Summer Certificate: Performance & Culture in the U.S.

Launching in Summer 2022!

Background image: Summer 2017 | Fundamentals of Acting
Image credit:
Fundamentals of Acting I with Margo Hall

Earn a Certificate for Performance & Culture in the U.S. by completing three required classes over the course of one or two consecutive summers.

Develop or deepen your U.S. cultural literacy and intercultural communication skills as you study acting, theater, or public speaking, participate in field studies or a theater appreciation class, and learn how performance intersects with media and society.

Note: This certificate program is administered by the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS). Upon satisfactory completion of the required coursework, the student will receive a certificate from TDPS confirming the completion of the summer program. However, the certificate will not be noted on the student’s transcript.

For more information, contact Michael Mansfield, Undergraduate Academic Advisor: tdpsugadvisor@berkeley.edu


Certificate Requirements:

  • Complete one class from each category below to earn the Certificate.
  • Students may complete required classes over the course of one or two consecutive summers.
  • Courses may not count for both the certificate and a TDPS major/minor.
  • All courses must be taken for a letter grade and must be passed with a C or higher.

Performance Theory & Critical Inquiry (Choose One)

Theater 117AC | California Stories

How might we characterize California? Who lives here and what are the stories we tell about them? This course takes California as the site through which to explore how cultural systems of performance help shape social systems of race, considering the role performance forms–theater, film, tourism, pageants, political protests–have played in shaping California's unique cultural and racial topography. From the theatricalization of Chinatown in Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Flower Drum Song to that of urban riots in Twilight, from the staging of Latinx farmworker's rights to those of post-war African American workers of the Great Migration, performance strategies have been used by a variety of agents towards a range of social and political goals.

Theater 118AC | Performance, Television, and Social Media (Online)

This course examines the intersections of performance and media—specifically the media forms of television and social media in the U.S.—with a focus on how various types of difference (race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class) are enacted, articulated, represented, and played on TV and social media platforms.

Communication & Creative Expression (Choose One)

Theater 5 | Public Speaking & Presentation Skills

Students will learn to present themselves and material clearly, confidently, and persuasively, using age-old arts of oral communication. They will learn techniques for overcoming stage fright, developing clear enunciation, finding and using their natural, unaffected vocal register, varying tone and intonation to hold audience interest, controlling pacing, moving with assurance and purpose, using appropriate gestures, and eye contact as well as exploring methods to change behaviors that bar effective communication and structure speeches to maximize persuasiveness.

Theater 10 | Fundamentals of Acting I

Fundamentals of Acting I is the entry level course for the acting sequence and focuses on releasing and cultivating the actor's inherent creativity. Through exercises, improvisation, scenes, and monologues, the actor begins to develop basic techniques designed to stimulate the imagination, develop vocal and physical ability, increase awareness of self and others, introduce effective ways to analyze texts, think critically about the craft of acting, and enhance self-confidence and communication skills. This class is the essential beginning of the actor's studies, which will ultimately allow her or him to effectively engage and explore work from a rich diversity of genres, styles, and backgrounds.

Theater 14 | Interactive Theater: Acting for Social Change

For 6 weeks we will create a summer theater company. Each day we will deepen our practice by developing our full-bodied and whole-hearted skills: the technical needs of an actor (voice, speech, physical movement, and character development), the rigorous commitment and curiosity of an educator, and the personal and cultural awarenesses and communication practices of an activist. We will challenge our imaginations, give voice to stories of injustice, and move the classroom community from page to stage, from company membership to civic leadership. Grounded in the work of Augusto Boal's "Theater of the Oppressed" practice-based learning, we will experience the role of theater in education, justice-making, and societal transformation, as well as, strengthen our practice as writers, actors, directors, witnesses, and makers of theater and social change. Interactive theater training and performance mixed with multicultural and communication skills prepare us for deeper artistic, academic, and activist work in our personal and professional worlds. No previous acting training or experience necessary.

Experiencing Live Performance (Choose One)

Theater 190 | Performance Appreciation

The course examines performance as a primary mode of human expression, communication, and cultural production. Through viewing live and recorded performances, readings, movement/theater exercises, discussions, & written responses to performances, students will learn to place performance in a variety of cultural, artistic & historical contexts. Live performances viewed by the class will vary each term, dependent upon the offerings of prominent Bay Area Theater/Dance companies. Theater directors, choreographers, performers, and curators will give presentations and share their perspectives on related course material. No prior experience with performance required.

Theater 197 | Field Study in Theater

Field Study is an off-campus, supervised, pre-professional experience in theatrical production fields such as design and construction, stage management, arts management, marketing, or dramaturgy, intended to prepare students for careers in performaning arts organizations.

Application required. See details under Theater 197 on the Advanced Study page.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do I participate in the certificate program?

Visit the Summer Sessions website for information on applications, enrollment, and fees. Enrollment for Summer 2022 opens in February.

Current UC Berkeley Students:
Add summer classes in CalCentral starting February 2022

Visiting Domestic Students:
Follow the steps on the Summer Sessions Checklist

Visiting International Students:
Follow the application and visa requirements

For questions related to Certificate courses and requirements, contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor, Michael Mansfield: tdpsugadvisor@berkeley.edu


What are the eligibility requirements to participate?

Other than the English proficiency requirements for international students (noted below), there are no eligibility requirements to participate. The Certificate is open to any student who wishes to take the coursework.

Students must maintain a 2.0 GPA in all classes to be eligible for the Certificate; meaning, all courses must be passed with a grade of C or higher to count towards the Certificate.


I am a non-native English speaker. What is the English proficiency requirement to participate?

International students are required to show the official proof of their English proficiency. Please review the list of approved English proficiency tests, minimum scores, and criteria for exemption and waiver.


I am a TDPS major/minor. If I complete the certificate, can the same courses count toward my major/minor?

TDPS students who wish to receive the Certificate will need to complete all TDPS major/minor requirements separately from the Certificate: no courses can count for both a major/minor and the certificate.