An independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, DC

Visual/Performing Arts

At Potomac, in all grade levels, we think of the arts as expressive pathways, both inward to the mind and heart of the individual and outward to the wider world. While emphasizing the acquisition of skills and aesthetic judgment, we respect the instincts, intuitions, and ideas our students bring to their experience in the studios each day.

All students are required to earn a minimum of one and a half credits in Fine Arts courses. This requirement must be fulfilled by selecting courses in at least two out of three areas: studio art, drama, or music. Students are required to complete one course by the end of Grade 10 and are encouraged to go beyond the minimum requirement. All credits earned in the arts courses count toward the twenty-one credits needed to fulfill overall diploma requirements. All courses earn one-half credit per semester unless otherwise noted. Click here to learn more about the arts at Potomac.

ART COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Architecture

Students in this course design structures and spaces for human activity. Students begin by imagining combinations of simple geometric solids and then bring them into being with clay and other sculptural media. They then work through a series of open-ended, progressively more complicated design assignments, each of which offers a new puzzle in three-dimensional problem-solving. In the process of working on these assignments, students learn the fundamentals of architectural drafting and model-making. Throughout the course, students are expected to observe and discuss their daily surroundings with increased discrimination, looking with a fresh eye at everything, from sidewalks to skyscrapers, which affect our human environment. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to make revisions and improvements, as needed, to all completed work. Progress is measured by each student according to the achievement of his or intentions, by students and teacher together in routine design class crits and by the teacher within the context of course expectations. This is a semester course; students may elect to pursue one or more additional semesters for advanced study.

Advanced Architecture

In this course, students keep developing their skills in drawing, designing three-dimensional structures, scaling, and model-making. Students conceive and plan their own long-term projects, with the guidance of the instructor. Recent examples include: a scholarly conference center, a large multi-level house, a site-specific hotel, a house on stilts in a tropical lagoon, a house in a mid-Atlantic wetland, a contemporary cliff dwelling and various structures designed in 3D software programs. Experimentation and exploration are strongly encouraged. Both the purely aesthetic and the more applied and practical roles of architecture are examined. Reflection and evaluation occur routinely through peer critique and class discussions. Progress is measured by each student according to the achievement of his or her intentions and by the teacher in periodic conversations with each student. Museum and gallery visits and guest speakers supplement the studio experience. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: Architecture.

Architecture - Independent Study

Studio Arts Independent Study courses invite advanced students to design their own curricula in chosen fields, with guidance from one or more faculty. Emphasis is on the pursuit of original ideas and the development of increasingly mature methods and techniques. Students plan and execute their long-term projects independently, maintaining ambitious standards and an efficient pace of work. Routine discussions of their intentions, methods and results with faculty mentors are part of each week's work. Progress is measured by each student in independent reflections, by faculty and students in periodic conversations and by faculty within the broader context of Independent Study expectations. Architecture Independent Study students develop their three-dimensional concepts, plans and models at increasingly higher levels of conceptual complexity. They also work to perfect drawing and model-making skills. Each Independent Study is a unique collaboration between student and teacher, but the general topics and activities addressed are those described in the curriculum materials for Architecture. A final exhibition of new works is a natural and expected component of this course. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Art History

Ancient drawings, deep in caves, startle us with their beauty and sophistication. Deeply human instincts to create and to communicate with symbols are alive in us today. The history of art is the history of expressive responses to great mysteries and great events. By studying art history, students learn to observe mindfully, to see relationships between works from different places and times and to express their thoughts coherently in speech and writing. This course examines art in many forms, with an emphasis on painting, sculpture and architecture in the Western tradition, traced from the ancient civilizations of the Middle East and the Mediterranean Basin to Western Europe and America. The journey covers 30,000 years and thousands of miles, yet we recognize the motivations and gestures of earlier artists appearing in the most recent contemporary expressions. In various works, and even in the same work, art may function as an aesthetic expression, a reference to an earlier tradition, a reinforcement of power and a social commentary. Symbols are usually layered and complex. Consideration of artworks takes place through daily examination and discussion of slide images, weekly readings in our text, periodic museum visits and hands-on studio experiences. Assessment takes the form of weekly quizzes, short essays at home and in class and occasional, cumulative tests. This course is not specifically an A.P. course but, with extra preparation, students may elect to take the A.P. Art History Exam. This full-year course is open to seniors (and to juniors with permission of the Art Department). This course can satisfy either a History requirement or an Art requirement.

