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OL 101: My Course Help offers Quick Start Guides, an FAQ, and other information to help you navigate this site.

For quick resolution to technical or administrative issues, please Contact Our Support Staff rather than your instructor.

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Required Textbooks

  1. Downs, Wright and Ramsey. The Art of Theater: A Concise Introduction, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Publishing: 2012. ISBN-10: 1133394655 , ISBN-13: 978- 1133394655
  2. Stoppard, Tom. Arcadia. Faber & Faber, 1994. ISBN-10: 0571169341, ISBN-13: 978-0571169344
  3. LaBute, Neil. The Shape of Things. Broadway Play Pub, 2003. ISBN 10: 088145222X ISBN 13: 978-0881452228
  4. Ruhl, Sarah. The Clean House. Samuel French, Inc., 2010. ISBN-10: 0573633983 ISBN-13: 978-0573633980

This course preview outlines the details of this online course. For more information on taking this course, please send an e-mail message to our support staff at UW offices are closed on these holidays.

DRAMA103: Theatre Appreciation

Course Introduction

Course Preview
  • 9 lessons
  • 8 discussion forums
  • 1 Midterm
  • Attendance at 2 live, professional productions
  • 2 written reviews of the productions you attend
  • 1 video-recorded performance of a monologue of your choice
  • 1 final exam

Welcome to DRAMA103: Theatre Appreciation. This course will familiarize you with the art of theater through a survey of the key components of the live theatrical experience.

Throughout the course, you will develop the critical thinking skills and the vocabulary you need to appreciate the live event. The course begins by building theatrical vocabulary, then moves on to explain the various components of creating theater and the processes of manifesting ideas on stage.

We will employ a textbook appropriately entitled The Art of Theatre, a series of narrated PowerPoint presentations, a number of streaming films, and several online workshops associated with your textbook. Since no theater appreciation course is complete without an experience of the live theatrical event, you will see two professional productions as part of this course.

The only non-academic pre-requisites for this course will be your life experience, your desire to witness live performance, and your innate impulse to perform.

Course Goals/Objectives

The goals of this course are that you will

  • build theater literacy;
  • appreciate the various components of the theatrical event;
  • critically analyze live productions;
  • develop a background in the techniques of theater making; and
  • practice the process of theater making.

Note that "theater" is generally the American spelling, while "theatre" is used in Great Britain and Canada. Your textbook uses "theatre." You may use either.

When you have finished this course, you will be able to

  • examine theatrical events as a well-informed critic;
  • perform and record your own monologue;
  • identify the various components and personnel of the theater world;
  • discuss the "nuts and bolts" of creating theater;
  • describe plays using theatrical vocabulary; and
  • express your opinion and taste about live performances in a scholarly writing.

Course Prerequisites and Requirements

There are no prerequisites for this course. It will help, however, to have college level reading, writing, and analytical skills.

Technology Requirements

The current technology requirements are found in the Online Student Handbook. You'll find a link on your My Course home page.

Completion Requirements

To successfully complete this course, you must

  • watch/listen to all the lectures and read the assigned chapters in the textbook;
  • complete the performance assignment;
  • complete all written assignments;
  • actively contribute to each lesson's online discussion topic as specified;
  • attend two professional live performances; and
  • complete the midterm and  final exams.

A note about Late Work

You will lose 10 percent of your grade for each day each assignment is late. I will not accept your work if it is more than five days late.

Course Materials

Your course materials will include the online course companion, cengage coursemate and  streaming videos (available through the course Web site/UW library system).

Required Textbook

Downs, Wright and Ramsey. The Art of Theater: A Concise Introduction, 3rd Edition. Wadsworth Publishing: 2012. ISBN-10: 1133394655 , ISBN-13: 978- 1133394655

This book MUST be purchased through the University Bookstore or Cengage website along with the CourseMate. CourseMate is necessary as it allows you to fully engage with the lectures and prepare for the midterm and final exams. Link to Cengage site:

About the Online Environment

Your online course offers several advantages to the traditional classroom, including a comprehensive Online Student Handbook, the ability to communicate electronically with students and with your instructor, and links to a rich array of online resources.

Online Student Handbook

This handbook answers questions about your online learning course, such as how to purchase your text, schedule an exam, arrange for a proctor, obtain a transcript, and get technical help if you need it. The handbook also provides additional resources, such as how to order books or journals from the library and how to study for an online course.

Online Communication

In addition to e-mail, your course may offer the following tools for communicating with your instructor or peers:

  • profiles, where you can post information about yourself—your instructor may have specific instructions about what to post; and
  • forums, where you can post your opinions, research results, or structured responses to a question, and carry on a conversation with your classmates, at any time.

About This Course

The course is organized to give you hands-on experience right from the start. It includes nine lessons in which you acquire the skills to appreciate and experience the theatrical event. The course also includes discussion forums, artistic vocabulary, attendance of theatrical events, home viewing of theater-based films, online workshops, and a performance assignment.

