Stage Production and Design Courses

SPD101 Fundamentals of Stagecraft and Production (2 credits)

This course introduces the basic elements and principles of theater production. Topics include set, lighting, and sound design, production safety, and basic concepts of stage management. Course activities include lectures, tests, and a final exam.

SPD111A/B Drawing A/B (2 credits each)

This course consists of the study and practice of basic drawing elements such as line, value, texture, composition, one- and two-point perspective, and color. Students will learn to apply these elements to develop concepts for graphic design. Tools used include pencil, pen and ink, charcoal, and colored pencils or markers.

SPD120 Introduction to Digital Media (2 credits)

This course introduces the basic elements of digital media and specifically the process and workflow of digital media design for the theater. Through lectures, detailed analysis, case studies, and projects, students learn how to break down scripts and present story concepts. They explore how visual techniques can be used to communicate emotions, share stories and new ideas, and expand the imagination.

SPD140 Introduction to Theater History and Practices (3 credits)

This course surveys the fundamental elements of theater, including acting techniques, the roles of the director and producer, and stage and costume design. It also gives students a sweeping historical tour of theater, from ancient Greece to Medieval Europe and from the Yuan Dynasty in China to the European Renaissance and the present. Through reading/watching plays and writing critiques, students will gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the traditions behind any theatrical performance they may attend.

SPD150, 250, 350, 450 Rehearsal & Performance Production I, II, III, IV (1 credit each)

The basic intent of these courses is that students will learn the responsibilities and processes of preparing for a live stage production by working as a member of a production crew. Each student is required to take this course every year when he/she is assigned to a specific but different production task, so that he/she can gain practical experience in all major aspects of production.

SPD155, 255, 355 Theater Production Practice I, II, III (3 credits each)

These three courses are designed to provide students opportunities to gain hands-on professional experience producing and executing stage production from home venues to real-world theaters. Students can participate in many production roles, collaborating with technicians, production crew, designers, and other artists in a professional environment. In the process, students will enhance and broaden their overall stage production knowledge and skills beyond what can be learned in a classroom.

SPD202 Fundamentals of Electricity and Electronics (3 credits)

This course introduces the basic concepts and principles of electricity with an emphasis on hands-on experiments. Students are exposed to a variety of real-life applications, and are encouraged to apply the knowledge and techniques they’ve learned to various experiments. Students constantly improve their understanding of technology and engineering by developing their analytical and critical thinking. Upon completion of this course, students should be able to conduct basic electrical tests and measurements, perform basic troubleshooting, and draw and interpret results.

SPD211A/B Drafting A/B (2 credits each)

This sequence introduces the student to the drafting standards and styles of the theatre design industry. Students begin with hand drafting to learn the language of line and gain an understanding of space, volume, and scale. As they progress, they will learn computer-aided drafting (CAD) via AutoCAD techniques and will practice generating accurate, measured drawings such as ground plans, sections, elevations, and construction drawings. The purpose is to develop the basic graphic communication skills needed to turn design concepts and ideas into practical theatre applications.

SPD212 Scenic and Set Design I (3 credits)

This course explores the fundamentals of scenic and set design for theater, covering floor plan design, scenic lighting design, stage design, and the building process of set scenery. Students will apply the technical skills discussed in the lectures to their own hands-on projects.

SPD213 Lighting Design and Production I (3 credits)

This course mainly focuses on the fundamentals of conventional stage lighting, such as how the theatrical lighting field developed, the theatrical environment, and the different jobs available in theatre. It also offers some basic training in fundamental stage lighting techniques for theatrical work and touches upon stage lighting production and stage lighting design. Course activities include lectures, discussions, assignments, and studio/hands-on projects. Prerequisite: SPD202.

SPD220 Digital Media Production: Techniques (2 credits)

Building on the foundation laid in SPD120 Introduction to Digital Media, this course focuses on introducing the entire video production process—from pre-production to production to post-production. Students are expected to be able to break down scripts and produce basic video products by the end of the course. Prerequisite SPD120.

SPD221 Digital Media: 2D Matte Painting (3 credits)

This course empowers students with proven strategies and techniques to create realistic and dynamic backgrounds. Students explore how to use photo references, artworks, and patterns to eventually produce their own portfolio of photorealistic backgrounds using professional workflows.

