Graduate Courses

The following Graduate Courses are being offered in 2024-2025.

[View previous years' graduate courses here.]

DRAMA 601/401: Methods and Tools of Research 

Instructor: Dr. Selena Couture 

Schedule: Friday 1:00-3:50 PM 

Location: Timms Seminar Room (TCA 203) 

This course will guide students in recognizing theatre and performance research methods in existing works related to their area of specialty in order to develop, justify and plan their own research project. Students will learn how to work with the tools that enable fruitful research in libraries, archives, special collections and performance-specific data-bases and bibliographies. We will also follow the trajectory of research to analyze a variety of academic dissemination forums. Assignments include oral presentations, reviews, and academic papers. DR 601 prepares students to write their thesis proposal and culminates with a presentation at the grad symposium. 

DRAMA 617A/B: Production Dramaturgy

Instructor: Dana Tanner 

Schedule: Thursday 2:00-4:50 PM (meeting every second week fall and winter term) 

Location: Timms Seminar Room (TCA 203) 

Fall/Winter 2024

A dramaturg brings a unique blend of historical and critical expertise, highly sensitive people-skills, and a capacity for wildly imaginative research to the process of making theatre.” This course will explore three dimensions of the dramaturg’s role: the dramaturg and the text; the dramaturg and the production; and the dramaturg and the public. Students will hone their abilities to generate close readings of text; understand collaborative relationships with members of the production team; and develop inventive outreach initiatives to bridge the production and its audience. Emphasis is placed on the dramaturg as a vital creative force in the pre-production and production process as well as in the theatre profession at large. This is primarily a practice-based course in which students will develop a methodology for approaching work as a dramaturg and apply those skills by serving as dramaturgs on assigned U of A departmental productions. The class will meet every other week over the course of two semesters, but the overall time requirements out of the classroom will vary depending on when each assigned production is scheduled.

DRAMA 621 A01: Studies in Canadian Theatre, Performance and Politics 

Instructor: Dr. Selena Couture

Schedule: Monday 1:00-3:50 PM 

Location: Timms Seminar Room (TCA 203) 

This course engages with ideas of nation-building as expressed through theatre and performance as well as the creation of Canadian national arts infrastructure. Course materials are a combination of critical theory, play texts, performance attendance, recorded media as well as historical sources. Readings interweave Francophone, Anglophone and Indigenous theatre and theory, and respond to the TRC Call to Action 63.3 to “build student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.” The course will aim to support theatre artists and scholars to work in respectful relations across intercultural difference. 

DRAMA 621 A02: Theories of Comedy 

Instructor: Dr. Donia Mounsef

Schedule: Wednesday 1:00-3:50 PM 

Location: Timms Seminar Room (TCA 203) 

This course is an exploration of the theory, history, practice and function of comedy in theatre, performance. From the ancient Greeks to the present, comedy evolved in at least five stages: as the expression of superiority, incongruity, relief, rebellion, and self-reflexivity or the “laugh laughing the laugh” (Blau). We will analyze the difference in comedy between linguistic, physical and situational humor and learn to distinguish between various comedic genres: satire, irony, parody, farce, slapstick, screwball, clown, stand-up, caricature, comics, both in the text and in performance. We will touch in theory and practice on how laughter and the comic are cultural, political, and gendered constructs, how gender and the body inform the comic mode, how comedy relates to the tragic, the difference between creating and consuming comedy. We will survey and employ the techniques relative to the comic genre: hyperbole or overstatement, innuendos, punchline, word play, wit, exaggeration, understatement, double entendre, sight gags, comic timing, bits, gags, etc.

Reading from Aristophanes, Plautus, Shakespeare, Molière, Shaw, Orton, Reza, MacDonald, Macleod. Theoretical reading from Aristotle, Critchley, Robinson, Nietzsche, Freud, Bergson, Blau, Weitz, etc.

Drama 609: Contemporary Approaches to Dramatic and Theatrical Theories

Instructor: Dr Donia Mounsef

Schedule: Tuesday 1:00-3:50 PM 

Location: Drama 609 is a study in the major modern and contemporary critical theories from the early 20th century to the 21st century as they apply to theatre and performance: from structuralism to post-structuralism, deconstruction, gender and sexuality studies, cultural studies, postcolonial and critical race theories, etc. The course charts principal methods of modern and contemporary criticism including semiotics, psychoanalysis, materialism, feminism, deconstruction, postmodernism, visual culture, gender, queer and trans theories, ideological and cultural materialism, Indigenous approaches, ethnic, diaspora, post-colonial and critical race theories, etc. Focusing on major points of contact between contemporary critical theory and theatre/performance studies, we will examine these different ways of reading, seeing, thinking and writing about theatre in order to shed light on key concepts such as performance/performativity, interculturalism, intertextuality, metatheatre, post-dramatic, simulacra, hybridity, dialogism, intersectionality, indigeneity, and decolonization, etc.

DRAMA 624 B01: Contemporary Performance and the Body on Stage

Instructor: Dr. Piet Defraeye, Prof. Lin Snelling

Schedule: Monday 1:00-4:50 PM

Location: FAB 2-43

This graduate seminar course, developed by Dr. Piet Defraeye and Prof. Lin Snelling, looks at the various layers of meaning experienced through moving and dialogue; and how this allows experiential knowledge into performance and production dramaturgy. While the course  surveys some contemporary practices of select artists in Theatre and Dance Creation, it squarely focuses on the body in all its complexity and possibilities.  The starting point is the realization that the body offers an intuitive/intelligent framework which invites a physical perspective into the embodiment of thought processes and artistic expression. How does the intelligence of the body integrate with the architectures of theatrical space and create collisions and confluence points?

We work with critical theory and contemporary dramaturgy and a physical application of these principals. In the spirit of communal exploration, and the interweaving of the physical and cognitive we hope to benefit and stimulate creative thinking and moving; the final goal of the seminar is to gain a different, renewed perspective of one's own creative process and methodologies. We combine studio work with intense reading and discussion. Please note it is FOUR-hour seminar.

DRAMA 624 B02: Models of Dramatic Structure 

Instructor: Prof. David Kennedy 

Schedule: Wednesday 10:00-12:50 PM 

Location: Timms Seminar Room (TCA 203) 

Every play has a structure, the specific arrangement of the constituent parts into a unified whole, and learning to view play texts through a structural lens remains one of the essential techniques  for grasping their meanings and understanding how they work in performance. Through the  study of significant plays and important critical and theoretical documents, this seminar covers  various Western models of dramatic structure and the ways in which dramatic works can be  analyzed structurally. It will include close examination of a number of prevalent dramatic  structures in Western theatre from classical Greece to the modern era, and the historical,  political, and cultural conditions in which they evolved. Students will contend with  these structural models and representative plays not only in their original contexts, but also as a  means of discovering how to make the work come alive in contemporary production.

DRAMA 505: Contemporary Mise en Scène

Instructor: Dr. Piet Defraeye

Schedule: Tuesday 1:00-3:50 PM

Location: Timms Seminar Room (TCA 203) 

We will be looking at a selection of contemporary approaches to mise en scene in opera, theatre, and dance with an in-depth focus on a number of directors / designers/ dramaturgs/ theatre groups. Of particular interest will be the status of the playwright, as many theatre makers either profoundly intervene in the playscript they are working on or a playscript is no longer the blue-print for the production.  Names of theatre makers that  may come into the discussion include playwrights Aimé Césaire, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, Jos Fosse, Nelson Rodrigues, Mandla Mbothwe. Companies or theatre groups include Needcompany, Mammalian Diving Reflex, Rimini Protokol, Reckless Sleepers, Forced Entertainment, Wunderbaum.... Directors Johan Simons, Luk Perceval, Ivo Van Hove, Guy Cassiers, Robert Lepage, Luc Bondy, Romeo Castellucci, Jan Fabre,  Milo Rau, Christoph Marthaler, Nicolas Stemann, Christoph Schlingensief, Thomas Ostermeier. Yael Ronen, Tadashi Suzuki, ... . Choreographers Pina Bausch, Anne Thérèse De Keersmaeker, Alain Platel, Wim Vandekeybus, Marie Chouinard, Jerome Bell, Crystal Pite, etc.  While Canadian production is certainly part of the curriculum, the main focus will be outside of Canada.

Selections will be based on available video material (and possible live production opportunities).

T DES 675 B1: The History of Dress and Decor II

Instructor: Prof. Robert Shannon

Schedule: Monday and Friday 10:00-11:50 AM

Location: Room TBA

Given the interdisciplinary scope of this course, graduate students from other departments are strongly encouraged to register.

This intensive course is a survey of style as displayed in dress, architecture, and decorative art from the Northern Renaissance to the present day. The course provides an overview of the historic cultures which have exerted prominent and sustained influence over the styles of design in the West. Using extensive primary source documentation, the course will examine the progression and elaboration of major styles, within the framework of the social and political forces which shaped them. The course is highly visual and infuses visual literacy as a core instrument that will deepen the understanding of the pervasive power of style and image, while also equipping students with the appropriate terminology to critically discuss and analyze dress, architecture and interior design.