PROFESSOR: Michael J. Arndt

Theatre Arts 325, 4 credits
History of the Theatrical Arts

Office:  TA 131
Telephone: ext. 3416

M,W, F—11-12:05 p.m.


T.A. Design Classroom

Office Hours: M, W: 2:35 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

Th: 1-4 p.m.
Other times by appointment



I. Course Objectives


This course will allow students to gain experience in the following CLU Core Skills:

A.       Critical thinking and information literacy

B.        Communication skills

C.        Writing skills

D.       Ability to comprehend issues from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives

E.        Field specific knowledge and experience

This course will also address the following Theatre Arts disciplinary objectives (noted in bold):
.    A basic understanding of the process of the development of theatrical arts throughout history. (Theatre as an Art Form)
B.     An appreciation for the interaction of theatre, culture and historical events. (Theatre as an Art Form)
C.     A comparative understanding of Eastern and Western cultures as reflected in their artistic forms. (Theatre as an Art Form)
D.     An appreciation for the variety of forms and styles of dramatic expression, examining a variety of definitions of drama, utilizing a broad point of view. (Theatre as an Art Form)
E.     Acquisition of knowledge and experience in research into stage history and dramaturgy. (Theatre as an Art Form)
F.     An appreciation for the ways that plays and their meanings evolve through time and require continual research and reinterpretation. (The Creative Process)
G.    Development of writing skills and the ability to formulate and communicate critical concepts, analysis, opinions. (Theatre as an Art Form)


California Lutheran University is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to students with various documented disabilities including, but not limited to, physical, learning, visual, hearing, or psychological.  If you are a student requesting accommodations for this course, please contact your professor at the beginning of the semester and register with the Coordinator for Students with Disabilities (Pearson Library, Center for Academic and Accessibility Resources, Ext. 3260) for the facilitation and verification of need. Faculty will work closely together with you and your coordinator to provide necessary accommodations.

II.          Course Material


A.    Living Theater by Wilson,  5th edition; Wadsworth Anthology of Drama, 5th edition
B.     Other Plays(To be assigned)
C.     Blackboard Educational Software available through your CLU Portal

III.       Course Requirements

A.          The Theatre Arts Department Attendance Policy allows a maximum of three(3) unexcused per semester. More than that number will result in the student's semester grade lowered 1/2 grade for every day exceeding the maximum.

The use of cell phones and social computer sites during class time is strictly prohibited. You may be asked to leave class and your grade will be affected.
B.           This course is a writing intensive course and fulfills CLU core writing requirements. As such, the following assignments will be completed by all students in this class:

1.          Research Paper and Project:

Š              (Minimum 10 pages—formatted in MLA style and filed electronically through Blackboard: SafeAssignments—checked for authenticity)

Š             Must include bibliography of at least 4 sources: a minimum of 2 from printed scholarly material and 2 from scholarly internet data base research. (Wikipedia and Google-searched material will not be accepted.)

Š             Topic based upon Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice or The Taming of the Shrew-you will be given the opportunity to explore one of the following aspects of the chosen play to be researched and presented:

o      ORIGINS (Legend, mythology, politics, history)

o      TEXT (imagery, verse, original text, revisions

o      SHAKESPEARE'S THEATRE (The King's Men, Theatre spaces, stagecraft, costumes)

o      STAGE HISTORY (Original and important historical productions to present-day adaptations: Film, video, opera, ballet, etc.)

Š             Initial research and thrust of paper will be presented for peer review in class

Š             The paper will be submitted electronically in draft form at least 10 days prior to final due date.

Š             Due dates will be assigned by class lottery and will also be the due date of class presentation.

Š             Class Powerpoint presentation is no more than 15 minutes in length and must be tightly focused and well-prepared. (Paper may be quoted but the presentation should not be a reading of the paper. Video and other graphic material may be used to augment the presentation.)

2.          Play Analyses

o      You are required to read or watch ten (10) of the following plays, which are in your anthologies or are available in the Library or in online data bases. There are videos of some of the plays that are also available in the Library. You may read them or view them at your discretion but should file your analyses prior to the date indicated on the class schedule.

1.          The Eumenides by Aeschylus

2.          The Trojan Women by Euripides

3.          The Clouds by Aristophanes

4.          The Menaechmi by Plautus

5.          Matsukaze by Zeami Motikiyo

6.          Everyman by Anonymous

7.          The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare

8.          The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare

9.          Life is a Dream by Pedro Calderon de la Barca

10.    Tartuffe by Moliere

11.    The Rover by Behn

12.    The Country Wife by Wycherly

13.    Death and the King’s Horseman by Soyinka

For each play seen or read, file into your journal entry on Blackboard a response of at least 250 words. (You may write the analyses in the journal component of Blackboard or attach a properly formatted document to your journal entry.) Be sure to put the name of the play in the “subject” line. The professor reserves the right to return any analysis for revision. No credit will be given until the revision is posted. (Please do not use summaries, play analyses, etc. found at various online sites.) In your response, you should address most of the following topics:

Your overall reaction to the play.

A general plot analysis (Aristotelian or departure—DO NOT RETELL THE STORY.)

How does the play reflect the society out of which it came?

How is the world of the play different from our own?

How would you stage this play?

Why is this play worth/not worth doing for a modern audience?

What are its strengths/weaknesses?

What do you think the playwright was trying to communicate to his/her audience through the play?

C.    Text reading assignments—It is assumed that all students attending a class period have completed assigned reading for that class. A Blackboard Discussion board will be open for responses to the reading and lectures which can be used for review.

D.     Midsemester Exam—will cover lectures and readings from the first part of the semester.

E.     Final Exam—will cover lectures and readings primarily from the second half of the semester but students should be able to connect material from any time period covered in the course.

IV.        Evaluation

Grades will be based on the level of proficiency in written and oral presentations, tests, attendance and participation. Final grades will be computed in the following manner:


Midsemester Exam



Play Analyses



Research Paper



Research Presentation



Final Exam



Attendance and Participation





Statement on Academic Honesty:


The educational programs of California Lutheran University are designed and dedicated to achieve academic excellence, honesty and integrity at every level of student life. Part of CLU’s dedication to academic excellence is our commitment to academic honesty. Students, faculty, staff and administration share the responsibility for maintaining high levels of scholarship on campus. Any behavior or act which might be defined as “deceitful” or “dishonest” will meet with appropriate disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal from the University, suspension, grade F in a course or various forms of academic probation. Policies and procedures regarding academic honesty are contained in the faculty and student handbooks.


Plagiarism, cheating, unethical computer use and facilitation of academic dishonest are examples of behavior which will result in disciplinary sanctions. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:

Š              word for word copying without using quotation marks or presenting the work as yours

Š              using the ideas or work of others without acknowledgement

Š              not citing quoted material. Students must cite sources for any information that is not either the result of original research or common knowledge.