Theatre News and Updates

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WATCH: Theatre grad Lirit Olyan ’13 on her career as a costume and character designer

The Theatre is a Gathering Place…

August 11, 2022

The Theatre is a gathering place in which shared experience create a unique sense of community. As we reflect on the past semester, we take a moment to recognize that Theatre is a collaborative process through which like-minded artists gather to create an experience they desire to share with members of their greater community. This is true of applied theatre, education outreach, and community engagement projects as well as for performances in a traditional theatre space.

Senior Capstone Collaboration

January 13, 2022

Theatre Arts majors begin the process of planning their senior capstone during Junior Seminar. Each student starts by considering the kinds of work they would like to pursue in the theatre and/or theatre arts related fields after graduation. After reflecting on the kind of practical experience they want to gain by way of preparation, each student chooses their focus for the senior capstone production and their individual capstone project.

Earlham grad earns national honors for best dramaturgy in college theatre

August 10, 2021

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On radiance, resiliience, and creating a more equitable future

August 3, 2021

Theatre is a shared experience through which artists and audience members collaborate to create a world that engages hearts, minds, and imaginations in the present moment through stories that connect us all to our common humanity. “Radiance,” as defined by Michelle Hensley in her book All the Lights On, is what bursts “from humans sharing with each other, even for just a moment, their most profound, and honest selves.”   If a small sun is hidden in each of us, then every individual brings great potential to a gathering, making the theatre experience uniquely suited to create radiance as actors and audience imagine new worlds together in the moment.

Given the shared experiences we’ve had since the pandemic caused a radical change in how we live together (almost a year and a half ago!), we are extremely aware of how collaborative creation contributes to personal and community resilience. Many thanks to the student, faculty, and guest theatre artists who have continued to find ways to safely created the possibility of “Radiance” at Earlham College. Clarity of vision, continuous research and honest communication, and a commitment to self-care have been essential to our mental health, to our artistic successes, and to our strong sense of community.

Earlham commencement 2021: Grad transforms from theatre hobbyist to award-winning playwright

May 20, 2021

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Student dramaturg to compete at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival

March 12, 2021

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Earlham students win five Region 3 KCACTF awards

January 10, 2021

The 53rd Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, a virtual gathering during the first week of January, ended by recognizing three Earlham College students with a total of five awards for their contributions to the Earlham College Department of Theatre Arts production of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn in November of 2020.

Spencer North, a senior, won the Dramaturgy Program Note Award and the Outstanding Lobby Display Award. They also won the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas / Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 3 Student Dramaturgy Award. This recognition will send Spencer on to the national competition later this spring!

Brianna Miller, a senior, received one of two Region 3 KCACTF Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Awards. In addition, she has been designated the Region Three Runner Up for the national competition.

We also congratulate Madi Eads, a junior, who was recognized as Runner-Up for the KCACTF Stage Management Fellowship.

We are very proud of all our students.

And we especially want to lift up the fact that Spencer has developed such effective dramaturgy skills as an example of how a liberal arts student with initiative is able to Investigate, Diversify, Reflect, Integrate, Apply, Create, and Communicate in whatever field they choose to focus their time and energy. While Earlham does not offer specific coursework in dramaturgy, faculty and guest artist mentorship provided the experiential learning opportunities and feedback that allowed Spencer to explore their interest and learn on the job while serving as dramaturg for four productions over the last two years.

Region 3, one of the largest and most active regions in the country, includes Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This year a total of nine students (including two recent grads) and two faculty members participated in a wide range of all conference and sub-discipline events during the first week in January. Events included anti-racist theatre training, design and management presentations, workshops, scholarship competitions, feedback & coaching sessions, new play readings, theoretical production collaborations, and a Ten Minute Play Festival, as well as RED initiative, ASPIRE, and student leadership sessions. We also had the opportunity to interact with guest speakers and view productions from other schools.

While this first-ever virtual festival was certainly a new experience, we learned a lot, had fun, brought some new plays to life, made new connections, and look forward to taking what we learned this year into preparations for next year’s festival at Ball State University!

Socially Distanced Theatre: Making Art While Wearing Masks

November 20, 2020

In order to keep our campus community safe, the Earlham College academic calendar was restructured for this year to create a pair of seven-week terms for each semester. Most students took just two courses per term, resulting in a lower number of interactions with others throughout the academic day. That also made it easier to augment courses with online instruction as needed (and would minimize disruption if it became necessary to move exclusively to on-line learning due to new developments with COVID-19). The great news is that Earlham students, faculty, and staff all made the choices necessary to keep each other safe through the fall semester — we have successfully completed the semester as originally planned!

As theatre students attended face to face (well, mask to mask) classes during the first seven weeks, we all practiced health & safety protocols and developed social distancing habits for Design 1 as well as safe staging standards for scene work in the Foundations of Acting and Directing courses. We also experimented with on-line rehearsals and, when an acting student was quarantined while waiting for test results, explored how a story could be told with one character on stage and the other present via a laptop or large screen on an AV cart. The joy in being able to play with one another in a (safely) shared space lifted spirits and led to a lot of fun and creative work that was shared through a ten minute play showcase.

