Academic Catalog

Performing Arts

(413) 662-5255
www.mcla.edu/performingarts
Chairperson: Jeremy Winchester, M.F.A.
Email: Jeremy.Winchester@mcla.edu

Fine and Performing Arts Major

The Department of Fine and Performing Arts offers a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts. The program provides students with a general introduction to the arts through a set of foundation courses. Students choose concentrations in music and or theatre. Options to minor in music, music production or theatre, allow students to design a program uniquely tailored to their own interests and future goals. Located in one of the country’s premier arts and cultural meccas MCLA performing arts students leverage a dynamic range of coursework and practical application with unparalleled access to the Berkshire’s world-class performing arts institutions to become well-rounded graduates equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to transition to careers in the theatre or music professions. Students graduating with a degree in Performing Arts will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a broad-based understanding of the studio and historical/theoretical aspects of the performing arts;
  • Demonstrate expertise in a chosen concentration of Music or Theatre;
  • Demonstrate practical experience in public performance or exhibition in the arts;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the current arts ecology and their place in it.

Department Policy Regarding Double Majors/Concentrations/Minor Programs

Students may not minor in the same discipline as their major or concentration, but they may minor outside their concentration area. For example: PA/Music concentration majors may not also minor in Music, but could minor in Theatre, Arts Management, Music Production or other disciplines.

Foundation Courses

AMGT 130Introduction to Arts Management3
Select one of the following:3
Piano I
Private Lessons 1
Private Lessons 1
Private Lessons 1
Drawing for Theatre
MUSI 251Introduction to Music3
or MUSI 253 World Music
THEA 110Introduction to Stagecrafts3
or THEA 120 Introduction to Performance
THEA 200Introduction to Theatre3
FPA 501Senior Thesis3
Total Hours18

Dance

DANC 100 Introduction to Dance3 cr

Introduces students to the basics of ballet and modern dance technique, as well as offer an overview of the history of those genres.

Attributes: Core Creative Arts (CCA)  
DANC 200 Intermediate Dance3 cr

Builds upon the basics of ballet and modern dance technique covered in Dance 100 Introduction to Dance as well as explores some of the important teachers, dancers, choreographers and works of those two genres.

Prerequisite: DANC 100  
DANC 300 Dance Project1-3 cr

Allows students to create an individual project in dance, research, production, choreography, education, or topics in dance management that serve to deepen knowledge, experience in and exposure to dance. May be repeated for a maximum of 3 credits.

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status  
Repeatable: maximum of 3 credits  
DANC 310 Topics in Dance Technique3 cr

Students will explore different techniques, periods and contexts of dance. Varies by topic. May include ballet, jazz, hip hop, African, Irish, folk, etc.

Prerequisite: DANC 200  

Fine & Performing Arts 

FPA 500 Supervised Independent Study1-3 cr

Open to juniors and seniors who wish to read in a specific area or pursue a project or topic in depth under the direction of a faculty member. Frequent conferences with the advisor are required.

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status, department approval  
Repeatable: maximum of 12 credits  
FPA 501 Senior Thesis3 cr

Directed study representing a student's ability and commitment to serious academic research. Seniors present a written thesis exploring a topic of their choosing in depth. Topics must explore how the arts are interdisciplinary, be presented in the context of their time, and take into account related artistic influences and social values.

Prerequisite: Senior FPA Major  
FPA 540 Internship in Fine and Performing Arts1-15 cr

An opportunity to work in an arts-related job. Work situations might include: a position in a theatre company; collections management or educational outreach employment in a museum; assisting in the management of a community music ensemble or a school music program; work with development, publicity, programming, and publication for an arts council, gallery, or other arts business. Only 3 credits can be applied to Performing Arts major requirements.

Prerequisite: Performing Arts junior/senior status, department approval  
Repeatable: maximum of 15 credits  

Music

MUSI 159 Music Theory I4 cr

Develops various ear training skills, including sight singing, melodic and rhythmic dictation, and an introduction to harmonic dictation. These skills will be developed in conjunction with an introduction to music theory: simple and compound meter, scales, intervals, and chords. Includes Piano Lab.

