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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Peter Cockett


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 404

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27662

Office Hours: by appointment

Course Objectives:

The course will develop a complex understanding of the actor’s role as creative agent in the performance of scripted text. Students will be given the analytical and pragmatic skills that enable the actor to create significant perspectives on scripted dramatic action. The process will alert students to the political and cultural implications of the actor’s processes when working with script and the responsibilities they entail. The course will foster a critical understanding of the topic and the ability to articulate that understanding in writing. By the end of the course, there will be a noticeable improvement in the students’ control over the meaning-making processes of acting.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts:

Barry Pineo, Acting that Matters (used copies available in Titles)

2AA3: Custom Courseware available in Titles


Other Recommended Texts:

Rodenburg, Patsy. The Actor Speaks

Bruder, Melissa, et al. A Practical Handbook for the Actor

Method of Assessment:

Method of Evaluation

Journal                                             Pass/fail

Silent Scene                                     5%

First Scene Study                             20% Graded before March 15th

Written Analysis                                10%

Second Scene Study                        25%

Final Paper                                       25% Due April 9th

Collaboration                                    15%



Each student must keep an on-line journal over the course of this class. Your journal is a place for personal reflection on your process as you come to terms with the complex relationships between your own identity, the process of performing characters, and the ways this process reflects and challenges the norms that structure contemporary social relationships. You will be asked to post your thoughts on a variety of topics over the course of the term and you should use the journal as a private space in which you articulate your own struggles with the creative process and your developing understanding of its significance. Once completed it will provide an account of your intellectual and emotional engagement with the class process to which you can refer in your analytical paper and take-home exam. Students will receive no direct grade for the journal but the level of their engagement in their journals will contribute to their Participation grade, their Written Analysis and their Final Paper.

The should be kept in a word processing file and regularly posted to the assigned drop-box on Avenue.


Silent Scene

Applying techniques learnt in class exercises, each student will produce a short naturalistic silent performance that engages the audience with a dilemma and shows the student’s mastery of basic acting techniques.


First Scene Study

Students will be assigned short scenes and will present them to the class. The scripts are very basic and students will apply techniques learnt in class to create compelling performances that engage the audience with the social dynamics of the conflict between the characters. Students will be assessed on the complexity of their performances, the specificity of the action in the scene, and their awareness of the social significance of that action.


SS1 Written Analysis

Topic: Using the First Scene Study as the principle reference point define your understanding of the relationship between actors’ own identities and the characters and actions they perform. What can this tell us about the social function of acting? You should refer to your journal entries, your performances and to the assigned course readings. 3 pages.

All papers should be submitted through the assigned the Avenue to Learn drop-box and the FILENAME should BEGIN WITH YOUR SURNAME, eg. smith 2AA3 paper.doc.


Second Scene Study

For the final exercise students will be assigned scenes from existing plays. You should apply all that you have learned from the course to turn these scenes into compelling performances that engage the class with the relationships and action in the scene paying close attention to the power structures perceptible in the world of the play and their connection to the normative ideologies that structure contemporary society.


Final Paper

Topic: Using your experience in this course as a whole as the principle reference point define your understanding of the scope of the actor’s role as creative agent in the performance of scripted text and the ways the actor’s performance of scripted text can reflect or challenge the normative ideologies that structure contemporary social relationships. You should refer to your journal entries, your performances and to the assigned course readings. You will not be able to achieve higher than a B in this paper without reference to Love's article. 4-6 pages. Due April 10th.

All papers should be submitted in the assigned Avenue to Learn drop-box and the FILENAME should BEGIN WITH YOUR SURNAME, eg. smith 2AA3 paper.doc.



A lot of our work will be done together as a group and you will be graded on your commitment to the exercises set, your willingness to confront acting challenges and improve your skills as a performer, your engagement with the process in your online journal, your critical support of the work of your peers, your ability to listen and process the ideas of others, and your contributions to class discussion of the issues in the course. I expect everyone to come to class ready to work and I know what work looks like. Students who do not engage fully with the process each and every time they step into the Performance Lab will receive lower grades for collaboration.



