North East Independent School District
Winston Churchill High School
The Department of Fine Arts
Advanced Theatre Training Program
Course Syllabus for: Theatre Arts III & IV,
Theatre IV Dual Credit
Fall and Spring Semester
Instructors: Clark Stevens, M.F.A. Wade Young, B.A.
This is the advanced course in the theatre arts curriculum at Winston Churchill High School. Theatre Arts III/IV will be taught as a college preparatory course. By auditioning and registering for this advanced class, you have essentially confirmed your own interest in this art form and committed yourself to a more challenging regimen of enriched training in the discipline of theatre. This course will fulfill the requirements of The Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills or “TEKS” curriculum. Additionally the class will provide a heightened challenge for students through the study of proven acting techniques, acting styles, vocal exercises and movement systems--combined with the exploration of modern and classical texts. Students will also gain extensive knowledge in directorial concepts, scene scoring, text analysis, design conferencing, stage management protocols, resume preparation, auditioning and interviewing. Expectations will be higher and the work will be more difficult than the curriculum of Theatre Arts I & II. Students in this advanced theatre course must be concurrently enrolled in a theatre production class.
This class will serve as a laboratory for all students to refine their skills and to share research discoveries. Students in this course will encounter sincere feedback from the instructor throughout the semester. A formal assessment of your class work and stage work will occur at mid-term and again at the end of the school year. Videotaped performances (of class work and stage work) will be reviewed. Seniors are expected to produce and submit an audition video for ARTS scholarships. Juniors are strongly encouraged to produce a “practice” tape for ARTS. Some select students will participate in speech tournaments as an added opportunity for performance.
This course and program is designed to increase the student’s awareness and appreciation for all areas of theatre with an emphasis on collaboration (in a humane environment). Effective, inspirational theatre is produced when artists respect each other and work together as a unit. The humane, humble and successful artist holds all carpenters, electricians, cutters, stitchers, drapers, directors, actors, stage managers, designers, and technicians in the highest regard. This is a proven, time-honored key to notable achievement.
Students that demonstrate a clear understanding, consistent practice and belief in this concept of respect will be positively recommended for university scholarships, internships and other pre-professional opportunities.
In order to develop confident skills in performance and effective acting techniques, the class will engage in an exploration of the following:
The creative self
Using the self appropriately
Telling the truth emotionally
Discovering text structure
Playing dramatic action
Releasing the Natural Voice
Students will experience acting exercises and training based on the work of Stanislavsky, and Uta Hagen.
Voice and speech work will draw from the theories and practices of Kristen Linklater, Cicely Berry and Patsy Rodenburg.
Movement training will stem from several systems including: The Alexander Technique, Neuro-Muscular Integrative Action (NIA), Yoga, Tai-Chi, Ki-Aikido, the Form, Feldenkrais, Tadashi Suzuki, and interpretive dance. The psycho-physical movement work is designed to re-educate the mind and body toward an improved alignment, mobility and range of motion. The Alexander principles are aimed at discovering habitual misuse of the body by bringing inefficient, stressful, or uneconomical use up to the level of consciousness and then consciously altering it. Benefits of this work include: a.) a freedom in the jaw which provides clearer articulation b.) expanded resonance c.) deeper, freer breath support d.) a greater fluidity of motion in performance. This frequently affords actors with an easier release of intense emotions.
Exercises, Lecture, Discussion, Individual Projects, Readings and Performances
Notebook. You will need to have a separate, large three-ring notebook with dividers and lined paper. This syllabus will be neatly placed in the front followed by clearly labeled sections in this order: Handouts, Diagnostic Scenes, D.I./ H.I., Prose/Poetry, Class Notes, Voice, Speech, Movement Exercises, Research and Journal Entries. You are expected to maintain the notebook constantly—on a daily basis.
All exercises must be documented. In the past, students have used clever stick figures and sketches (with descriptions) to record physical movement exercises (for future use).
Dedicated actors should use their notebook as a daily resource. Take it seriously. Particulars concerning journal entries will be distributed in class as a specific handout.
Scripts: You must always have a clean copy of your script(s) in order to effectively work with the instructor. At mid-term you may be asked to turn a copy of your scenes and individual events during assessment--so that your scene scoring and units of action may be analyzed as a major component of your grade. Keep the clean copies of your scripts in your notebook.
