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THEA 1650

This is an archive of the Common Course Outlines prior to fall 2011. The current Common Course Outlines can be found at
Credit Hours 3
Course Title Design Skills For Theatre
Prerequisite(s) THEA 1611 or consent of the instructor
Corequisite(s) None Specified
Catalog Description
This course introduces Theatre students to tools, methods and skills for Theatre Design. Students will learn to work as a designer and how to present themselves as such to the world at large.

Expected Educational Results
As a result of completing this course;
  1. Students will gain a deeper knowledge of various areas of Theatre Design including Scenery, Lighting, Costume and Sound. The work of contemporary designers will be included as examples.
  2. Students will learn methods of research and analysis with an eye to Theatre Design including critical research, period style and art and music history.
  3. Students will be trained in various techniques for communicating a Design to collaborators. This includes, graphic skills both artistic and mechanical, model making skills, organization, collaboration and presentation.
  4. Students will acquire sufficient material by the end of the class to assemble or add to a portfolio of representative work they can use to pursue further training and/or employment.
  5. Students will enhance their critical eye by viewing and responding to technical elements in Theatrical productions.
General Education Outcomes
1. This course addresses the general educational outcome relating to communication skills as follows:
  1. Students develop their speaking skills through discussion with other students about project work, presenting projects to the class and critiquing the work of their classmates as well as outside design work.
  2. Students develop their reading and writing skills by researching period style, script analysis for Theatre Design, and written critiques of design elements in productions.
  3. Students develop their listening skills by working with classmates in collaborative process and in comprehension of instructor’s lectures.
  4. Student learn alternate communication skills to detail their work including graphic skills, model making and specific paperwork.
  5. Students learn to present themselves in a professional manner by a mock interview process requiring display and discussion of their portfolios.
2. This course addresses the general educational outcome of effective individual and group problem-solving and critical thinking as follows:
  1. Students demonstrate problem solving skills in detailing, communicating and supporting effective designs for productions.
  2. Students learn to collaborate in group process their work supportive to that of their group members’ and the production as a whole.
  3. Students learn to critique others in constructive ways as well as how to accept the criticism of their peers and mentors.
3. This course addresses the general educational outcome of using mathematical concepts and applying the scientific method as follows:
  1. Students learn to organize their research and analysis with an intended result of an effective presentation of their design project.
  2. Students learn process in using graphic skills towards the result of effectively communicating ideas for a design.
  3. Students learn how to use mathematical skills in ensuring pieces of a design or technical project fit together and on the stage.
4. This course addresses the general educational outcome of organizing information through exercises involving the systematic approach to achieving a design. Students will be required to generate organized paperwork detailing the needs of a design or technical project and submit it in a polished form suitable for work in the professional world..

Course Content
  1. The students will learn the fundamentals of Design and how it applies to Theatre. This includes Line, Form, Mass, Color, Movement, Content, Composition et. al. The application of these basics to all four major design areas, Scenery, Costume, Lighting and Sound, will be explored.
  2. The students will learn basic artistic drawing and rendering skills to help communicate design ideas. Included will be pencil work, colored pencils, markers and watercolor and/or guache as mediums. The intent is to expose the Student to options so they can decide what is most effective for them. Exercises for Scenery, Costume and Lighting will be included so they can determine the differences in the needs for each.
  3. The students will learn mechanical drawing as a precise means to detail design and construction drawings. This will include hand drafting as well as some exposure to Computer Aided Drawing. All for major areas of Design will be explored in the specific needs of each.
  4. The students will learn structured paperwork skills for communicating details about designs. All four main areas of Theatre Design will be explored.
  5. The student will learn research skills for Theatre Design including Period Style and Critical research. Particulars for all four main areas of Theatre Design will be explored.
Assessment of Outcome Objectives

The final grade for the course will be in part a culmination of grades for specific projects assigned throughout the semester. This is intended as a practical application class resulting in products the student will be able to use to demonstrate to potential employers and possible transfer institutions their level of technical skill and artistry. There will be several objective criteria that will determine a grade for an individual project.

  1. Neatness: The student must take care to present their final product in a form suitable for presentation. Sloppy work will detract from the products usability to achieve professional and/or scholastic goals.
  2. Thoroughness: The student must take care to complete the project fully and not leave out details.
  3. Timeliness: Theatre has deadlines. A student must be prepared to meet those deadlines if they expect to succeed. Submitting work after a deadline will negatively affect the grade.
  4. Comprehension: In the critique process, students must be able to demonstrate their knowledge by discussing reasons for their choices and evaluating their own work. Impulse works on an artistic level in a sole endeavor with no justification, but in the collaborative world, a student must be able to explain their impulses to others so they can appreciate it and incorporate it in their work.

Along with the project work, students will be evaluated on their willingness to enhance their skills. This will involve an overall charge to exercise their drawing skills daily through a ‘sketchbook’ that will be presented weekly to the class. It is expected for the student to take any new tools discovered in class and work with them in their sketchbooks to explore new mediums.

Another portion of the final grade will be drawing from assignments designed to exercise and enhance the critical eye and analytical thought process of the student. These assignments will support the project work. This will include research projects, critical analysis of live performance focusing on technical elements and the like.

As a part of the course grade, the student is expected to actively engage in the learning process. A part of their final grade will also consist of an evaluation of their participation in the class. They must be ready to contribute to discussion and critique sessions and actively seek to forward their development as well as others.


Portfolio reviews function as the primary means of evaluation for students seeking acceptance into BFA programs in four-year institutions, as well as MFA and post graduate professional programs. The quality of the work, assembled and organized in the student portfolio presentation as well as their ability to discuss and evaluate that work intelligently, serves as the single most important method of assessment by the various instructors and departments the student will encounter during their education. Technical Theatre students need to have a strong portfolio upon gaining their degrees

One assessment of the effectiveness of this course is through documentation of students achievements post graduation whether by gaining employment or matriculating into other academic programs. Our students’ success will be evident in advancing their careers.

The results of this course give the student material to incorporate into their portfolio as well as the background and knowledge to present that work to reviewers and potential employers. Furthermore, this course serves to provide a standard for work in other courses thereby raising the overall expectations of project work. In this way, the student gains tools for furthering their professional or academic career which they can then expand and refine beyond the achievement of their degree. Such tools are invaluable for professionals working in the field. Along with that work, Students successfully completing this course will learn a skill set that will serve them throughout their professional careers. In the short term, they will be able to confidently add those skills to their resumés, making them more attractive to the profession and four-year academic programs.


Photographic documentation of student work will be kept in digital format for future reference. This documentation may be used as reference for future classes and promotion for the program. These findings can also be used in yearly review to determine the course’s effectiveness and support possible plans for improvement.

Last Revised: Jun. 09, 2011
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