PURCHASE COLLEGE CATALOG 2016–18
Draft in progress
The Acting Program: Courses
Note: In the two-semester course sequences offered every year, successful completion of the fall course is a prerequisite for the spring course, unless otherwise noted. For example, Acting I (part one, fall) is a prerequisite for Acting I (part two, spring).
ACT 1010 and 1020 / 3 credits (per semester) / Every year
Development of the basic acting instrument through exercises that promote relaxation, sensory awareness, expressiveness, logical stage behavior, and creative interaction with fellow performers. Beginning character and scene work emphasize various intellectual and instinctive approaches, such as script analysis and improvisation.
ACT 1030 / 2 credits / Fall
In-depth analysis of selected dramatic texts to identify elements of structure, character, and language and to understand their function in creating the dynamics of dramatic action. Explores the active purposes of analytic terminology for the actor to gain awareness of action as a basic creative process for theatre. Selected plays are used.
Fundamentals of Acting
ACT 1055 / 3 credits / Every semester
Students work on basic acting skills, e.g., developing the ability to produce free, imaginative, and purposeful behavior in relation to environments, objects, and other persons; individual silent exercises; and group exercises. This work leads to in-class performances of selected scenes from a variety of American contemporary plays, with special focus on the sensory requirements in the text. No previous experience required.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor
ACT 1160 and 1170 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
An enlightening approach to learning the sounds of Standard American speech for clear articulation, without emphasis on “correct” speech. Students become fluent in their use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, as a means of “training the ear” in preparation for dialects.
ACT 1210 and 1220 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
Basic work on freeing the actor’s natural voice. Alignment, relaxation, breathing, production of vibration, and exercises in recognizing habits and beginning to free the voice from physical and psychological tension. Exploration of vocal expression and emotion. Fundamentals of voice/text work.
ACT 1250 / 4 credits / Fall
A study of Aristotle’s Poetics, plus an in-depth analysis of dramatic structures (form, theme, style, genre, and characterization) as applied to selected plays and films.
ACT 1310 and 1320 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
Teaches the actor how to actualize essential information and awareness through exercises that explore relaxation, breathing, muscular stretching, and alignment work. The practice of kinesthetic sense development and spatial relationships, along with awareness of body language and the sharpening of the senses, helps support the development of other skills (e.g., voice, speech, alternate movement styles).
Stage Combat I
ACT 1355 / 1 credit / Fall
Beginning with basic, unarmed stage combat, students are drilled in use of the sword. An emphasis on fencing with foil épée and saber helps students attain better coordination and focus, as well as the practical applications thereof. In the latter part of the class, which is dedicated to the quarterstaff and its use, students explore this weapon through exercises and choreography.
Physical Comedy I
ACT 1410 / 1 credit / Fall
Actors learn the art and language of images, imagination, physical creativity, and physical comedy. Such techniques as neutral and character mask work, improvisation, and story telling free the actors’ bodies of excessive thinking while strengthening and honing their imagination, allowing them to create potent performances and deep character work.
ACT 1670 / 1 credit / Spring
An intensive workshop focused on building an understanding of the techniques and applications of improvisatory practice.
ACT 2010 and 2020 / 3 credits (per semester) / Every year
A continuation and extension of first-year work, with particular emphasis on characterization, text analysis, and techniques of various stylistic demands. ACT 2020 leads to performance in a full stage production.
Prerequisite: ACT 1020
History of the Theatre
ACT 2100 / 4 credits / Spring
A study of the history of world theatres from their origins through the present.
ACT 2160 and 2170 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
A progression of first-year work, brought to classical texts with strong emphasis on Shakespeare. Includes awareness of the devices of language and poetry necessary for speaking verse. Continued use of the International Phonetic Alphabet, followed by beginning dialect work.
Prerequisite: ACT 1170
ACT 2210 and 2220 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
Continued work on freeing the actor’s natural voice, developing a voice in contact with emotional impulse, and strengthening this connection. Work on extending the voice.
Prerequisite: ACT 1220
ACT 2310 and 2320 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
An introduction to modern dance technique, emphasizing kinesthetic and anatomical awareness of the body. Concepts include strength emulating from the center, skeletal alignment, mobility in the torso, turn out, use of breath, connection to the floor, gravity, dynamic quality, musicality, and the body’s relationship to the proscenium space and to other performers. Includes exercises to warm up the body and develop muscle tone, agility, and fluidity of movement.
Prerequisite: ACT 1320
Physical Comedy II
ACT 2410 / 1 credit / Spring
In the second semester of this pedagogy, actors continue to deepen their experience with the first semester’s work, moving from exploring new freedom and power into intentional direction, specificity, and control. Actors learn how to use form, image, and technique to create and perform from pure inspiration.