MUSI 175 Home Studio Recording3 cr

Introduces basic concepts of recording, mixing and editing music on a macbook. Course material includes microphone placement, recording, mixing and basic composition.

MUSI 251 Introduction to Music3 cr

Provides a general historical survey of music and introduces basic music theory. The objective of the course is to help students become conversant in the styles and genres of music in the history of western civilization. Popular music styles are discussed in their historical context as well as for their influences on contemporary culture.

Attributes: Core Creative Arts (CCA)  
MUSI 252 Piano I3 cr

Classroom piano instruction for students with little or no musical background or experience. Emphasis on basic piano technique and elementary music theory.

MUSI 253 World Music3 cr

Compares world music and the study of music in the context of culture. Introduces students to the field of ethnomusicology and explores the folk and classical music of Asia, the Balkans, the Americans, and the wealth of ethnic culture in the North Adams area.

Attributes: Core Creative Arts (CCA)  
MUSI 256 Guitar I3 cr

Provides students with a proficiency of basic guitar techniques through study and performance of appropriate repertoire. Assumes no musical background or experience. Guitars provided on loan.

MUSI 258 Private Lessons1 cr

Studying privately with a professional musician, students will take 10, one-hour instrumental or voice lessons. Through this study they will advance their technique as well as improve their musicianship. Students will study a selection of exercises and repertoire with the studio instructor and will prepare at least one piece for a final evaluation or performance. Course may be repeated for a maximum of 3 credits. Two sections may be taken concurrently on different instruments. Additional fee required.

Prerequisite: Department approval  
Attributes: Additional Fees Apply (FEE)  
Repeatable: maximum of 3 credits  
MUSI 259 Music Theory II4 cr

Introduces musical notations and modes of analysis in a sequential format beginning with basic staff and note symbols, scale and chord structure, major and minor tonality, etc., and continuing through key signatures, chord function, seventh chords, inversions and harmonic analysis and ear training. Mastery of skills is required before admission to the next level (B or better).

Prerequisite: MUSI 159 or instructor approval  
MUSI 275 Performance Workshop Topic3 cr

Studies in depth a specific aspect of music performance. Designed to provide advanced work in analysis, interpretation and research. Offerings may include, but are not limited to: Building a Vocal Portfolio, Broadway, Gershwin, Flute Choir, Performing Mozart.

Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
MUSI 350 Instrumental Ensembles1-3 cr

Perform with one or more of the following: The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Community Band; The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Jazz Band; Chamber Ensembles. These groups perform music from standard and contemporary literature and are intended for experienced instrumentalists.

Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
MUSI 351 Topics in Music History3 cr

Studies the composition, performance, reception and criticism of music over a specified time period. A historical study of music concerned with a composer's life and works, performance practice, developments of styles and genres, and place of music in society. Offerings may include but are not limited to genre history, period history, composers or specific works.

Prerequisite: MUSI 251  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
MUSI 352 Piano II3 cr

Develops keyboard skills. Attention given to chording, sight reading, accompanying, improvising, performance practice and the development of a repertoire.

Prerequisite: MUSI 252 or equivalent  
MUSI 356 Guitar II3 cr

Develops intermediate-level performance skills.

Prerequisite: MUSIC 256 or equivalent  
MUSI 357 Vocal Ensembles1-3 cr

Perform with one or both of the following: The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Concert Choir; The Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Chamber Choir; repertoire includes choral literature from all periods.

Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
MUSI 358 Private Lessons1 cr

Studying privately with a professional musician, students will take 10, one-hour instrumental or voice lessons. Through this study they will advance their technique, as well as improve their musicianship. Students will study a selection of exercises and repertoire with the instructor and will prepare at least two pieces for a final evaluation or performance. Course may be repeated for a maximum of 3 credits. Two sections may be taken concurrently on different instruments. Additional fees required.