Ceramics

In this semester course, students explore their design ideas using clay and glazes. They learn hand-building and wheel-throwing techniques as they sculpt, build and throw; they also learn to glaze their work. Students invent, revise, and discover, learning not only about ceramics but also about themselves as artists. Frequent demonstrations of technique by faculty, advanced students, or visiting artists offer strategies and inspiration. The class may take a field trip to sketch ceramics in a gallery or museum (for example the Freer and Sackler Galleries), or they may participate in an outdoor, raku-kiln firing. Grades are based on a student's daily effort and diligence in the studio, the care and original thought behind their work, their willingness to make revisions, their participation in group discussion, and a generous spirit towards others and their work in the studio. Students may elect to pursue additional semesters of ceramics for advanced study.

Advanced Ceramics

Advanced Ceramics is a second semester of ceramics in which students further explore their interests in hand-building, wheel-throwing, sculpting and glazing. Projects are typically larger, more complex, and more challenging. Advanced Ceramics students are expected to be reflective and articulate about their intentions and decisions and, at times, to guide and encourage other, less-experienced students.Students may take a field trip to sketch ceramics in a gallery or museum (for example the Freer and Sackler Galleries), or they may help organize and execute an outdoor, raku-kiln firing. Grades are based on a student's daily effort and diligence in the studio, the care and original thought behind their work, their willingness to make revisions, their participation in group discussion, and a generous spirit towards others and their work in the studio. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: Ceramics.

Ceramics - Independent Study

Studio Arts Independent Study courses invite advanced students to design their own curricula in chosen fields, with guidance from one or more faculty. Emphasis is on the pursuit of original ideas and the development of increasingly mature methods and techniques. Students plan and execute their long-term projects independently, maintaining ambitious standards and an efficient pace of work. Routine discussions of their intentions, methods and results with faculty mentors are part of each week's work. Progress is measured by each student in independent reflections, by faculty and students in periodic conversations and by faculty within the broader context of Independent Study expectations. Ceramics Independent Study students work to develop their throwing and hand-building skills and to augment their understanding of glazing. Projects reflect increasingly higher levels of complexity in design and competence in execution. Independent Study students help model methods for other students, help maintain studio equipment and help plan events like the annual outdoor raku reduction firing and the annual Upper School student art show. Each Independent Study is a unique collaboration between student and teacher, but the general topics and activities addressed are those described in the curriculum materials for Ceramics. A final exhibition of new works is a natural and expected component of this course. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.

Drawing and Design

This course invites students to develop their skills and to explore a range of graphic media including graphite, charcoal, pastel, and ink. Students work from both observation and imagination. Drawing from the still life, landscape, the figure, and the portrait helps to strengthen observational skills. Students also work on abstract and formal design subjects, exploring the possibilities of line, texture, color, shape and composition. While strengthening skills, students are also developing their own interests, ideas, and habits of work. Students may elect to pursue additional semesters of Drawing & Design for advanced study. Museum and gallery visits and sketchbook assignments supplement class work. This is a semester course.

Advanced Drawing and Design

In this course, students keep developing their drawing skills, working from observation and from imagination. In a variety of media, students stretch and explore new ways of expressing what they see and feel. Long-term projects typically include work on large-scale pieces and close, accurate representational studies. Experimentation and exploration are strongly encouraged. Both the purely aesthetic and the more publicly persuasive roles of drawing are examined. Reflection and evaluation will occur routinely through peer critique and class discussions. Progress is measured by each student according to the achievement of his or her intentions and by the teacher in periodic conversations with each student. Museum and gallery visits and guest speakers supplement the studio experience. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: Drawing & Design.

