COURSE OUTLINE New York City College of Technology Humanities Department
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Examines the creative process that begins with the written analysis of a script and includes the learned skills required to convey character on paper and on stage. Techniques are developed through self exploration and heightened awareness of senses and emotions. Culminates with a classroom performance of fully developed characters. Attendance at theatre performances on and off campus. Use of character-building techniques in writing and performing to increase self-awareness and learn the role of deliberate intention in creating art and in building a successful life.
COURSE PREREQUISITE: ENG1101 or ENG1101CO or ENG1101ML or COM 1330
RECOMMENDED TEXT: Robert Barton. Acting Onstage And Off. Wadsworth: Centage Learning, 2012, 6th Edition.
SCOPE OF ASSIGNMENTS° This course requires the completion of both written and performance activities. Written activities include three to five short paper assignments (each 2-3 pages long), an essay exam, and a journal. Performance activities include weekly dramatic exercises and the performance of a rehearsed, memorized and polished monologue or scene as a culminating project. Student will also view live and filmed performances. ______*Theatre faculty are aware that the designated Learning Outcomes in this area may be achieved through a wide variety of methodologies. The list of assignments presented here is intended only as a sample.
TEACHING AND LEARNING METHODS Lectures, selected performances and screenings, and class discussion Research-based and observation-based writing assignments In-class exercises
COURSE STRUCTURE The course is structured around Stanislavsky’s 10 steps to Creating a Character. The steps are taught sequentially, with writing assignments and class exercises reinforcing content. Students apply their growing skills toward a culminating performance.
Sample Sequence of Weekly Topics * 1. Introduction to Discipline, Observation and Life Study 2. Stanislavsky’s 10 steps to Creating a Character 3. Given Circumstances, 4. “Magic If” 5. Super-Objective 6. Through-line” of actions 7. “Scoring a role” 8. Endowment 9. Give life to the inanimate 10. Emotional Recall 11. Images 12. External Adjustments 13. The Creative Mood. 14. Student Performance & Critique 15. Student Performance & Critique
* Topic sequence may vary with instructor. The Theatre faculty recognize that there are many valid educational reasons why deviation from approximations would be ideal. These include but are not limited to student experiences as theatre spectators and/or practitioners.
COURSE-INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES/ASSESSMENT METHODS** LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT METHODS ACTIVITY: The instructor selects from the many exercises used in acting Students learn the skills and techniques training several of those designed to discover and sharpen these (Character of building a believable character and Building) skills. Students engage in these exercises for the benefit of the achieving authenticity of self via the class. The class takes notes. techniques of sensory recall, emotional memory, concentration and relaxation. EVALUATION: The class discusses the success or lack of success in using these techniques. The criteria are always based on whether the audience
believes the character. The class evaluates their understanding of the connection among learned technique, creating a character, and developing insight into self-motivation through constant oral analysis and written critique. Objective and subjective exam items are assigned, as are papers. ACTIVITY: Continuing the issues of ensemble work, students perform an Students begin to study the means for exercise that centers on a specific character in a specific historical context expressing character within a historical and in a set of “given circumstances” analogous to those found in all scripts. context and a specific set of “given Actors are assigned exercises built around “given circumstances.” Classes are circumstances.” given journal assignments to create and write, comparing two different sets of “given circumstances.” EVALUATION: The class enacts as a group the given circumstances, providing knowledge of character building for performance and for the purpose of writing “in character.” The expectation is that the actor develops a technique for character building that can be applied to the acting process in the creation of any role. Students learn the shorthand of ACTIVITY: Students are given a precise set of blocking (movement) blocking and how to record, remember, instructions to record and repeat for the class. and repeat. EVALUATION: If a student is recording direction in a professional manner, that student will be able to repeat precisely, coordinating action and dialogue, the instruction given by the director. The writing will be legible and precise. Students learn to score a script with ACTIVITY: Using a handout of a three-page script, the actor is assigned a precision. part. In writing, the student is to break the scene into “beats,” define the “intention of the character” and enter the logical subtext of each line when subtext is different from line. When complete, the script should be a record of blocking, subtext, intention, rehearsal notes (critique), and the actor’s personal insights. EVALUATION: The scored script should integrate all of the above with the intention of realizing the notations to a point where the script is no longer necessary. The actor is “off book.” **Students may be assessed in a variety of different ways including examinations with essay, short-answer and multiple-choice questions; questions requiring subjective conclusions; oral presentations; formal and informal writing, and creative activities including acting, playwriting, directing, and designing.
