What We Believe
The theatre experience is essentially an act of compassion. As artists we must first imagine the experience of another and then be able to inhabit that person’s perspective in such a way that we understand how their experience would impact us. Then, in collaboration with our fellow theatre artists, we create a sacred space that engenders a performance through which the members of our audience can exercise their compassion. At its best, theatre teaches the art of compassion, enabling us all to grow in the understanding of ourselves and to make more responsible choices about how we live – knowing that our choices affect the lives of others. Quality theatre, responsibly produced, can change our world for the better.
What We Study
Because theatre practitioners are required to have a broad base of multidisciplinary knowledge, the Department of Theatre Arts believes that the strongest and best preparation for a career in theatre is an excellent liberal arts education. The natural sciences provide a structure for understanding how life works; the humanities give us ways to explain our experiences; the social sciences offer a variety of useful paradigms with which we can navigate through diverse societies. The arts give us the opportunity to synthesize those perspectives. Artistic expressions of the human experience are designed such that we can stop time, step back and reflect on what we think we know, what we are feeling, and what may lead us to compassion and understanding. This journey is an adventure that may transform our lives and the lives of others.
What We Teach On-Campus
The Department of Theatre Arts curriculum provides learning opportunities in all major aspects of theatre. Classes range from acting and directing to design and construction to global and historical theatrical practices, organization and processes; each class furthers the development of critical thinking, synthesis of ideas, and clarity of thought and expression. Academic theory is interwoven with practical application through student participation in theatrical productions and in-class projects. Three to eight annual departmental, senior project and student theatre company productions provide opportunities to perform, design, stage manage, direct, produce and take on other leadership roles throughout the year. Guest artists to campus share their work and experience with students in production, workshop, coaching and mentoring situations. Students who take full advantage of the opportunities offered will emerge as theatre artists who impact society through the kinds of theatre they create, the way they work, the stories they bring to light, and the audiences they choose to serve.
Where We Study
Our venue is the 325-seat Wilkinson Theatre. Its fully equipped scene shop is directly behind the stage, while the Green Room, makeup room for ten actors, men’s and women’s dressing rooms are one floor below. The rehearsal room and classroom on are also on this lower floor.
In the fall of 2014, we opened the Ronald L. McDaniel Studio Theater, a 50’ by 50’ facility in the new Center for the Visual and Performing Arts. This black box theatre, which seats between 60 to 125 people depending on the seating configuration, increases our ability to stage smaller productions and to actively explore the dynamics of different actor-audience relationships.
Off-Campus Learning Opportunities
The department each year organizes trips to professional theatre performances, workshops and conferences. When possible, the faculty continues professional work and is often able to extend observation, assistant and networking opportunities to students ready for such opportunities.
Many students choose to enrich their education with off-campus study. The popular Great Lakes College Association's New York Arts Program provides training and internship opportunities while living in New York City for a semester. Students who choose the London Program regularly attend theatrical performances as part of their course of study.
What Happens After Graduation
Most Theatre Arts Department graduates have gone in three general directions. Many have pursued graduate degrees in academics, design or performance at top institutions such as Yale University and New York University. Others have joined professional internship programs at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago or companies in Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco. Still other graduates now use the creative, organizational, communication and interpersonal skills they developed through their Theatre Arts studies in occupations ranging from sports broadcasting to business management to the teaching of cognitively impaired middle-school students.
Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:
- (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
- (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
- (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
- (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
- (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
- (D-I) = Diversity - International
- (D-L) = Diversity - Language
- (ES) = Earlham Seminar
- (IE) = Immersive Experience
- (RCH) = Research
- (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
- (W) = Wellness
- (WI) = Writing Intensive
- (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year
For First-Year Students
Many Theatre Arts courses are appropriate for first-year students:
THEA 132, 134, 135, 230, 234, 235, 236, 238, 250, 260, 261, 282 and 333.
