COVID-19 information and resources
Douglas College wordmark
Facebook logo Twitter logo Instagram logo Snapchat logo YouTube logo Wordpress logo
back to search

Introduction to Acting

Course Code: PEFA 1120
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course is an exploration of the actor’s internal and external resources for the creation of character. Students participate in scenes and dramatic exercises with emphasis on awareness, prepared improvisation, speech, and movement. Students gain knowledge regarding key historical and modern acting styles with specific reference to Realism, Shakespeare, and Epic Theatre.

Course Content

Students will become familiar with the internal and external resources available to the actor for the effective creation of character.  They will learn specific terminology and vocabulary appropriate to the acting profession including terms and definitions of elements of theatre buildings, historical and contemporary acting styles, costumes, make-up, and stage properties. They will learn to apply appropriate resources to the development and playing of characters in performance situations.

  1. Exploring an actor’s personal resources (imagination, sense memory, concentration, emotional recall)
  2. The Actor and His Purpose
    • Acting by doing not being
    • Finding the intention
    • Working against an obstacle
    • Finding truth in action
  3. Making a score of physical actions
    • Beginning, middle and end of a unit or beat
  4. Learning to concentrate
    • Concentrating on actions
    • Concentrating on other actors (listening)
  5. Acting and Observation
    • Developing sense awareness
    • Observing people, animals and objects
  6. Relating to other actors
  7. Relating to objects, images and past experiences

Methods of Instruction

  1. Lectures will introduce the theoretical aspects of stage acting including the differences between various historical and contemporary acting styles. Lectures will also include extensive use of appropriate vocabulary and terminology with respect to stage acting.
  2. In the classroom/studio, students will work on practical exercises in the development of character.  Students will be required to work in small and large groups in the preparation and performance of a number of short acting projects.

Means of Assessment

Attendance (10%)

Due to the fact that this is a studio course, full attendance and regular punctuality is mandatory.  The following deductions will apply: 3% off the final mark per missed class and .5% off the final mark per late class.

Written Journal (10%)

Students are expected to keep a journal for this course.  Student reflections on class material, projects and exercises should be recorded at appropriate times throughout the semester.  The instructor is most interested in seeing how the student is able to express his or her understanding of how to apply the class work to practical acting events.

Attitude/Participation/Progress (10%)

Students are expected to approach their work in a mature and professional manner. Promptness, out-of-class preparation, and consideration of others will be reflected in this mark. Students are expected to participate fully in all aspects of the work, not only as solo and/or ensemble performers but also as constructively critical audience members whose individual observations and opinions are valuable. Students will be assessed on an ongoing basis according to level of commitment and dedication to the process of class work and practical application of techniques.

Presented Work (35%)

Students will be assessed on their individual progress toward achieving course objectives with regard to presentations of some or all of the following: prepared improvisations, monologues, small and large group exercises and major performance projects. The weighting and number of Presented Work assignments will be determined by the instructor but will correspond to the following guideline:

  • Up to 3 assignments x 5%
  • Up to 2 assignments x 10%
  • Up to 1 assignments x 15%

Written Work (25%)

Students will complete a number of written assignments on topics to be determined during the course. Students will be expected to write clearly and thoughtfully with appropriate spelling and grammar and structure following the assignment outline for each assignment. Assignments might include the following or similar topics:

a) Determine the central image and governing metaphor of the production. Give specific instances from the production of the central image and governing metaphor. Examine how the central image and governing metaphor influenced the key elements of the production including: acting style, costumes, sets, properties, sound and lighting.
b) Complete a chart work analysis of the character of Tom in Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie. Write the chart work as if you were playing Tom in a production of the play.
c) Compare and contrast the acting styles of two of the plays that you attended this term. Provide specific references to the differences in physicality and relationship to the audience.

Note that there will be from one to four written assignments in this section. Value for the assignments will range from 5% to 15% each depending on the number and difficulty of assignments.

Quizzes on lecture and textbook material (10%)

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the course, the successful student should be able to:

  1. develop a knowledge of internal and external resources available and necessary for the effective creation of a character
  2. learn and apply appropriate terminology and vocabulary of acting for the stage
  3. become familiar with the elements of specific historical and contemporary acting styles
  4. learn and apply specific resources to the development and effective presentation of character.

course prerequisites

Nil (Note: Students cannot receive credit for both PEFA 1120 and THEA 1110.)

curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.