Prerequisite: MUSI 258, department approval  
Attributes: Additional Fees Apply (FEE)  
Repeatable: maximum of 3 credits  
MUSI 359 Music Theory III3 cr

Continues materials presented in MUSI 259. Advanced work in harmonic analysis, secondary dominants, higher tertian chords, dictation and solfeg. Opportunities to improve conducting, performance, and composition skills. Further analysis of form, orchestration, arranging, and ear training.

Prerequisite: MUSI 259  
MUSI 360 Composing with Software3 cr

Introduces students to compositional techniques and formal components of music composition using music composition software. Students will write several pieces of music and practice exercises to demonstrate the compositional principles under study. The course will include lecture and studio settings.

Prerequisite: MUSI 359  
MUSI 375 Advanced Studio Recording/Live Sound3 cr

Continues MUSI 175. This course investigates advanced techniques of recording and live-sounding mixing on hardware and software. Techniques include microphone placement, speaker and monitor mixing, cabling and sound board principles. Students will be prepared for internships, graduate school and employment.

Prerequisite: MUSI 175  
MUSI 410 Orchestration/Arranging3 cr

Studies the technique of orchestration. Instruments of the orchestra, instrumental colors, preparing the score, adapting music for different mediums. Students will create one large project (arrangement for band or orchestra).

Prerequisite: MUSI 359  
MUSI 415 Counterpoint3 cr

An in-depth study of 18th century counterpoint with an historical approach. Students will write an invention, a trio-sonata and a fugue.

Prerequisite: MUSI 359  
MUSI 450 Topics in Music Seminar3 cr

Provides advanced work in analysis and interpretation and research. Offerings: Improvisation, Composition; Conducting; History of Musical Theatre, Recording.

Prerequisite: MUSI 159  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
MUSI 458 Private Lessons1 cr

Studying privately with a professional musician, students will take 10 one-hour, instrumental-voice lessons. Through this study they will advance their technique and improve their musicianship. Students will study a selection of exercises and repertoire with the instructor and will prepare at least two advanced pieces for a final evaluation or recital performance. Course may be repeated for a maximum of 3 credits. Additional fee required.

Prerequisite: MUSI 358, department approval  
Attributes: Additional Fees Apply (FEE)  
Repeatable: maximum of 3 credits  
MUSI 459 Music Theory IV3 cr

Examines traditional techniques of musical form and their applications in historical and contemporary styles.

Prerequisite: MUSI 359  
MUSI 475 Music Production Film3 cr

Continues MUSI 375. This course will examine the techniques and procedures of composing and recording music for specific uses with film. Students will create footage or explore outside sourced film and compose and/or mix music to be connected with aforementioned film. Students will explore the creative as well as the technical aspects of film music recording.

Prerequisite: MUSI 375  

Theatre

THEA 110 Introduction to Stagecrafts3 cr

Provides a foundation in the practice of technical theatre, preparation for work in scenery, lighting, and costumes. Class projects are designed to reinforce specific technical skills discussed and demonstrated in class. Additionally, the required lab time outside of class provides hands-on experience.

THEA 120 Introduction to Performance3 cr

Introduces the fundamentals of stage performance. Improvisation, relaxation, and character exercises build awareness of skills necessary for successful live performance. Presents basic acting vocabulary/theory. Develops confidence performing in front of others. Includes readings, plays in context, viewing of live theatre, and short writing assignments. Fosters more informed observers of performance experience.

Attributes: Core Creative Arts (CCA)  
THEA 200 Introduction to Theatre3 cr

Surveys historical development of world theatre emphasizing western dramatic tradition. Introduces a broad range of theatrical literature and theory within its historical context. Includes class discussions and writing assignments, as well as viewing of live theatre, panel discussions, and critical response sessions.

