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THTRFLM 3SD3 Scripting The Devised Perf

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Catherine Graham


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 403

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27665

Office Hours: Monday noon to 1:00 pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Scripting in the context of a devising process is a different process than writing a single-authored play for later performance.  In devising, the script functions largely to bring form and focus to the devising process and the performance itself, rather than as the expression of an individual playwright’s vision.  In this class, students will work with other devisers to create a coherent structure that focuses attention on those elements most likely to help an audience imagine a world in which the proposed action seems possible and to understand how this relates to their own cultural context.  By the end of the course students will be able to create structures for rehearsal and performance, and to record performance decisions in the form of a written script.

Through their work in the course students should demonstrate the ability to:

  • work effectively in groups to create the basis for convincing fictional worlds
  • organize basic scripting processes in a devising situation
  • create a coherent scenario that can act as basis for ongoing improvisation by actors and designers
  • write dialogue, action and design specifications for dramatically interesting scenes that focus attention on the cultural "stakes" of a story

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

All course materials are available on Avenue.

Method of Assessment:

Weekly Reflection Log                                                                                                   10% 

To be completed in response to a question on the Avenue discussion board each week.         

Story Synopsis and Script Protocols  Due Jan 28 on Dropbox                                15%

Brief description of the story you want to tell and 5 protocols that define the fictional world in which it happens, accompanied by an explanation of your choices.  Detailed instructions on Avenue.

Skeleton Scenario  Due Feb 25 in Dropbox                                                                 25%

Brief description of characters, setting and each of 5 scenes that would form a 30 minute script to be written in collaboration with your assigned group,  The Scenario will be accompanied by an explanation of your choices. Detailed instructions on Avenue              

Sample Scene Development  Due April 1 in Dropbox                                               25%

A fully developed script, including dialogue and stage directions, for one six minute scene described in your group's skeleton scenario, following the protocols established by the group.

Final Summary Reflection  Due April  7                                                                      10%

A 500 word reflection on what you have learned in the process of developing this script, including a discussion of how you might revise the protocols or scenario your group was working with in order to bring the script to the level necessary for full production.

Collaboration Skills                                                                                                         15%

Attendance at all classes is compulsory.  Students must demonstrate an ability to work collaboratively as part of a devising process through effective participation 

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

There is a 2% per day penalty for late assignments and no assignment will be accepted more than 7 days after it is due, except in the case of verifiable illness, accident or personal emergency.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

A detailed schedule of topics and readings is available on the Avenue site for the course.

  • Jan. 6 to 28:  Developing the Fictional World of the Script.  Class exercises and readings identified in Avenue calendar and on Content page.
  • Feb. 3 to  25:  Creating a Skeleton Script.  Class exercises and readings identified in Avenue calendar and on Content page.
  • Mar. 2 to 31:  Writing a Sample Scene. Class exercises and readings identified in Avenue calendar and on Content page.
  • Apr 6 to 7:  Summary of Process and Reflection on Next Steps

Other Course Information:

Students should expect to do a significant amount of group work outside of class time. 

Because this is largely a workshop-based class, it will often be difficult to take adequate notes while participating in activities.  To facilitate the creation process and to aid in writing the reflection papers throughout the term, it is strongly suggested that each student take some time within 12 hours of the class and/or group meetings outside of class, to record material that was generated in that session, reflections on the working process, and any discoveries you have made or insights you have gained as a result of the work.

NB. Studients who wish to propose a script for THTR&FLM 4A06 Theatre And Society:  A Performance Project are strongly encouraged to work on material that will help create that proposal.