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THTRFLM 2BB3 Designing As Devising

Academic Year: Winter 2018

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Patrick Brennan


Office: L.R. Wilson Hall 2015

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 20379

Office Hours: Ignore office and phone above. My office is LRW 2015 and I don't have a phone! Fridays 10:30 to 12:30 or by appointment in person other times during week

Course Objectives:

An introduction to techniques used to create an environment in which a specific performance can become meaningful for a particular audience. Primary areas of instruction will be the design and technical preparation of sound, lighting, and projected media. Spatial theory, visual literacy and event management will also be covered through lecture, reading and demonstration. Historic and contemporary design practice will be investigated through professional performance observance and selected reading. Workshops covering technical practice will have an emphasis on safe practice, risk assessment and collaborative communication. Although, the course will focus on theatrical practice, connections will be drawn between other areas of the performing arts that borrow on theatrical practice and technology (performance art, film, pop music, dance, opera, marketing). Students will be largely assessed on practical project work. A successful student will be critical of the process but also be an effective member of the production team. Opportunities to observe and comment on dance and musical events will help broaden the general experience.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Only expense is ticket for professional productions

Method of Assessment:

Major Assignments

Honours Performance Series Production assignment. 

Each student will be assigned to a 3op6/4a06 project which are supervised closely by the course leader in his other role as Production Director of the performance venues. The students will observe and participate in activities related to the staging of this production. (Production meeting, rehearsals, set up, rehearsals, costume, set and props construction, draft performances and final shows) 3OP6 student supervisors will assist with the management of this assignment and will report on your input and this will become the basis for your participation mark. Students are expected to be active though out the term in support of the production and will provide a weekly journalling and a final individual report on their role and input to the project. Due one week after the completion of production. Assessment is based on participation (10%), weekly journal entries (5%), individual report (5%) and performance (20%).

HPS Full Value 40% 

Scenographic Etudes  

1.Each student will create a study tool focusing on a major figure or company in theatre practice. First you will produce a page with a short distilled piece of writing on the subject and images and links to support research. Due January 21, 2018 Value 5%

2. Each student will then explore a simple physical scene with the support of lighting, costume, props and sound. This will be the result of individual research, rehearsal, technical design and performance.  It could have a direct connect to the theatre artist studied or be indirectly connected. Final assessment is based on a progressive record of development and final Etude presentation Feb 26 or March 1st, 2018. Value 30%

3. Each student will also support two other students in operation of light board and Qlab station. Value 5%

ETUDE Full Value 40%

Small Projects

A.  Looking at Light - Written assignment - Go to a gallery or Use the Web Gallery of art as a source if you don't find a useful painting in a gallery. Find a painting of a naturalistic scene which uses light to define form and mood. Describe the painting and how the artist uses light technically and artistically. Pay attention to and directly refer to Qualities of Light: Intensity & Brightness ,  Form & Distribution,  colour,  Chroma,  Hue & Value, Direction & Movement, The Language of Light (min 400 words)  Due January 28, 2018 Value 5%

B. Sound and space - Written assignment - Find three spaces on campus or in the community. Sit still facing in one direction. Listen carefully. For each space once you are in tune with your environment draw a circle and draft an image that describes the intensity and direction of ALL sound you here. Redrawn the images using colour an descriptive images and text. Please provide a brief textual description of the location and an address. Due February 11, 2018 Value 5%

C. Professional Play/Dance/opera observation - Professional Production reflection. Attend a professional production from the approved list provide supplied by lecturer. Most productions will be in Toronto but will have long runs so to allow students many opportunities to schedule an observation. Watch the production without making notes. During intermission and after the play make notes that will assist with your writing. Look for connections to the material we discuss in this course. Write a four page (Min 1000 words) commentary on design elements for the production. If one area stands out you can focus on that in greater detail. Please provide ticket stubs as proof of attendance. Due: not later than April 1st, 2018 Value 10%



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

1. Attendance is mandatory for all classes and labs. Please arrive promptly to all classes, labs and related meetings. Absence from class and a record of undependable collaboration will affect your final grades.

2. Late assignments will be docked 5% a day for a maximum of 20 days.

3. Students who consistently ignore instruction and policy regarding safe practice in the theatre, performance LAB and workshops risks expulsion from this course.


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:

Devising Practice

Visual research – art historical, material and graphical

Spatial theory – contemporary environmental design practice

Lighting design and technology

Sound design and technology

Projection technology and practice

Costuming design


Other Course Information:

1. All assignments with be returned within two weeks of due date, if received by that date.

2. A report of progress will be available March 10th, 2018 including all assignment completed by that date.

3. Feedback on Etudes will be constant throughout term.

4. One week after the completion of your work on the performance project you will receive an assessment of your involvement in that project.

5. I will be available April 13th, 2018 to discuss your final assessment.