Panel Research and Discussions: After studying major periods of theatre history and reading plays, students will prepare for research panel presentations. This is a major, midterm project that is worth 150 points. The class will form into research groups. Each group will choose a topic for research that explores the historical, cultural, social and theatrical contexts of the period studied. Each member in a group will choose a unique and individual topic within their group's major area. Some will focus on the plays that we read. On the following day, we will meet in the library and groups will begin to research their topics. Careful records of your research should be kept. For the following four class periods, groups will present findings, lead discussions, and answer questions. Each student in a small group is expected to participate fully in the presentations and discussions and to present five to seven minutes on their own topic. The six broad topic areas are:
- Festival theatre (Greek/Roman/Medieval)
- Professional theatre (Elizabethan/Italian/French)
- Melodrama to Realism
- Modernist temperment
- Reevaluation, Decentralization and Subsidization
- Contemporary Diversity.
Research panels can focus in these different areas:
- Historical overview of the period covered; major events in the world
- Social overview of the period covered; what theatre meant in the people's lives
- Theatre artists of the period (actors/designers)
- Playwrights of the period
- Other areas that you propose
Play panels can focus in these areas:
- Historical approaches to production, focused on the plays read
- Modern approaches to production, focused on the plays read
- Character and/or plot analysis of plays
- Other areas that you propose
Within those topic areas, each student will research individually a unique idea and present orally for five to seven minutes of information from their research during the panel discussions.
Panel Research and Discussions Example: While reading and discussing the History chapters, Students should identify a historical period and topic area that intrigues them. As an example, Let's say that Elizabethan theatre interests you. You would join "Professional theatre" group. One might present a timeline of major events in England of the period. One might focus on the monarchy and state patronage of theatre. In the "social overview" area, one student might present a picture of everyday life of a citizen living in London; another might focus on the role of women in society and how that fits into theatre history. One might look at how Shakespeare's company operated professionally. Students might want to cover actors or playwrights of the period they found interesting such as Shakespeare or Marlowe. Some might focus on the play Hamlet. In the "historical approaches to production" area, one student might want to focus on the original production of Hamlet while other students provide evidence of how the play was reinterpreted through different time periods; the focus might be on acting styles or it might be on staging conventions. The options are many, but students must choose and make their choice know to the instructor by using the appropriate form.
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. If your original idea does not pan out, or if it is too difficult to find information, do not be afraid to change your focus. Don't forget to use your textbook as a good source itself or for research ideas. Whenever possible, try to link your topic information to what the class has studied through lectures, readings and plays. Think about how you want to present your information, and arrange it for maximum interest and impact on your listening audience. Do not read verbatim off a page; rather, strive for an extemporaneous delivery. Distill your notes into a speaking outline, and practice how you want to present it orally. Keep your presentation interesting through good delivery. Strive for eye contact with your audience and use an enthusiastic style with vocal variety. Each student in a small group is expected to participate fully in researching and recording. You are expected to keep accurate records of how you researched, the kinds of information you found and where you found it. Along with those references should be your ideas and insights of the information found and how it fits into the researched topic. Your speaking outline, notes, original thoughts and a record of your research are to be handed in on the day you present. Look at the grading form for panel discussions while you are preparing; bring your form with header information already filled in on the day you present. You must present on your assigned day. You will know in advance what day you are expected to present. The instructor will try to arrange days chronologically according to theatre History studied.