You will be working in groups so failure to attend class can potentially harm the work of your peers. Attendance in class therefore is compulsory. If you miss more than two classes, you will receive 0% for participation. Allowances may be made if you can provide a valid doctor’s note and MSAF form.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:



Rehearsal Attire

As this is mainly a studio course, students should wear appropriate rehearsal attire (i.e., loose, comfortable clothing and footwear) to class


Health and Safety

Students should always take care not to endanger themselves in the process of performance. The Performance Lab’s rules of conduct must be obeyed at all times. Any students needing to introduce staged violence to a scene, including the throwing of any object may do so only after consultation with the instructor.


Deadlines for Practicum Work

Performance dates, once scheduled, are final deadlines and are not subject to renegotiation. “The show must go on,” except in case of University closure, immediate threat to safety, or the direction of the Instructor, Technical Director (or a designate of either).

Late Assignments:

Late penalty for written assignments is 5% per day, calculated from the beginning of your tutorial time, or 25% per week unless the student has a justified absence from the University.  After one week, late papers will not be accepted, except in the case of a justified absence.

NB.  Students with disabilities can receive accommodations to assist them in the completion of their assignments and exams.  Please contact the Centre for Student Development for advice and for arranging assistance. The Centre can also help with essay writing, time management and procrastination problems.  Please look into their services if you feel you need help with any of these issues. 

Avenue to Learn

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course.  The available information is dependent on the technology used.  Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure.  If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Extensions or Accommodations

Extensions or other accommodations will be determined by the instructor and will only be considered if supported by appropriate documentation.  Absences of less than 5 days may be reported using the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) at  . If you are unable to use the MSAF, you should document the absence with your faculty office.  In all cases, it is YOUR responsibility to follow up with the instructor immediately to see if an extension or other accommodation will be granted, and what form it will take. There are NO automatic extensions or accommodations.

Support Services

The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

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:

2AA3 Acting as Devising: 2012-2013 Course Schedule


January 7: NO CLASS

January 10: Introduction to the Course. The Elements of Dramatic Action 1: State of Being

January 14: The Elements of Dramatic Action 2: Archetypal Relationships and Playing Actions

January 17:  The Elements of Dramatic Action 2: Objective, Obstacle and


January 21: Performance of Silent Scenes

January 24: Scene Prep: Assignment of Scenes/Analyzing

Script/Developing Three Scenarios

January 28: Scene Prep: Clarifying Three Scenarios/Identifying Power Structures. Read: Pineo, Chapters 2-4

January 31: Scene Prep: Choosing one Scenario/Scoring the Scenario Read:

Pineo, Chapters 5-7

February 4: Scene Prep: Playing Actions Read: Pineo, Chapters 8-11

February 7: Scene Prep: Finalizing Choices Read: Pineo, Chapters 17-21

February11: Rehearse First Scene Study

February 14: PERFORMANCE First Scene Study

February 18: Reading Week

February 21: Reading Week

February 25: PERFORMANCE First Scene Study

February 28: PERFORMANCE First Scene Study/Assign Second Scenes

March 4: Second Scene Study Prep: Analyzing the action

March 7: Second Scene Study Prep: Analyzing the action – Internal Monologue Exercise

March 11: Identifying Power Structures Read: Brecht and Lauren Love from course reader

March 14: Second Scene Study Prep: Defining the beats - Third Person Rehearsal Exercise - Read: Pineo Chapters 13-14

March 18: Second Scene Study Prep: Tempo and Rhythm Read: Pineo Chapter 12 – Exaggerated Performance Exercise

March 21: Second Scene Study: Scoring the Performance

March 25: PERFORMANCE Second Scene Study

March 28: PERFORMANCE Second Scene Study

April 4: PERFORMANCE Second Scene Study

April 8: Review of Performances/Class Post-Mortem