Introduction to Theater

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HUM 131

       Course Name: Introduction to Theater

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course offers an introductory survey of theater as a performing art form. Content includes analysis of historical, social, aesthetic and technical aspects of traditional and contemporary theatrical expression. This is an appreciation class, not a performance class.

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to:

A.    Recognize the artistic and creative elements that contribute to a theatrical production.
B.    Acquire a working vocabulary of the elements of theater.   
C.    Thoughtfully appraise the quality and value of a dramatic production using appropriate concepts and vocabulary.
D.    Associate the development of theatrical style periods to their larger cultural, artistic and historical contexts.
E.    Identify the primary style periods of European theater history from the ancient Greeks to contemporary American drama.
F.    Acquire knowledge of multicultural and global theatrical forms.   
G.    Demonstrate knowledge of the participatory nature of theater-going, and an understanding of the conventions of attending a performance.
H.    Demonstrate knowledge of the basic principles of script analysis.
I.    Gain an overview of the role of technology and innovation in the development of theater.
J.    Recognize the philosophical and ethical issues raised in major works of theater.
K.    Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

(This is a comprehensive outline of possible topics and is not intended to be prescriptive.  An instructor’s outline of topics or course schedule should specify the dates when specific topics will be covered and other important dates such as exams and paper deadlines.  Instructors may take either an historical or topical approach to the course.)

A.        What is Theater?
B.        The Basic Elements
C.        The Role of the Audience
D.        Theater Criticism
E.        The Playscript
F.        Theatrical Style
G.        Theater of Ancient Greece
H.        Theater of Ancient Rome
I.         Medieval Theater Experience
J.         Elizabethan and Shakespearean Theater
K.        Italian Renaissance Theater
L.        Commedia dell’arte
M.        French Neoclassicism and Moliere
N.        Restoration Theater
O.        Romanticism and Melodrama
P.        19th Century Realism and Ibsen
Q.        Modernism in the Theater
R.        Symbolism, Expressionism, Epic Theater and other Modernist Trends
S.        New Design Concepts: Appia and Craig
T.        Development of Theater in America
U.        Post-WWII Theater
V.        Psychological Realism:  Tennessee Willams and Arthur Miller
W.       Absurdism and Samuel Beckett
X.        Decentralization and Subsidization
Y.        Musical Theater
Z.        Contemporary Theater Forms
AA.    Postmodern Theater
BB.    Diversity in the Theater (African American Theater, Feminist Theater, etc.)
CC.    New Playwrights and Directors
DD.    World Theater
EE.     Asian Theater
FF.     African Theater
GG.    South and Central American Theater
HH.    Theatrical Production
II.      Playing Spaces
JJ.      Production Design (Scene, Lighting, etc)
KK.    Acting

VII.  Methods of Instruction

A.    Lectures and discussion
B.    Attendance at live theater productions
C.    Small group work
D.    Films
E.    Student presentations and debates
F.    Guest Speakers
G.    Field trips
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc.  The following are sample course practices you may wish to cover.  Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester, which should account for at least one third of the final course grade.  These may be assigned in a variety of ways including journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.

The syllabus should include information regarding:

A.    Standards for written work
B.    Quizzes/Exams
C.    Participation
D.    Individual or group presentations
E.    Essays
F.    Final Project
G.    Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

It is recommended that Instructors select a primary text along with a short anthology of plays representing primary theatrical style periods.
Selected handouts and in-class video presentations

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown for all the elements of the final grade. Please note that at least 40% of the grade must be based on written work rather than exams, presentations, etc.)

For example:
Quizzes/Exams…..40 points
Journals/Essays…..40 points
Final Project………10 points
Attendance and Participation…..10 points

Grading Scale.  90% - 100% = A // 80% - 89% = B // 70% - 79% = C // 60% - 69% = D // below 60 = F

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
Office and office hours:
Email and website:
Approval Dates

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at