Courses

The following classes are offered on a rotating basis:
Acting (5 units)
Acting is a course designed to teach the basic skills, concepts, and methods of modern realistic acting technique: essentially the why and how of stage performance. Beyond that, however, the class also provides students the opportunity to strengthen those powers of concentration, focus, analysis, imagination, creativity and empathy that are critical to this art form. There are also opportunities to analyze and critique professional and student productions and scripts in essays, annotations, and discussions.
Drawing (5 units)
The course begins with exercises that help the student learn to see analytically. The emphasis is on working from life: still life, landscape, live models, and perspective. Although the approach is structured, each assignment encourages personal expression. Discussions and critiques of student work are an important part of every session. The course also includes discussion and writing about contemporary art based on gallery and studio visits. Drawing is offered in conjunction with Painting as a year-long course that meets the UC visual and performing arts requirement.
professional and student productions and scripts in essays, annotations, and discussions.
Figure Drawing (5 units)
This class introduces basic drawing techniques. Once students achieve a satisfactory skill level, the figure itself becomes the focal point. Students take turns posing for each other in the study of gesture, proportion, composition, light/shadow, drapery, and limited three-dimensional figure sculpture in clay. Materials include pencils, charcoal, pastel, and clay. Visits to museums, galleries, and artists' studios are often included. Students write about their exposure to contemporary art. Figure Drawing is offered in conjunction with Painting as a year-long course that meets the UC visual and performing arts requirement.
Film Studies (5 units)
In this course we will focus on the development of 20th century film, the fundamentals of screenwriting, and the creation of a short film. Through viewing, discussing and reading about a variety of film genres and styles, the student will discover his/her own style; by studying screenplays and writing one of his/her own, the student will give voice to a compelling discussion or idea; and by developing directing and technical skills, the student will bring his/her vision to life for an audience. Each student film is presented in the spring film festival. In addition, each student will have the opportunity to research a director and review several of that artist’s films.
Methods and Materials (10 units)
Designed to introduce the student to the tools, techniques, and processes of creating two-dimensional art, this class covers multiple topics. Theory and criticism, art history, vocabulary, museum and gallery visits, critical writing, and discussion are integral parts of the course. The bulk of class time is devoted to the physical act of making works of art. Students experiment with various media, producing works in which more than one process is required. For example, egg tempera requires priming and sanding a panel, mixing pigment with egg, painting, gilding, and framing. Other media may include encaustic on panel, mask making, ceramic paintings, mounted tile compositions, and scratch board. Students learn to write analytically about their own work and about art historical and contemporary issues. Representatives from universities and art schools present educational opportunities and career options.
Music Appreciation and Performance I (5 units)
This course is about experiencing music: listening to it, reading about it, talking about it, rehearsing it, creating it and ultimately performing it for a live audience. Topics for the semester include reading music and understanding its basic elements; an overview of jazz and its performers; the world of musical theatre from 19th century operetta to the 21st century Òjuke-boxÓ musicals; an overview of the history of rock music from the 1950s to the present; and a brief look and listen to film music and its important contributors. You will also have the opportunity to attend two or more live performances/concerts to observe how music is performed in the real world.
Music Appreciation and Performance II (5 units)
This course is about experiencing music: listening to it, reading about it, talking about it, rehearsing it, creating it and ultimately performing it for a live audience. Topics for the semester include reading music and understanding its basic elements; chants and folk music from the Middle Ages; motets and madrigals from the Renaissance; the rise of opera and instrumental forms during the Baroque era; the development of the sonata, concerto, symphony and chamber music forms of the late 18th century; the development of nationalistic music and styles of individual composers in the 19th century; and how technologies of the 20th century affected composing and performing. You will also have the opportunity to attend two or more live performances/concerts to observe how music is performed in the real world.
Painting (5 units)
In Painting the student learns how to stretch and prepare a canvas, mix colors, organize a composition, and decide on subject matter. Acrylic techniques are presented, but a personal style and individual ideas are encouraged. Critique, discussion, and writing about student work are an important part of the class. We also visit museums and write about contemporary works of art. At the end of the semester we mount an exhibition of each student's best work. Painting is offered in conjunction with Drawing or Figure Drawing as the second half of a year-long course that meets the UC visual and performing arts requirement.
Theatre Production I (5 units)
This year-long course is about experiencing theatre: creating it, reading about it, thinking about it, talking about it, rehearsing it, writing about it and ultimately performing it for a live audience. Throughout this course students will examine and utilize the historical and cultural dimensions of theatre to inform and enrich their work. Students will also attend live performances each semester to observe how theatre is presented in the real world by professional actors, writers and designers. The first semester is designed to build upon principles learned in the Acting class and explores the nature of theatre and its spaces; the interaction of author, actor and audience; the contributions of directors and designers; and culminates in the performance of two full productions, generally a comedy and a drama. Students will also have the opportunity to attend professional productions at ACT in San Francisco and Berkeley Rep in Berkeley.
