Theatre Arts 121:


Fall 2010

Professor Mazer


519 Annenberg Center, 3-2659;

Office Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30-3:00; and by appointment



I.  Introduction:

Reading:  William Ball, A Sense of Direction:  “Art, Consciousness, Belief, Unity,” “Intuition, Creativity, The Cornerstone of Success”


II. The Director and the Actor:


Ball, “Relation to Actors”; Declan Donnellan, The Actor and the Target, introduction and chapters 1 (“‘I don’t know what I’m doing’”), 2 (“The Target”), 3 (“Fear”), 4 (“An Escape”) and 5 (“The Stakes”).



III.  Script Analysis:  The Scene I:

A Lie of the Mind, by Sam Shepard

Reading:  Ball, “Objectives”; Donnellan, chapters 6-11.

SCENE ASSIGNMENT:  two-person scene from A Lie of the Mind, to be assigned.

FIRST WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT:  scene analysis of your scene from A Lie of the Mind   (Supplemental reading:  Marcia Ferguson, A Short Guide to Writing About Theatre, chapter 6)


IV.  Working with Actors/Blocking and Image-making:

Reading:  Francis Hodge, Play Directing:  Analysis, Communication, and Style, chapters 9 (“Helping Actors Communication through Groundplans”), 10 (“Composition:  Helping Actors Discover and Project Basic Relationships”), 12 (“Picturization:  Helping a Group Intensify”), and 13 (“The Dynamic Tool of Movement”) (downloadable through Blackboard); Donnellan, chapter 12 (“I don’t know where I am”); Ball, “The Rehearsal Process.”

Special class session in the Studio Theatre.


V.  The Scene II:

SCENE ASSIGNMENT:  second scene project from A Lie of the Mind, to be assigned (time permitting)


VI.  The Director and the Designer(s), the Director and the Interpretation, the Director and the Concept:

Reading:  Ferguson, chapter 2.

Attendance at local theatre productions (particular productions subject to change):

Theatre Arts program, Transfixed, Sept. 15-16

Arden Theatre, Ghost-Writer:  Sept. 9-Oct. 31

Wilma Theatre, Macbeth:  Sept. 29-Nov. 2

InterAct Theatre, Silverhill:  Oct 2-Nov. 14

Tectonic Theatre (at the Annenberg Center), The Laramie Project and Laramie:  Ten Years Later:  Nov. 11-13

Theatre Arts Program, Urinetown:  Nov. 15-20

SECOND WRITING ASSIGNMENT:  Critique of one of the productions (to be announced).  Supplemental Reading:  Ferguson, chapter 3)


VII.  Additional Readings:

There is no bulkpack for this course.  However, it is likely that there will be essays and chapters on directing theory and practice that will be assigned, as handouts or Blackboard downloads, through the semester.


VII.  Final Project:


A scene from a one-act play, in the genre of American realism, of your choice (your play choice must be approved IN ADVANCE)


An analytical promptbook for your one-act play, including an overall analysis, a ground plan, a discussion of your approach to the play, a scene analysis of the scene you have directed, and a detailed promptbook for that scene.




Your grade will be based on:

A) Writing assignments:

Scene analysis

Production critique

Final written assignment:  prompt book

B)  Scene projects:

Scene assignments

In-class exercises

Final scene project

C)  Attendance and participation


Note:  ATTENDANCE IS REQUIRED AT ALL CLASSES, as is scene-work as assigned.  ABSENCE FROM ANY CLASS AT WHICH YOU ARE SCHEDULED TO PRESENT A SCENE, ESPECIALLY IF IT IS WITH A PARTNER WILL AUTOMATICALLY BE REFLECTED IN YOUR GRADE.  You are responsible for scheduling your own rehearsal time for assignments that require it.  Lateness to class impedes our collective work, and is a discourtesy to your fellow students, and will be reflected in your grade.


Books to be purchased (at the Penn Book Center, 34th and Sansom Streets):

William Ball, A Sense of Direction.

Marcia Ferguson, A Short Guide to Writing About Theatre

Sam Shepard, A Lie of the Mind

                  Declan Donnellan, The Actor and the Target


Academic Conduct:  All written work must be original:  all sources, whether quoted directly or paraphrased, must be credited. You will be held to the highest standard in these matters, and violations will receive the most severe penalty, subject to the Office of Student Conduct.  Please consult the OSC website for details, at


Listserv:  the listserve for this class is