Program in Theater

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in Theater, part of the Lewis Center for the Arts, allows students to work with professional artists and critics, as well as with scholars in the area of performance studies, to familiarize themselves with the nature of practical work in theater and the role theater has played and continues to play in various cultures at various times. The program offers courses in playwriting, acting, directing, design, dramaturgy, performance history, and criticism. The program also offers a full season of theatrical productions, under the supervision of professional artists and technicians, in order to allow students to bring the kinds of talents they develop in class to a wider audience. Visiting guest artists often offer workshops in their specialties, as well as directing students in productions or designing program shows.

Program courses are open to all undergraduates interested in exploring the art of theater, but the program also offers the kinds of courses and co-curricular activities that will allow the student, upon graduation, to move into the best graduate conservatories to pursue advanced training.

Students looking for an opportunity to incorporate their theatrical studies into their concentrations might want to consider the Theater and Performance Studies track in the Department of English or Area D in the Department of Comparative Literature, but certificate students usually come from the full range of concentrations the University has to offer.

Admission to the Program

Students wishing to receive a certificate register online, typically during the sophomore or beginning of the junior year.

Program of Study

Requirements for the Certificate in Theater:

1) Coursework:

A total of five courses in the Program in Theater. At least three must be studio courses chosen from offerings in acting, directing, playwriting, design, and dramaturgy. It is assumed that in one of these three or four courses, the student will have significant experience in performance.

At least one course in dramatic literature, performance history, performance studies, or criticism. Up to two courses in this area may be used toward the five-course requirement.

2) Senior Independent work:

This work might take the form of a studio project, such as the direction of a major production, the performance of a major role, the writing of a play, or the design or dramaturgy of a production, under the supervision of our faculty and professional staff either in our senior thesis season, independently, or in conjunction with another campus-producing organization.

Students may elect to do an independent performance studies project approved by and under the supervision of Program in Theater faculty.

If the student's department permits, he or she might choose to complete one part of the departmental independent work (senior thesis) on a topic approved by the Program in Theater faculty dealing with some facet of theater in relation to that department's subject matter. This independent work could take the form of a textual, cultural, or theoretical study; or it may be a combination of research and practical work supervised by the program faculty and the student's department.

3) A certain number of hours of technical work on theater productions staged by the program. These hours should be completed by the end of junior year.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate of proficiency in theater upon graduation.

Advanced Creative Work. The Program in Theater offers certificate students with the appropriate course background the opportunity to do advanced creative work under the supervision of its faculty and staff. This work usually takes the form of a practical project, such as the writing of a play, the direction or design of a major production, or the study and performance of a major role. These projects may be pursued as extracurricular activities, or, as is more regularly the case, they may be used to fulfill the requirement for independent work in the certificate program. With permission of the student's department of concentration, such projects may also satisfy one of the requirements for independent work in the department, in which case it must consist of or be accompanied by written work, such as a scholarly or critical evaluation.

Students wishing to do their senior creative independent work through the Program in Theater must submit a proposal in the spring of junior year. Students must have completed at least half of the technical work requirement to be eligible to submit a proposal.

Productions. The season of theatrical productions is comprised of senior thesis shows and one piece selected by the program and a guest director. The mission of the season is to support our students' exploration and development as theater artists. We expect our students to take intellectual and creative risks, and we respect the right of the student and the artist to experiment and risk failing.  We believe that an atmosphere of generosity and inclusion best supports creative growth.

Students do not have to be earning a certificate to participate in productions.

Course Information. Courses are open to students pursuing work in any department, whether or not the student plans to earn the certificate. Introductory courses in the program, whether at the 200 or 300 level, usually have no prerequisites and fulfill the distribution requirement in Literature and the Arts (LA). Other 300 or 400 level courses require applications and/or interviews. 200 level courses have Pass/D/Fail option; selected 300 and 400 level courses are Pass/D/Fail only; all other courses in the program are letter graded.

Related Courses. Various departments offer courses in dramatic literature, many in English and some in foreign languages. A list of such courses may be found on the program website. Additional topics are taught in seminars whose titles change yearly. For current descriptions, see listings under the appropriate departments.