SPD223 Digital Media: Filming and Editing (4 credits)

This course allows students to explore the art of cinematography through essential visual communication and video production elements like lighting, pre- and post-green screen production, basic audio mixing, and non-linear editing. Through hands-on exercises both in the studio and on location, students learn to combine the technical aspects of cinematography—including ISO, WB, FPS, shutter angle, resolution, and recording format—with the aesthetic considerations of lens choice, framing, composition, camera perspective, and movement to create compelling visual images and stories. Prerequisite: SPD220.

SPD227 Introduction to Photography (2 credits)

This course introduces the concepts, principles, and practical techniques of the field of photography. Students explore the elements that make an effective photo, including subject choice, composition, camera position, lighting, and special techniques. Students are required to complete a series of projects to demonstrate the knowledge and skills they have learned.

SPD311 Scene Painting and Figure Drawing (2 credits)

This course focuses on developing basic drawing ability into skillful competence, eventually allowing students to communicate effectively through clear renderings of their visual conceptions. Students will be trained on digital computer systems as well as a variety of classical tools, including but not limited to pencils, pen and ink, charcoal, colored pencils, and markers. Prerequisite SPD111B.

SPD312 Scenic and Set Design II (3 credits)

This course explores advanced topics of scenic and set design for theater. It covers topics ranging from theatrical drawings to different sceneries and creating designs with sketches and CAD. Students will have hands-on experience in stage design. Prerequisite SPD212.

SPD313 Lighting Design and Production II (3 credits)

This course focuses on the advanced training and knowledge needed to transition from a crew member to a more skillful and knowledgeable lighting designer. It retains its focus on conventional lighting, though modern lighting technology will also be introduced, especially in relation to CAD software. It also includes the introduction of the complete workflow of stage lighting design and the core areas of stage lighting production. Prerequisite SPD213.

SPD314A/B Live Sound A/B (2 credits each)

This course sequence explores the musical, acoustical, and technical aspects of sound reinforcement for live performances. The aim of this course is for students to learn how to amplify and accurately recreate the sound of any given instrument in a variety of different locations with different acoustics, using a range of the most common tools available to the modern sound engineer.

SPD315 Drafting C (Vectorworks) (2 credits)

This course covers the basics of Vectorworks application in theatre design using a combination of lectures, in-class lab time and take-home projects to explore the various 2D and 3D tools, modeling techniques, and correct workflows in Vectorworks. Students use the tools to communicate their design ideas and collaborate with others. This course is intended for the student who is already proficient in standard theatrical drafting techniques. Prerequisite SPD211B.

SPD316 Costume Design I (3 credits)

An introduction to the process of costume design, including studying design elements, production organization from a design perspective, and practical historical research. The purpose is to enable the student to gain practical design experience by demonstrating their ability to analyze a script, complete historical research, attend production meetings, sketch, render a design concept, and defend that concept to the class.

SPD317 Sound Recording Techniques (2 credits)

This course is an introduction to the theory and practical applications of the tools and technology used in the art of live and studio music recording. Emphasis will be on how to best record different classical musical instruments, the human voice, as well as small and large orchestral ensembles content. Prerequisite SPD314A.

SPD324 3D Modeling, Texturing, and Animation (4 credits)

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals and concepts of animation in three dimensions. It is focused on introducing 3D animation software and developing students' existing motion skills. Students begin by exploring the concepts of non-organic animation, organic animation, and facial and emotional animation. Emphasis is on practicing the 12 basic principles of animation to demonstrate a strong sense of weight and emotion through movement.

SPD325 Digital Media: Compositing (3 credits)

This project-based course helps students build their portfolios as they explore the fundamentals of feature film, lighting, and how to integrate 3D elements within a live action scene. Students learn about color theory, three-point lighting, interior and exterior lighting, as well as how to light a character and manipulate reflections to create a believable shot for live action integration. Students can use the rendered elements in their final compositing shots to add an extra layer of creativity to their portfolios. Prerequisite: SPD220.

SPD327 Rendering and Projection Techniques (2 credits)

This course introduces students to the use of technologies that produce high-definition live-concert video productions. Students hone their proficiency with broadcast-quality 4K production equipment. The course addresses lighting for video, advanced camera operation, directing, and advanced switching. Students also focus on interaction and cooperation with performers, actors, and crew members.

