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Introduction to Theatre [DRAM 100]

DRAM 100/6.0 Introduction to Theatre

COURSE DESCRIPTION (from the Academic Calendar): 

An exploration of theatre as a live performing art that seeks to engage, document, and affect communities. Topics may include theatre and society, theatrical representation, performance, and the work of actors, directors, designers, technicians, and playwrights. Opportunities given for practical projects.  

LEARNING HOURS 228 (36L;36Lb;36O;120P) 

WHAT IS DRAM100 ABOUT? 

Theatricality is what makes theatre unique, but what is theatricality, and how can we use it to tell dynamic and transformative stories about the human condition? That’s the core question explored in Dram100.  

Theatre represents the world through acting, storytelling, design, song, and movement. For as long as humans have existed, they have used theatre to investigate, understand, and discuss the world around them. When it works, it connects us to each other, sometimes in thought and reflection, sometimes in comedy and laughter.  

In this course, we are going to discuss what makes theatre a unique artform, and explore why it still matters in a time where social media, film, and television are dominant. We will do this by watching and reading exciting examples of contemporary theatre, dance, performance, and musicals. We will discuss these productions using concepts from the discipline of theatre studies.   

Discussion topics will include why representation matters, theatre and social change, theatre and sustainability, the value of comedy, music and musical theatre, the performance of identity in everyday life, theatricality and social media, theatre and accessibility, and more. 

We will also experiment with making theatre ourselves. The tutorials in Dram100 (we call them ‘labs’) are focused on actually making theatre. In small groups, students will create and present devised theatre projects.

NOTE: you do not need experience in drama to participate in these labs. Theatre is a multidisciplinary artform. It incorporates music, dance, visual art, sound design, athletics, video gaming, social media content creation, filmmaking, fashion, makeup, etc. We want you to bring your own personal talents, skills, and interests  – whatever they are.  Those will only make the creative process richer.  Therefore, if you’ve never made theatre before, don’t worry. You are welcome in this course.

For more information about Dram100, please consult the Dram100 Course Syllabus (2021-22).

HOW DRAM100 WORKS 

Dram100 is a blend of online and in-class learning. Here’s how it works:

  • You start by completing the WEEKLY MODULE.  This is an online module. It’s kind of like having a video textbook.  It includes a link to a theatre production that you will watch/read and a collection of brief (5 to 10 minute) lecture videos. Module work is due on Monday nights. 
  • On Tuesday, you will attend the in-person DRAM100 ‘LECTURE’ with me, your professor.  Queen’s calls this a lecture, but that’s not how we use this class time.  Instead, we use it for discussions and interactive exercises. We booked a 90 minute session to have time for those exercises and discussions. Don’t worry, I will not be lecturing for 90 minutes.   
  • Later in the week, you will attend a PERFORMANCE CREATION LAB.  This is a small tutorial session where you and approximately 15 other students will make theatre together. The labs are an amazing way to meet other students and get involved in the theatre and music communities at Queen’s.

WHY ARE WE USING A BLENDED LEARNING APPROACH?

We started using a ‘blended learning approach’ in Dram100 several years before the pandemic.  Although we use online modules to supplement learning, this course was specifically designed for on-campus delivery.

How does the blended model work?  Traditional lecture content has been reconfigured into a collection of short online videos. It’s kind of like a ‘talking textbook’ that weaves course readings, screenings, and lectures together into a single weekly online module. This frees up classsroom time for discussions and exercises.  It allows us to actually interact with each other in a meaningful way when we are physically together in a room.  The result is that in Dram100, students get to know each other (and the professor), even though it’s a large enrollment course.

Also, it gives you complete control over the lecture videos. You can pause, rewind, or fast forward the videos. You can watch them at double speed if you’re already familiar with the concepts. You can rewatch specific videos if a concept relates to an assignment you’re working on. Finally, captions and transcripts are provided for all lecture videos, which means you don’t have to worry about taking detailed notes in class. Instead, you can just come to and participate freely in the discussion and exercises.

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