Course Syllabus

Welcome to TA 116—Dramatic Structure & Analysis!

Course Description

This class is for anyone who wants to learn to study theatre as an art form, not just for those learning to appreciate it as a patron. In TA 116 you will learn skills to help you critically analyze a play’s text to see how certain aspects work together to support and strengthen a play’s message. You will learn to find the internal clues left by the playwright in the text to authentically interpret plays and better grasp their nuances. Even if you have read these plays before, and feel like you already know them, you will discover new tools to help you understand them (and future plays you are involved with) more comprehensively.

A Note From Your Instructor

Please be aware that some of the plays, videos, and other materials used in this class may contain strong profanity, adult themes, and other things some may consider “strong content.” It is up to you to do the research well ahead of time to find out if you might be offended by anything related to the course content. If you discover something that you believe will offend your spirit or sensibilities, you will need to visit with me well ahead of time to see if an arrangement can be made. In some cases, this is just not possible, but in most cases, especially if you give me several weeks notice, I am willing to make an accommodation. If you are not willing to do the research necessary to find out about the content of the plays we will be reading, or the films we will be watching, you may want to consider taking this course during another semester with another faculty member.

Purpose of the Class

Learn to critically analyze the structural elements of scripts to create more insightful acting, directing, and/or designing of plays.


There are no prerequisites for this course. Although TA 115 is related to TA 116, you do not need to have previously taken it to be successful in TA 116.

Course Outcomes

Each student will:

  1. Be able to identify, define, and discuss the basic structural elements of selected works of drama.
  2. Acquire the skills necessary to critically analyze a play's value.
    1. Refine an ability to analyze written and/or performed plays to determine the quality of the plays' scripts.
    2. Be able to recognize the merits of great plays on a deeper level than that of a typical patron.
  3. Develop a defensible personal criteria for determining the dramatic production potential of any play.
    1. Become aware of the gospel influences helping to shape the development of one’s personal criteria.
    2. Learn to persuasively express personal insights that can be supported by the text of the play.
  4. Collaboratively work with others to improve everyone’s acquired skills and class experience.

Course Architecture

In an online course, regular and sustained attention to the course is critical. You will not be successful if you try to cram all of your learning into short, intensive bursts of study. Be attentive to the reading assignments, course activities, and deadlines. The first week (Week 01) will help orient you to the course, and give you time to practice using the online tools. You will wrap up the course in Week 14 by submitting your final assignments.

Please Note

Each week:

  1. Will open 4 days early in order to accommodate students who need more flexibility in their schedule.
  2. Will remain open for 10 days ending on the following Saturday evening.
  3. Has three main due dates

Even though this course is online, it is not an independent study course. In fact, discussion with classmates is a key component of this course. You will be expected to form opinions that can be supported with textual evidence, and come to a greater understanding of the plays through discussions with your classmates. You will be assessed on:

  • how well you are able to demonstrate the skills you are learning and
  • how well you work with your classmates.

In order to do well, you should expect to spend 3–4 hours per credit hour. Therefore, you will need to be able to commit 6–8 hours each week to this course. If you are unable to commit to the time demands this semester, please consider taking the class some other time when you can devote the necessary time to complete the workload.

A large portion of the time spent in this class will be devoted to the weekly reading assignments.

It is important to be prepared both intellectually and emotionally each week. Theatre in general, and play analysis in particular, are interactive activities by nature. As you interact with others in various assignments, please remember to be kind, considerate, and respectful of differing viewpoints. You can differ in opinions (sometimes the best learning comes when others challenge your thinking), but still be civil. Any violation of basic common courtesy—including interaction with the instructor—will negatively impact your grade.

Read the following article as a reminder of the promises and warnings Elder Bednar addressed concerning entitlement.

Course Materials

The course materials are available in the Course Materials List.

You will need the textbook, Script Analysis for Actors, Directors, and Designers—Sixth Edition—by James Thomas. ISBN: 978-0815352303.

Compare prices for your textbooks through the University Store Price Comparison site. They will show you all of the options from the University Store plus several online options to help you find the best price.

You will need access to the following play texts. A link to an acceptable online version of the script will be posted for each of the plays, but you may use your own personal text or anthology with your instructor’s permission. Play texts are also available in your public library and in various play anthologies. You may also find additional, helpful information on Youtube, Amazon, or other online sources.

  1. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles, 430 BC
  2. A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry, 1959
  3. The Wild Duck, Henrik Ibsen, 1884
  4. Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller, 1949
  5. Mother Courage, Bertolt Brecht, 1937
  6. The School for Scandal, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1777
  7. Tartuffe, Moliere, 1669
  8. Three Sisters, Anton Chekhov, 1901

Weekly Flow

A typical week (W02–W13) contains the following activities:

Study Assignment

Thomas Textbook

This textbook will be your primary resource for learning the skills and completing assignments in this course. You will need to stay current in the Thomas readings in order to be able to participate effectively in the course. You will also need the correct edition to complete your assignments.

Play Reading

There will be an assigned play to read and analyze using the skills you are learning in most weeks. However, twice during the semester, the same play will be used for two consecutive weeks.

  • There will be a different emphasis about the play for each of the two weeks.

Class Discussions

The discussion board will be a key component in understanding the plays, and will be particularly important for you as you seek to hone your script analysis skills. The weekly discussion board will be the place for you to talk with your instructor and classmates about what you are learning. In order to do well in the course, you will need to be active in these discussions by talking with your classmates and learning from them.