SPD328A/B Video Production for the Theater A/B (2 credits each)

This sequence begins with the skills needed to plan and complete a multi-camera professional studio production. Students practice with cameras, microphones, sound effects, properties, lighting instruments and controls, audio consoles, and switcher-faders. The second course is a workshop for field production of a nonfiction documentary with emphasis on research, pre-planning, and writing. The course combines theory, history, and practice by presenting screenings, readings, lectures, discussion, and hands-on demonstrations. Prerequisite: SPD220.

SPD330 Introduction to Stage Management (3 credits)

This course introduces the concepts and practices of theatrical stage management with emphasis on the fundamental skills, duties, and responsibilities required of a stage manager, as well as the procedures pertaining to the theatrical production process. Industry-standard vocabulary will be taught so students can communicate with proficiency in a theater setting. Students participate in classroom discussions and activities as well as in projects that offer practical experience.

SPD352 Independent Study in Stage Production and Design (2 credits)

Independent Study consists of faculty-supervised research, study, readings, or hands-on projects into areas of study outside the traditional course offerings of the College. It offers students the opportunity to investigate a topic independently, under the close supervision of a faculty member.

SPD361 Internship (2–4 credits)

The objective of this internship course is to provide students with the opportunity to apply their academic knowledge in a professional setting, thereby acquiring practical work experience. For each credit earned, a commitment of 3–4 hours per week over a minimum duration of 15 weeks is expected. Students must complete and submit their internship application before the commencement of the term in which they plan to undertake the internship. The course is structured to allow for repeated enrollment, enabling students to earn a maximum of 8 credits.

SPD414A/B Advanced Live Sound A/B (2 credits each)

This sequence, designed for students who have completed SPD314A&B Live Sound A&B, further explores the professional aspects of sound reinforcement for live performances. The aim is for students to continue learning the skillset and tools required to become professional live sound engineers. Prerequisite SPD314B.

SPD416 Costume Design II (3 credits)

This course provides instruction in the advanced techniques of theatrical costume design, including studying the typical fashions and costume styles of each dynasty in Chinese history and throughout Western history. Topics include figure drawing, how the elements and principles of design relate to and are utilized in costume design, collaboration, script analysis, research methods, the costume design process, character analysis, the function and purpose of costumes in theater, fabric selection, rendering techniques, and the use of various media. Prerequisite: SPD316.

SPD426A/B Digital Media Portfolio A/B (4 credits each)

This sequence provides students the conceptual and practical foundations required to produce their own portfolio projects. Students first start developing a short script based on a previous story idea, then create storyboards and a preproduction plan. They find their own footage and demonstrate their skills in editing, sound design, and graphics to tell a story. Students complete at least 24 hours of documented production work, and are expected to complete a five- to ten-minute digital media piece for their student portfolio. A résumé and reel will also be presented and reviewed.

SPD455 Theater Production Practicum (3 credits)

This course is designed for senior-year students to participate in a number of stage productions during which they assume more active roles and responsibilities in a real-world theater setting. Specifically, students have opportunities to participate in rehearsals, campus festivals, stage events, as well as tours through the College’s partnership with Shen Yun Performing Arts and other professional companies. Students will contribute to the design, construction, and presentation of live Chinese dance and music shows at premier venues around the world. Prerequisite: SPD355.

SPD456A/B Senior Production / Portfolio (4 credits each)

In this course sequence, each student devises and completes a capstone production or portfolio. The topic of the project is determined by the student and a sponsoring faculty member. The student demonstrates the project in real-world stage production.

SPD457 Senior Thesis (3 credits)

This course offers students the opportunity to write a thesis on a topic related to stage production. The topic is selected by the student with advice and approval by the instructor. The thesis is a substantial, typically multi-chapter paper.

SPD461 Senior Internship (3–4 credits)

The Senior Internship course is designed to offer students in their final year, or those with departmental approval, a platform to integrate and apply their accumulated academic insights in a real-world professional context. This culminates in a comprehensive work experience that is both valuable and relevant to their field of study. For each credit, students are expected to dedicate 3–4 hours per week throughout a minimum period of 15 weeks. To participate, students must have either senior standing or obtain approval from the department, and must complete their internship application prior to the start of the term in which the internship is to be undertaken.

BFA in Stage Production and Design  ›  Stage Production and Design Courses