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NOTE: This page contains information from the 2012-2013 Catalog. It remains available for archival purposes only. For the most current WC Catalog content, please visit http://catalog.washcoll.edu and download this year’s edition.
Division of Humanities


The dramatic arts offer students an imaginative perspective of themselves and the opportunity to experience another’s view of the universe. The drama major provides study in the theories and techniques of dramatic and theatrical art within the broader framework of the liberal arts. The program of study is designed to provide the student with a firm knowledge of dramatic theory and stage history, and with an opportunity to develop an individual talent in one or more of the elements of theatrical presentation.

A total of ten courses are required for the major in drama. Each student must complete Drama 211, 221, and 231. It is suggested that these courses be completed by the end of the sophomore year. Of the seven remaining courses, at least four must be elected from those courses that form the history/theory component of the curriculum (courses listed in the catalog with a Theater and Drama prefix and selected special topic courses). In the spring of the junior year all majors are required to take the Junior Seminar. In addition to the course requirements, majors are expected to take an active role in co-curricular activities of the department by attending two works calls per faculty show, all faculty strikes, two thesis strikes per semester, one thesis work call per semester and usher six times per year.

The minor program in drama shall consist of a minimum of seven courses plus participation in an approved capacity in co-curricular productions during the students junior and senior years. The student will be required to take DRA 211, 221, 231 (or 331) plus four additional courses, two of which must be from the following: DRA 201, 202, 203, 304, 305, 306, 307.

Senior Capstone Experience

A student may satisfy the senior obligation in drama in one of three ways: a production thesis in directing, performance, or design; a playwriting thesis in which the student writes a play that is presented in either a staged (rehearsed) reading or in full production; or a traditional research thesis in the areas of theatrical criticism, theory, or history.

Students electing drama as part of their humanities distribution requirement may choose any course except DRA 105 and DRA 200.

Course Descriptions

105. Principles of Effective Speaking

The course is intended to enhance student abilities in the development and delivery of various kinds of public presentations, and to foster skill in the analysis of speeches from the standpoint of the critical listener. This course does not count toward distribution or toward the Drama major.

200. Theater Practicum

The student will be given a specific assignment of two department productions during the course of the semester. Productions and assignments will be determined by the instructor. Requirements for successful completion of each assignment will be made available at the time of the first class meeting of each semester. This is a two-credit course which may be repeated four times. Permission of the instructor is required prior to registration. The course cannot be applied to requirements for the drama major.

201. Theater and Drama: Ancient Greece, and Rome

The study of the foundations of Western theater and drama with emphasis on dramatic forms and the interrelationship between theater and society.

202. Theatre and Drama: the Middle Ages and Early Modern Europe

The study of dramatic theory, dramatic writing, theatrical convention, and the interrelationship between theatre and society from 1350 to 1750.

203. Theater and Drama: Romanticism and Realism

The study of the progression from eighteenth century sentimentalism and romanticism to nineteenth century melodrama and naturalism with emphasis on dramatic writing and theatrical convention in England, Germany, and America.

211. Acting I

Analysis and application of basic acting techniques with a concentration on scene study and character analysis.

221. Directing I

Study of the basic principles and practices of directing, including interpretation, structural analysis, and investigation of basic staging techniques.

231. Theater Technology I

Investigation of methods and materials used in the theatrical production process. Laboratory hours will be required. This course is designed primarily for those who plan to participate in future theatrical productions.

241. Scenic Design

The translation of the play script into visual expression. Concentration on the interpretations, the means of expression, and the techniques of the scenic designer. Laboratory hours will be required.

304. Theater and Drama: the Modern Age

The study of experimentation and innovation in dramatic writing and theatrical convention in Europe and America from 1875 to 1950 with emphasis on the principal reactions to naturalism: symbolism, impressionism, expressionism, theatricalism.

305. Theater and Drama: Traditional Japanese Theater

A comparative study of the major forms of traditional Japanese theater with emphasis on Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki, and Bunraku.

