New College is known for its innovative approaches to the arts, and our Theater Area of Concentration (AOC) is no exception. New College’s Theater AOC is designed for students whose involvement in theatrical practice is matched by their interest in what theater does in the world.
New College’s Theater AOC is designed for students whose involvement in theatrical practice is matched by their interest in what theater does in the world. In this joint disciplinary program – meaning that you must take theater combined with another area of study – you have the opportunity to take foundational acting and directing classes with the highly trained and experienced faculty from the nearby Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory of Actor Training, but you also will be pushed to delve deeply into the social, historical and cultural contexts of theater.
By combining your love of theater with study in another discipline, you will be able to explore the intersections between theater and the environment, theater and race, theater and gender or theater and politics, just to name a few. In fact, one of the truly unique aspects of our program is the freedom it provides for students to get involved in and produce the type of theatrical productions that most interest them.
This small, joint disciplinary AOC – meaning that it must be combined with another area of study (e.g., Literature/Theater, Visual Arts/Theater, Psychology/Theater) – allows students hands-on training with faculty from the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory of Actor Training, a highly selective graduate acting school located adjacent to our campus. Students can take courses in Introductory and Advanced Acting with faculty from the Conservatory and also have opportunities to do stagecraft and other internships at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.
But don’t be fooled. Our Theater AOC is not a standard conservatory program. Instead, it is designed for students who want to dig deeper and combine their love for the theater with the academically rigorous coursework you would expect at one of the country’s leading liberal arts colleges. Within our program, you will explore dramatic texts and study the broad historical and social contexts of theater, as well as learning the diverse theoretical approaches underlying playwriting, direction and production.
As with all programs at New College, our Theater AOC requires a senior thesis or project in order to graduate. In the case of Theater, this might include a lengthy, written research paper on an area of special interest to you or it could include the writing and production of an original play or performance. You and your academic advisor will make the decision and determine the content and direction accordingly.
As you might expect from a program that offers as much breadth and academic freedom as our Theater AOC, the career paths chosen by graduates are as varied as the individuals themselves. Some have gone into screenwriting, direction and production, while others have pursued careers in education, social work and even software development. One of them is even an Emmy Award winner, while another received a Best of Actor’s Rep Award for her original play.
Since Theater is a “joint disciplinary AOC,” meaning that it has to be combined with another area of study (e.g.. Literature/Theater, Visual Arts/Theater, Psychology/Theater), you will need to consult with faculty in both areas to determine the exact courses and requirements needed while you are at New College. They can help with advice, timelines and other assistance to help keep you on course for your degree and to make sure that your program of study meets your academic interests and goals.
Here’s a list of recent course offerings in Theater:
Please note that the list below is just a sample of courses in Theater. For a complete list of courses by semester, please click here.
This course is to help actors open the door to their creative selves and to foster their artistic inspiration, by introducing them to the organic acting technique. By the end of the course, students in the course are expected to be able to originate and sustain the subconscious flow of creativity within a short text etude, and then a short contemporary realistic scene. Throughout the course, students will cultivate qualities (cultures) essential to the acting profession, such as creative freedom, truth and calm. They will train to perceive naturally onstage, and to remain open toward partners, environment and imaginary/given circumstances. By the end of the course, students are expected to be able to yield to creative impulses, drawn from partners, imagination and an actual theatrical environment. The course is capped at 12, and all interested students are invited to audition for the course with a 1-3-minute monologue during the first class.
This class will train students to practically approach texts, based in heightened language and style, with an emphasis on Shakespeare. It is intended to serve students of various levels of acting expertise, who have taken practical theatre courses at New College. The course builds on Nikolai Demidov’s organic inner technique, while exploring higher levels of creativity, essential to playing classical comedy and tragedy. The course’s esthetic and artistic philosophy is based in Yevgeny Vakhtangov’s method of Fantastic Realism. Psycho-technical work covered this semester includes exercises in Demidov’s cultures of calm and passivity, as well as psychic breath technique. An assignment in writing about theater in response to a live classical performance will be given during the course.
