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THAR 1710—The Theatrical Experience

Three Semester Hours

MB 8/14


University Prerequisite: None 

Course Overview

Examines the nature and function of theater by exploring the creative development and cultural significance of dramatic art. Students will also read and analyze selected plays.

Methods of Course Instruction

All material for this course is print-based. Instructor and students communicate and exchange materials through postal mail. 

Textbooks and Supplies

  • Downs, William Missouri, Lou Anne Wright, and Erik Ramsey. The Art of Theatre: A Concise Introduction. 3rd ed. Wadsworth Publishing, 2012. [ISBN: 9781111348311]
  • Smith, Charles. Free Man of Color. Woodstock, IL: Dramatic Publishing, 2004. [ISBN: 9781583423165]
  • Kleon, Austin. Steal Like an Artist. Workman, 2012. [ISBN: 9780761169253]
  • Diaz, Kris. The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety. Samuel French, Inc., 2011. [ISBN: 97805736999672]

Number of Lessons

The course has eight lessons, including one midcourse examination and one final examination. The lessons include:

  • Lesson 1
    • Part A—Theatre, Art, and Entertainment
    • Part B—A Creative Life
  • Lesson 2
    • Part A—A Day in the Life of a Theatre
    • Part B—Steal Like an Artist
  • Lesson 3
    • Part A—Theatre and Cultural Diversity
    • Part B—The Many Types of Theatre
    • Part C—The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety
  • Lesson 4: Midcourse Examination Information
  • Lesson 5
    • Part A—Experiencing and Analyzing Plays
    • Part B—The Playwright and the Script
    • Part C—Blackout Poetry
  • Lesson 6
    • Part A—The Art of Acting
    • Part B—The Art of Directing
    • Part C—Free Man of Color
  • Lesson 7
    • Part A—The Art of Design
    • Part B—The Musical
  • Lesson 8: Final Examination Information

Please note that some of the lessons are divided into multiple parts.

Types of Writing Assignments

Each lesson includes writing assignments defining and discussing terms and ideas from the required reading. While the assignments vary in length and detail, each is worth 40 points.

When writing your responses it’s important to show that you understand the term or concept. Be as detailed as you can and give examples. Be specific. Feel free to use theater, film, or TV references in your answers. For example, when discussing play structure, you might mention E.T. flying home, or Dorothy melting the Wicked Witch of the West when defining “climax.”

Extra credit is available. Choose a SPOTLIGHT section that has not already been covered in the course and write a 100-word response. This is not a synopsis of the reading, but an analysis of the points highlighted and how it inspired your own thought process. TWO SPOTLIGHT responses are allowed for up to 5 points each, for a total of up to 10 extra credit points. These may be turned in at any point during the course, but must be turned in by the final lesson.

Nature of Examinations

Two exams will be given over the key words and ideas from The Art of Theatre: A Concise Introduction. The midterm exam will cover Lessons 1–3; the final exam will cover Lessons 4–6. Each exam will be 60 questions and worth 30 points total (0.5 points each question) and is comprised of multiple choice, true/false, and fill-in-the-blank questions. The time limit on each exam is 90 minutes.

Grading Criteria

Your final grade will be determined by your points on the submitted writing assignments and the two examinations, as follows:

  • Six lessons (6 x 40): 240
  • Midterm exam: 30
  • Final exam : 30
  • Total: 300