Introduction to Theatre Online


Welcome to Introduction to Theatre Online!

This course is offered through the Kachemak Bay Campus of the Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage. Join us for an exploration of the diverse expressions of one of the world's most exciting art forms. From its ancient origins theatre practice emerges from human society as a primary expressive medium, from the mysteries of the painted caves to the advanced technological venues of Broadway. Theatre is a rich form of human expression with prehistoric origins and postmodern sensibilities.

Note: There are no prerequisites for this course.

Course Description

Survey of theatre with focus on artists who contribute to theatrical production viewed within the context of historical styles and development.

Instructor: Lynne H. Roff, Ph.D.

Lynne H. Roff is a creative consultant, director, choreographer, and designer for theatre and dance. She is the recipient of an individual artist fellowship in choreography from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and has taught for over twenty-five years in higher education and private practice. Lynne holds a B.F.A in Modern Dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, a M.A. in Performing Arts from Alaska Pacific University, and a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is Secretary and Board Member for the Society for Consciousness Studies. Creativity, complexity, and consciousness studies are among Lynne's research interests along with an avid interest in curriculum design. She is a Peer Reviewer for Quality Matters, "a national benchmark for online course design."

Phone: 907-235-6193

Hello! Welcome to the course!

Note: Insert Video Here

Hello! I am here to help you succeed in this course. Please read this syllabus carefully.

Contact me anytime you have questions, confusions, or just want to talk. I am also happy to meet with you in person in Homer - at a coffee shop or the KPC campus. Please check your UAA and your preferred email accounts regularly for communciations about the course. I look forward to talking with you online and off!

See you online!

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need?

Appropriate technology is a prerequisite for success in this course. Attempting to complete the course using only a smart phone (or most tablets) will only lead to frustration. It is assumed that students will have access to a personal computer and sufficient bandwidth for posting and viewing documents and images, and for streaming videos. In addition, students will need the ability to generate MSWord documents and read Adobe pdf documents.

Microsoft Office 365 link:
Adobe Reader link:

You will need the following textbooks. Shop around for the best price. Both books are available on Kindle.:

Campbell, Drew (2004). Technical theatre for nontechnical people (2nd ed.). New York,
NY: Allworth Press. ISBN: 978-1-58115-344-6

Zarrilli, Phillip B., McConachie, Bruce, Williams, Gary Jay, & Sorgenfrei, Carol Fisher (2010).
Theatre histories: An introduction, (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
ISBN: 978-0-415-462245-2

How do I get to the course and what do I do when I get there?

1. Log-in to Blackboard. There are numerous ways to access Blackboard, our online class program. This is a good one: When you get to the Kenai Peninsula College /UAA website, scroll over the Students tab in the upper right hand corner and click on Blackboard (You can also access your UAA email here if you click on Webmail). You will then go to the log-in page. Bookmark the page so you can go there in future without having to hunt. You should already have a UAA user name, password, and email account. If not, contact the branch of the University where you registered and obtain these. Log-in to Blackboard.

2. Update Your Profile. When you land on your Blackboard home page, find your profile in the upper right hand corner and update it. Be sure to upload a photograph of yourself. Because your photo will show up as a small thumbnail, close-up head shots are best. This photo will follow all of your online activity and make it easier for you to establish an online persona. It helps everyone get to know you.

3. Enter the Course Site. Go back to the Blackboard home page, and locate the course title. If the course is not yet available, a message will say so. Introduction to Theatre (Online) will be available, at the latest, by midnight Alaska Time on Sunday, January 10. Click on the name of the course. You should arrive at the landing page for the course where you will see a photo of Dorothy and her friends from the film The Wizard of Oz. You will also see an Announcement. Future announcements will appear here as well.

4. Check Out Your Options. Look on the left hand side of the page. You will see a number of buttons for you to click. This area of the page contains many resources for your benefit. Familiarize yourself with the contents. There are three sections. The upper section is for options you will use every now and then. The middle section is for options (in caps) you will use all the time, and the bottom section is for options you will use less often.

5. Enter the Weekly Topical Content Page. On the left hand side of the page you are now on, find the button labelled WEEKLY TOPICS, and click on it. You will see the title for a content page labelled Week One, Getting Comfortable in the Online Space, with the dates. Click on the dates and the page will open. Here you will see a short summary including instructions, a list of assignments, links to topical content and resources, and a link to the Discussion Forum for the week. Read and view everything. Click on the Discussion Forum link, then click on a thread. To make a post, click on Reply. After you type your post into the form, click on Submit. Each week will work the same way. After you click on WEEKLY TOPICS a content page (Week Two, Week Three, and so on) will appear at the top. Once the page is there, it will remain for the duration of the semester. So, you can always go back and review.

6. Check Out Your Journal. After you have read the Weekly Topical Content Page, check out the left hand side of the page again. Right under WEEKLY TOPICS, you will see a button marked INDIVIDUAL JOURNALS. Click on it and find the Journal link with your name on it. Click on your name, then click on Create Journal Entry. Type your first entry into the form and click on Post Entry.

