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Course Information

Instructor Info:William MacAdams
Office Extension x6202
TA Info:Eric O'Neill
Term: 2013F
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
01:00 PM - 03:20 PM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 104
01:00 PM - 03:20 PM Emily Dickinson Hall (EDH) 104

What is presence on stage? And how does an actor manifest it? In this course, we’ll explore the work of the actor through an experiential approach.  We’ll focus on your body as an expressive form, on the relationship between the actor and the text, and on the alive and electric space between performers on stage.  Our work will consist of:

  • Daily warm-ups to support your physical and vocal presence, focus, energy, rigor, and sense of play
  • Laboratory sessions, in which you’ll create movement and text compositions inspired by your stories
  • Monologue work, designed to build skills of characterization and text analysis, as well as your capacity to send clear action
  • A two day physical theater workshop with the world-renowned Double Edge Theatre (more details below)
  • Reading of plays aloud, to deepen our exploration
  • Scene work, integrating all of the above
Course Objectives:
  • To open up physical awareness and imagination through the creation of ensemble-based pieces rooted in your stories
  • To offer tools to approach dramatic text and to make strong, active, grounded choices
  • To create a space of exploration and of play so that you can reach beyond yourself into your characters as well as the playwrights’ words
  • To deeply explore the world of the plays we are reading in order to strengthen your craft as actors and as theater makers, and to heighten your awareness of our own time and place
Evaluation Criteria:

Students in the course will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  • Participation and commitment
  • Support of your colleagues and of the ensemble as a whole
  • Completion of three performance assignments (movement piece, monologue, and scene)
  • Oral presentations and other writing assignments (see below)
  • Attendance at Double Edge Theatre Workshop on 11/1 and 11/2 (please note that you cannot receive an evaluation for the class without attending both days of the workshop)
  • Crew Hours TBD
  • Attendance and punctuality (see below)
Additional Info:


As a student in this course, you are a member of an ensemble.  For some of you, this is an ensemble that will develop and sustain you throughout your time at Hampshire.  Developing an ensemble requires personal emotional commitment, trust, and listening – and the awareness that we will all be taking risks, making mistakes, and learning.

Learning will take place both on your feet and through observation.   I ask that you be attentive to how you can learn from each other’s work, as the most skilled, dynamic actors are constantly learning from one another.

Much of the rehearsal of your scenes, monologues, and movement pieces will take place outside of class time – in-class time will be used for presentation and to develop work already rehearsed.  Please make sure that you allow time to accommodate your partners’ schedules, particularly if you are working in groups.  Although all of us are capable of brilliant, unrehearsed moments, this is a very tricky thing to rely on – and hardly ever can replace thorough preparation and the inspiration that comes when you have created a solid foundation.



ATTENDANCE IS ESSENTIAL to shape our ensemble and to develop your work and the work of your peers: two absences will not affect your evaluation; three will be reflected in your evaluations; four, with rare exception, will result in no evaluation.

LATE ARRIVALS (once the doors have been closed) WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED

MOVEMENT CLOTHESshould be worn every day.  They should be comfortable, and allow you to move on the floor.  Please note that, particularly in the first several weeks, you will be working without shoes.

Written assignments must be typed, and double spaced, on 8 ½ X 11 paper with one inch margins on all sides, using a 12 point font maximum. 

Plagiarism is “the presentation of the work of another person, or other persons, as if it were one’s own, whether intended or not. This includes published and unpublished work, material on the Internet and the work of other students and staff.   Citation: Glossary, University of Wellington, New Zealand    (

Plagiarism will result in a number of consequences, outlined in more detail at:

Silence your cell phones, and don’t text or take calls during class

Please refrain from eating and drinking in the theaters.  Bottled water is permitted (and encouraged – keep yourself hydrated!).



We will read the following plays:

  • ‘Where We’re Born,’ by Lucy Thurber
  • References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot,’ by José Rivera
  • ‘Three Sisters,’ by Anton Chekhov (translated by Paul Schmidt)
  • ‘Twilight Los Angeles,’ by Anna Deavere Smith

‘Where We’re Born’ will be distributed in class.‘‘References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot’, ‘Three Sisters’ and ‘Twilight Los Angeles’ will be on reserve at the Hampshire Library and can be purchased on-line (make sure that you purchase the correct translation for ‘Three Sisters’).