Program in Theater

Academic Unit

Program Information

The Program in Theater, part of the Lewis Center for the Arts, offers students the opportunity to work with artists, critics and scholars in the the rehearsal room, the theater and the classroom. Students can familiarize themselves with theatrical collaboration and with all the practical skills of theater making; and gain an understanding of the role theater has played and continues to play in many cultures throughout history. The program offers courses in playwriting, acting, directing, design, dramaturgy, performance history, and criticism. The program offers a full season of theatrical productions and explorations, chosen by the students and produced, in collaboration with professional artists and technicians, in order to support our students growth as artists. Visiting guest artists offer workshops, participate in play readings and explorations, and collaborate on student productions.

Program courses are open and welcoming to all undergraduates interested in exploring theater at any level. The program also offers the kinds of courses and co-curricular activities that will allow a student, upon graduation, to move into 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 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, although it is possible to register as a theater certificate student at any time prior to the senior year. There is no application process – all students are accepted into the program in theater.

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. Participation in THR 451 for credit can count towards the theater certificate once. Students who wish to propose a production for our student driven theater season are also expected to participate in a sixth class, THR 402, a collaborative methods seminar focused around the process of creating our theater season, during their junior year.

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 production, the performance or extended exploration of a large role, the writing of a play, the design or dramaturgy of a production, or any other theatrical undertaking in the creation or production of theater, 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 who wish to propose a realized project as part of the theater program season, using theater program equipment, space and/or staff, are expected to participate in our collaborative methods seminar, THR 402, during the junior year.

It is possible to complete senior independent work through the theater season without proposing a realized project or taking THR 402 in two ways. One is by writing, acting, designing, directing, stage managing or participating in a project in the theater and music theater season that has been chosen by other students. The other is by proposing an academic theatrical exploration, independent performance studies project or any other project (such as writing a play that you do not expect to be performed) that does not require the use of theater program staff, space, or equipment.

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, the student 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) Technical and production support work:

A certain number of hours of technical work on theater productions staged by the program. All technical hours must have been assigned to the student by the thesis proposal deadline date in the junior year, usually late February or early March. At least half of these hours must be completed prior to this deadline; and all technical hours must be completed by the end of junior year.

Students interested in directing for the theater program are encouraged to stage manage a production in their freshman, sophomore, or junior year as preparation for directing. Stage managing a production for the theater program fulfills the technical work requirement for the program.

4) Community meetings and events:

Given that collaboration is at the heart of theater making, a successful theatrical education has to be rooted in an engaged community. At the start of each academic year, students will be required to attend a short meeting of all certificate students. In addition, the theater program will require occasional certificate student attendance at workshops aimed at supporting our ability to create art in a collaborative manner.  Each year, the theater program hosts, produces or presents a variety of theatrical events and symposia; certificate students are expected to participate in or attend at least one significant theatrical event in each of their junior and senior years. The theater program also provides a wide array of workshops, events and trips to the theater for our certificate students.

5) Theater program reading list:

Students in the theater program are expected to familiarize themselves with the theater program reading list, and to read at least twenty of the plays and books from this list prior to graduation.

Certificate of Proficiency

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

Student driven theater season:

The Theater and Music Theater program season of theatrical productions and explorations is primarily comprised of projects chosen by junior certificate students who have fulfilled the necessary requirements in terms of coursework and tech hours. Certificate and non-certificate students may participate in these projects as extracurricular activities; certain projects led by faculty may be pursued as coursework. These productions and theatrical explorations may be used to fulfill the requirement for senior 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.

The mission of the theater 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 to fail.  We believe that an atmosphere of generosity and inclusion best supports creative growth. The theater program welcomes all students on campus to participate in our student driven theater season. No experience is necessary, and students do not need to be earning a certificate to participate in our 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 100, 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 200 300 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.