and in collaborative groups, students will develop design materials for scene and costume designs, including hand-drafted construction plans, scale models, painted costume renderings, fabric references, and evocative and period research bibles. The course will emphasize drawing, visual references, and written statements as the primary means of communication between designers and directors. Students wishing to enroll in the course must have taken Introduction to Design or exhibit other evidence of a background in design, visual art, or theatre.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 311 – Intermediate Directing

    This course takes directing fundamentals put forth at the beginning level to a critical next step. Strong emphasis on what is meant by directorial concept, vision or interpretation and how it affects the collaborative work that is theatre. Students direct both original and established scripts.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 320 – Dance Company

    This course offers an in-depth exploration of the aesthetic and performing issues surrounding specific dance idioms–ballet, modern, jazz and others–through the study and performance of selected repertory works. Students receive a half-credit for participation in the Wheaton Dance Company. Limited to four semesters.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 351 – Advanced Acting

    Focus on the proper use and all-too-frequent misuse of “style” in the theatre. The class encounters via readings, games, improvisations and presentations the worlds of Greek and Shakespearean tragedy and absurdist tragicomedy. Students must keep a weekly journal and present at least three scenes. Limited to juniors and seniors.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 398 – Experimental Course

    From time to time, departments design a new course to be offered either on a one-time basis or an experimental basis before deciding whether to make it a regular part of the curriculum. Refer to the course schedule for current listings.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 399 – Selected Topics

    Independent research and/or practicum at the advanced level monitored by a faculty member.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 471 – Ensemble Experiments

    Development of a theme-based theatre project, including the writing and performance of a script, the design of sets, lights and costumes, and the preparation of effective publicity. This is the Theatre Studies and Dance Department’s senior seminar/capstone experience. Students may petition for an alternative capstone. Limited to senior majors and minors.

Previously THEA 371.

  • Theatre and Dance Studies

    THEA 500 – Individual Research

    Honors thesis work monitored by one or more faculty members.

Stephanie Burlington Daniels

Associate Professor of Theatre; Theatre and Dance Studies

David M. Fox

Professor of Theatre

Jennifer Madden

Visiting Instructor of Theatre, Public Speaking Liaison

Colin McNamee

Instructor/Technical Director

Charlotte Meehan

Playwright-in-Residence, Professor of English, Mary Heuser Chair in the Arts

Cheryl Mrozowski

Professor of Dance, Director of Dance; Chair, Department of Theater and Dance

Clinton O'Dell

Associate Professor of Theater Design