Courses & Requirements

The requirements below apply to those students with a 2021-2022 catalog year. Students are required by college policy to follow the major (and minor) requirements found in the catalog in effect at the time they declared their first major. To find your catalog year, please visit your Grades and Academic Records found in myOxy and access the catalog that matches your catalog year.

Theater

Overview

The heart of the Department of Theater and Performance Studies is practice and production, supported by rigorous analysis of performance and theater theory, history, technique, and literature.  Students both study performance and learn through it, using it to further their research investigations through embodied practice and to strengthen or experiment with performance techniques. With numerous opportunities to work on performances from all areas ranging from dramaturgy to acting, from set design to stage management, and from playwriting to directing, students also learn to apply a performance studies lens onto other phenomena in the world outside the traditional boundaries of theater.   Because of the inherent interdisciplinarity of the field, students learn to ground their practice in deep thinking and analysis within a liberal arts context. With this holistic approach, students craft their trajectory through the major, with opportunities to take advanced courses in their areas of interest, such as in acting, playwriting, solo performance, directing, design, performance studies and theater research, stage management, and technical theater. 

Theater majors culminate their time in the department with a senior comprehensive project in their area of interest and supported with direct mentorship and guidance from department faculty and staff. 

Located in the arts capital of Los Angeles, the department engages with community partners and arts institutions. From attending productions at southern California theaters to bringing arts education into local schools to a sustained internship program to bringing in local artists into our classes and to our relationship with Oxy Arts, being in the city of Los Angeles is integral to our work. 

The department also taps into national and international theater movements, and frequently hosts guest artists, speakers, and performers from around the world. 

Students in Theater and Performance Studies will: 

  • Become collaborative artist scholars who have a deep understanding of the work and power of performance in and on the world through the study of theater and performance studies.
  • Find their own voices and the means to express those voices through learning aesthetic and creative skills.
  • Combine theory and practice through embodied expression.
  • Engage with the local and global community through the practice and study of live performance.
  • Transform their ideas into performed expressions inside and outside of the theater.

Major Requirements

The major consists of 44 units.

COURSEWORK

Students who major in the Department of Theater pursue the following program of study:

THEA 101Dramatic Literature: The Art of Reading Scripts

4 units

THEA 110Introduction to Performance

2 units

THEA 120Introduction to Technical Theater

4 units

THEA 175Introduction to Design

4 units

THEA 210Acting 1

4 units

THEA 301Topics in Theater History

4 units

Two semesters of:

THEA 121Production Laboratory

1 unit

And/or

THEA 122Intensive Production Laboratory

2 units

* A minimum of 2 units must consist of two semesters of Production Lab (THEA 121 or THEA 122) in two different areas (one must be a running crew.) The THEA 121/THEA 122 requirement must be completed by the end of the junior year.

Four units of coursework in design or technical theater selected from:

THEA 225Scene Painting

4 units

THEA 244Stage Management

2 units

THEA 245Stage Makeup

2 units

THEA 246Costume Construction

2 units

THEA 248Sound Design for Theater, Dance, and Multimedia

2 units

THEA 250Period Styles for Stage and Screen

4 units

THEA 275Scenic Design

4 units

THEA 320Advanced Technical Theater

4 units

THEA 325Lighting Design

4 units

THEA 330Producing the Live Event

4 units

THEA 370Costume Design

4 units

THEA 375Advanced Scenic Design

4 units

Sixteen units from other Theater or approved interdisciplinary courses

The Department welcomes interdisciplinary programs and double majors, and will work carefully with students interested in such programs. Up to 8 units of select courses from Film, Music, Art, Art History, and Dramatic Literature may be applied to the Theater Major in consultation with the department chair.

Second-Stage Writing Requirement

Students majoring in Theater will fulfill Occidental College's second-stage writing requirement by completing a significant research and analytical paper, earning a minimum grade of B-, written in:

THEA 301Topics in Theater History

4 units

Or

THEA 302Twentieth Century Playwrights

4 units

Students should familiarize themselves with the departmental requirement at the time of declaring the major. Consult the department chair for additional information.

Comprehensive Requirement

The Department has established standards of excellence in theoretical analysis, performance, and production that our students meet by completing a comprehensive project in the senior year.

Information concerning all phases of the senior project can be obtained from the Department Chair.

The department accomplishes the college objectives for the Senior Comprehensive by having each candidate, having completed the THEA 121/THEA 122 requirement, (1) propose a creative or research project; (2) submit a paper of research and/or preparation during the comprehensive process, to be discussed with the faculty; and (3) execute the project. Projects may include but are not limited to acting, directing, design, playwriting, stage management, technical direction, theater management, and scholarly research. See the department for details.

College Honors

To receive College Honors in the department of Theater, the student must be a major and achieve a 3.50 grade point average in departmental courses. In addition, the student must achieve a 3.25 grade point average overall and receive a grade of Pass with Distinction on the senior comprehensive project. See the Honors Program for additional information.

Minor Requirements

The minor consists of a minimum of 20 units.

COURSEWORK

Required coursework for the Theater Minor

THEA 101Dramatic Literature: The Art of Reading Scripts

4 units

THEA 110Introduction to Performance

2 units

THEA 120Introduction to Technical Theater

4 units

 

THEA 175Introduction to Design

4 units

Or

THEA 210Acting 1

4 units

And two semesters of:

THEA 121Production Laboratory

1 unit

One semester of THEA 121 must be a running crew.

Electives

Four units of additional Theater coursework 200-level or above.

Transfer Credit Policies

The Theater Department does not accept online courses for transfer credit.

While there is not an AP examination in Theater, qualifying IB or A-level examination scores in Theater will earn four units of credit. These four units may be applied toward the major or minor in substitution of an elective course.

Students may apply up to two courses (eight units of credit), or up to four courses (16 units of credit) in transfer for participation in a conservatory program, toward the major. Those who entered as a transfer student or those who took a leave of absence from the College for at least a semester may apply up to four courses (16 units of credit) in transfer toward the major. Students may apply one course (four units) in transfer toward the minor.

Students should reference the Transfer Credit section for more details.

Special Programs

In the summer, Occidental College hosts the annual Occidental Children's Theater at the Remsen Bird Hillside Amphitheater. Academic credit is available for this program through THEA 197 or THEA 397. Off-campus internships in professional theater and film may be arranged during the academic year or summer through the Department of Theater and the Hameetman Career Center. Support for undergraduate research and travel are available both during the academic year and during the summer. Contact the Department Chair and the Undergraduate Research Center for more information. We encourage Theater students to participate in study abroad. Information on approved programs is available through the International Programs Office. Credit toward the major may be available.

Courses

Theater Courses