The Anthropology of Performance
This course is designed to provide background in anthropological approaches to performance as developed primarily through studies in ritual and theater. Students will work from a wide-ranging bibliography that addresses interdisciplinary theoretical interests, beginning with the Harlem Renaissance-era efforts by Zora Neale Hurston and Katherine Dunham to present cultural concepts through performance. Attention will focus on framing relationships between audience and performer in cultural context. A consistent theme in this course will be the strengths and difficulties inherent in representing people, beliefs and practices outside of their historical or cultural settings and interpreting them for contemporary audiences. Challenges shared by anthropology, literature and theater will be studied through exposure to primary texts, theoretically framed discussion and observation of artists who are drawn to interpret what they have discovered.
This course will provide students who have had at least one year or more of dance/movement experience with choreographic tools for creating a solo or group dance. Through exercises in the classroom student will have opportunities to learn choreographic principles, dance forms, and ways to manipulate movement. They will also learn vocabulary to apply when presenting or critiquing movement/ dances. This class will introduce composition methods specifically through modern dance technique and improvisation. Students will be encouraged to use their creative voices within the choreographic form as a means of communicating and self-expression. In this class, students will gain an understanding of the creative process for dance making through dialogue, journal, attending local performances, as well as presenting work.
Dance Technique and Chore Lab
This course will provide you with an introduction to the basic concepts of modern dance and choreography through methods of dance technique, improvisation exercises, and choreography projects. You will be encouraged to explore and take risk weekly during the dance and choreography segments. You will gain a better understanding of your body by participating in the weekly movement class. The improvisation exercises will allow you to develop movement and individual style as form of expression. There will be several opportunities to arrange movement ideas into choreograph, perform those ideas, and share about the creative process in front of others. This class is for the experienced mover as well as non-experienced mover and designed to offer a full dance experience allowing the individuals to grow at their own pace.
The course will explore the art of directing. It will aim to equip students with theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential to the in-depth understanding of the contemporary theatrical process and to building a basic foundation for the development of a future theater artist. The course will also aid students’ development as harmonious creative individuals, capable of approaching contemporary and classical drama from a theatrical standpoint. The course will create circumstances conducive to revealing a directorial way of thinking and skills in students, while using the achievements of the Stanislavsky, Vakhtangov and Demidov schools of theater, as well as other contemporary methods utilized in World Theater today. Using a play from the international classical repertoire, the course will trace the work of the director from the first step of developing a Creative Conception to analysis and research, table work, as well as ensemble exploration and rehearsal work. At the start of the course, the students will be asked to independently prepare and share with the class several specially designed directorial exercises. Students will also be asked to lead an ensemble of peers in an exploratory exercise based on the principles of Michael Chekhov technique. For the final course project, students will be asked to independently rehearse and share with the class an assigned scene from the chosen classical play.
Cartesian dualism meant dividing the self between an essential mental substance and a secondary, extended body. The question then became, What is our [i.e. our “mind’s”] relationship to our body? This way of posing the question seemed to miss crucial features of the experience of corporeality to our self-identity. This course will examine phenomenological, semiotic, and post-structural attempts to rethink the self-world relation by giving primacy to the body, perception, gesture, and movement.
Realism, Expressionism, and Surrealism: Twentieth-Century Drama in Theory and Practice
The twentieth century is the period in which drama most explicitly confronted the question of its own nature and function, seeking to assert its unique power and significance in the face of other representational media. Does the theater’s power and purpose lie in it ability to represent the world around it with the objective realism championed by Zola? Or does “its very power, its whole authority, come from the fact that it is not true, and the idea of accuracy is fatal to its peculiar unsettling and revolutionary power,” as Howard Barker suggests a hundred years later? If the goal of theater is truth, is that truth subjective or objective? If the goal of the theater is experiential, how might performance circumvent rational thought? And how do any of these questions affect actual performance and reception? This course will consider the plays and theoretical writings of European and American playwrights including Strindberg, Jarry, Yeats, Artaud, Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter, O’Neill, Miller, Barker, Churchill, and Parks. A significant portion of the course will be devoted to exploration of these works through performance experiments. Students are expected to write several short papers, present one or two performance experiments, and participate actively in class discussion.
Shakespeare: Language and Identity
This course will cover a substantial amount of Shakespeare’s lyric and narrative poetry in addition to plays from all four genres he worked with—History, Comedy, Tragedy, and Romance– in the context of the social, literary, and theatrical environments of London late in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and early in the reign of King James I. The course will focus on Shakespeare’s exploration of the pleasures and perils of language as a means by which identity is constructed by both the self and others. This is a broad survey of Shakespeare’s career and will involve about a play a week. Students are expected to write several short papers, present one performance project, and participate actively in class discussion.