306. Theater and Drama: American Musical Theater

The study of musical theater in America from the turn of the century to the present with emphasis on the form itself and its history. The course will explore the structure of the musical and the dramatic functions of score, lyrics, and libretto as well as the political, societal, musical, and theatrical reasons for changes in the form.

307. Theater and Drama: Late 20th Century Theater

The study of major trends in dramatic writing, theatrical convention, and dramatic and performance theory in the second half of the 20th century.

308. After Angels: American Theater since 1992

This course will study the plays and significant theatrical movements which have occurred since 1992 and the production of Tony Kushner’s landmark play Angels in America. Students will read new works (both published and non-published) by established and emerging American playwrights, with a special focus being placed on the theatrical and social context out of which these works emerged.

309. Performance Studies

The course investigates the nature of performances and how to analyze them. While concentrating on performance art, the students also examine other kinds of performances, including theater, dance, work, ritual, architecture, and the aesthetics of everyday life. Students attend performances and create two performance pieces.

311. Acting II

Development of acting technique with a concentration on physicalization of the role, including movement and voice production. Prerequisite: Drama 211.

331. Theater Technology II

This course covers in detail some specific aspect of Theatre Technology, such as lights, costumes, scene painting, or computer-aided design. The course may be repeated for credit with the approval of the chair. Laboratory hours will be required.

351. Playwriting I

Analysis and practical application of techniques and styles employed in writing for the stage.

401. Dramatic Theory

Throughout history, thinkers have been variously excited, enraged, bothered or bored by theater. Through the rigorous study of the writings and historical context of the major thinkers in the evolution of theater (from Aristotle to Ehn), students will come to a greater understanding of the various changes, permutations and responses to theater in the Western World. This course is both Honors Level and Writing Intensive.

411. Acting III

Advanced study of acting techniques with a concentration on analysis, interpretation, and rehearsal methods. Prerequisite: Drama 311.

451. Playwriting II

Advanced workshop in writing for the stage. Prerequisite: Drama 351.

458. Dramaturgy

Analysis and discussion of the theoretical and practical aspects of dramaturgy, with particular emphasis placed on script analysis and historical research. This course is not recommended for first-year students.

190, 290, 390, 490. Theater Internship

Students will be placed with a professional theater company for one full semester or an entire summer season. Permission of the department and acceptance by the professional theater are required. Open only to drama majors.

194, 294, 394, 494. Special Topics

Intensive study of a selected figure, movement, period, form, or other topic.

197, 297, 397, 497. Independent Study

Advanced study in a selected area under departmental guidance.

195, 295, 395, 495. On-campus Research

196, 296, 396, 496. Off-campus Research

SCE. Senior Capstone Experience

A student may satisfy the Senior Capstone Experience in drama, in one of three ways: a production thesis in directing, performance, or design; a playwriting thesis in which the student writes a play that is presented in either a staged (rehearsed) reading or in full production; or a traditional research thesis in the areas of theatrical criticism, theory, or history. The department believes that the production option is the more appropriate way to fulfill the obligation, since it synthesizes the critical/theoretical and practical/performance aspects of the study of drama. A research thesis may be elected only in cases where the student has demonstrated an unusual enthusiasm for and distinction in critical, theoretical, or historical inquiry.

In the spring of their junior year all drama majors are required to submit a written proposal outlining their plans for the Senior Capstone Experience. Students should meet with each faculty member to discuss the proposal prior to submitting it. Proposals are to be presented at the end of fall semester junior year.

The proposal will identify the type of project planned—directing, design, performance, dramaturgical, playwriting, theoretical, critical or historical. The student will also provide an etiology for the choice and discuss why, and how, this topic is appropriate to the student’s interests and capabilities. It will also include a synopsis of the project. All second-semester juniors will meet the week following spring break to discuss their proposals with the faculty and each other. Decisions regarding scheduling, space, and the order of the department season will be discussed at that meeting.


The Senior Capstone Experience will be graded pass, fail, or honors. Honors will be conferred on those projects that, in the critical view of the department faculty, achieve an exceptional level of creative, artistic, and scholarly conception and realization.