*THEA 132 APPLIED THEATRE: SET CONSTRUCTION (1 credit)
Students are taught vocabulary and construction skills, as well as tools and safety while working on the set of current main stage production or senior project. In working with the scenic designer, the student will begin to understand how the set affects the audience’s viewing experience of the play. (A-AP)
*THEA 134 APPLIED THEATRE: COSTUME CONSTRUCTION (1 credit)
Students are taught vocabulary and sewing skills while working on the costumes of current main stage production or senior project. In working with the costume designer, the student will begin to understand how the costumes affect the audience’s perception of the personalities of the play. (A-AP)
*THEA 135 APPLIED THEATRE: LIGHTING CREW (1 credit)
Students are trained in the vocabulary, organizational and operational skills of a theatrical electrician while working on the lighting design of current main stage production or senior project. In working with the lighting, the student will begin to understand how lighting affects the audience’s perception of the world of the play. (A-AP)
*THEA 230 APPLIED THEATRE: ACTING (1-3 credits, as designated by the instructor)
Students cast in a main stage production or senior project collaborate as actors in the process of developing, rehearsing and performing the production for a public audience. Prerequisite: Students must audition and be cast by the production’s director. (A-AP)
*THEA 234 APPLIED THEATRE: WARDROBE (2 credits)
Students are trained in the vocabulary, organizational and operational skills of a wardrobe technician — the person responsible for the care, repair and organization of the production’s costumes. Experience is gained while working with the costume designer and the costumes of the current main stage production or senior project. In working with the costumes, the student will begin to understand how costumes contribute to the audience’s perception of the world of the play. (A-AP)
*THEA 235 APPLIED THEATRE: LIGHTING/SOUND CONSOLE OPERATOR (2 credits)
Students are trained in the vocabulary, organizational and operational skills of a computer lighting console or sound mixer while working on the design of current main stage production or senior project. In working with the lighting and sound designers, the student will begin to understand how lighting and sound affect the audience’s perception of the world of the play. Requires attendance at the last four weeks of rehearsal. (A-AP)
*THEA 236 APPLIED THEATRE: BACKSTAGE RUNNING CREW (2 credits)
Students are trained in the vocabulary, organizational and operational skills of various backstage duties (props, deck crew or wardrobe) while working on the current main stage production or senior project. In working with the designers, director, cast and stage management the student will begin to understand how a production comes together and learn strong collaborative skills. Requires attendance of the last four weeks of rehearsals. (A-AP)
*THEA 238 APPLIED THEATRE: MAKEUP CREW (2 credits)
Students are taught vocabulary, application skills and visual awareness of a makeup artist for the stage. Through a series of projects, the student will gain the understanding of how makeup may affect the character's personality on stage. (A-AP)
*THEA 250 INTRODUCTION TO THEATRE: COLLABORATION, ANALYSIS AND EXPRESSION (3 credits)
Students are introduced to the concepts, vocabulary, traditions and range of interdisciplinary techniques involved in the process of creating Western theatre. Experiential and cooperative learning opportunities around the skills required to bring a play to life lead to student research and discussion of artistic, social and ethical questions. Students also read, analyze and write response papers to a variety of recorded and live theatre events. (A-TH)
THEA 260 FOUNDATIONS OF ACTING (4 credits)
Students learn and practice the fundamental principles of acting within a practical, disciplined approach to the creative process. Work begins by developing awareness of personal mind-body-voice connections and progresses to improvisation, scene study and monologues. No audition required. (A-TH)
THEA 261 MOVEMENT FOR THE STAGE (3 credits)
Students study, explore and experiment with various modes of individual expression, group interactions and visual composition through the use of human bodies in time and space to embody a story on stage. After developing a basic awareness of personal movement habits, students study professional performances and practice techniques to expand their own movement vocabularies. Readings, observation, personal reflection and group work lead to the creation of silent scenes, solo character pieces and ensemble-developed performances. Also listed as AWPE 261. (A-TH, W) (AY)
*THEA 270 THEATRECRAFT (4 credits)
Students are introduced to the organization, design and execution of theatre productions. Topics include theatre architectural forms, basic elements of design and composition, scenery, properties, lighting, costumes, sound and make-up. The class includes a lab where they serve as crew for one of the theatre department's productions. Through their lab work, students immerse themselves in the production thus providing a practical application to their theoretical studies. (A-AP, A-TH)