Movement Clothing: You should always have clean movement clothing in your locker. You are to change in the restroom only. Take your movement clothing home and launder it frequently. In other words, wash it at least once a week! Take it home on Friday if we have been moving during the week.
Supplemental Text(s): Respect for Acting by Uta Hagen. A used copy is a great idea. We will read and discuss this throughout the school year. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This text will be provided.
You must participate actively and willingly in all class activities and discussions.
Students must attend one required hour for combined speech/drama team rehearsals on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Students may choose which day they attend morning rehearsal --in the event that they need to attend tutoring. The M-W sessions begin at 7:30 a.m. and conclude at 8:30 a.m. The session begins with a physical warm-up, vocal warm-up and then students may work independently or sign up to work with one of the four team coaches on: plays, TFA duet scenes, TFA duo-interp or TFA individual events.
Wednesday Morning. Students are required to attend morning warm-up from 8:00-8:35 a.m.
Friday Morning. Thespians / drama club meets from 8:00a.m.-8:35 a.m.
8th Period-advanced theatre arts III/IV --concentrated on the TEKS curriculum.
Rehearsal Hours Total
Outside of Class=1 hour for morning rehearsal (with a balance of seven hours). This balance of seven hours is utilized as needed for: musicals, full-length plays and tech rehearsals.
Example: during the week of an opening play, we may schedule as many as three dress/tech rehearsals from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Thorough preparation of individual and group assignments outside of class.
Thorough reading of assigned scenes, handouts and plays.
Conferences with instructor may be required.
Completed parent consent/travel form and NEISD hazing test.
Completed Fine Arts Code of Conduct.
Completed student contract for WC theatre department.
This is an advanced program of study. Most of what you learn in Theatre Arts III/IV comes from what you do, observe and discuss in class. It is impossible to “catch up” by reading your classmate’s lecture notes. Prompt and regular attendance is mandatory. The N.E.I.S.D attendance policies will be strictly enforced for class.
The new departmental attendance policy concerning unexcused absences after school: One unavoidable, unexcused absence. Two excused absences. After three absences the student will be dismissed from participation and/or re-cast.
Unexcused absences may result in an automatic dismissal from all after school activities, plays, advanced training opportunities, travel, tournaments and competitions. If you are unavoidably detained or you anticipate an unavoidable absence you must call Mr. Stevens. Failure to call will be considered an unexcused absence. This policy applies to class, rehearsals, after school work calls and morning warm-up.
The following are examples of excused absences:
- Medically documented illness with a note from a physician or parent. Note must be given to the attendance office and drama office.
- Documented school obligations (approved in advance)
- Religious holidays (discussed, acknowledged by N.E.I.S.D. and approved in advance).
- Death of an immediate family member
Two tardies will count the same as an unexcused absence from class.
Find a seat and be ready for instruction to begin at the sound of the bell. All socialization must cease by the sound of the bell. Be prepared to take notes, answer questions and/or make journal entries at the beginning of class.
Late written work will be docked one full letter grade. If you do not turn in the late written work at the next class meeting, you will receive an automatic grade of “F” for that assignment. There is very little written work for this class.
Failure to attend class on a scheduled exam or performance day will result in an automatic “F” for the exam or performance missed. Make-up performances and make-up exams will not be scheduled unless there are extremely compelling and verifiable circumstances.
Students may be subject to disciplinary proceedings resulting in an academic or disciplinary penalty for academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty includes, but is not limited to, cheating on a test, plagiarism and collusion.
- This course fulfills the TEKS competencies.
- Micro-Themes/ Journal Entries. This is a short essay response to an assigned topic. The content of the micro-theme should concentrate on the following: a.) Summary of material and key points b.) Analysis c.) Personal observations.
- Quizzes. Mostly pre-scheduled quizzes. Pop-quizzes are rare but possible.
- Tests. A semester final. The Fall semester final will include comprehensive objective questions and essay questions.
- Notebooks may be checked for quality and organization.
- Diagnostic scenes
- Group activities, play readings and exercises.
- Monologues, Humorous Interpretations, Dramatic Interpretations, Prose, Poetry and Duet scenes.
- Final Project-either a small group project or duet scene.