During the second seven weeks, students involved in the Theatre Production Company course collaborated in the construction and rehearsal of Mr. Burns, a post-electric play by Anne Washburn. The production concept was developed so that it makes sense for characters in the world of the play to wear masks and practice social distancing for the first two acts. And then for the third act, which takes place 75 years later, design choices were made so that the characters wear stylized masks for the musical play within the play. The last piece of the “how can we tell this story safely?” puzzle was how to handle the music. Because we know that the virus is spread through choral singing, we decided to develop the second act music montage with soloists (wearing masks) safely staged in different areas and to pre-record the third act music in a recording studio where we could safely separate musicians and singers and record just a few tracks at a time. There were two bonus learning opportunities as a result of these choices: practical experience working in a recording studio environment and exploration of mask work and the stylized movement necessary for characters on stage to “articulate” the pre-recorded songs in a way that engages the audience and clarifies the story.

Socially distanced performances this fall were limited to members of the Earlham community — creating an “Earlham bubble” is a significant part of what has kept the community safe and healthy. In accordance with college policy, all students, faculty, and staff were tested throughout the semester and responded to a daily COVID self-assessment. Theatre personnel also had their temperatures taken as they arrived for each rehearsal and were tested again just before the show opened. Because there were only a limited number of seats available in Runyan Center’s Wilkinson Theatre where the actors were performing live, there was also a closed circuit live stream to Goddard Auditorium in Carpenter Hall across campus (where there were also a limited number of seats available.)

We are so crazy proud of our students! Not only did they keep each other healthy and safe by making smart personal choices each day… they were also vigilant, responsible, communicative, flexible, and innovative as circumstances changed and new solutions were discovered. And they delivered a beautiful, theatrical production of a dark comedy that celebrates how storytelling creates community and community creates resilience!


The plan for the spring semester is similar to what we did this fall. There will be a virtual Senior Capstone class during the January intensive. Then for the first seven weeks we’ve scheduled face-to-face classes for Acting Styles, Directing 2, Trends in Western Theatre History, and Drawing & Rendering Designs; there will also be an on-line Introduction to Theatre course.

During the second seven weeks students can take an online Playwriting course and/or the Theatre Production Company course which will produce Rotten Illusions by Brianna Miller (EC 2021) and two or three short plays by Samuel Beckett. Rotten Illusions won the 2019 Janica Zuck Richards Memorial Award for the Best One-Act Play and we are grateful that Brianna has granted permission for us to share her play virtually — so stay tuned for information about how you can “attend” a performance if you are not part of the daily campus community.

The theatre is a gathering place in which shared experience creates a unique sense of community… we look forward to a time we can all gather in the same space together again. But in the meanwhile, curiosity, creativity, and the power of storytelling will continue to connect us. Even if we have to wear masks and bathe in hand sanitizer.

Rehearsals Begin for the Book of Will

February 1, 2020

The cast and crew of The Book of Will began rehearsals this past month. The show, which will be playing in the Wilkinson Theatre on March 7th-9th, takes place three years after the death of William Shakespeare. While members of the King’s Men theatre company and their families mourn his absence, companies around town continue to pirate Will’s plays. Appalled by the pirated versions of the plays that threaten to tarnish the Bard’s legacy, Will’s friends set forth on a mission to gather script fragments scattered throughout Elizabethan London into an authorized First Folio, preserving the words and stories that shaped their lives.

All six of the senior theatre majors are involved in this show as a part of their senior capstone experience. Alongside them are a team of students (theatre majors and non-majors) and community members all working together to put the show together come early March. Read the cast list below!

Jordan Wolfe – John Heminges

Cameron Wooddy – Henry Condell

Theo Merback – Richard Burbage, Ben Johnson, Francisco

Matthew Socey – William Jaggard, Bar Patron

Mehmet Ali Schubel – Isaac Jaggard, Barman #2

Mike Martin – Ralph Crane, Barman #1, Horatio

Fawzia Istrabadi – Alice Heminges, Susannah Shakespeare

Micaela Levesque – Rebecca Heminges, Emilia Bassano Lanier, Anne Hathaway

Monica Wuertemberger – Elizabeth Condell

Mickey White – Ed Knight, Bar Patron, Sir Edward Dering

Lucy Fitzgerald – Boy Hamlet, Marcus, Bernardo

Carly Federinko – Crier, Marcellus, Compositor

Earlham theatre professor recognized for innovative teaching

January 30, 2020

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Lynne Perkins Socey, M.F.A., has received national recognition for innovative teaching.

The Association for Theatre in Higher Education and Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for Region III presented Perkins Socey with their Prize for Innovative Teaching earlier this month.