Now you know how to do the class. That’s it.

1. Log-in to Blackboard.

2. Read the Announcement.

3. Check out the Weekly Topic page and follow the instructions.

4. Post a summary or an assignment file in your Journal.

Even if weekends are your best time to do school, it’s a good idea to briefly check-in early in the week, once or twice (actually, several times per week is best), so that you know what to expect and do not fall behind. Be sure to check your preferred and UAA email regularly as this will be the first way I will try to contact you, and it’s an easy way for you to contact me. If you would prefer for me to use a name other than the one you registered with, just let me know, and I will make what changes need to be made. If any of this sounds like language from another planet, and if you have questions, or just want to say hello, email me or call me at the number below. We are going to have a good time this semester. See you online!

Are there materials provided?

Yes. Each week there will be one, two, or three topical Lessons of varying length containing text, images, and short videos. These are accessed from the Weekly Topic pages. There are also three articles provided as required reading:

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. (1996). The creative personality. Psychology Today, July/August, 36-40.

Hiltunen, Sirkku M. Sky. (2004). Transpersonal functions of masks in NohKiDo. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 23, 51-64.

Montuori, Alfonso. (2008). The joy of inquiry. Journal of Transformative Education, 6(1), 8-26.

Where do I get help if I need it?

Online Link to Student Resources:

If you require special learning or testing accommodations, or have learning disabilities or other special needs, in order to be successful in this class, please contact Kim Frost at KPC Student Services (907-235-1658) with documentation verifying these needs. If Student Services determines you require special accommodations, they will provide you with a letter to show to your instructors. Please present this letter to your instructors by the second week of class in order to receive special accommodations.

What does the average week look like?

Students are required to complete the following Activities each week:

1. Complete the assigned textbook readings.

2. Read the lessons presented on each Weekly Topic page and watch the short videos.

3. Read articles and support materials provided.

4. Submit a minimum of three substantive posts in the weekly Discussion Forum, except where noted. Students are encouraged to converse with each other as well as the Instructor.

5. Summarize and reflect upon required readings in an individual Journal on a weekly basis except where noted, and read the Instructor Comments.

6. Monitor UAA and preferred email accounts for communications with the Instructor.

Guidelines for length and content of posts and summaries will be presented in the online space.

How much written work will I need to accomplish?

Students are strongly encouraged to submit written assignments when due to avoid falling behind.

Students may revise and resubmit all written assignments (including posts and summaries) throughout the semester in order to increase the number of points earned. Students are required to complete the following written projects.

1. Two short thought papers containing reflections on a current theatrical experience. Thought papers are informal, reflective writings. Note: Physical participation in theatre activities is an option but is not a requirement.

2. One creative project, the writing of a short one-act play.

3. Midterm and Final Essays. These are open book and consist of a choice of questions answered in the form of an essay. APA style is preferred.

Detailed guidelines and resources for all assignments will be provided in the online space.

What about grades?

Grading Scale:

A = 90 – 100%

B = 80 – 89%

C = 70 – 79%

D = 60 - 69%

F = 59% and below

Note: MSWord pie chart will not paste in here. Create one in jpg format.



Unlike face to face courses, students “attend” an online class by reading and viewing content materials and participating in ongoing discussions. Participation and interaction in the online space is critical for success in this class. Interaction can also be one of the more enjoyable aspects of taking an online course. Discussion Forum posts account for 19% of the final grade.

Class Participation

Personal qualities that enable success in online courses are resourcefulness, self-motivation, organization, and the ability to ask questions and engage in discussion with other students and the Instructor.

Online class participation is critical for success. Students are not required to be present in the online space at any specific time. However, students are encouraged to converse with each other as well as the instructor on an ongoing basis.

Audit Policy

Individuals who choose to audit the course must read and participate the same as a graded student. Additional written and/or creative assignments will not be required.

Plagiarism and Cheating Policy

Attributing someone else’s work as your own is strictly forbidden. All quotes or ideas in papers other than those belonging to the student must be appropriately cited in the text and included in a list of references. Students are encouraged to refer to current APA guidelines. Resources are provided in the online space.

In this course we will work to develop your writing skills which includes the growth of your unique voice on the page.

Class Atmosphere and Safety

It is easy to experience hurt feelings in an online space. For this reason, students are asked to respect the opinions of others and engage in civil dialogue at all times. Ranting and raving on any level will not be tolerated. Humor, on the other hand, is always appreciated.

Details About the Course Content

Instructional Goals

The instructor will -

1. Present briefly the history of theatre and theatre artists.

2. Discuss and define each area of theatre including writing, performing, designing, and directing.

3. Present several representative works of theatre and discuss their structure, history, style, and critical responses both in terms of its historical context and current theatre attitudes.

4. Identify and describe works of art by reference to media employed, historical context and style, and structural principles of design and composition.

