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Introduction to Design


Learning Outcomes. TD 135-Introduction to Design is an introduction to the principles of visual design and their role in the dramatic event. Particular emphasis is placed on bringing the imagined world of the playwright and choreographer to life through the use of space, light, and clothing. Historical and contemporary texts are explored through lectures, critical research, discussions, and projects. Students learn to use their unique creative potential to research and define a design concept, express this concept orally and in writing, and present the concept visually using sketching, rendering, computer visualization, and scenic modeling. Successful completion of this course will allow the student to:

  • Comprehend a viable process for designing costumes, scenery, and lights for theater and dance.
  • Appreciate the application of scenographic theory as it applies to tangible design solutions.
  • Understand the role of textual and visual research as critical processes used to define a viable production concept.
  • Gain increased facility using artistic presentational mediums to express complicated design ideas.
  • Become more accomplished using writing and oral presentation to communicate reasons for scenographic choices.

Unit #1: Fences by August Wilson. The primary goal of this unit is to present an overview of the design process while concentrating on achieving a viable costume design, with a design team, for a dramatic text.

Unit #2: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams. The primary goal of this unit is to experience a more in-depth process used to integrate research through explorative sketching and computer modeling. Given circumstance, dramatic intent, architectural context, and theater technology are explored through a dynamic design process to achieve a cohesive design expressed in a scaled concept model and process binder.

Unit #3: Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. The primary goal of this unit is to expose the student to total visual design-or scenography. The entire scenographic process is modeled to create a comprehensive vision for a dramatic text that has the ability to include dance as a significant production element.

Learning Assessment. Primary learning in this course centers around seven individual projects based on three dramatic texts. Each dramatic text represents a unit of learning covering approximately a third of the semester. Assignments are clearly noted on the syllabus. Each of the seven projects has a detailed, downloadable assignment sheet. The final grade for each student is comprised of:

  • Participation (15%). Collaboration is at the heart of theater and dance. It is essential to have each student in class engaged in the process of learning and discovery. The class experience is made up of four components: Lecture and Presentation, Discussion, Design Labs, and Student Presentations. Participation covers all four areas with the hope that each student will contribute to daily learning. Each student will be given a letter grade to indicate class participation after Unit #1 and after Unit #2.

    Attendance Policy. Attendance is certainly part of participation; therefore, for every class missed the overall course grade will be lowered by 1.5 percentage points. If for some reason you are unable to attend a class, due to a family emergency for example, please contact the instructor prior to the absence and make arrangements regarding assignments.

  • Project Work (85%). Each student should organize a three-ring binder for course work and project materials. Use dividers with the following categories: 1) Fences, 2) The Glass Menagerie, and 3) Eurydice. With the exception of large sketches, renderings, and models, each section will contain all work completed for that unit in the course. Binders will be collected when each unit is complete as noted on the daily syllabus. Content and organization are equally important with the binders. Project grading percentages are as follows:

Project #1    05%    Character Analysis
Project #2    05%    Character Study
Project #3    15%    Costume Rendering for Fences
Project #4    10%    Scenic Sketch
Project #5    15%    Concept Model for The Glass Menagerie
Project #6    10%    Concept Drawings
Project #7    25%    Production Design for Eurydice

Intellectual Integrity. It is expected each student will pursue original work in this course. This idea opens a very interesting dialogue on what "original" means. Students in this course will certainly be inspired by other artists, designers, and scenographers and will be influenced by styles defined by these artists--Frank Lloyd Wright for example. This influence is natural and acceptable. What is not acceptable is the direct copying of other's work and claiming it as your own. We will discuss this topic throughout the semester but it is important for each student to be familiar with Colby's stance on academic dishonesty. Please read the Academic Honesty and the Colby Affirmation (pdf).

Please also refer to the Colby College Libraries section on Avoiding Plagiarism

Project Work and Grading Statement. In a class of this nature it is essential you keep up with your work and hand assignments in on time. Projects are due at the beginning of each class--late projects will not be accepted. If you are having difficulty with an assignment see your instructor sooner rather than later so he can provide meaningful assistance. Please read the Project and Grading Statements (pdf).