Attributes: Core Creative Arts (CCA)  
THEA 210 Drawing for Theatre3 cr

Familiarizes students with the basic materials and techniques of graphic presentation in scenic, costume, and lighting design for the theatre. Students will be introduced to the basic vocabulary of drawing, rendering and drafting techniques used as communication tools for theatre design and production. Focuses on technical drafting skills, perspective, and drawing the figure.

THEA 220 Beginning Acting3 cr

Sets foundation for the integrated voice, movement and acting training sequence. Draws from diverse sources to develop the actor's instrument and its potential for stage performance. Beginning with non-verbal exploration and movement study, students progress to character exercises with text. Designed to increase body awareness, expand flexibility and control, reinforce acting vocabulary and theory, and promote understanding of the demands of creating dynamic characters for stage performance.

Prerequisite: THEA 120  
THEA 230 Stagecraft II: Scene Construction3 cr

Provides the student with the basic knowledge of stage construction. Familiarizes students with the methods, materials, equipment, concepts and processes involved in the construction of scenery for the theatre. The emphasis of this course will be on the physical process that results in the production of scenery through construction techniques. Hands-on experience will be gained by completing lab hours in the scene shop; assisting in the construction and installation of theatre program season.

Prerequisite: THEA 110  
THEA 240 Stagecraft II: Costume Construction3 cr

Provides basic knowledge of costume construction. Familiarizes students with the methods, materials, equipment, concepts and processes involved in the construction of costumes for theatre production. Emphasis of this course will be on the physical process that results in the production of costumes through construction techniques. Hands-on experience will be gained by completing lab hours in the costume shop; assisting in the construction and installation of theatre program season.

Prerequisite: THEA 110  
THEA 250 Fundamentals of Theatre Design3 cr

Explores the creative process and the principles and tools of design as they apply to theatrical production. Emphasis will be on script analysis, graphic techniques, and research for and of design. Introduces the student to the vocabulary, fundamental elements and principles of design and how they apply to the theatre experience of scenery, costume and lighting design to include discussion, appreciation and evaluation of theatrical design.

THEA 260 Intermediate Acting3 cr

Continues the integrated voice, movement and acting training sequence from Beginning Acting emphasizing character building. Students explore the acting instrument in greater depth. Movement study connects the voice to the body and then progresses to play analysis from the actor's point of view, followed by more formal text work. The goal of the course is to gain greater flexibility and control over the instrument and expand understanding of the demands of creating dynamic characters for stage performance.

Prerequisite: THEA 220  
THEA 271 Play Analysis3 cr

Introduces the basic principles, techniques and challenges of analyzing plays for theatrical production. Focuses on the process of reading and analyzing plays while developing basic vocabulary of dramatic styles. Develops basic knowledge of principles of dramatic structure through readings from a diverse range of theatre texts from the western canon. Goal is to discover what the playwright has dramatized and how best to realize it on stage clearly, imaginatively and powerfully.

Prerequisite: THEA 200  
THEA 280 Stagecrafts II: (Topic)3 cr

Builds on the foundational skills learned in Introduction to Stage Crafts. Familiarizes students with methods, materials, equipment, concepts and processes resulting in the creation of some aspect of theatre production. Hands-on experience will be gained by completing lab hours in a production shop; assisting in creation of Theatre Program productions. Rotating topics may include: Stage Electrics, Stage Properties, Introduction to Sound. Student may repeat enrollment for credit, but may not repeat topics.

Prerequisite: THEA 110  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
THEA 290 Stage Makeup3 cr

Introduces students to basic makeup vocabulary, materials and techniques. Students will work toward a proficiency in the principles and skills of makeup application including basic corrective/straight makeup, old age, and character makeup in order to communicate aspects of a character to an audience certain information.

THEA 310 Design for Theatre (Topic)3 cr

Studies the process of designing for theatre through play analysis, research, color theory, composition, and the examination of design elements and principles for stage. Design concepts are demonstrated through rendering techniques, drafting or modeling to communicate ideas, cultivating a design aesthetic. Rotating topics may include: Costume Design, Scene Design, Lighting Design and Sound Design. Students may repeat enrollment for credit, but may not repeat topics.