The Theatre of Bertolt Brecht
This survey of 20th-century German, Austrian, and Swiss theater traces the origins of Bertolt Brecht’s concept of the non-Aristotelian or “Epic Theater” with the help of such predecessors as Gerhart Hauptmann’s naturalist dramas Before Daybreak and The Weavers and several expressionist plays, such as Oskar Kokoschka’s Murderer the Women’s Hope, Gottfried Benn’s Ithaca, and Hanns Johst’s The Solitary One. Our examination of Brecht’s oeuvre includes Baal, A Man’s A Man, The Threepenny Opera, The Measures Taken, The Mother, Practice Pieces for Actors, Mother Courage and Her Children, and Galileo, in addition to some poetry, theoretical writings on the Epic Theatre, Brecht’s Short Organum for the Theatre, and relevant secondary works. We examine Brecht’s posthumous contribution to European drama in the light of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit and Djibril Diop Mambéty’s film Hyenas, an adaptation set in Senegal; Peter Weiss’s Marat/Sade, Peter Handke’s Offending the Audience and Kaspar; R. W. Fassbinder’s play/film The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, and Heiner Müller’s The Correction, Hamletmachine, and two scenes: “The Bedsheet” from The Battle and ”The Holy Family” from Germania, Death in Berlin, in which Müller addresses the collapse of the Third Reich and “births” of the “two Germanys” of the postwar period: the German Federal Republic and German Democratic Republic. In our last sessions we will work with two recent monodramas: Stefan Kolditz’s Eva – Hitler’s Lover, and Elfriede Jelinek’s Jackie.
The course will explore the art of theatrical adaptation, as a collaborative creative process aimed at translating a work of literature into the language of theater. During the course, students will gain experience in creating theater performances based on the non-dramatic works of international classics and learn to use a literary source as a component in creating a performance of synergy. They will explore how to discover theatrical equivalents for the images, symbols, language and structure of the work of fiction or poetry. They will learn how a unique original production can be created as a result of a collaboration between a playwright/adaptor, director, choreographer, vocal director, composer, designers and an acting ensemble. Each of the course participants will choose a particular role in the process, thus fulfilling their individual interests in the exploration of the theatrical art. All interested students will be invited to make a short presentation on their individual area(s) of interest during the first class.
Women and Seduction in 18th- and Early 19th-Century German Bourgeois Drama
This course deals with the development of the German bourgeois tragedy from 1755 to 1843, and includes a comparative look at English and French domestic tragedies, which influenced the development of the genre in Germany. Topics include: seduction, the role of women, the father-daughter relationship, bourgeois honor, the role and importance of marriage and social class, female virtue and vice, infanticide, parricide, adultery, homosocial desire, and incest. Requirements for the course include: midterm and final exams with take-home essays, oral presentations on secondary readings, short quizzes on the readings, and short dramatic performances of scenes.
For detailed requirements, check out our General Catalog.
As a joint disciplinary AOC, the study of Theater at New College offers a great deal of flexibility. Below are some of the faculty you may take courses with, depending on your personal interests and goals:
Stephen T. Miles
Affiliated Asolo Conservatory Faculty
Carol Flint is a Hollywood scriptwriter and producer. Over the last two decades, she has regularly written and produced episodes for such acclaimed and successful television shows as China Beach, L.A. Law, ER and The West Wing, all shows for which she received Emmy nominations. After sharing in ER’s Emmy win for “Outstanding Drama Series,” Flint both wrote and produced the long-running TV drama’s 1997 season premiere. The much-publicized episode was broadcast live — a TV genre thought to be extinct. More recently, she has produced and written for Royal Pains, Six Degrees and The Unit.