ACT 2610 and 2620 / 1 credit (per semester) / Every year
Makeup begins with basic corrective work on the student’s own facial structure and progresses to characterization work with hair, putty, and beards, aiming throughout to learn the makeup requirements of the major style periods and specialties like fantasy characters, animals, and clowns.
Introduction to Rehearsal and Performance
ACT 2700 / 1 credit / Spring
Rehearsal and added performance of selected plays produced before the public.
ACT 3004 / 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Students create original stories from various sources of inspiration and gain the theatrical tools to tell them. The course focuses on ensemble creation and covers such areas as mime, heightened character, tréteaux, soundscapes, and object manipulation. Requirements include performing, directing, writing, and making props. Designed to help students get in touch with their creative side in a supportive group atmosphere. A background in performance/high school theatre is beneficial but not required.
ACT 3010 and 3020 / 3 credits (per semester) / Every year
Acting techniques applied to more complex dramatic forms, including genres in which language and characterization are particularly demanding. Theatre periods and special authors for whom style skills are developed may include some or all of the following: Greek, Elizabethan, Restoration, Molière.
Prerequisite: ACT 2020
ACT 3160 and 3170 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
After the first two years of study, students are able to speak in a standard contemporary American accent and to meet the additional demands of classic texts. In the third year, actors use their newfound skills to learn various American and international dialects. The spring semester includes more advanced work on dialects.
Prerequisite: ACT 2170
ACT 3210 and 3220 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
Developing the actor’s natural voice. Emphasis is on developing vocal strength, range, variety, texture, coloration, and the connection with thought and feeling. Sound and movement exercises enlarge the voice and develop vocal stamina and sensitivity through detailed work on contemporary and classical texts.
Prerequisite: ACT 2220
ACT 3310 and 3320 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
Third-year, intermediate-level modern dance technique. Students are given combinations that are lengthier, with more intricate floor patterns and spatial relationships between dancers, gesture articulation at a more advanced level, richer musical and dynamic choices, a deeper vocabulary of movement, and an introduction to partnering techniques.
Prerequisite: ACT 2320
Stage Combat II
ACT 3365 / 1 credit / Fall
Covers the rapier and dagger, traditional weapons of Shakespeare’s day, and the broadsword, a classic medieval weapon. Rapier and dagger training picks up from single sword technique, with the second weapon added to the nondominant hand. Students practice this double-fence style until they can use both weapons with facility. Broadsword basics include rudimentary footwork and guards of the weapon, cut and parry drills, and exploration of styles and choreography.
Prerequisite: ACT 1355
ACT 3670 / 1 credit / Spring
Continued exploration of improvisatory technique for advanced acting students.
Rehearsal and Performance I
ACT 3700 and 3710 / 3 credits (per course) / Fall
ACT 3720 / 3 credits / Spring
Rehearsal and performance of selected plays produced before the public. This three-course sequence is required of all acting majors in their junior year. It covers separate conservatory productions, which are presented across a two-semester period.
Prerequisite: ACT 2020
ACT 4010 and 4020 / 3 credits (per semester) / Every year
Advanced acting, which may include one or more areas of special studies, like in-depth work on a role, audition techniques, or preparation for rehearsal. Career development is emphasized.
Prerequisite: ACT 3020
Voice and Speech IV
ACT 4250 and 4255 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
Every actor has a unique vocal instrument. This course focuses on methods used to develop the speaking voice and integrate it with good speech while staying true to one’s self. Emphasis is placed on deepening the connection between voice, body, and mind through exercises, warmups, and focused work on both classical and contemporary texts.
Prerequisite: ACT 3220
ACT 4310 and 4320 / 2 credits (per semester) / Every year
The culmination of all previous movement classes, plus an introduction of basic yoga techniques that include meditation and the ability to focus.
Prerequisite: ACT 3320
The Business of Acting
ACT 4500 / 1 credit / Spring
Prepares students to make the transition into the professional acting world. Topics include how to attract and keep an agent, headshot and résumé requirements, auditioning, making and using a business plan, writing cover letters, unions, contracts, and marketing techniques. Sessions with a New York casting director are included.
Prerequisite: ACT 3020
Acting for Camera
ACT 4550 / 1 credit / Fall
Students apply the tools and vocabularies developed in studio work to acting in front of the camera. The physical freedoms and limitations of particular shots, from handheld to extreme close-up, are examined. The professional audition is replicated, and techniques for working on location are developed. Throughout the course, students view footage from features and rough cuts, independent films, television, actor’s reels, and audition tapes.
Rehearsal and Performance II
ACT 4700 and 4710 / 3 credits (per course) / Fall
ACT 4720 and 4730 / 3 credits (per course) / Spring
Rehearsal and performance of selected plays produced before the public. This four-course sequence is required of all acting majors in their senior year. It covers separate conservatory productions, which are presented across a two-semester period.
Prerequisite: ACT 3720
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