Drawing and Design – Independent Study

Studio Arts Independent Study courses invite advanced students to design their own curricula in chosen fields, with guidance from one or more faculty. Emphasis is on the pursuit of original ideas and the development of increasingly mature methods and techniques. Students plan and execute their long-term projects independently, maintaining ambitious standards and an efficient pace of work. Routine discussions of their intentions, methods and results with faculty mentors are part of each week's work. Progress is measured by each student in independent reflections, by faculty and students in periodic conversations and by faculty within the broader context of Independent Study expectations. An advanced student who has completed a minimum of two semesters of Drawing and Design may elect to pursue an Independent Study under the supervision of an Art Department faculty member. Students explore one or more media in depth as they gradually develop their own long-term projects. Examples of past Drawing and Design Independent Study subjects include portraiture in drawing and painting, abstraction from nature forms, close study of representational methods and combination of drawing and digital design media. Each Independent Study is a unique collaboration between student and teacher, but the general topics and activities addressed are those described in the curriculum materials for Drawing and Design. A final exhibition of new works is a natural and expected component of this course. This is a semester course. Prerequisite(s): Advanced Drawing and Design and permission of the department.

Painting

In this course students explore color, light, line, value, texture and more using watercolor and acrylic paints. Through a series of varied assignments, students sharpen their powers of observation, learn to handle paint effectively, and develop their ideas. Subjects include still-life, figures, portraiture, landscape, and imagined imagery. Working with increasing levels of autonomy, students discover and develop their own interests and style. Throughout the semester, peer-to-peer and group critiques help students assess progress and develop a language for speaking and thinking about art. Grading will take into consideration the following: original thinking and imagination, daily engagement in studio work, willingness to make revisions, development of aesthetic judgment, personal growth as an artist, and a cooperative spirit towards others in the studio. Museum and gallery visits give students the chance to sketch and study master works. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: Drawing & Design.

Advanced Painting

Advanced Painting invites each student to develop a personal vision as an artist while honing technical skills with watercolor and acrylic paints. Formal concerns, including composition, brushwork, and color, are addressed. Assigned challenges help students develop self-expression, personal imagery, and content. Subjects range from representation to abstraction depending on interests. Students will have increasing autonomy throughout the semester; experimentation and exploration are strongly encouraged. Each exploration may extend for several weeks. Persistence through difficulties and self-reflection are core components of this class. Progress is measured by each student in moments of individual reflection and in routine studio discussions with the teacher. This course gives students a strong foundation to pursue an Independent Study in Painting. Museum trips and visits from local artists may supplement the studio experience. This is a semester course. Prerequisite(s): Drawing & Design, Painting.

Painting - Independent Study

Studio Arts Independent Study courses invite advanced students to design their own curricula in chosen fields, with guidance from one or more faculty. Emphasis is on the pursuit of original ideas and the development of increasingly mature methods and techniques. Students plan and execute their long-term projects independently, maintaining ambitious standards and an efficient pace of work. Routine discussions of their intentions, methods and results with faculty mentors are part of each week's work. Progress is measured by each student in independent reflections, by faculty and students in periodic conversations and by faculty within the broader context of Independent Study expectations. Examples of past Painting Independent Study projects include work from the model, work from still-life, portraiture and self-portraiture, landscape study and large-scale painting in acrylics and oils. Each Independent Study is a unique collaboration between student and teacher, but the general topics and activities addressed are those described in the curriculum materials for Painting. A final exhibition of new works is a natural and expected component of this course. This is a semester course. Prerequisite(s): Advanced Painting and permission of the department.

Photography I

Photography 1 introduces students to the art and craft of black and white photography. Using a 35mm single-lens reflex camera, students learn to manipulate the camera controls and the film to incorporate aspects of movement, focus, composition and light in their images. Proper film processing and darkroom techniques are the centerpiece of this class. Various open-ended photo assignments invite students to explore their visual surroundings while they expand and solidify their technical skills. Photography students keep notebooks containing work prints, negatives and contact sheets. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: Drawing and Design.