Theatre Production II (5 units)
This year-long course is about experiencing theatre: creating it, reading about it, thinking about it, talking about it, rehearsing it, writing about it and ultimately performing it for a live audience. Throughout this course students will examine and utilize the historical and cultural dimensions of theatre to inform and enrich their work. Students will also attend live performances each semester to observe how theatre is presented in the real world by professional actors, writers and designers. The second semester explores the nature of historical theatre and acting styles including Greek tragedy, Roman comedy, the medieval mystery plays and the classic works of Shakespeare and Moliere; the various contributions and styles of world theatre from Asia, Africa and the Americas; and culminates in the performance of two full productions, generally a musical theatre work and an evening of one-act plays, by both established and contemporary playwrights. Students will also have the opportunity to attend professional productions at ACT in San Francisco and Berkeley Rep in Berkeley.


Additional courses in English and Social Studies are offered to support the Arts curriculum, and include:
English: American Drama (5 units)
This course is a survey of 20th-century American drama written by American playwrights. Using Aristotle’s treatise on tragedy as a foundation, we will explore the development of realism in the American drama as well as its transformation throughout the century. A range of dramatic styles will be covered, with a balanced emphasis on analysis of the text and the historical, social and cultural context for the work. Plays by Eugene O’Neill, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Wendy Wasserstein and Tony Kushner, among others will be read. Significant reading, discussion and writing are required.
English: Shakespeare (5 units)
William Shakespeare is widely considered to be the greatest writer in the English language; his plays and poetry have intrigued audiences and readers for nearly four hundred years. Here we do close readings of a number of his works — exactly which ones and how many will be determined by the class. Focusing on the themes, methods, and language of his plays and poetry, we try to understand Shakespeare in the context of his day and age and attempt to determine his relevance to our own.
Social Studies: Film History (5 units)
This course traces the major developments in world cinema from its earliest beginnings in the 1890s to the present. The course is structured roughly chronologically and focuses on moments in cinema’s development that are particularly relevant from a historical perspective, be it aesthetic, political, technological, cultural and/or economic. The course will acquaint you with the events, causes and consequences of film history and to foster the critical skills necessary for you to assess and advance your own arguments about that history. By the end of the semester, you should be able to identify and critically examine the primary texts and contexts of major film movements and trends, to describe the aesthetic, political, cultural, economic and technological catalysts that distinguished and helped to shape those movements and trends, and to compose your own credible, original historical discourse about film history.
Social Studies: History and Art (5 units)
Using painting as the primary focus, along with some use of music and literature, the course explores the relationship between the artist and society. Why does art change? What role does art play in mirroring or causing social and political change? Along the way, we also explore the nature of painting itself: What is painting? Beginning with Baroque art, the course examines Classicism, Romanticism, Realism, Symbolism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, and Expressionism through the works of the most representative painters, artists such as Watteau, Goya, Manet, Gauguin, Picasso, Kandinsky, et al. Special emphasis is placed on the conflicting schools of Modern painting, especially its utopian and ideological dimensions. In the last weeks of the class, we look at reactions against Modernism in the last decades of the 20th century.
Social Studies: Music History (5 units)
A course for musician and non-musician alike, the class traces the history of music from the late 17th century to the present. Attention centers on the various "schools" of composition: the rebirth or Renaissance of music following the Middle Ages; the Baroque sounds of Bach and Handel; the Classic forms of Haydn and Mozart; the Romantic compositions of Beethoven and his later nationalistic disciples; and the rich diversity in musical works created by the “modern" composers of the 20th century. We also look at the role personality plays in the creative process as well as the larger role music plays in society as a whole. Considerable emphasis is placed on listening to recorded music, video, and live performance. There is ample opportunity for reading, thinking and writing about music.
Social Studies: Revolution and Theatre (5 units)
An exploration of revolutionary events as reflected in the theatre. The focus of the course is the industrialization of society, and the various national, class, gender, and ethnic conflicts, and their cultural and ideological aspects. The course begins with the French Revolution, characterized by rational mastery of nature and society, and ends with the Second World War, characterized by total chaos and mass destruction. These events, and investigations, will provide a context for examining the works of Buchner, Bond, Brecht, Ibsen, O’Neill, Shaw, and Stoppard, among others. Significant reading, discussion and writing are required.