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THTR 486, Practicum in Production

 Course Description and Syllabus


Practicum is an opportunity for students to experience the production activity of either IUP’s theatre company, Theater-By-The-Grove, or the IUP Dance Theater Company. Students augment their course work by joining a performance company in one of the areas of performance, direction, management, design, technical production, or promotion/publicity. Tasks are “contracted” with a department faculty supervisor in the chosen area of a production. Auditions are required for performance roles, and interviews are required for major production roles. All assigned production responsibilities are based on a combination of training, experience, and previous levels of professionalism. Students are encouraged to submit professionally framed resumes when submitting their Requests for Practicum Assignments to the director of Production

Practical Information


Your instructor for this course is the “supervisor” who signed your practicum assignment sheet. Every student should be assigned two supervisors: a primary supervisor in the area of specialization of the practicum job and a secondary supervisor who will be reviewing the student’s work on a regular basis during the production process. (For example, all student designers will have a combination of a faculty designer and the faculty director for the production for which they design. In addition, as the design/tech faculty members do not attend the entirety of every performance—and the production director is required to do so—the production director will serve as a co-supervisor for all of the tech support in the performance company.)

Contact Information: Contact your supervisor(s) within one week of your practicum assignment via his or her office hours, which should be posted on their office door (or available through the department office) or see the contact sheet posted on the callboard.

Practicum Coordinator: There is always a faculty coordinator for Practicum. If you are finding difficulty in or have questions about your practicum assignment and have already spoken with your practicum supervisor, then you should speak with the practicum coordinator to resolve issues. (The practicum coordinator is also the director of Production.)


This course is supported by WebCT iniitially as the primary course management tool. Over the course of this semester, on-line course management will shift to Moodle as the primary tool. Resources such as the production calendar, Senior Thesis Requirements, and area handbooks will be found there (as well as the on-line Department Handbook for the last two items). You are also required to complete a self-evaluation on Moodle. Log on to WebCT after drop-add and make sure you understand how to use it. The director of Production will let you know when you can log on to Moodle.

Meeting Place and Time:

[Please note this is changed from last year!]
TBTG Company members are required to attend specific company meetings), on Wednesdays from 4:40 to 5:30 p.m. These meetings are considered “classes” and will be treated as unexcused absences from class if you are not excused from the meeting by your practicum supervisor!

The first meeting of each semester is an orientation meeting on the first Wednesday of the semester, at which agreement forms are written and signed for various activities in Theater-By-The-Grove productions. (The Dance Company conducts its own, separate organizational meetings.)

Meetings throughout the semester are held on topics of importance to the productions and also to the experiential education of majors. While theater minors and nonmajors are encouraged to attend, because of the nature of some company meetings their attendance is not required if the meeting is not directly connected to their production work for this semester. Please note that this waiver will never extend to the critique sessions the Wednesday after each show closing or the self-evaluation instrument, which is required of all Practicum students.

Specifically assigned work (e.g., rehearsals, painting, construction, or lighting) is scheduled by your supervisor as required to meet the production schedule. Your supervisor will tell you what your schedule will be, but if you don’t hear from him or her, contact him or her to find out where and when you are expected. Because schedules change, check the call board daily for notices posting calls and changes.

Critique sessions for the purpose of discussing the “lessons learned” after each TBTG production are typically held the first Wednesday after a production closes, from 4:40 to 5:30 p.m. Attendance by all students registered for THTR 486 Practicum in Production is required.

Text and Materials:

The only required text for this course will be the plays being produced this semester. Materials are provided by Theater-By-The-Grove.

  1. Even if you are on a crew rather than a cast, read the play.
    1. All members of the company (faculty, staff, and students) should have a level of understanding of both scripts for the semester’s Mainstage productions.
    2. This means that you need to have read the script—and apply some level of script analysis to the script if you are part of the production company.
  2. Those students not directly involved with a particular production should still read the script to better prepare them for not only seeing the production but be able to respond better to it in both the in-class responses to the production as well as the Company critique.

Course Goals and Objectives:

The overall goal of Practicum in the Department of Theater and Dance is for students to experience the performance and production practices described and studied in the formal classroom. We expect students to apply the practical applications of classroom instruction, as well as the traditions and work ethic of the theater and dance professions.

By the end of the course all students should be able to do the following at a level appropriate to their experience.

  • Demonstrate a strong work ethic within a professional framework of collaboration
  • Analyze a play from your point of view as a company member
  • Demonstrate an aesthetic sensibility by responding constructively to the creation of the production
  • Create individual artistic expression or craftsmanship in your assigned area of the production
  • Demonstrate an appreciation and understanding of the cultural and historical context of the production on which you are working
  • Reflect upon their contribution to the production process towards evaluating others as well as their own working process and development

As a result of these course expectations, it is a vital part of our department’s annual assessment of the learning effectiveness of Practicum in Production that all students in this course complete the “Self-Evaluation” on Moodle for each job that have been assigned with THTR 486 credits for this semester. In addition, completing these self-evaluations contributes to your supervisor’s evaluation of your work and your grade (as noted more clearly in the next section).

