Basic Acting

Introduction to fundamentals of acting as a process, a craft, a discipline - with basic techniques used by actors. Students develop an understanding of acting skills and theater/acting terminology, and learn to heighten powers of observation, focus, and invention through exercises in breathing, relaxation, voice, movement, theater games, and improvisation. Students will work with texts from dramatic scenes and monologues. Class requires a high degree of participation and willingness to engage in structured play in an ensemble.

stARTup Project

This project-based class challenges teams of writers, actors, dancers, visual/media artists, musicians, and managers to come together to devise, workshop, and produce an arts-based event. Students will master the elevator pitch, develop fundraising and publicity/marketing strategies, conduct production meetings, manage a budget, and present the work at the end of the term. Students will study what strategies have led to success for startup arts companies in Chicago. We will make site visits to art companies. Open only to students in Duke in Chicago Arts and Entrepreneurship summer program.

The Economics of Art (The Chicago Scene)

Introduction to Chicago and guests sharing experiences combining arts and entrepreneurship in theater, visual art, film, music, dance, marketing, and comedy. Discussion focuses on their careers and career paths, and relationships among facilities, budgets, and missions. Site visits, guest speakers, and internships help assess history and changing mission of arts organizations, evolution of site and impact on creative work, identification of audience(s), response to current economic climate, and organization of staff as a reflection of priorities/values.

Playmaking: Collaboration from Page to Stage

Dramatic writing - for stage, screen or film - is not meant to be read, like a novel or poem - it's meant to be performed. In this class, students explore the 'liveness' of dramatic writing by performing: not just as writers, but also as actors and directors, working with material generated in class and getting it up on its feet. Starting with writing exercises that aim at the core concept of 'dramatic action', students progress to self-generated works. During the semester each student will get to experiment with writing, directing and acting.


Introduction to field of performance studies, with examples drawn from music, dance, theatre, performance art, protests, rituals, and everyday life. Through comparative study of global performance, we explore the usefulness of concepts of ritual, play, and performativity as they relate to performance and technology; intercultural performance and implications and ethics of appropriation and borrowing; originality and imitation; archive and repertoire; performative writing; and the performative dimensions of gender, race, and sexuality. Instructor: Rogers


Study and create the dramatic text of musical theater, the ‘book’ that creates characters, structure, and narrative thrust. Course starts with grounding in the basics of text-writing by studying outstanding examples of bookwriting, from Arthur Laurents’ Gypsy to Brian Yorkey’s Pulitzer-winning Next To Normal. Students write a series of short scenes (5-10 pages) to be read aloud and critiqued in class, with ultimate goal of completing an original or adapted book for a one-act musical (30-60 pages.) Instructor: Bell, Rogers