The award, which was given during the Region III festival in Madison, Wisconsin, recognizes individuals or organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to the teaching and production of academic theatre. It is one the festival’s most prestigious honors. Region III includes colleges and universities located in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and western Ohio.

“Lynne is a wonderful actor, director and teacher who has provided quality mentorship and service to our region for several years, ultimately to the benefit of student playwrights across our region” says Rick Walters, chair of the Region III festival.

But it was Perkins Socey’s recent work in developing a new off-campus program for Earlham students at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland that helped her stand out as the award’s recipient, Walters says.

“The committee was really impressed with the initiative it took to make something like this happen—and to structure it in a way that really engaged students on the frontlines to realize their own creative capabilities,” Walters says. “I think she’s masterful at that. She has a unique ability to lead in a way that students really feel empowered. Ultimately that’s the thing that makes her teaching feel special.”

The yearlong initiative began during the 2018-19 academic year and resulted in 17 students attending the festival and performing Perkins Socey’s new play, The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway, which is adapted from the novel by Kathryn Clare Glen.

The Earlham College Theatre Arts Department students worked collaboratively to bring the production to life through theatrical staging, original music, and steam-punk style props — including a bird with a 16-foot wingspan.

In preparation for the performances, the students worked collaboratively with Perkins Socey on staging experiences, dramaturgy, podcasts, website development and a marketing plan. They performed the play on campus for local audiences before traveling to Europe in August 2019. The excursion is one of Earlham’s signature off-campus experiences funded entirely by The Epic Advantage.

“My ultimate goal is for each student to recognize their unique gifts and potential areas for growth as they learn new ways of working, develop more effective methods for rehearsal and performance, and expand their range of expression,” Perkins Socey says of her approach to teaching. “By the time school began again this fall, it was clear that the Epic Edinburgh students had developed more awareness, initiative, confidence, and clarity about what they want from the rest of their education. The whole department is benefitting from this energy and it is a joy to see students seeking additional opportunities that will move them toward their post-graduation goals.”

Perkins Socey has been a professor and student mentor at Earlham since2009 and has worked as a professional actor, director, casting director and producer for over 35 years.

She has directed a wide range of productions including Into The Woods, Othello, Arsenic & Old Lace, The Laramie Project, Pinocchio, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Importance of Being Earnest, and Charlotte’s Web. Her work has been featured by Actors Theatre of Louisville, Asolo Repertory, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Richmond Shakespeare Festival, the Human Race Theatre Company, Phoenix Theatre, Lilly Theatre at the Children’s Museum, City Center Children’s Theatre, Brown County Playhouse and many university theatres.

She teaches courses like “Foundations of Acting, Directing, Movement for the Stage, Devised Theatre, “Theatre for Change,” “Acting Styles,” and leads several applied theatre opportunities related to acting and stage management.


Dozens of Earlham Theatre Arts students participated in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival for Region III in Madison, Wisconsin, the first week of January where they attended workshops and performances, presented and competed in events and networked with other students from the region.

Four student actor nominees competed in the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition, including Micaela Levesque and Fawzia Istrabadi for their work on the Earlham production of Company; and Jordan Wolfe and Brianna Miller for their work on The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway.

Three students participated in rehearsed readings of Ten Minute and One Act plays: Theo Merback, Brianna Miller and Cameron Wooddy.

Levesque also was a finalist for the dance portion of the festival’s Musical Theatre Intensive.

Four other students presented work as part of the Design, Technology and Management Expo: Nicole Hankins presented her lighting design work and Arianna Higley presented her Stage Management books for The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway. Laurence Ruberl presented his sound design for the Earlham production The Poe Project. Nicole Hankins and Chiara Bowker also presented theoretical designs as part of the Regional Design Projects. From these presentations, both Hankins and Bowker passed on to the final round and Bowker won as honorable mention.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Sarah White, M.F.A., responded
to theoretical presentations by students from other schools and also coordinated Design Storm during the festival this year, which is a project where students from different schools throughout the region are put into teams to create theoretical production concepts that are presented in front of guest professional artists. Bowker and Laurence Ruberl represented Earlham in this project and Bowker’s team won an Honorable Mention for their final presentation.

Higley participated in the Stage Management Intensive, serving as a stage manager for the National Playwrights Program producing new works at the festival. During this year’s Tech Olympics, Ruberl defended Earlham’s regional title in a knot-tying contest with four knots in 40 seconds.

Four students also were awarded Certificates of Merit for their work on Earlham productions throughout 2019: Ellie Gelser for Company Representation on Company, Hankins and Alex Sobczak for design and construction work on the Ruhk puppet for The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway, Ruthie Reichman for Assistant Costume Design work on The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway and Sobczak for Scenic Painting on Company.

Perkins Socey also presented an Expressive Actor Training workshop and served as coordinator and mentor for the National Playwriting Program directors.

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.