Using both principles and process...

Submitted by Ron Bashford on Sunday, 9/5/2010, at 11:51 PM

This is the first course in stage directing at Amherst.  It is designed to build on previous experience in acting, design and/or movement work and choreography, and to prepare interested students for THDA 65: Directing Studio.

This course focuses on the interpretation of written plays, and how actors bring them to life in collaboration with a director.  We will be probing deeply into the relationship between text, action and meaning, and the nature of communication in rehearsal.

At the heart of this course is a presumption: that neither analytical principles nor process techniques alone make a good director.  Rather, an effective director knows the value of each, how to straddle the two, and how to encourage the same practice in collaborators.

Another point of view I embrace is that a director is pro-active, that is to say, a mover in creating theater for others.

Students with a primary interest in film-making should consider this course and its continuation (THDA 65), its requisites (THDA 11 12 13), and any number of other courses and activities in the Department of Theater and Dance as valuable to the craft of film narrative and other genres of film involving performers, text, sound and visual elements.  The department offers courses in playwriting, design elements, acting, movement, collaborative performance-making, and dramatic analysis, among others.


If you are enrolled in THDA 45, you can peruse or download the course syllabus here, or from the link on the left.


If you are not yet registered for THDA 45 and you are considering taking this course, you may see all areas of this course page (including the syllabus) by requesting temporary access by using a  course petition.

To petition THDA 45, click here.

What if I am a first-year student and I am really really interested in directing?

Great!  See the note on requisites below, so that you can prepare to take this course as soon as possible!  You should also participate in the department's production activities in any capacity you can.  Contact the director/choreographer/performance-maker of any individual project to find out about the opportunities this year.

important note on requisites

This course is designed for students who have at least significant introductory experience (i.e. a full semester's course of study) at the college level in at least two of the following three areas:

  • Principles of movement, body language and composition of people in space
  • Principles of theatrical design and visual interpretation
  • Acting technique & theory

At Amherst, the courses that cover the above areas are THDA 11, 12 and 13.  Various Five College courses and experiences provide equivalent requisites.  I also recognize that a small number of students may have had extensive and potentially equivalent experience in theater outside the college setting.  However, you should consider this issue carefully.

If you are unsure if you have the requisite experience to take this course, please speak with me as soon as possible.  You may find the course too difficult, or have trouble collaborating with other students -- in which case it may be better for you to take the course at a later time.  This course is offered regularly.