Photography II

This course is designed as a continuation of Photography 1. Varied exploratory assignments increase each student's confidence and facility with using photographic processes: understanding camera controls and following darkroom techniques. Emphasis is always on developing a more perceptive eye. Students continue to investigate the importance of light, composition, the frame, movement, depth, and space. They turn their attention to still-life in controlled conditions, outdoor landscape imagery and portraits of friends and family. Successful work is technically correct and expresses the individual vision of the photographer. We continue to gather around a large table about once every two weeks, to critique and discuss new work, and to consider assignments. This is a semester course. Prerequisites: Photography I and permission of the instructor.

Photography III

Photography 3 offers an opportunity for experienced students to pursue a personal vision in black and white imagery through assignments and independent study. Each student begins to develop a portfolio of high quality prints. Emphasis is on both the pictorial impact of students' imagery and an increasingly close attention to technical details. Successful work is technically correct and expresses the individual vision of the photographer. This is a semester course. Prerequisites: Photography 2 and permission of the instructor.

Photography IV

Photography 4 invites advanced students to learn and apply more complex techniques and more personal aesthetic standards to building a portfolio of their work. Emphasis is on developing long-term projects, with the guidance of faculty, while maintaining high independent standards of quality. Students typically pursue their subjects in depth and may cross back and forth between digital and print media in search of new possibilities. Examples of past subjects include digital wide-format landscape, digital landscape collage, print and digital portraiture and large-negative print photography. Photography 4 students will sometimes be asked to guide younger students, to discuss their own work with these students and to help maintain shared lab equipment. This is a semester course. Prerequisites: Photography 3 and permission of the instructor.

Sculpture

This course provides instruction in a variety of materials and methods of sculpture. Students use clay, plaster, wood, stone, and other non-traditional materials in a series of open–ended projects. These explore such topics as abstraction of natural forms, transformation of scale, bas–relief design, rendering of the human figure, and experimentation with environmental sculpture. Methods include modeling, carving, casting, and assemblage. Progress is measured by each student according to the achievement of his or her ideas and intentions, by students and teacher in routine studio class conversations and by the teacher within a context of course expectations. Students may elect to pursue additional semesters of Sculpture for advanced study. This is a semester course.

Advanced Sculpture

In this advanced course, students keep developing ideas and skills in designing and crafting forms in three dimensions. More resistant and demanding materials like limestone, marble and hardwoods are available for exploration, and various power tools are introduced. While there are some assigned works in each semester, students are invited to develop their own long-term projects with the guidance of the teacher. Experimentation and exploration are strongly encouraged. Reflection and evaluation will occur routinely through peer critique and class discussions. Progress is measured by each student according to the achievement of his or her intentions and by the teacher in periodic conversations with each student. Museum and gallery visits and guest speakers supplement the studio experience. This is a semester course. Prerequisite: Sculpture.

Sculpture – Independent Study

Studio Arts Independent Study courses invite advanced students to design their own curricula in chosen fields, with guidance from one or more faculty. Emphasis is on the pursuit of original ideas and the development of increasingly mature methods and techniques. Students plan and execute their long-term projects independently, maintaining ambitious standards and an efficient pace of work. Routine discussions of their intentions, methods and results with faculty mentors are part of each week's work. Progress is measured by each student in independent reflections, by faculty and students in periodic conversations and by faculty within the broader context of Independent Study expectations. Independent Study Sculpture students use clay, plaster, wood, stone, and other non-traditional materials in a series of open–ended projects. Methods include modeling, carving, casting, and assemblage. Each Independent Study is a unique collaboration between student and teacher, but the general topics and activities addressed are those described in the curriculum materials for Sculpture. A final exhibition of new works is a natural and expected component of this course. This is a semester course. Prerequisites: Sculpture and permission of the instructor.