GENERAL EDUCATION INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES/ASSESSMENTMETHODS** LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT METHODS
KNOWLEDGE ACTIVITY: Students re-write a scene from a familiar script Students learn that there are multiple that they have seen in performance, applying logic to the given solutions to many of life’s obstacles circumstances of the script, asking, “What outcomes might Actors must learn to brainstorm, have been different? How would changing the objectives, finding innovative ideas to solve change the performance? How does the ability to adapt serve problems confronted when creating a the actor?” character. Students learn to exercise EVALUATION: Students demonstrate, in writing, a clear the creative imagination and apply it understanding of the objectives of the character as written in to problem-solving. order to use the creative imagination to change the objectives of the character as they create new outcomes. Students also learn the value of listening to advice and adjusting accordingly. Students gain an increased awareness ACTIVITY: Students share their information and demonstrate of the language of the body and how for the class one specific technique learned in class, applied to it may be read by observation and one specific moment. discernment. In addition, students EVALUATION: For the purpose of illustration, Romeo and increase their ability to regulate Juliet in the balcony scene. Which techniques would the class control over their own movement and apply? non-verbal communication. ACTIVITY: Using the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet assign the actors the job of playing the scene with only the body. EVALUATION: Instructor and classmates ask: Was it believable? Did the actors resort to melodrama? SKILLS Student actors learn techniques of ACTIVITY: Vocal, physical, and relaxation warm-ups become relaxation to maintain focus regardless part of the daily class routine. These are followed by brief of anxiety and distraction. These readings. techniques carry over into the EVALUATION: The positive changes brought by warm-ups academic life of the student. are immediately apparent. The class is encouraged to relate the ways in which these exercises might work for stressful real-life occasions such as tests or social encounters. Students gain increasing facility with ACTIVITY: Students, following stage directions, move about written communication and standard the set (in character), as directed in either oral or written grammatical structure as an expression communication with the director or by the script. All of logical and creative thought. movement is designed to reflect the writer’s intention. EVALUATION: Students are able to motivate stage directions and support their choice of intention by combining both logical and creative resulting in a believable characterization. Students learn to set reasonable goals, ACTIVITY: For each simple objective of each character, planning for reach objectives and actors develop and record a “through line” (Stanislavsky, surmount obstacles through a series Building a Character) including and recording all the obstacles. of progressive steps. Students learn Students will be asked to record a through line for a simple that obstacles are best taken one at a activity like getting to school. The record will be precise and time and that, when taking time in life moment by moment. and art, some obstacles are surmountable. The actor does not EVALUATION: Acting tasks and life tasks often appear to come on stage to find a dead body. be more achievable when they are broken down. Students He comes on stage for another reason learn that obstacles may be more surmountable when taken and discovers the body. one at a time. VALUES ACTIVITY: Keen skills of observation are vital to the actor Students develop self-awareness and and many of Constantine Stanislavsky’s exercises are built on empathy via techniques for gaining techniques of observation. Some of these exercises are done in insight into others. Students gain class, e.g., without warning a class member is asked to close clarity through a methodical, ordered his eyes and describe in detail what the teacher is wearing. approach to character study used by Students are assigned a “life study.” They observe someone actors, in order to gain insight into an who is behaving in an unusual way and enact this character, in acting role. detail, for the class.
EVALUATION Class discusses the “through line” of a character looking for motivation for behavior. The class should use the creative imagination to speculate on an event in the past that might cause this behavior. The class discusses the effect this behavior might have on others. The class discusses their feelings toward the character portrayed. The class discusses the behavior options their character might have chosen. They should cover a range of empathetic responses. The class hears the written responses of others as they read their reactions. Students will increasingly see the ACTIVITY: Students present a scene that has been rehearsed importance of self-discipline to an by only one of the actors. actor and subscribe to the belief that EVALUATION: Class discussion of the responsibilities of an discipline is the lynchpin of success in actor to the production. Class creates a list of the ways in theatre and in life. which discipline is essential to success in the acting process. The list is included in the journal.
Plagiarism and NYCCT Academic Integrity Policy: “Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.” (See pp. 73-76 in the student handbook). The following are some examples of plagiarism:
Copying another person’s actual words without the use of quotation marks and footnotes attributing the words to their source. Presenting another person’s ideas or theories in your own words without acknowledging the source. Using information that is not common knowledge without acknowledging the source. Failing to acknowledge collaborators on homework and laboratory assignments. Internet Plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting and pasting” from various sources without proper attribution. Assignments must be paraphrased into your own language and properly cited. All major writing assignments will be run through Safe Assign or TURNITIN.
Humanities Department Attendance Policy It is the conviction of the Humanities department that a student who is not in a class for any reason is not receiving the benefit of the education being provided. Missed class time includes not just absences but also latenesses, early departures, and time outside the classroom taken by students during class meeting periods. Missed time impacts any portion of the final grade overtly allocated to participation and/or any grades awarded for activities that relate to presence in class.
Accessibility Statement City Tech is committed to supporting the educational goals of enrolled students with disabilities in the areas of enrollment, academic advisement, tutoring, assistive technologies and testing accommodations. If you have or think you may have a disability, you may be eligible for reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments as provided under applicable federal, state and city laws. You may also request services for temporary conditions or medical issues under certain circumstances. If you have questions about your eligibility or would like to seek accommodation services or academic adjustments, you can leave a voicemail at 718 260 5143, send an email to [email protected] or visit the Center’s website http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/accessibility/ for more information.
Humanities Department Commitment to Student Diversity The Humanities Department complies with the college wide nondiscrimination policy and seeks to foster a safe and inclusive learning environment that celebrates diversity in its many forms and enhances our students’ ability to be informed, global citizens. Through our example, we demonstrate an appreciation of the rich diversity of world cultures and the unique forms of expression that make us human.
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Updated March 2021 Ann Delilkan, Sarah Ann Standing, Christopher Swift