Key Terms/Vocabulary

Lessons include terms that are important to the concepts you will learn and are intended to serve as guides to your study. You will be held responsible for key term definitions, and you will be expected to use the terms in your written work and presentation material whenever possible. You will find the terms defined either in the lesson commentary, the assigned readings, or both.

Discussion Forums

Forums enable us to simulate one of the features of a classroom setting; we'll be able to share our questions and ideas through threaded online discussion forums.

Each lesson includes a posted question or comment from the online discussion that you will respond to. These are for your benefit; they also help your instructor evaluate your understanding and adjust his or her teaching accordingly. These online discussions allow you and your classmates to share knowledge and help each other learn.

You will be required to participate in all the discussion forums (8 forums X 10 points = 80 points)

Quizzes/Practice Exercises/Workshops

You will use the textbook's online CourseMate site throughout the course. All lessons include quizzes and workshops from this site, providing an opportunity to apply what you are learning by following along on your computer and performing tasks or by answering questions based on lesson materials.

The instructor will not verify your work on the CourseMate site. You will not turn in any of these quizzes and workshop results. There is no requirement to complete these exercises, but they are included to allow you to test your understanding of the subject. Answers to these exercises are included within the site. You are encouraged to do these exercises and check your answers. If you are having trouble with them, contact your instructor for further help.

Although you are not directly graded on these quizzes and workshops, not doing them will substantially affect your grade on the final exam.

About the Lessons

The nine lessons in this course concentrate on building theater literacy, appreciation, critical tools, and vocabulary

Lesson 1: Theater, Art, and Entertainment
  • Learn it: This lesson introduces you to the key differences between theater, art, and entertainment. By the end of this lesson you will be able to identify various categories of theater, discuss difference between "art" and "entertainment," theatre and drama.
  • Experience it: Watch educational videos on American theatre and August Wilson.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about a unique theatrical enterprise in a bookstore!
Lesson 2: Stage Versus Screen
  • Learn it: This lesson covers the main conceptual differences between filmed performances and live ones. It addresses rarely discussed influential subjects such as funding, copyright, ownership, and executive power. You will finally have clear definitions of commonly heard words such as public domain, commercial theater, royalties, and the N.E.A.
  • Experience it: Watch Chicago: The Musical and Broadway: The Golden Age.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to hear actors discuss the difference between stage acting and screen acting.
Lesson 3: Theater and Cultural Diversity
  • Learn it: This lesson discusses theater as a way of seeing through somebody else's eyes in terms of various political and cultural identities. What does it mean to be outside the dominant culture? How can we use critical lenses to see beyond the surface? Learn about ethnocentrism, the tradition of minstrelsy, multiculturalism, and ethnicity on Broadway.
  • Experience it: Watch El Teatro Campesino's production of Los vendidos and hear David Henry Hwang discuss issues of culture and ethnicity on Night Line.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about a South African play.
Lesson 4: Experiencing and Analyzing Plays
  • Learn it: This lesson deepens the experience of the theatrical event by naming the various processes of watching a play in terms of group dynamics, and the audience/actor relationship. It also sets the course's standard for critical viewing by establishing guiding questions and defining the role of the critic. Finally, here you will learn the conventions of theater creation and attendance.
  • Experience it: Watch an educational film on the playwright and a documentary on Edward Albee. Read one of the most controversial plays in recent history, The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about Fringe Festivals.
Lesson 5: A day in the life of a Theatre
  • Experience it: Watch educational videos on the future of theatre and the current state of theatre through artists at the American Repertory Theatre. Watch a classic satire on the world of theatre: Michael Frayne's Noises Off.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about the behind the scenes of the Rockettes.
  • Do it: Complete midterm exam.
Lesson 6: The Playwright and the Script
  • Learn it: This lesson furthers the idea of the stage as the playwright's medium. You will explore the basic elements of the script in terms of character, theme, conflict, plot, and genre. Learn plot formulas that will forever affect your experience of the theater and improve your own 'dramatic' writing!
  • Experience it: Watch an educational film on the playwright and an interview with Neil Labute. Read the powerful play, The Shape of Things.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about Woody Allen, playwright and screen writer.
Lesson 7: The Art of Acting
  • Learn it: This lesson explores the holy grail of the theatrical experience: the performer on stage. How do actors train? Who are some of the key gurus of acting? What techniques are most used? How do actors understand their characters and how do they live their lives?
  • Experience it: Appreciate the struggle of actor training in the documentary Towards the Limelight, watch an interview with Sarah Ruhl before you read her play, Clean House.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about dialect coaching
Lesson 8: The Art of Directing and Design
  • Learn it: This lesson will help you name the tools of the image-makers in the theater world. What makes a director? How do they rehearse? How do they collaborate with designers? What types of designers tend to work on most productions? What is the relationship between the space, the director, and the designers?
  • Experience it: Learn about director Julie Taymor and her production of Oedipus Rex, and go back stage in a documentary film about the production process.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about non traditional casting.
Lesson 9: The Creative Life and Final Exam
  • Learn it: This lesson will remind you of the reason why theater exists. Find inspiration as you re-learn the meaning of creativity and the power of performance. In this lesson, you will draw your own inspiration and skills from the reading in order to perform the opening night of your monologue.
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to learn about the creative life of Choreographer Twyla Tharp. 
  • Do it: Rehearse, Record, and post your monologue assignment. Watch the work of your classmates
Lesson 10: Final Exam Review
  • Learn it: Take advantage of the glossary of terms to review important vocabulary. Revisit the videos or lectures if you need a refresher.  
  • Live it: Check out the CourseMate site to take sample quizzes on each of the chapters. 
  • Do it: Take a mock exam and learn from your mistakes.