Music Course Descriptions

Band

The Upper School band program facilitates the mastery of more advanced technical and expressive skills. Students establish a more sophisticated. Students learn advanced techniques, scales, and perform music in more challenging keys and time signatures. Students perform literature at Grade Level 3-4 of the Virginia Band and Orchestra Director's Association. Ensemble skills are a main focus at the advanced level, emphasizing on balance, dynamics, and scoring. Students will learn about various musical career options and investigate the relationship of music to other disciplines of study. Students analyze music according to culture, history, and style. Students create and perform increasingly difficult rhythmic and melodic patterns. Students have the opportunity to participate in a variety of ensembles including concert band, jazz band, chamber groups, and pep band. Finally, students are offered multiple opportunities to perform in local, district, and regional music events including (but not limited to) District Band Assessment, All-State Band, and Solo and Ensemble Festival.

Concert Chorus and Madrigal Singers

Concert Chorus is a non-auditioned ensemble; students may audition for the Madrigal Singers, a chamber group. Singers who are familiar with basic vocal and ensemble skills are encouraged to develop these abilities, learn new techniques, become co-performers in the ensemble and make creative musical decisions. New singers may see the teacher for help. While opportunities for individual performance and recognition exist (solos in current choral repertoire, accompanying, student conducting, the school musical, student-led a cappella groups, divisional assemblies, etcetera), Upper School choral performers principally learn music through participation in the Concert Chorus and Madrigal Singers ensembles. The teacher facilitates singers’ growth by assigning appropriate music, encouraging additional ensembles and creating performance opportunities such as festivals and tours. Students are assigned to a vocal section according to range and ability; as they progress they will be assigned to more advanced harmonies and semi-choruses. As students gain facility, they will be encouraged to sing solos, lead sectionals or prepare an audition for the Madrigal Singers.

Handbells

The Upper School Handbell Ensemble is an instrumental performance class using English handbells. The course builds upon foundations from elementary and secondary music classes through the unique, teamwork-based approach, required specifically for this instrument. Students meet four to five times weekly based upon both class schedule and necessary small-group projects, and participate in group performances during the months of November, December, April, and May. Understanding of advanced rhythms and musical notation is expected for participation in this ensemble, though private lessons are available if more study is necessary. Also, for students looking for more of a challenge during this academic time, opportunities for solos and smaller ensembles are available. Students will be assessed primarily through music-theory assignments, small group presentations, demonstration of the learned material, and participation in all performances.

Jazz Arranging

Jazz Arranging is an elective semester course for musicians who have successfully completed two semesters of AP Music Theory. Students will be introduced to the musical elements and formal devices found in 20th-century jazz; they will study its rhythms and articulations, analyze its harmonic progressions and chord substitutions, and observe its common melodic outlines. They will learn the characteristics of jazz’s four instrumental families, practice a variety of harmonic voicing techniques, create written-out melodic improvisations, and discover ways to provide formal focus and contrast in an arrangement. Additional resource materials (scores, recordings, videos) will supplement the basic texts. Students will analyze melodies, chord progressions and arrangements created by their classmates.

String Orchestra

Upper School String Orchestra is an instrumental performing course for students learning a member of the orchestral stringed instrument family (violin, viola, cello or bass), building on the knowledge and skills gained in Intermediate School Strings. Students meet four-five times per week in mixed-instrument groups. Group performances are given in November, December, May, and June. Students will refine previously learned techniques and learn new ones required to perform advanced string orchestra literature. Students will use these skills to play music from many musical periods and in varied styles. Performance repertoire includes symphony orchestra classics arranged for string orchestra, classical pieces originally written for strings, and contemporary string compositions. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to rehearse and perform chamber music and full orchestra compositions. Students will be assessed primarily through demonstrating the desired skills during class either individually or with members of his/her section. Individual, recorded progress assessments may be used as well. Students will perform in all required concerts.

