Tony AbatemarcoSpring 2012

C: 323-791-8013 / H: 213-386-5634Section 63071

/Th. 10:00-11:50am

PED 206

Course Description: Building and sustaining character through elevated texts in Classic & World Drama. Class performance (1 monologue/4 scenes minimum) and critique.

Course Overview: Acquiring skills for developing character in works far removed from a contemporary milieu, yet still requiring the use of the self, the given circumstances of the story, historical research and imagination to engage truthfully with the text. However, in this class the investigation into historical styles, characters and milieu will take place on a deeper contextual level, with emphasis on the given period. We will focus on scene work from the earliest canon of dramatic literature – starting with such playwrights as Aeshylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, and proceed up through European Renaissance playwrights such as Marlowe, Racine, Sheridan, Moliere, and Calderon. Exploring a variety of established methods for acting truthfully, no matter how poetic, didactic, or stylized the play may be, you will learn methods to tackle and master difficult texts.

Assignments: As well as an introductory monologue or poem of your choice, no less than four scenes per student will be assigned through the semester. Preparation, including rehearsal & memorization outside of class, are required. Note: Specific translations of Greek plays are cited under “Required Reading”. Be certain that you and your partner are working from the same translation. In addition, two written essays to be handedinwill be assigned, one per each half of the semester, each no less than 350 words, typed, single-spaced, in a font size 12pt., (the first will count as your mid-term as cited below) drawing parallels between the historical, socio-political or cultural setting of one assigned play and our time. Think creatively, originally, and personally. Don’t lift from textbooks!

Mid-Term Exam: A 10 minute class presentation using your 1st essay (described above) must be presented, as both lecture and hand-in.

Grading and Evaluation:

1. – Preparation, participation, & commitment45%

2. - Scene work & presentation ( – 1st half of semester)15%

3. - Mid-Term Assignment & Presentation 10%

4. - Scene work & presentation ( – 2nd half of semester)15%

5. - Receptivity, flexibility, collaboration, growth 5%

6. - Final Exam – 2nd Scene, fully realized.*10%

*Your initiative in defining this phrase, i.e. with set, prop, sound or costume elements, will count toward your final grade.



The course aims to enable you to:

-Deepen your access & understanding of ‘Period’ & ‘Style’

-Analyze, interpret and inhabit the given circumstances of the story

-Develop three-dimensional characters who ‘live’ on stage

Indicative Content

You will explore key principles and techniques of acting and text analysis as applied to the exploration of historically-distanced (non-contemporary) texts. You will encounter terms, toolsand techniques such as: the ‘super’-objective’; identifying and playing ‘beats’; character development, script analysis and interpretation; the integration of voice, movement and acting in the moment of performance; ‘action’ and ‘activity’; the incorporation of ‘externals’ (e.g. dress, posture, speech); the acceptance of and surrender to story and given circumstances; improvisation of back-story; spontaneity and sense of play; motivation for and justification of actions; observation of real life and exterior reality; the activation of real need; the creative employment of obstacles; the expression and resourcing of personal ‘truth’; creative imagination, emotion, thought, concentration and energy; the embodiment of relationships in given imaginary circumstances and situations; ‘historical context’.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course at threshold (Grade D-) level you will have:

-Engaged in a series of progressive and developmental practical acting and rehearsal exercises under faculty supervision and guidance, making use of the learning opportunities made available to you

-Recognized the necessity for adequate preparation in regard to the creative and vocational demands made upon the contemporary actor in education and training

-Engaged in independent study / practice outside of the class environment in relation to your developing disciplined acting and rehearsal techniques.

-Developed and embedded a critical stance with regard to your own creative process and learning

Desired Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course at high level (Grade A) level you will have:

-Engaged fully in a series of progressive and developmental practical acting and rehearsal exercises under faculty supervision and guidance, making active use of the

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learning opportunities made available to you

-Demonstrated a clear commitment to full and appropriate preparation in regard to the creative and vocational demands made upon the contemporary actor in education and training

-Engaged in frequent, detailed and constructive independent study / practice outside of the class environment in relation to your developing acting and rehearsal process

-Developed, embedded and applied with precision, a self-aware and discerning critical stance with regard to your own creative process and learning

Learning and Teaching Methods

-Instructor-led classes and facilitation

-Self-directed student study and field observations

-Self-initiated visits to SOT theatre performances [consult the SOT web-page for details]

-Individual reading and research -Individual writing tasks

-Formal (assessed) showings of ‘work-in-progress’ [Mid-term scene/ Final Exam scene]

Required Texts (1st half of semester)

Aeschylus’ PROMETHEUS BOUND, translator: David Grene

Sophocles’ OEDIPUS THE KING, translator: David Grene

Euripides’ THE BACCHAE, translator: William Arrowsmith

Aristophanes’ LYSISTRATA, translator: Donald Sutherland

(2nd half of semester)

What Renaissance plays you are assigned individually from the Western canon.

