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DRAMA 111 A: Backstage Pass: Technical Marvels in Popular Culture

Summer Term: 
Meeting Time: 
MWF 1:10pm - 4:00pm
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a man in a striped shirt standing in front of a dark background
Jeff Larson

Syllabus Description:

Course Description

Backstage Pass is intended for students who have an interest in live, large-scale popular culture events such as half-time shows, award shows, concerts, esports events, etc. It is designed to offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the entertainment industry conceives, designs, produces and presents events that contain boundary-pushing conceptual designs requiring state-of-the-art technical solutions in order to be brought to life.  Additionally, we will explore issues related to these events such as: the history and future of these events, interactions with social media and virtual spaces, cultural representation, and the audience experience (both live and mediated).


Course Requirements

This course does not require a text, but does require access to streaming services including: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Paramount.


Class Meetings and Course Content 

The material in this class will be covered via discussions, viewings/readings, small individual and group activities/presentations, short lectures, as well as a number of sessions with invited guest speakers.


Learning Objectives

  • Develop a knowledge of the resources, processes and techniques that drive the design and production of large-scale events.
  • Differentiate types of large-scale events and identify core elements shared by them all.
  • Evaluate overarching narratives, visual design choices, as well as the technical tools used in the creation of these events.
  • Understand the variety of individuals required to facilitate these large scale events
  • Analyze the specific contributions of these individuals in relation to particular events.
  • Apply acquired knowledge of tools used in developing and communicating event concepts in the creation of original conceptual event proposals.



I will make every effort to communicate information to you in a clear and timely matter.  I would request that you make the same effort in your communications with me.  When contacting me, you can expect a reply within 24 hours.  The only exception to this is on the weekends when it may take me a bit longer to reply.  

I am responsive to communications via email and through Canvas.  Additionally, I will use Canvas to comment directly on your submitted assignments so please do check for those communications as well.


Course Policies and Values


Please make every effort to notify me in advance of any absence, whether excused or not.  For absences due to University-sponsored events, or unforeseen medical or family emergencies, please provide documentation to the instructor.  Any other absence will be handled on a case-by-case basis.  

Academic Integrity

Suspected student misconduct will be reported to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct, and may have ramifications on your academic future.  For further information, please refer to the UW Student Conduct Code. (Links to an external site.)


Each person in this class has a unique background and set of experiences that inform their perspective, and the contributions of each person in discussion and collaboration are valued.  It is expected that you will respect the legitimacy of your peers’ experiences, and that you participate in discussion with that respect in mind. This is not to say that disagreement cannot occur--in fact, I encourage divergent opinions and ideas!--but it should coexist with respect.


Much of the work done in Backstage Pass is collaborative in nature. Show your colleagues your respect by attending classes, arriving on time, communicating in a respectful and timely manner, and keeping to an agreed-upon schedule. 


We are committed to ensuring that all students have an equal opportunity to learn in a safe and supportive learning environment. Behavior that distracts or interferes with other students’ classroom experience will not be tolerated. Disorderly or disruptive students can and will be asked to leave class for the day; further disruptive or disorderly conduct will be reported to the appropriate dean. For further information, consult the UW Student Conduct Code. (Links to an external site.)

Due Dates

Assignments will lose 1 point if late, 2 points if more than 72 hours late, 3 points if more than 1 weeks late.   If you are struggling with a deadline, reach out to me in advance.


Access and Accountability

Your experience in this class is important to me. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please activate your accommodations via myDRS so we can discuss how they will be implemented in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), contact DRS directly to set up an Access Plan. DRS facilitates the interactive process that establishes reasonable accommodations. Contact DRS at disability.uw.edu.


Mental Health Resources

We all face challenges managing our mental balance and well being.  From coping mechanisms and mental stress to urgent support, get the help you need.

Mental Health homepage (Links to an external site.)



This table contains a grading breakdown for the course.



Event Responses (4 assignments, 5% each)


Guest Speaker Activities (3 activities, 5% each)


Small Group Projects (3 projects, 5% each)


Discussions and Activities 


Quizzes (3, 3.3% each)


Final Project



It is my intention to grade your submissions in an expeditious manner, especially if and when it may impact your subsequent comprehension and work in the course.  My goal is to evaluate all assignments within 72 hours of the due date.  If in a specific instance this proves impossible I will alert you. 

Catalog Description: 
Explores popular culture events such as concerts, award shows, sports events, and half-time shows. Offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the entertainment industry conceives, plans, and executes state-of-the-art technical challenges and solutions in making these large-scale events come to life.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
April 6, 2023 - 4:37am