THEA 275 VIDEO PRODUCTION (3 credits)
Provides a basic understanding of the theory and technologies of video production. Also looks at the functions of video and television as communication media and social forces. Also listed as FILM 275. (A-AP)
*THEA 280 SCRIPT ANALYSIS (3 credits)
The study and application of various analysis techniques used in understanding the structure and mode of expression of a written play, as the theatre artist prepares for the play's production. (A-TH)
*THEA 282 SPECIAL TOPICS (2-3 credits)
Supervised activities as a member of the crew responsible for parts of the production not covered by set construction, costume construction or lights/sound crew. Duties are performed in conjunction with the current main stage production or senior project. Examples could include: wig work, scenic artistry, specialty prop construction, recording original sound, mask making, video work or others, pending on the needs of the current production. Prerequisites: Permission of Instructor. (A-AP)
THEA 290 INTRODUCTION TO PUBLIC SPEAKING (3 credits)
Many people are filled with anxiety when even thinking about public speaking. This fear stems from the fact that communication in general, and public speaking specifically, is not something that most people naturally know how to do effectively. Introduction to Public Speaking provides students with a supportive, interactive environment in which to learn fundamental communication theory and to put theory into practice through a variety of formal and informal speaking opportunities. Each student will leave this course feeling more confident in his/her ability as a communicator and better equipped to create and present an effective oral message. Also listed as CIL 290.
*THEA 333 APPLIED THEATRE: ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER (1-3 credits as designated by the instructor)
Students are taught vocabulary, communication and organizational management skills while serving as part of the stage management team for a main stage production or senior project. In working with the stage manager and director throughout the rehearsal period and run of the show, students will begin to understand the complex challenges of coordinating the various elements that affect audience perceptions of the play. (A-AP)
*THEA 335 APPLIED THEATRE: MASTER ELECTRICIAN (3 credits)
Students are trained in the vocabulary, organizational and leadership skills of a theatrical mater electrician while working on the lighting design of current main stage production or senior project. While executing the lighting design artfully is important, the focus of this course is on planning and leadership. Prerequisite: THEA 135 and 235. (A-AP)
*THEA 337 APPLIED THEATRE: DRAMATURGY (2 credits)
This course provides the opportunity for interested students to pursue additional development in theatre history, “Writing for the Theatre," script analysis and theatrical research through practical application of dramaturgical skills on a current departmental production. Upper level requirement. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor. (RCH)
THEA 350 TRENDS IN WESTERN THEATRE HISTORY I (3 credits)
This course is an overview of the formal elements that distinguish one theatrical period from another. By the end of the course the student will be able to 1) accurately list and define the scriptural and performance elements of most Western dramatic forms, 2) accurately identify the historical period of a play based on analysis of dramatic elements, and 3) effectively develop and execute research of a play to gain greater depth of knowledge concerning that play. (A-TH, RCH)
*THEA 358 GREEK AND ROMAN DRAMA (3 credits)
A study of tragedies and comedies from the Greek and Roman traditions. A typical reading list would include such works as Aeschylus' Oresteia, Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus, Euripides' Medea, Aristophanes' Frogs, Plautus' Menaechmi, and Seneca's Medea and Oedipus. Also studies the staging of drama and considers works of criticism including Aristotle's Poetics. Knowledge of a classical language not required. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. Also listed as ANCS 358. (A-TH, RCH, WI)
THEA 359 SHAKESPEARE AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS (4 credits)
A study of the poetic and dramatic art of Shakespeare through an examination of six to ten plays, including tragedies, comedies, histories and romances. Approach varies between attention to the written text and the text as performance. Prerequisite: 200-level English course or consent of instructor. Upper level requirement. (A-TH)
THEA 360 ACTING STYLES (4 credits)
Students further develop and practice scene analysis, character development, rehearsal and performance skills through study of specific acting techniques required for various dramatic genres. Coursework begins with historical, contextual and social research as related to the world of the play that then informs exploration of physical, voice/diction and behavioral choices that embody the playwright’s vision. Students also gain practical experience with staging techniques that effectively negotiate the desired relationship with the audience. Prerequisite: THEA 260. May be repeated for credit.
