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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Martha Ross


Office: TSH 426

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27671

Office Hours: Meet by arrangement

Course Objectives:

Advanced Acting, The Physical Approach is a studio course that exposes the student to Jacque Lecoq’s fundamental principles of performance and theatre creation.

The class begins with Neutral Mask, a tool that encourages a pure economy of movement and that allows the student to achieve a state of creative openness, a state that is uninformed by knowledge, emotion, anticipation or experience. From this place of openness the student is exposed to Lecoq’s method of identifying with the rhythms and dynamics of the four elements: fire, water, air and tree. By exploring these dynamics and rhythms of motion, a corresponding emotion, a true emotion, is discovered.  As Lecoq wrote,  ‘When a student has experienced this starting point, his body will be freed, like a blank page in which drama can be inscribed.”    The ‘universality of tree’, is an impossible quest.  By looking for this “universality”, you fail.  It is through this ultimate failure that the student’s personal imagination and voice is revealed.  The dynamics of the four elements are transposed into the dimension of character. The characters being to talk, therefore the student begins to talk. What each individual wants to bring to the empty stage or the empty page becomes evident. Theatre is born. 


Each student will be expected to discover at least two characters. These characters will be placed in improvisations with other characters.  The interaction between the different characters will lead to the discovery of original stories.


The students will be expected to take part in the solo and group improvisations. They will be required to write and perform one monologue and to create, rehearse, and perform in a group scene that is inspired by the theme of departure. They are also expected to participate in group exercises, discussions about the work and to write in a journal in the last half of the term.







Goals of the class:


The students will discover the virtuosity and pleasure of play, a concept that provides a vital aspect to Lecoq’s pedagogy. This will be explored in the context of group improvisations, class presentations, and solo writing.


The students will have their imaginations opened up thereby freeing preconceptions of acting and writing.


The students will be encouraged to receive what their acting partners offer in the way of ideas and rhythm.


The students will become familiar with the concept of working within a thematic context. The themes will inspire physical business, writing and design.


The students will extend their abilities to organize rehearsal and presentation of work:  they will find and book rehearsal space, locate costume pieces, props, etc.


Students should expect to work on average, an extra 10 hours outside their scheduled class time.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Reading Material  - Some articles pertaining to Jacques Lecoq will be distributed within the term. 


Method of Assessment:



Class Work and Participation*                                                                        30%


Solo Scene              Week 6                                                                                    20%


Group Scene                Week 9                                                                                    20%                                               

One Monologue written and performed by student            Week 11                        20%


Journal                        Week 12                                                                                    10%           


*The instructor will discuss at length what she means by “participation” and what is expected in Group Scene work.


Component of Final Grade: 


1)Creativity and artistic openness


2)Level of class participation in improvisations and group discussions


3)Achievement and artistic growth


4)            Ensemble work: The ability to play within a group


5)             Creative risk


6)Professionalism that includes respect for fellow students and preparedness


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

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.