Suggested Readings

Building a Character. Michael Chekhov’s On The Technique of Acting.

Grading Scale


A = 96-100 points

A- = 91-95 points

Very Good

B+ = 88-90 points

B = 85-87 points

B- - 81-84 points


C+ = 78-80 points

C = 75-77 points

C- = 71-74 points

Satisfactory / Threshold

D+ = 68-70 points

D = 65-67 points

D- = 61-64 points

Unsatisfactory to Poor

F = 60 or below

The final course grade is articulated as a Letter Grade. This grade is translated into a G.P.A. using the following scale:

A = 4; A- = 3.7; B+ = 3.3; B = 3; B- = 2.7; C+ = 2.3; C = 2; C- = 1.7; D = 1; F = 0.

When the average falls between two grades, the final grade will be weighted toward the positive end of the scale for students whose attendance and participation in class has been good, but will be weighted toward the negative end of the scale for those with poor attendance and participation.

Attendance, Tardiness and Absences

Students are required to be on time for all scheduled sessions unless they are genuinely too ill to attend or affected by unavoidable personal or external circumstances. If a student is present at the start of class, that student is on time – if she / he is not present at the start of class she / he is late. The start of class is determined by the instructor. You are encouraged to think of the class start time as the start time – and not the arrival time. Clemency will be considered if your official class schedule makes it impractical for you to arrive before the start time (i.e. you are traveling across campus from another scheduled class). An unsatisfactory record of attendance and punctuality will be reflected in the students grading as follows:

If the student has three or more unexplained absences or tardies during the course their final overall grade will be docked 5 points. Each individual tardy or absence up to three absences will incur a penalty of 2 grade points (i.e. one tardy or absence = 2 grade points docked)

Additionally, you might also be required to meet with the Director of Undergraduate Acting to discuss your challenges in making class on-time. Please note - habitual

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absence and/or tardiness will make it difficult for the student to achieve the first key assessment criterion (Active participation in, and full preparation for, all classes.)

Professional behavior and course-related difficulties

Students are expected to take responsibility for their own learning, to arrive at class in a prepared state and to participate fully and to the best of their ability in the work of the class. The SOT offers a rich variety of learning and teaching styles and these are to be celebrated, but we also recognize that individuals learn in many different ways and may face difficulties in certain classes or situations. Where students are experiencing difficulties, they should discuss these in the first instance with the instructor as soon as possible. This will normally be enough to resolve any problems but, if not, the matter should be referred to Lori Fisher - Asst. Dean, Student & Academic Services - ()

Care of work spaces

No food or smoking is permitted in any working space, classroom or theatre. No drink is permitted in any of the above, except for bottled water when agreed by the instructor. All spaces must be returned to a clean and tidy condition after each working session, or at the end of the working day.

Academic Integrity

Art is concerned with truth. The world both as it is and, more importantly, how it might be. In light of this, all artistic and academic endeavors aim to reveal and question our common humanity - the truths and challenges of walking this earth. To that end – actors at the USC School of Theatre are viewed as revelators as opposed to imitators. In every class, rehearsal or performance setting you are required and encouraged to be brave enough to speak the truths of your own, and others’ existence – real or imagined. A performance can be ‘borrowed’ in the same way a paper or article can be copied and passed off as one’s own work. Be brave – dare to present yourself and your humanity. The only thing we copy or borrow are the words of the playwright. The rest – our creative and interpretative choices – must, and can only be, your individual and unique work.

Dishonesty in any form harms the individual, other students, and the School of Theatre. Therefore, USC policies on academic integrity will be enforced in this


course. Papers suspected of containing plagiarized material (the unacknowledged or inappropriate use of another’s ideas, wording, or images) will be verified for authenticity by the School of Theatre through internet services. I expect you to familiarize yourself with the academic integrity guidelines found in the current SCampus (

Disability Services

Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 am to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is 213-740-0776.

Key Dates

Last date to register –

Mid-Term - March 6th & 8th

Spring Break – March 12th – 16th

Last Day of Classes - April 27th (26th in our case)

Study Days – April 28th – May 1st

Final Examination Date: - Tues., May 8th, 11am – 1pm