20th Century Music History

Twentieth-century Music History chronicles the progression of musical style from Debussy’s rejection of classical procedures to the polystylism of Corigliano, Schnittke and Zappa. Representative composers and pieces will be introduced through class discussion, score examination, directed listening and the viewing of video performances. Principal topics include Impressionism, Primitivism, Futurism, Expressionism and Atonality, Neo-Classicism, Neo-Romanticism, New Objectivity, Serialism, popular music (jazz, rock, fusion, Broadway, film music), electronic- and computer-generated music, Aleatorism, Minimalism, Post-Modernism and the New Simplicity. Students will note the changing attitudes to sound, harmony, melody, rhythm, form and texture while gaining a broader understanding of music’s role in contemporary society. Assessments include chapter quizzes and a final research paper on a prominent twentieth-century composer.

Advanced Placement Music Theory

AP Music Theory is an elective course for advanced-level musicians seeking detailed knowledge of music to enhance performance skills, learn the basics of composing/arranging or prepare for a college major in music. Students will cover the theoretical concepts required for a proficient score on the Advanced Placement Music Theory exam; they will take the exam that same school year. Students will work regularly on aural skills: sight-singing, harmonic and melodic notation, rhythmic dictation and chord identification. They will expand and maintain their working music vocabulary. Additional resource materials (scores, recordings, videos) will supplement the text and workbook (Benward & Saker'sMusic in Theory and Practice). Students will sing, play and analyze melodies, chord progressions and compositions created by their classmates.

drama COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Ensemble Theater

Ensemble Theatre is the introductory course in the theatre program. It presents an overview of the concepts and techniques of theatre, with a focus on the building of performance skills through ensemble work. At the heart of the course is the understanding that performance is a discipline, based on the mastery of skills and the ability to synthesize those skills to produce consistent performances. Students in the course are introduced to basic theatre vocabulary and a wide range of fundamental acting techniques from traditional to experimental. The exercises provide a foundation upon which students will be able to build performances based on both scripted and non-scripted techniques. The class offers many opportunities for students to improve their skills and explore new approaches to skill development. During the course of the semester, students are introduced to the non-performances concepts and disciplines associated with theatre- production, technical theatre, history, dramatic literature, and criticism. One of the fundamental goals of the course is that, through self-reflection and critical assessment, a student will be able to discuss, analyze, and evaluate his or her own performance. Daily participation and reflection create an environment in which a student can engage with others in the creation and assessment of an ensemble performance. 1 semester, no prerequisite

Acting I

Acting 1 is the follow-up course to Ensemble Theatre, designed for students who are looking to refine their understanding of performance as a discipline. The course presents different techniques, from traditional text-based acting theory to contemporary uses of mask and movement, and guides the students toward creating their own acting method based on their successes in these exercises. Text analysis, scene and monologue work, character work, improvisation, and theatre games expose students to a variety of skills that can be applied to traditional and experimental theatre forms. Increased literacy in the body of dramatic writings is fostered by exposure to plays and discussions of performance. Students keep a journal to record their responses to the exercises and reading material. Daily reflection and preparation are major components in the level of an individual student’s achievement in Acting 1.

Actor's Workshop I

Actor’s Workshop, the first curricular component in the Visual and Performing Arts Concentration in Theatre, offers the serious acting student opportunities to discover and assemble a personal approach to performance. Because of the small class size (the VPAC Theatre program has a limited number of acceptances each year), individual attention is given to the students as they begin the process of identifying their strengths and weaknesses as actors. Developing a common language of analysis and criticism empowers the students to closely examine the processes and strategies that they use to develop a performance, and assess them for consistency and effectiveness. Discussions of acting methods and exercises from different techniques, ranging from traditional text-based acting theory to contemporary uses of mask and movement, guides the students toward creating their own acting method based on their successes in these exercises. Text analysis, character work, improvisation, and theatre games expose students to a variety of skills that can be applied to traditional and experimental monologues and scenes. Increased literacy in the body of dramatic writings is fostered by exposure to plays and discussions of performance. Students keep a journal to record their responses to the exercises and reading material. The specific content of each section of Actor’s Workshop may vary, based upon the needs and discoveries of the members of the class. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the VPAC in Theatre program or permission of the instructor.

