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

Meeting Time: 
MW 3:30pm - 5:20pm
DEN 113
Jeff Larson

Syllabus Description:

Course Description

This course 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: origins and history of event types, social media interactions, cultural representation, and the audience experience (both live and mediated).

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

Characteristics of Class Meetings

The material in this class will be covered via lecture, in class discussion, small group activities and presentations, as well as a couple of guest speakers and venue field trips.

Learning Objectives

  • Develop a knowledge of the vocabulary needed to discuss and appreciate the production of large-scale events.
  • Differentiate types of large-scale events and identify core elements shared by them all.
  • Demonstrate the ability to evaluate overarching narratives, visual design choices, as well as the technical tools used in the creation of these events.
  • Recognize and identify the incredible variety of individuals required to facilitate these large scale events.
  • Acquire some basic knowledge of and relationship to tools used in developing and communicating event concepts.

Course Policies and Values


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.  Please make every effort to notify the instructor in advance of any absence, whether excused or not.

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.)


Students are expected to maintain the highest respect and standards of courtesy to their colleagues. 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. We ask that you 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, but that it should coexist with respect.


Some 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

Out of classroom assignments (Event / Venue / Guest Speaker Responses) will lose 1 point if late, 2 points if more than 48 hours late, 3 points if more than 2 weeks late. 


Disability Resources for Students

Mary Gates 011


uwdrs@uw.edu or disability.uw.edu (Links to an external site.)

If you would like to request academic accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS). If you already have a letter from DRS, please present it to me so we can accommodate your needs as soon as possible.

DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

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.)





Event Responses


In Class Discussions / Activities / Participation


Guest Speaker / Venue Responses


Historical Event Project


Final Project



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: 
October 26, 2022 - 9:58pm