Particulars concerning the performance projects will be discussed and distributed in class. In some cases, the performance of a principal role in a Churchill production may fulfill the final requirement. Students will be individually informed if they need to rehearse and perform a final project for the semester (beyond play performances).
Research Work: One to Three Hours per week
- All advanced students are expected to independently research dramatic theory, criticism and history pertaining to each play in production.
- Research in theatrical design is a major requirement for those working as production designers.
- EACH STUDENT IS REQUIRED TO CONDUCT RESEARCH ON UNIVERSITY TRAINING PROGRAMS (B.F.A), CONSERVATORIES (CERTIFICATES OR B.F.A), LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGES (B.A.) SUMMER WORKSHOPS and summer training camps. The counseling department now has a Career Center with “the discover program,” eight computers and an extensive data base on training institutions and university programs. The center is open during all three lunches. Research discoveries on training programs will be shared by everyone in class. Keep your findings in your T.A. III/IV notebook.
Grades will be based on the quality of your work, averaged grades, participation and your willingness to explore theatre as an art form. The following is a possible grade breakdown:
Monologue 100 points
Acting exercises 100 points 900-1000 =A
Quizzes, Journals, Notebook 100 points 800-899 =B
Mid-Term play performance 200 points 750-799 =C
Class participation 100 points 700-749 =D
Diagnostic/Contest Duet 100 points 699or below =F
Tests, Research (averaged) 100 points
Creative Project 200 points
Important RULES and Reminders
The course content is subject to change in response to the student’s needs.
Other assignments may be given that are not on this syllabus. These assignments will be averaged into the class participation category.
Never walk in or out of the room during a performance—unless it’s an emergency.
Students must contribute to the group effort (in a humane way). Gossip and rumors do not belong here--in the classroom, the rehearsal space, the locker area, the black box or the hallway. Keep your personal life, romantic life and problems outside of the 400 building. If you need counseling see one of us and we will refer you immediately to the school psychologist (seriously). Keep your focus on the work.
Open mind. Do not pose as being a director or a superior thespian! Do not judge dramatic literature for other people. Many of you impose snap judgments about plays that are shortsightedly derived from your own, limited speech tournament exposure. Allow your fellow actors to explore the work of playwrights without tainting their experience. Not everyone likes the same style as you—so be it.
Students are not allowed in locked spaces without permission (theatre offices, box office, dressing rooms, technical workshop, stage right closet etc.) If you are working in a space that is normally locked, prop the door open. The dressing rooms will not be used as private lounges, salons and social clubs.
Students are not allowed “upstairs” without permission. A theatre teacher must be present if you are working on the catwalk, fly rail, loading gallery, third floor etc. See student contract.
Never lower the motorized electrics without a theatre teacher.
You will not use a power tool without instructor supervision.
If for some legitimate reason you have to leave class early, talk to us about it before class begins. If you leave early without talking to us about it, we will make note of your exit. Leaving early without clearance counts the same as a tardy.
Turn off all cell phones. Turn off your electronic devices during class and rehearsal. If you are discovered chatting in the wings or the house of theatre, I will ask you to leave the theatre. Cell phone distractions may jeopardize your privileges in the after school program.
Food is not allowed in the 400 Bldg. Do not bring any food, drink or gum into the classroom, the black box or the theatre. Failure to comply with this rule could also result in a significant loss of privileges. Please do not eat lunch in the 400 building. Smile at the cameras in the hall and keep cafeteria items out of the 400 building. Eat in the cafeteria, eat anywhere it is legal and then feel free to work on material in the building without food. You live in this building enough as it is--so enjoy your dining experiences elsewhere.
Complete respect will be given to fellow students—especially when they are performing. Theatre etiquette is easy to learn: unless you are on stage or performing in front of the class, you do not talk. Give the performer(s) your complete, undivided attention. Talking backstage may result in a complete loss of theatre privileges.
You are responsible for getting from fellow students—not us—any assignment missed because of absence or tardiness. See me if it involves a handout.
Never hesitate to make an appointment with me if you feel you need extra help outside of class.
Important Contact Information:
We check e-mail every morning.
Drama Office Phone: 210.356.0106
Cell phone for emergency contact: 210.865.8201
North East Police: 655-6859 theft or emergency.