Actor's Workshop II

Actor’s Workshop II is a continuation of the work begun in Actor’s Workshop, with a focus on physical approaches to performance. During the semester, each actor will begin to develop, through movement-based theatre methods, an understanding of what and how the body communicates elements of character, objective, and relationship. The course begins with an assessment: what do I do physically on stage? Developing techniques and strategies to make each performer aware of what he or she is doing physically combines with the verbal and emotional work of other methods to produce a more flexible actor with a greater range of performance. A focus on mask work and physical improvisation, along with more traditional approaches to text analysis and scene and monologue work, provide opportunities for each student to explore the skills of performance in depth. The ultimate goal is twofold: to guide the actor toward creating a personal approach to performance, combining skills from a variety of methods, and to give the actor tools for self-assessment in real-world audition and performance situations. Students keep a journal to record their responses to the exercises and reading material. The specific content of each section of Actor’s Workshop II may vary, based upon the needs and discoveries of the members of the class.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the first year VPAC in Theatre program or permission of the instructor.

Director's Workshop

Designed to respond to the increasing interest in student directed theatre, Director's Workshop, a practical course in directing techniques, examines the skills necessary to mount a theatrical production. Topics include play selection, development of a working concept, script analysis, creation of a rehearsal schedule, audition strategies, integration of design and technical elements, blocking and stage movement, rehearsal techniques (including the use of improvisation as a rehearsal tool), and stage management skills. An emphasis will be placed on communication-- director/actor, director/designers, director/technicians-- and the importance of developing a common theatre language. The class will look at practical application of directing theory by working with Peter Shaffer’s play Equus. Course readings will include basic theories from the traditional (Stanislavski, Kazan) to the experimental (Grotowski, Marowitz). The course is discussion based, allowing for both a class-generated understanding of concepts and individual interpretation. This class is a prerequisite for co-directing any school production. Prerequisite: Ensemble Theatre or permission of the instructor.

Scene Study: Periods and Styles

“Style is knowing what kind of play you are in.” – Sir John Gielgud. In this course, part of the Visual and Performing Arts Concentration in Theatre, students are building on their basic skills of script analysis and performance and applying them to plays representative of different eras and philosophies. They learn effective ways of “dressing” their performances to reflect the standards established by playwrights, actors, and directors of important theatrical time periods and cultures. Styles examined include Greek tragedy, Comedy of Manners, Elizabethan drama (Shakespeare), Commedia dell’Arte and masked theatre, and Theatre of the Absurd. Students read plays that represent these styles, discuss and practice the conventions associated with performing these plays, and apply those conventions to scenes and monologues. Prerequisite: successful completion of 1st year VPAC courses including Actor’s Workshop I and II, and Theatre History.

Stagecraft

Stagecraft introduces the beginning theatre artist to the basic theories and practices of theatre technology. Each stage design must produce a dramatic environment for the action of a performance, based on the vision of the director and the needs of the actors. We examine the creative and collaborative process by which the physical production comes together: from the design and construction of scenery, to the basics of lighting and audio production, to details of theatrical organization and stage management. Throughout the course we learn to use the tools of the trade and perform the tasks required to complete a successful production. Individual success for each student is measured by the acquisition and application of new ideas and skills. The success of the whole group is manifest in their effective design, fabrication and coordination of staging and effects for a show. This is a semester course.

Theater History

Theatre history is an integral part of the understanding of modern theatre as an art form. This course presents an overview of important periods in the development of primarily European theatre, from pre-history and the foundations of performance through to the late Renaissance. In addition to theatre literature, the course focuses on acting styles, architectural and technical developments, and performance theory. In lieu of a traditional theatre history text book, students read plays that are representative of the historical periods that are being discussed. This course is a component in the Visual and Performing Arts Concentration in Theatre. Students outside of the VPAC Theatre program may take this course with permission of the instructor.