Instructor: James Floss
1483, TT 10:00 - 11:25am; FM103; 3 units
E-Mail: jmf2@cox.net Voice Mail: 826-5422
Office Hours Library 22 HSU; M, W 11:00 -11:50am or by appointment. See me to set appointments.

Catalog Description: A general survey of the structures and types of plays, the major periods of dramatic art in their cultural contexts, and the nature of dramatic presentation and the collaborative process.

Course Outcomes/Objectives: Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to recognize the various major periods of the theatre, understand the development of various types of theatre such as: Greek, Roman, Medieval, Elizabethan, Neoclassicism and Western European drama through the 19th century, along with contemporary drama. Representative plays of differing dramatic form, structure, styles and genres will be read and discussed. The collaborative contributions of all technical aspects of performance including the contribution of the audience will be studied. Mastery of course content will be evidenced through oral presentations. Students will be required to provide service to local community theatres as well as attend two or more local productions and submit critiques of them.

Required Texts and Materials: The Essential Theatre by Oscar G. Brockett (7th edition) is required and available in the bookstore. Chapters must be read by assigned days as indicated on the schedule of class sessions. A packet of materials is also required that outlines all course assignments and has all course forms. It is available in the bookstore or online. In addition, a recommended packet containing most of the plays on this semester's reading list is available; otherwise many plays can be found online or in libraries.

Grading: Each course component has an amount of points that can be earned through successful completion. Your final grade will be determined by the total number of points accrued. The following tables and information illustrate the specifics of this scheme. Extra credit projects can be proposed to fit individual needs; extra credit projects (and their point value) must be approved by the instructor.

Course Component



Point Spread

Final Grade

Attendance (25 points off for each missed session)





Interactive Quizzes and Discussion topics





Intro Panel





Research Panel





Creative Panel





Class Participation during discussions





Service to Community Theatre (2 at 25 points each)





Critiques of local productions (2 at 50 points each)





Final Exam



Under 500




The total points achievable is 1,050 points while your final grade is out of 1000. That means each student starts the course with a buffer of 50 points. You can save your points as extra credit or lose them by missing class sessions or not completing assignments. This allows each student flexibility within the course requirements.

Attendance: Your attendance is very important to the way the course is structured, especially on Panel Discussion days. Students with perfect attendance will receive 100 points. Each unexcused absence will deduct 25 points from your overall score. Only substantiated medical absences will be excused; all other absences will cost 25 points. Every time you arrive late (or need to leave early) sign in with an "L." Five points will be deducted for each time you arrive late or leave early.

Chapter Readings: There is a substantial amount of reading required for this course: textbook chapters, plays, and library research. Everyone should read the chapters of the textbook by the dates indicated; short quizzes generated by students' questions to monitor your reading progress will be administered every time a chapter is due. Students are encouraged to keep a note pad near as they read assigned chapters to record good quiz questions and discussion topics.

Play Readings: For each major theatre period covered, there is one or two plays listed on the the schedule. If two are listed, you will be assigned to read one of them. Of course, you are welcome to read both. It is vitally important to have plays read before the class period they are discussed; some quiz questions will focus on play plots and themes. Plays can be found online, in the library as well as new or used bookstores; often as part of anthologies. Consult the reading list.

Quizzes and Discussion topics: Every time a chapter and play readings are due, a short quiz will be administered and the readings will be discussed. Question for the quiz will be chosen from those submitted from students as they arrive for class. Students can compose up to three questions (and provide accurate answers) based on the readings due. Each question is worth a point and each selected question is worth a additional points. Each correct answer on the quiz is worth another point. At the end of the semester, the student with the highest score will receive 200 points and the rest of the scores will be adjusted accordingly. Success with this course component will hinge upon your active submission of quiz questions. The purpose of this testing technique is to encourage reading, punctuality, attendance and participation in deciding course content and discussions. Students are encouraged to hand in one or two discussion questions along with their quiz questions.

Panel Presentations:
Each student will present orally, to the rest of the class, three times over the semester. Each student will have great flexibility and responsibility as to the nature of their presentation. While each assignment is described in greater detail on individual pages, a summary of the panels follows:

  • Intro Panels: (3 to 5 minutes) Each student presents themselves, their experience and relationship to live theatre and demonstrates understanding and original thoughts on Part One of the textbook.
  • Research Panels: (5 to 7 minutes) Each student selects a subtopic from the historical periods covered in Part Two of the textbook, researches it further, and demonstrates through oral presentation understanding and original thoughts of relevant theatrical history. A Library day is provided for students to begin their research.
  • Creative Panels: (5 to 7 minutes) Each student selects a modern play and presents their own creative production ideas for how they would mount it while demonstrating understanding and original thoughts on Part Three of the textbook.

Students will have to time their presentations carefully. Being under-time or overtime will affect grading, with greater consequence for under-time presentations. When you prepare for your panel discussions, you will be reading from library books, your textbook and the internet; it will be important to keep close track of your research.

Grading of Panel discussions: You will be graded on the quality of the information presented and the manner in which you present it. You need to do good research, especially with the Research Panel. Whenever possible, try to link your topic information to what the class has studied through lectures, readings and plays and discussed during class sessions. Arrange your information for maximum interest and impact on your audience. Strive for an extemporaneous delivery. Keep your presentation interesting through good delivery. Strive for eye contact with your audience and use an enthusiastic style with vocal variety. You are expected to keep accurate records of how you researched, the kinds of information you found and where you found it. Students need to provide their own grading form on the day they present; forms are available in the packet. A detailed speaking outline and list of research sources must be handed in on the day you present. Students are expected to present on their assigned days. Time permitting, late presentations may be given, but full point value will not be awarded unless scheduled presentation time was missed for a medical reason the student can substantiate.

Service to Community Theatre: Each student is expected to get involved in the local community theatre scene by volunteering for service. A wide range of involvement is possible, limited only by your imagination. Some recommended methods follow:

  • Acting in or "crewing" a production (backstage, lights, sound, etc.) 75 points
  • Participating in a major work-call (typically 3-5 hours; contact local theatres) 50 points
  • Staffing performance night (ushering, box-office, selling concessions) 25 points

Many other service activities are possible: office assistance, shop assistance, publicity, etc. Contact theatres to ascertain their needs and make a proposal to your instructor. You will need to document your community theatre service: What you did, where you did it and the name of your theatre contact. If you do help with work-calls or construction, be sure the theatre has adequate insurance to protect you if injured; these are not "field trips" and you will not be covered by College of the Redwoods insurance. Important note: if you commit to service and do not show up to the theatre (or do not give them ample notice that you cannot make your commitment) 25-50 points will be deducted from your overall total.

Critiques of Local Productions: You are expected to attend and critique two local theatre productions. Specific directions of how to write the critiques are supplied separately. The general requirements are 800 words of standard, academic prose, typed double-spaced, using good grammar and spelling. Using a word processor to word-count and spell-check is mandatory. If you plan to volunteer at the theatre whose production you go to see, you can take care of your service requirement. See the seperate handout for more information.

Final Exam: There will be a final exam given during a regular, scheduled finals period. It is an essay final; ten questions will be posed, each student chooses to answer two of them. See your packet for more information.