Skip to main contentSkip to footer

THEATR-110 - Understanding Theatre - Erin McBride Africa

Course:Understanding Theatre
Professor:Erin McBride Africa
  • Online
Course Length:
  • 8 Week


Cover image of text book, Theatre: The Lively Art

Welcome to Understanding Theatre! I am a professor in the Theatre Department, and I’m also a stage director. I have been working as an artist in the theatre for over 20 years and I’m excited to share my beloved field with you.

Course Description

Analyzes theatre and the theatrical event from the audience perspective, including the functions of the producer, architect, playwright, director, actors, designers, and critics.

What to Expect in this Course

This course will look at and analyze the art of theatre and the theatrical event from the point of view of the audience members. 

  • First we will explore the role of theatre in our world.  We will consider the societal function it serves and question what makes it different from other forms of entertainment. 
  • Next we will shift gears to become theatre scholars.  We will read two plays, examining and comparing the structure and literary styles. 
  • We will turn our attention to how theatre is created, getting to know how the director, dramaturg, actors, playwright, designers, and stage manager all contribute to any theatrical work. 
  • Finally, we will step into the shoes of the critics, attending a live performance, thinking critically about what we've seen, using what we’ve learned to write about our reactions to it. 


My hope is that this course will awaken a curiosity about what is possible in live theatre performance. I’ll strive to foster in you an appreciation for the complicated, collaborative nature of the work. I expect you won’t look at theatre performances in the same way after completing this course!

Types of Assessments

Online quizzes, online discussion boards, and written assignments.

Textbook Information / Link to ZTC Textbook

Required textbook: Theatre: The Lively Art (9th edition) by Edwin Wilson & Alvin Goldfarb

You must purchase or rent the required textbook. You can rent a digital version for immediate access for under $40. For students who prefer reading a physical book, the COC Bookstore will have hard copies available. (Print ISBN 9780073514307 / eText ISBN 9781259279065)

The eText is available at, or other retailers.

Required plays:

  • Proof by David Auburn
  • Lorca In a Green Dress by Nilo Cruz (in the collection Two Sisters and a Bicycle)

The plays are available as PDFs on Canvas or as hard copies at the COC Bookstore. They can also be ordered online.

  • Additional readings will be provided through Canvas.

Additional Resources


This course can be accessed on the first day of class via Canvas at Log into Canvas using your CanyonsID single sign-on:

  • CanyonsID Username is your COC student email address (Ex:
  • CanyonsID Password is your COC student email password

Please visit the Get to Know Your Online Classroom page for help logging into Canvas and for tips on using Canvas and Zoom. Canvas Chat Support is also available 24/7 for any Canvas related issues.

Online Education

Check out the Online Education website for more information on a variety of topics that can help you be a successful online student such as: exam proctoring, learning styles, computer skills, and tips for student success. If this is your first online course, feel free to take our online learning readiness assessment to assess your skills.

The Learning Center (TLC)

The TLC provides FREE online tutoring resources to COC students!

Academic Accommodation Center (AAC)

College of the Canyons AAC provides educational services and access for eligible students with documented disabilities who intend to pursue coursework at COC. A variety of programs and services are available which afford eligible students with disabilities the opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of the college programs and activities through appropriate and reasonable accommodations. For more information on their services visit the Academic Accomodation Center website.

Online Counseling

The Counseling Department offers appointments online. You can schedule an appointment by visiting the Online Counseling website. Counselors can help you map out a plan to reach your educational goals as well as advise you on course selection and registration.

Management of Stress and Mental Health

College of the Canyons cares about your emotional and physical health. Learn more about the broad range of confidential student services, including free counseling and mental health services available during this time by visiting the Student Health & Wellness Center website or by calling them at: 661-362-3259.

The National Suicide Lifeline number is 1-800-273- 8255 (TALK). Please call it if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or is in severe distress - it could save someone's life.

You can also use the Crisis Text Line: Just text "Courage" to 741741. It's free, available 24/7, and confidential.

Veterans Resource Center

The College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center is a department within the Student Services Division at the college, created to help veterans and veteran dependents with applying to College of the Canyons, enrolling in classes, and requesting VA Education or Vocational Benefits. For more information please visit the Veterans Resource Center website, email or phone (661) 362-3469.


The Library provides live online and in-person research help, access to a full range of e-resources and physical materials that support the curriculum, individual and group study areas, and much more!

Last updated: 10/07/2021 Sub#: 753