Evaluation and Grading:

Evaluation and grading is based upon how you contribute your talents at a level appropriate to your experience. Your grade is determined by your faculty supervisor’s assessment of your learning and his/her evaluation of your work ethic, achievement, collaboration, and critical engagement. As a general rule you can expect the following:

A=excellent work, an outstanding contribution to the company though diligent and consistent application of talent at whatever level is appropriate to your experience and evidence of collaborative effort

B=good work, positive contribution to the company through applying your talents at whatever level is appropriate to your experience

C=fair work, contributed to the production with some minor shortcomings which indicate performance below a level appropriate to your experience

D=poor work, contribution was seriously flawed by absences, carelessness, or other detractions which are under your control

F=unacceptable work

Self evaluations, to be completed on Moodle, are a requirement of the course. They are used by supervisors to create their evaluation and to establish your “critical engagement”—a component of evaluation. More importantly, they are a place for you to reflect on the assignment you completed, and so contribute to your learning. Not doing these required self-evaluations on Moodle will prevent your grade from being posted onto Banner, unless you contact your practicum supervisor and/or the director of Production concerning any specific problem you may have encountered in accessing the evaluation online. All students should do this self-evaluation within one week of finishing their production responsibility.

Note: Attendence and student self-evaluations have a significant impact on your grade. Read the attendance policy below. Loss of a letter grade or two can be the result of a cavalier attitude toward these requirements.

Company Rules:

In the interest of establishing a safe and creative work environment, performance companies always have rules by which they abide. The company rules of TBTG and the IUP Dance Company are posted at the end of this syllabus and on their respective callboards. They are also available in our Department Handbook on our webpages as well. It is part of your practicum agreement to abide by these rules. Acquaint yourself with them.

Attendance Policy and Scheduling:

  1. “Cutting class” is not acceptable.
    Theater is a communal art that requires everyone to work together, so you should assume that any absences will have a negative impact on the production process. In the event that an absence becomes necessary due to serious medical or family emergencies, a student needs to contact his or her primary or secondary faculty supervisor as soon as possible in order to be excused. Unexcused absences will lower your final grade. Your attendance at specifically required Company meetings is included in the expectations for attendance for this course, in addition to your rehearsal or production calls. Minors and nonmajors are required to attend the Company meeting critique session for their show, typically the Wednesday after closing in addition to the specific Company meetings focused on that show. The Company meeting schedule for Fall 2009 is attached (and available on our department webpage). Again, to be specific:

    • Two tardies will be the equivalent of an unexcused absence.
    • Your grade will be reduced by one letter grade for each unexcused absence over the policy allowance. Any departure from this policy will have to be discussed with your supervisor and the practicum coordinator.
    • Those who must miss production critiques for an excusable reason must write a two(2)-page critique and submit it to your supervisor for evaluation within a week of the Company critique of that production. If this written critique is not submitted by then, the Company critique session will be considered an unexcused absence.
  2. Schedules can change!!!
    Check the callboard often—daily during your phase of the production.

    It is your responsibility to abide by the schedule required for your area of performance or production. Each work period is termed a call. Performance and production calls will be posted on the call board outside the Greenroom in the basement of Waller Hall. Performers will be required to attend costume fittings, which will be posted on the callboard. Costume fittings are required calls. Missing them will affect your grade. See the attendance policy above for more information.

  3. Meeting with your supervisor
    You should take the opportunity to learn from your area faculty supervisor(s). This necessarily means talking with him or her about the production and your work on it. This will likely improve your grade and might even be the easiest way to make that happen. Likewise, a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor after the production opens will also be helpful. Don’t be surprised if your supervisor schedules an evaluation interview before grading.

Student Safety Pledge

Because you are enrolled in TH 486 Practicum in Production, you may be asked to operate machinery, be exposed to hazardous materials, or engage in some other risky activity. Your supervisor will lower risk by being safety conscious. By signing off on your practicum agreement, you also agree to the following safety pledge.

It is understood that I will be given proper instruction in the safe use of equipment, materials, and procedures before using them. I understand that I must also assume responsibility for the following safe practices:

  • follow all safety rules for the shops, rehearsal spaces, theaters, and dance studio
  • never use a machine or material without authorization from the instructor, the technical director, or an authorized shop supervisor
  • report any accidents or incidents immediately to my area supervisor
  • keep the shop, rehearsal, and performance areas neat and clean, regardless of whether or not I made the mess
  • look out for the safety of my fellow student, as well as my own

Company Rules and Responsibilities

One of the most important tasks [a theater or dance artist] faces is working smoothly with the people around him. Each project an [artist] chooses to work on (and he does choose) surrounds him with new personalities, each with opinions about how a scene should work or which . . . technique is superior or whether the next day will bring rain. Though conflict is the essence of drama, it is the bane of productivity; therefore, keep the following virtues ever before you:

  1. humility, so that when someone corrects you, you will not be offended
  2. generosity, so that when someone errs, you do not condemn, but forgive
  3. consideration, so that when someone believes something, you do not denounce his belief,
  4. tact, so that when you believe something, you know the proper place, manner, and time to present that belief.
    —A Practical Handbook for the Actor

Theater-by-the-Grove and the IUP Dance Theater Company are run as much like professional resident companies as is possible given their primary mission of teaching and training undergraduate students. Therefore, the privilege you have earned by audition or interview carries a responsibility—to behave with a professional attitude toward the craft of making theater. A professional attitude is founded upon a work ethic that requires self-discipline, respect for one’s associates, and dedication toward your audience. The following company rules are founded on this work ethic:

  • The show must go on.
  • Theater and Dance Department
  • Waller Hall, Room 104
    401 South Eleventh Street
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2965
  • Fax: 724-357-3885
  • Department Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.