New College is proud of its many Theater graduates. Here’s a look at what some of them are up to these days:
Sample of Graduate Schools Attended by NCF Students in Theater
Each academic experience builds toward your senior thesis project. It’s required for graduation, and our students tell us that while it’s demanding, it’s also one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives. Here are some thesis projects in Theater:
“Mapping Identity: Relationships Between In/Out Space” by Jessica Borusky
“Explorations of Irishness in Synge, McDonagh, Yeats, & Beckett” by Philip Levie
“Hear Say: Identity, Communication, and Language in the Modern Metaplay or Adventures in Playwriting” by Emma Holder
“Frailty Thy Name is Woman: A Theatrical Exploration of Motherhood and Masochistic Play.” by Lacy Warner
“Killing Pearl: When Hester Chooses Infanticide–Confronting Motherhood and the Redemptive Fantasy of The Scarlet Letter in Suzan-Lori Parks’s The Red Letter Plays” by Alison Reid
“On the Nature of the Puppet: An Exploration of Four Puppet-Plays” by Erin Boggs
“Dramatic Production: An Acting Workshop for Writers” by Carol Duval
“Theater of the Community: Connecting Communities in North Sarasota” by Arkady Medovoy
“Acting Existentialism: Jean-Paul Sarte’s Huis Clos… Adaptation, Production and Criticism” by Patrick Armshaw
“More than Heavenly Power Permits: The Faust Myth and Man’s Striving in Marlowe’sDoctor Faustus, Goethe’s Faust and Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita” by Carlos Guzman-Verdugo
“An Adaptable Fellow: A Theatrical Adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises” by Mary Lehach
“Rethinking Brecht: The Reinvention of Contemporary Politics and Political Theater” by Lauren Nash
“From Fathers and Sons to Fathers and Children: A Case in Adaptation Theory.” by David M. Robinson
“New College Street Theatre of Motley Fools” by Cynthia Tucker
“Plays Well With Others: The Ensemble Theory of Theatrical Performance” by Deanna Ross
“An Actor Perceives: Are Actors/Keener Observers of Behavior than Non-Actors?” by Scott Casper
“In-Group Behavior and Theater in Adolescents” by Martha C. Graebner
“Acting and Cognition: Context-Dependent Memory Effects for Professional Actors in and Out of Character” by Sara Elizabeth Stein
“Smiling Inside: Routinization, Representation, and Rat Race” by Eric Jakobsen
“Questioning Reality: Ethnographic and Dramatic Interpretations of a New Age Millenarian Group” by Noah Teitelbaum
“Antonin Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty” by Doug MacDonald
“Opposite Directions: The Ambiguity of the Director’s Role in Contemporary Theater” by Jonathan Spector
“Uncle Sam Takes the Stage: A Social and Literary Study of the Federal Theatre Project” by Stuart Jess Phillips
Sarasota is renowned among Florida cities for its emphasis on arts and culture, and New College Theater students are fortunate to have several of the local treasures literally straddled by our campus.
Located on the grounds of the Ringling Museum of Art, the Historic Asolo Theater is a masterpiece in its own right. Constructed in Asolo, Italy, in 1798 to pay tribute to the 15th-century exiled Queen Catherine Cornaro of Cyprus, the theater was shipped piece by piece to Sarasota and reconstructed in the late 1940s. It hosts a variety of theater, music and dance performances throughout the year, as well as films and lectures. New College students receive discounted pricing on a number of these.
Just across the street, the Asolo Rep Theatre is home to the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory of Actor Training and offers a diverse repertoire of newly commissioned plays, bold reinterpretations of contemporary and classical works, and provocative new musical theater experiences. New College Theater students have an opportunity to take classes with faculty from the Conservatory and to attend performances, as well as to participate in internships at the Asolo Rep.
New College Theater students also have free access to the Ringing Museum of Art, which is located next door to campus. The museum offers 21 galleries of European paintings as well as Cypriot antiquities and Asian, American and contemporary art. The museum’s art collection currently consists of more than 10,000 objects that include a variety of paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs and decorative arts from ancient through contemporary periods and from around the world.
The Sarasota Ballet, the Gulf Coast of Florida’s first and only professional ballet company, is also located next door to our campus with performances and community classes throughout the year.
You might also be interested in…
Hamilton Center, New College’s student union, is home to a well-equipped, intimate 50-seat Black Box Theater for student performances and productions. Reservations for the space can be made through the Student Affairs Office.
The innovative New Music New College performance series is a treasure for contemporary arts enthusiasts and features outstanding musicians from around the country. For more than a decade, New Music New College has included a number of free artist conversations that allow audience members to get to know the musicians and what’s behind their music. Guest artists for the season have included Third Coast Percussion, pianist Marilyn Lerner and vocalist/composer Toby Twining with his jazz ensemble. The vision for New Music New College lies with its director, music professor Stephen Miles. The events are free for New College students.