Prerequisite: THEA 200, THEA 250  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
THEA 360 Advanced Acting (Topic)3 cr

Builds on the foundational skills and concepts acquired from the integrated voice, movement and acting sequence. Students will choose further study to inform their individual development as actors. Topics are offered on a rotating basis and focus on a specialized aspect of acting technique while incorporating advanced research and dramatic analysis. Topics include Shakespeare, Musical Theatre, Realism/Naturalism, and Experimental/Alternative. Students may repeat enrollment for credit, but not topics.

Prerequisite: THEA 120, THEA 220  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
THEA 370 Collaboration3 cr

Develops practical studio in theatrical collaboration designed for both performance and production students. Develops skills in collaboration across artistic disciplines, offering effective strategies for communication as students create and perform short projects. Offers direct, real-world experience in theatrical collaboration and leadership, allowing the individual to test skills, talents and creative ideas in an environment conducive to both individual and collective artistic growth.

Prerequisite: THEA 200, THEA 250, THEA 271  
THEA 372 Theatre Practicum1 cr

Provides practical experience on performance and production related activities for Theatre Program productions during semester. Students may repeat this course for credit.

Prerequisite: By audition or interview only  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
THEA 379 Topics in Theatre Production3 cr

Studies in depth a specific aspect of theatre production. Designed to provide advanced experience in materials and techniques used in theatre. Topics are offered on a rotating basis and focus on a specialized aspect of production technique. Topics may include: Historical Patterning, Computer-Aided Drafting, Advanced Lighting Technology, Stage Management. Students may repeat enrollment for credit but may not repeat topics.

Prerequisite: THEA 110, THEA 230 or THEA 240  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  
THEA 380 Audition Technique3 cr

Introduces the specific techniques and skills necessary to audition for the professional stage with confidence and artistic honesty. This course will focus on the development of audition material from a wide range of styles and genres as well as mastery of cold reading techniques, and practical preparation for the professional world and the business of acting. For the student contemplating a professional theatre career.

Prerequisite: Junior/senior status, Theatre Concentration, THEA 220  
THEA 381 Theatre History I: Beginnings to 17th Century3 cr

Traces the evolution of Western theatre in its social/political context from ancient Greece through the Renaissance. Theatre architecture, styles of staging, and works of dramatic literature are studied in relation to the social and intellectual history of each major era.

Prerequisite: THEA 200  
THEA 383 Theatre History II: 18th Century to Present3 cr

Traces the evolution of Western theatre in its social/political context from the 18th century to the Post-Modern Period. Theatre architecture, styles of staging, and works of dramatic literature will be studied in relation to the social and intellectual history of each major era or artist style.

Prerequisite: THEA 200  
THEA 470 Directing3 cr

Explores the fundamentals of direction for the stage, including analysis, composition and staging. Begins with play analysis from a director's point of view, followed by exploration of stage composition, then progresses to staging and working with actors. The various exercises culminate in the direction of a short play for public performance. The goal is to increase understanding of the many roles and responsibilities required of the theatre director as artist and collaborator.

THEA 479 Topics in Theatre Performance3 cr

Studies in depth a specific aspect of theatre performance. Provides advanced work in analysis, interpretation and research. Primarily for majors in their junior or senior year. Includes topics such as: Accents and Dialects for the Stage, Advanced Directing, Clowning and Comedian, Collaborative Theatre Ensemble, Contact Improvisation, Hip Hop Theatre, Improvisation, Mask Performance, Melodrama, Period Dance for Stage, Physical Comedy, Puppetry, Spoken Word, and Stage Combat.

Prerequisite: Instructor approval  
Repeatable: Unlimited Credits  

Students majoring in fine and performing arts may opt to pursue initial teacher licensure as an early childhood teacher or elementary teacher. Students seeking any of these licenses must complete a fine and performing arts major, education major and a licensure program in education.