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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Melanie Bennett



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: By appointment

Course Objectives:

The students in the course have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the production process, applying the skills learned in the program’s level 2 courses. The course will foster the dialectical connections between research, analysis, and creation that are central to the practice of devised theatre and the Theatre and Film Studies program. Students will learn to engage with important social issues and develop ways to communicate their ideas to a local audience. The work will strengthen their understanding of the production processes behind creative work and the social significance of the decision-making involved. Students will learn to work collaboratively towards a common goal, defining shared ideas and production protocols. Over the course of the production students will be offered the opportunity to specialise in specific roles in order to develop their expertise in one or more aspects of theatrical production.

Students will participate in a variety of practical exercises that use improvisation, movement, and other devising strategies. The artistic exercises practiced in class will be rooted in critical theory facilitated through the reading and discussion of texts and concepts, as well as the study of a range of contemporary practitioners that fit into the devised performance paradigm. While the context and approaches to creation of the artists studied differ, all challenge traditional notions of success and pursuit of “the good life.” Students will become familiar with the work of Forced Entertainment, La Pocha Nostra, Terrance Houle, among others.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Selected articles, book chapters, and videos available online or handed out in hardcopy during class.

Method of Assessment:

Health and Safety Test                                          5%       Date TBD
The students will complete a short Health and Safety test to ensure they are able to work safely in the production spaces. Only those students achieving 80% or more will be allowed to have full access to the equipment in the theatre.

Class Attendance, Collaboration, Writing Exercises, and Participation 20%

Performance Journal                                            15%    Due Thursday, November 20

Students will be required to keep a performance journal that will be used to make notes on weekly readings, in-class discussions, practical exercises, and film viewings. The purpose of this journal is to help facilitate more engagement in class discussions; to serve as a place to brainstorm ideas and work through concepts and design ideas; and, as a resource that archives the many practical exercises learned in class that the students may draw from in their future performance practice. This journal will be handed in at the post-mortem and be returned to the student on the last day of class. More details on the journal will be offered in class.

Project Proposal/Artist Statement                    5%       Due Tuesday, September 30

This presentation will include a 500-word project proposal handed in by the group in order for the instructor to offer feedback and suggestions. More details will be offered.

Scene and Design Presentation                         15%    Presented Thursday, October 9

Working in groups with complementary specializations, students will present a 15-minute workshop performance of one or two scenes that can be included in the final production. Through practical application, students will be required to form groups to develop an original performance worth 15% of the final grade and based on one or more of the artists and theoretical analyses examined in class. All reading, writing, research, and participation in practical exercises will amount to foundation material used for the development of this final production.

Contribution to Production                                   30%

Contribution to the Production includes participation in 2 mandatory all-day Sunday workshops with Andy Houston (Sunday, October 5 12-6pm and Sunday, October 19 12-6pm), as well as attending the Intro Theatre class (Friday, November 21 and Tuesday, November 25 2:30-3:20pm) in TSH B128 so discuss the production.

Final Reflection Paper                                           10%                Due Thursday, December 4

The student will submit a final report as a reflection of the entire term and production, offering insight on the entire experience.

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.

Other Course Information:


Students will learn through practical experience, analysis and discussion.

Instruction will be in the form of:

  • Critical readings and examination of artists;
  • Practical exercises explored through in-class exercises;
  • Student and instructor feedback on exercises;
  • Written analysis;
  • Final production contribution.

Students will participate in a variety of practical exercises that use improvisation, movement, and other devising strategies for animating sites. The artistic exercises practiced in class will be rooted in critical theory facilitated through the reading and discussion of challenging texts and concepts, as well as the study of a range of contemporary practitioners that fit into the site-specific paradigm. While the context and approaches to creation of the artists studied differ, all challenge traditional notions of place. Students will become familiar with the work of Wrights & Sites, Forced Entertainment, Knowhere Productions, La Pocha Nostra, Lesbian Park Rangers, Terrance Houle, among others.


Students are required to bring the following to every class:

  • Assigned readings;
  • A writing utensil;
  • Performance journal;
  • Comfortable clothing for movement and voice work.