Team Table Work Google Docs

You will be placed in small teams with some of your classmates to work together. This will help you practice your analysis skills, and share new understanding about the plays you are reading. Each week your team will work together to complete a Google Doc consisting of vocabulary and a discussion of your team's greatest insights and questions.

  • You will be graded on the quality of your answers,
    • the completeness of your Team Table Work Google Doc, and
    • how well you interact to help others on your team.
  • Teams will be created in Week 02, and changed in Week 08.

Assignment: End-of-Chapter Exercises

At the end of each chapter in the Thomas text, you will find a number of exercises. Your instructor will post a few of these to discuss in each weekly class discussion. You'll answer the remaining exercises on your own in this assignment.

Report: Team Table Work

The Team Table Work Report provides an opportunity to give an account of the efforts and accomplishments of you and your team members as you work together.

Weekly Wrap-Up Quiz

This quiz helps you to account for some of your activities each week, assess what has gone well, and think about what might be improved. This is the only way to get credit for some of the activities that you do, so be sure to complete it every week.

Additional Production Analysis Write-Ups

Attend and analyze at least two full-length live theatre performances (not movie versions) outside of class. Your written analysis should reflect the skills you have developed throughout the course.

  • One is due in Week 07 and the other is due in Week 14.
    • A third analysis may be completed for extra credit.
      • It will be worth about 1/3 of the original assignment.
  • Your Thomas textbook will be useful as you complete these analyses.
  • Because the emphasis of this course is on the text of the plays, Operas, Operettas, and Dance performances cannot be used to complete this assignment.
    • If you have a question about the appropriateness of a performance for this assignment, check with your instructor before attending the performance.


In the very rare case that your circumstances do not allow you to attend a live performance, let your instructor know as soon as possible. Your instructor will work with you to define an alternate assignment.

Course Activities

This course is organized around three (3) main due dates. Be sure you know when assignments are due so you can devote adequate time to finish them.

Beginning of Week (see Calendar)

  1. Preparation Material Reading Assignment:
    1. Thomas Textbook
    2. Related Play
  2. First major post in the discussion board
  3. Team Google Doc created and shared with team members

Midweek (see Calendar)

  1. End of Chapter Exercises
  2. Engagement in weekly discussion board (at least two additional posts)
  3. First major contribution (insight) on the Team Table Work Google Doc

End of Week (see Calendar)

  1. Final posts in the discussion board (at least one additional post)
  2. Completed Team Table Work Google Doc (Dramatic Discussion, Terms, and People to Know)
    • The corresponding assignment, Report: Team Table Work
  3. Weekly Wrap-Up Quiz

Other Activities

  • Two outside play analyses (One in Week 07, and one in Week 14)


The general breakdown of course points is as follows:

Assignment Name Points Total Points
W01 Quiz: Syllabus 15 15
W01 Worksheet: The Shape of Drama 10 10
Assignment: End-of-Chapter Exercises 10 x 15 150
Class Discussions on Plays 12 x 20 240
Other Class Discussions 30 30

Team Table Work Google Docs (W02–W06 and W08-W12)

Team Table Work Google Docs (W07 and W13)

10 x 10

2 x 20

Report: Team Table Work (W02–W13) 12 x 15 180
Weekly Wrap-Up Quiz (W01–W14) 14 x 10 140
Report: Production Analysis (W07 and W14) 2 x 100 200
Total Points Possible 1105

Grading Scale

Letter Grade Percentage Range
A 93 - 100%
A- 90 - 92%
B+ 89- 87%
B 83 - 86%
B- 80 - 82%
C+ 77 - 79%
C- 70 - 72%
D+ 67 - 69%
D 63 - 66%
D- 60 - 62%
F 59% and below


A few extra credit points may be earned by attending and writing up an additional Production Analysis. It will be worth about 1/3 of the original assignment.

Late Work Policy

Assignments are due on the day indicated. Work that is late hampers both your and your classmates' ability to fully participate in the course, and will be accepted only at your instructor’s discretion. No late work will be accepted without first obtaining permission from the instructor. Inform your instructor of your extenuating circumstances before the assignment is due. Any late work that is accepted is subject to a penalty as determined by your instructor.

University Policies

Students with Disabilities

Brigham Young University-Idaho is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have a disability and require accommodations, please contact the Disability Services Office at (208) 496-9210 or visit their website and follow the Steps for Receiving Accommodations. Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with students and instructors by the Disability Services Office.

This course may require synchronous meetings. If you are currently registered with the Disability Services Office and need an interpreter or transcriber for these meetings, please contact the deaf and hard of hearing coordinator at (208) 496-9219.

Other University Policies

Student Honor and Other Policies

Please read through the document called University Policies. It gives important information about the following topics:

  • Student Honor
    • Academic Honesty
    • Student Conduct
      • Sexual Harassment
  • Student with Disabilities
  • Complaints and Grievances
  • Copyright Notice

Go to the Student Resources module to review further resources and information.

Help & Online Support Resources

If any technical difficulties arise visit the I-learn help tab located on the left-hand side of your screen to contact the appropriate support center before contacting the instructor.

Final Note

The instructor reserves the right to change any part of this syllabus at any time during the semester in order to adapt to changing course needs. You will be notified prior to any changes that may take place, so pay attention to communication from your instructor.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due