About the Assignments

This course includes three major assignments,

  1. Review of Chicago and Live Performance #1 (See Lesson 1 and 2). You will write a 3 -4 page review of Chicago and the first professional show you attend. You will discuss the idea of stage versus screen and art versus entertainment. You will be evaluated on your use of the vocabulary you've learned so far in this course.
  2. Response Paper on Live Performance #2 (See Lessons 3 to 8). You will write a critical 4 -5 page essay on your second professional show. Relying on the practitioner vocabulary you have learned in this course, you will critique the production. Use the key ideas presented on the role of the audience and the critic.
  3. Monologue (See lesson 9). Select a two-minute monologue from the provided examples or (with instructor approval) find your own monologue from a play you know. You will rehearse the monologue; design the appropriate background for your performance or find the right location; and record yourself using a web camera or a video camera of your choice. You will be graded on the quality of your performance and design (costume, prop, set, music/sound, lighting). To successfully complete this assignment, you should demonstrate what you have learned about acting, directing, and design in this course. You should not simply read your monologue, but perform it. You should have some blocking and movement in your scene. Your monologue should have appropriate design elements: costume, lighting, setting. However, you should not spend money on this – use your creativity. You can borrow recording equipment for your monologue project from the Student Equipment Loan program in the basement of Kane Hall. You can learn more about it here. You can also record it with the camera on your smartphone or computer, if you have that technology.

Assignment Submission Guidelines

You will submit your assignments by using the "Upload a file" link in each assignment. See individual assignments for more details. You will receive an assessment of your work in the form of a rubric score (see Criteria for Grading) together with detailed individual feedback and a grade from your instructor.

For the monologue assignment, you will post your recording to, following the instructions in "Posting Videos to YouTube" on the course Web page. Then use the Monologue Forum to share the URL of your recording with your instructor and classmates.. 


The midterm is worth 50 points and will be completed ONLINE (you do not have to come to campus for this exam). See the course calendar for specific due dates and times.

About The Final Exam

The final examination in this course will take place on the University of Washington's Seattle campus during finals week. The exam consists of  multiple-choice questions (Bring a scantron to the final exam). The instructor will provide further details about the time and place of the exam.

If you are unable to come to the UW's Seattle campus on the exam date, you must arrange for a proctored examination. Follow the instructions in the "Examinations" section in your Online Learning Student Handbook.

Remember, the exams will give you a chance to show how well you have integrated the covered material. See Lesson 10, "Preparing for Your Final Exam," for exam details. The final examination will be cumulative, covering the entire course.

Assessment and Grading

Assessment Criteria

Assignments apply concepts and skills covered in each lesson to the creation of your own scenes and the critique of professional productions. To evaluate your work, a number of clear grading standards have been put in place for each written and performed assignment, as well as on the discussion forums.

Your final exam will reflect your knowledge of the online lesson content (the PowerPoint lectures), the companion website, the textbook, and your experience of play performances.


Your course grade will be based on the components and points shown in the following table.

Course ComponentPossible Points
Participation in Discussion Forums 80
Midterm 50
Monologue Assignment 50
Review of Chicago and live performance #1 75
Response paper on live performance #2 75
Final Exam 70
Total 400

About the Lecturer

Samer Al-Saber is a Palestinian/Canadian theater historian, critic, and practitioner. His work has been seen in multiple regions including North America and the Middle East. At the University of Washington, he lectured DRAMA101: Introduction to Theater and taught DRAMA201: Play Analysis. He obtained his masters (MFA) in directing at the University of Calgary and his B.A. at the University of Ottawa. Most recently, as a Huckabay fellow at the University of Washington's Center of Teaching and Learning, Samer developed an original course entitled Theatrical Reflections on the Palestine/Israel Conflict. During his PhD studies in Theater History and Criticism at the University of Washington, he has received a fellowship of the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada, the Chester Fritz Award and the Michael Quinn Award. His research centers on the cultural dimension of the Palestine/Israel Conflict, Middle Eastern theater, and theater in Jerusalem. In developing this course, he draws on his experience of contemporary theater as a scholar and an artist.

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