5. Interpret the meaning or intent of works of art and assess their stylistic and cultural importance by reference to their historical significance, their relationship to earlier works and artists, and their overall impact on subsequent artistic work.

Student Outcomes

Students will be able to -

1. Identify each of the major areas of theatre artists and explain each of their roles in theatre.

2. Identify major works of theatre including their structure, history, and style, and discuss the critical responses to the works both currently and in their historical context.

3. Demonstrate their ability to interpret the meaning and intent of plays by writing their own critical responses to current works of theatre.

4. Interpret different systems of aesthetic representation and understand their historical and cultural contexts.

5. Relate knowledge to the historical context in which it developed and the human problems it addresses.

Chronological / Topical Outline

Week One (January 11-17)

Holidays: January 16-17 (Civil Rights Day)


The most important objectives for this week are learning how to navigate in the online space, reading, posting in your Journal and in the Discussion Forum, and getting to know each other.


Read the Weekly Topic page and any support documents provided.

Begin reading Zarilli, 1-102.

Post an opening Journal entry describing what you hope to accomplish in this


Post an introduction in the Discussion Forum for this week.

Week Two (January 18-24)

Holiday: January 18 (Civil Rights Day)



By the end of this week you will be able to -

Describe the role of play in preparing us for adult life.

Discuss some of the ways people in ancient times thought and behaved differently than we do today.

Compare "doing" and "representing."

Discuss some effects of writing, imagistic and alphabetic, on human thought.

Identify some ways that theatrical performance is an expression of society.


Read the Weekly Topic page and any support documents provided.

Follow link/s to the topical lesson/s: Read and watch the short videos.

Finish reading Zarilli, 1-102.

Read the article provided: Montuori (2008).

Summarize and reflect on your reading for this week in your Journal and read the Instructor Comments.

Make three substantive topical posts in the Discussion Forum for this week.

Week Three (January 25-31)


By the end of this week you will be able to –

Discuss how social mores are reflected in Roman, Indian, and Japanese theatre.

Discuss the use of costume, makeup, and masks in Roman, Indian, and Japanese theatre.

Compare and contrast theatre practice in ancient Greece and Rome with Indian and Japanese forms.

Compare and contrast structures built for theatre in ancient Rome, and those constructed in India and Japan.

Apply formatting and content guidelines in a short descriptive and reflective writing assignment about a current dance experience.


Read the Weekly Topic page and any support documents provided.

Follow link/s to the topical lesson/s: Read and watch the short videos.

Read Zarilli, 103-168.

Summarize and reflect on your reading for this week in your Journal and read the Instructor Comments.

Make three substantive topical posts in the Discussion Forum for this week.

Written Assignment:

First Thought Paper Due

Week Four (February 1-7)



By the end of this week you will be able to –

Identify the use of linear perspective and discuss the effect of this invention on the growth of European theatre.

Compare and contrast theatre architecture in Greece and Rome with Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.

Identify and describe aspects of the new technology used in theatres in Europe and Britain.

Compare and contrast Japanese Kabuki and Bunraku puppet theatre.

Compare Japanese theatrical forms with those found in Europe and Britain.


Read the Weekly Topic page and any support documents provided.

Follow link/s to the topical lesson/s: Read and watch the short videos.

Read Zarilli, 169-234.

Summarize and reflect on your reading for this week in your Journal and read the Instructor Comments.

Make three substantive topical posts in the Discussion Forum for this week.

Week Five (February 8-14)


By the end of this week you will be able to –

Describe the changes in world view that occurred in Europe following the Renaissance.

Reflect upon the social implications of melodrama.

Discuss how these changes were reflected in the growth of science and technology?

Describe the importance of linear perspective on theatrical design.

Discuss technological developments that were used in theatre in Europe and Britain.

Reflect upon a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.


Read the Weekly Topic page and any support documents provided.

Follow link/s to the topical lesson/s: Read and watch the short videos.

Read Zarilli, 235-269.

Summarize and reflect on your reading for this week in your Journal and read the Instructor Comments.

Make three substantive topical posts in the Discussion Forum for this week.

Written Assignment:

Second Thought Paper Due

Note: This is a full semester course. Only the first five weeks are included here.

Suggested Reading

If the development of theatre in human history becomes an ongoing interest for you, here is some suggested reading.

Bates, Brian. (1988). The way of the actor: A path to knowledge & power. Boston, MA:


Becker, Howard S. (1982). Art worlds, (2nd ed.). Berkeley, CA: University of California


Brook, Peter. (1996). The empty space, a book about the theatre: Deadly, holy, rough,

immediate. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Donald, Merlin. (1993). Origins of the modern mind: Three stages in the evolution of culture

and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

McCutcheon, Jade Rosina. (2008). Awakening the performing body. Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Peat, F David. (2000). The blackwinged night: Creativity in nature and mind. Cambridge, MA:

Perseus Publishing.

Schechner, Richard. (2003). Performance theory (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.

Schechner, Richard. (2008). Performance studies: An introduction, (2nd ed.). New York, NY: