September 6 - Introduction and the End of the 19th century
September 13 - Scenic Design/Scenography and Cultural Change
September 20 - The Modern Shift Begins - Appia, Craig, and Reinhardt
September 27 - The Avant Garde and Scenic Style - Futurism, Expressionism, Surrealism, Bauhaus, et. al.
October 4 - Creating a New World through Theatre - Meyerhold, Piscator, and Brecht
October 11 - Early Modern American Scenic Design and New Stagecraft - Jones, Simonson, Bel Geddes, and Mielziner
October 18 - The Technological Art of Josef Svoboda ASSIGNMENT ONE DUE
October 25 - Design and the Ensemble - Grotowski, The Living Theatre, Brook, and Mnouchkine
November 1 - Late Twentieth Century American Scenic Design - Modern Realism and Beyond
November 8 - The Auteur and the Theatre of Images - Wilson, Foreman, Kantor, and Lepage
November 15 - Performing Art/Designing Dance - Anderson, Bausch, et. al.
November 22 - Metropolitan Opera Backstage Tour ASSIGNMENT TWO DUE
November 29 - Technology and Design as Content/Process - The Wooster Group and Builders Association
December 6 - Reading Week

Visual Syllabus

The Visual Syllabus will be our resource for the collection and presentation of design imagery over the course of the semester. The goal of the visual syllabus is to lay out a large collection of images from the time periods and movements we are considering to see the visual styles that resulted from designers of different periods. Beyond this presentation of materials, the visual syllabus is editable by everyone in the class so that you too can make contributions. This includes copying images and bringing them together to make additional correlations that don't already exist on the syllabus, adding images of other designs or other visual materials relevant to our discussions, or even the addition of text to add information and critical analysis. This is an experiment that I am hoping all of you can help with and I look forward to your contributions as the visual syllabus grows and reflects the work that we will be doing.



Each of you will be responsible for providing two motivator's posts throughout the semester. A motivator post is a reflection on the week's readings that will help us kick off our weekly conversations. Each post will consist of a minimum of 200 words and two images that you will post to the wiki. Posts are due by Monday at 4pm to allow for reading before class starts.

Play Analysis

Take a single play and find three different designs done of the play during between 1870-2011. Do a comparative analysis of the the designs, describing the aesthetic styles, conveyances of visual metaphor, plot, and place of the play, and how the individual designer is reflected in each work. For this assignment read: Lee Simonson's "More Ways Than One: Six Interpretations of Hamlet," in The Art of Scenic Design, pp. 162-174 (1000 words and at least one image from each production)

Visual Expression Exercise

In this exercise you will be flexing your own design muscles. You are to pick a play and create an expression of a visual metaphor you feel fits the characters, plot, and theme of the play. The assignment can be completed in any manner you choose, including collage, a sequence of images, drawings, multimedia assemblage, or digital rendering. For this assignment read Pamela Howard's "Text," "Research," and "Colour and Composition" in What is Scenography p. 33-123. (Along with your expression prepare a 300 word description of your design and process)

Final Paper and Presentation

For your final paper and presentation you are to pick one area of scenic design in western theatre since 1870 and discuss how it has changed both conceptually and practically during that time period. Example areas include:

  • politic commentary and scenic thought
  • light and design
  • the body in tandem with physical space
  • media in performance spaces
  • technology and transformation on stage
  • directing styles and the relationship to scenic design

A 3500 word paper and ten minute presentation will be due during finals week.