THEA 370 DIRECTING (4 credits)
Students are taught the basic skills required to integrate script analysis, production design, character development and staging techniques to realize a specific theatrical vision for an audience. Experiential learning opportunities arise as Directing students facilitate the work of Acting Styles students in classroom exercises, scene work and a final collaborative project for public presentation. Prerequisite: THEA 260, 270 and 280.
THEA 371 SET, LIGHTING AND COSTUME DESIGN (3 credits)
A scenographic approach to designing for theatre. In addition to creating theoretical designs for productions, perception, formal design analysis and non-verbal expressions based on the script are studies. Intended for directors, designers, filmmakers and all interested in the non-verbal methods of expression in the theatre. Prerequisite: THEA 270; THEA 280 also encouraged. (AY)
THEA 372 DRAWING AND RENDERING DESIGNS (3 credits)
Trains students in the methods used in the theatre for expressing their design ideas. Develops communication methods used to bring the design to fruition. Includes drawing, painting, model-building and drafting. Students are encouraged to select two areas of specialization from: scenic, costume, lighting, sound, makeup and prop design. Prerequisites: THEA 280 and THEA 371. (RCH) (AY)
THEA 373 ADVANCED DESIGN PRACTICES (3 credits)
Following an approved learning contract, students will work on assignments and projects personalized to their needs and goals. Assignments and projects include advanced design problems, continued technique development, and building the portfolio and resume. Intended for students clearly planning on a career in theatrical design or those interested in developing the advanced skills necessary for acceptance into graduate schools and professional internships. Prerequisites: THEA 372. (RCH) (AY)
*THEA 380 THEATRE: MULTICULTURAL THEATRE (4 credits)
This class will look at theatre as a way to discuss issues of race and identity in the United States. The course will look at the works of such playwrights as Baraka, Wilson, Hainsberry, Shange, Fusco, Moraga and Howe. Also listed as ENG 380. Upper level requirement. (A-TH, D-D)
THEA 382 SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)
Topics include theatre of non-Western countries, 20th-century theatre movements, theatre of race, class and gender, and theatre as change agent. Prerequisites: Earlham Seminar. (A-TH, RCH)
THEA 384 TRADITIONAL THEATRE OF ASIA (3 credits)
A survey of the traditional theatrical arts of India, China and Japan, we will study the theatrical performance traditions and their cultural foundations. The course includes research, presentations and experiences in actual performance techniques. (A-TH)
THEA 386 DEVISED THEATRE (3 credits)
This course provides a practical introduction to collaborative created theatre. Students will be exposed to devised theatre theory and practices (from Peter Brook to Anne Bogart to current experimental theater troupes) to apply to a variety of methods, including group writing, physical composition, improvisation, design-based work, as well as ways of offering critical feedback on works-in-progress. Through this course experienced theatre makers will discover an alternate approach to the creation of work and a supplemental set of artistic tools; for novices it provides an accessible entry point into application of valuable “soft skills” theater offers such as collaboration, communication, problem solving and self expression.
*THEA 387 THEATRE FOR SOCIAL CHANGE (3 credits)
Based on the belief that theatre requires both artists and audience members to exercise their compassion muscles, this course requires students to listen actively, research carefully and consult widely before setting performance goals for a target audience. Students must determine how best to achieve their goals through theatrical means, then spend the majority of their time in this class exploring and experimenting with different modes of presentation/audience interaction. Students will learn through class exercises, interviews, brainstorming, research, analysis and discussion, rehearsal, and presentation sessions both in and outside of the classroom setting. Prerequisite: Earlham Seminar I. (A-TH, RCH)
THEA 388 VIDEO PRODUCTION II: EDITING (3 credits)
Editing is often seen as the hidden art form in film and video. When it is well done, an audience doesn’t notice. Editing conventions and techniques as well as practice will develop a core set of editing skills in the Final Cut X app. Students will explore “the invisible art” through readings like In the Blink of an Eye, films, and hands-on exercises. Prerequisite: THEA 275 or consent of the instructor. Also listed as FILM 388. Upper level requirement. (A-AP)
THEA 399 PRACTICAL SHAKESPEARE (3 credits)
This May Term course will guide students through their design, proposal, implementation and assessment of projects related to the Richmond Shakespeare Festival (RSF). All student projects will be guided both by the course instructor and by an RSF member with project-related expertise (and projects need not be English or Theatre-specific). Students will read and discuss the plays that comprise the Festival’s summer season, as well as those plays’ performance histories and their RSF scripts. By the end of this course, students should not only have some greater experience identifying and solving real-world problems in a real-world organization, but have made meaningful connections between that experience and their personal and professional aspirations. Also listed as ENG 399.
THEA 433 APPLIED THEATRE: STAGE MANAGER (3-4 credits as designated by the instructor)
Students learn and further develop vocabulary, communication and organizational management skills as they work with the director to supervise student actors, assistant stage managers and technicians during a main stage production or senior project. Closely supervised by theatre faculty, the stage management student learns to facilitate production meetings, interdepartmental communications, staging rehearsals and tech rehearsals as well as to call the show and coordinate the various elements that affect audience perceptions of the public performances. Prerequisite: THEA 333 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 434 APPLIED THEATRE: COSTUME DESIGNER (4 credits)
Supervised closely by the theatre faculty, the student works as the costume designer for a main stage production or senior project. Prerequisites: THEA 234, 373 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 435 APPLIED THEATRE: LIGHTING/SOUND DESIGNER (4 credits)
Supervised closely by the theatre faculty, the student works as the lighting or sound designer for a main stage production or senior project. Prerequisites: THEA 335, 372 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 436 APPLIED THEATRE: TECHNICAL DIRECTOR (4 credits)
Supervised closely by the theatre faculty, students work individually as the technical director for a main stage production or senior project. Prerequisites: THEA 270, 336 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 437 APPLIED THEATRE: SET DESIGNER (4 credits)
Supervised closely by the theatre faculty, students work individually as the set designer for a main stage production or senior project. Prerequisite: THEA 132, 371, 372 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 438 APPLIED THEATRE: MAKEUP DESIGNER (4 credits)
Supervised closely by the theatre faculty, students work individually as the makeup designer for a main stage production or senior project. Prerequisites: THEA 238, 374 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 439 APPLIED THEATRE: DIRECTOR (4 credits)
Supervised closely by the theatre faculty, students work individually as the director of a student project. Prerequisites: THEA 370 and consent of the instructor.
THEA 471 PLAYWRITING (3 credits)
This course will focus on the tools and craft of playwriting — how to write dialogue, shape characters, create scenes and structure whole plays. Through reading, writing and discussion the class will seek practical application of the concepts we explore. In brief, this is a writing workshop — where the practice of playwriting begins not with brilliance, but by finding the time and space and presence of mind to write. This class will require additional meetings to be scheduled during the semester for group work, writing instruction and other activities. These times will be flexible, but the class does require that students have some time available for such meetings, as well as time for extensive reading. Also listed as ENG 471. Upper level requirement. (WI)
THEA 481 INTERNSHIP, FIELD STUDY OR OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)
Credit for a summer or semester internship may be granted with approval prior to internship. Consult the convener or the Theatre Arts Department for details.
THEA 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)
THEA 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program. (RCH)
THEA 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
A self-initiated program of study on a particular topic of interest to the student. Petition must be approved by a faculty adviser and the Academic Dean.
THEA 488-1 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE - PREPARATION (2 credits)
Students are required to clarify their learning goals for the capstone, develop a learning strategy and submit the resources they intend to investigate (bibliography, interviews of practitioners, training opportunities for example), and begin producing some of the evidence of their learning.
THEA 488-2 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE - IMPLEMENTATION (2 credits)
The student continues the task of producing evidence of her/his learning, executes the public presentation of the capstone project (the vehicle for sharing the learning goals), completes the final documentation of the experience (reflective self-assessment), the evidence in an organized form, resume, portfolio, and oral comprehensive examination.