Theatre Arts, Academics | Earlham College Skip to Content

Theatre Arts

Personalized Training for Today's Theatre Artist

Overview    |   Opportunities  |   Rariden Scholarship  |   Meet An Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses  

 

Earlham students are concerned about social justice, the environment and global community. Our majors and minors are encouraged to address these issues through their work in Theatre Arts.

Our curriculum provides learning opportunities in all major aspects of theatre. Academic theory is interwoven with practical application through student participation in several theatrical productions and in-class projects.

Six to ten 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.

Many Theatre Arts majors participate in off-campus programs including the New York Arts Program and Earlham’s London program.

The Center for the Visual and Performing Arts, which opened in Fall 2014, provides our students with a state-of-the-art studio theatre.

Highlights

Two Theatre Arts students have been nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival's Irene Ryan Award for their performances in The Boy in Black in Spring 2016. Another was nominated for a Certificate of Merit as director of the production.

Our alumni pursue graduate degrees at such top institutions as Yale University and New York University. Others have joined professional internship programs at the Actors Theatre of Louisville and Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago or joined theatre companies in Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco.

Still others use their creative, collaborative, critical and presentation skills in a variety of other fields, from business to law to teaching.

Special Learning Opportunities

We also provide individualized training with a focus on the collaborative, analytical and expressive skills essential in all working environments. Play selection and workshop programming is customized to student needs and interests. Guest artists interact 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.   

As our student artists gain practical experience in the wide range of theatre arts disciplines, they also gain confidence in how to create new work and interpret existing scripts in service of the communities in which they live and work. 

Many theatre majors participate in off-campus programs including the New York Arts Program and Earlham’s London program.

Rariden Scholarship

The Rariden Scholarship is awarded annually to a student entering Earlham who is interested in pursuing an area within the visual and performing arts — art, music or theatre. Preference is given to a student from Wayne County, Indiana, although the selection committee will consider Indiana students from outside the county as well. The scholarship is $5,000 for each of a student’s four years at Earlham, totaling $20,000.

Earlham’s admissions counselors will screen applications from Wayne, Fayette, Randolph, Union and Franklin counties. The convener of the Visual and Performing Arts Division will send eligible applicants a letter and an information form in March. The form should be promptly returned to the Admissions Office.

Candidates will be contacted in April for interviews, and the winner will be notified by May 1.

Meet An Earlhamite
Bria Robinson
Performing Arts & the Liberal Arts

Bria Robinson '17 mixes music, acting, singing, dancing and volleyball as part of her liberal arts education. Her aspirations include graduate school and Broadway.

More
Mallory Ward
Immersed in Theater

Mallory Ward ’16 says one of her best experiences at Earlham was being entrenched in theater, 24 hours straight.

More
Dan McCoy
Comedy Writer

Dan McCoy '00 finds himself at the top of his profession as a staff writer for “The Daily Show,” hosted by Jon Stewart. It is the first time he has held a full-time job in comedy. But this is not as improbable as it sounds.

More
Our Faculty

Iris Dauterman
Adjunct Theatre Instructor

Benjamin Hartman
Theatre Film/Production Instructor

Mia Khayat
Visiting Instructor in Theatre Arts

Lynne Perkins Socey
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts

Michael White
Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts

Sarah White
Visiting Designer/Tech Instructor

Jennifer Isaacs
Administrative Assistant
Plan of Study

General Education Requirements

The Department occasionally offers Earlham Seminars.

The Program

A strong liberal arts education is the best preparation for a career in theatre. Based on our experience, students carrying greater than a normal load (15 credits) should not be involved in a theatrical production. Plays take (1) a significant amount of physical time to rehearse and build, (2) complete dedication, commitment and passionate attachment to the production from start to finish, and (3) emotional and spiritual energy to create a production that truly captures the life of the characters and the hearts and minds of the audience.

Students spend their Senior year preparing and producing their senior projects which may be a theatrical production or a research project presented to the campus. Their project, submitted to the Theatre faculty as a proposal, should be approved by the end of their Junior year.

Courses in theory, history and techniques:

  • THEA 250 Introduction to Theatre: Collaboration, Analysis and Expression
  • THEA 260 Acting I
  • THEA 261 Movement for the Stage
  • THEA 270 Theatrecraft
  • THEA 275 Video Production
  • THEA 280 Script Analysis
  • THEA 282 Special Topics
  • THEA 350 Trends in Western Theatre History
  • THEA 359 Shakespeare and Social Problems (also ENG 359)
  • THEA 360 Acting Styles
  • THEA 370 Directing
  • THEA 371 Set, Lighting and Costume Design
  • THEA 372 Drawing and Rendering Designs
  • THEA 373 Advanced Design Practices
  • THEA 380 Drama (also ENG 380)
  • THEA 382 Special Topics
  • THEA 386 Devised Theatre
  • THEA 481 Internship
  • THEA 483 Teaching Assistants
  • THEA 484 Ford/Knight Research Project
  • THEA 485 Independent Study
  • THEA 488-1 Senior Capstone Experience - Preparation
  • THEA 488-2 Senior Capstone Experience - Implementation

Courses in Experiential Application

  • THEA 132 Applied Theatre: Set Construction
  • THEA 134 Applied Theatre: Costume Construction
  • THEA 135 Applied Theatre: Lighting Crew
  • THEA 230 Applied Theatre: Acting
  • THEA 234 Applied Theatre: Wardrone
  • THEA 235 Applied Theatre: Lighting/Sound Console Operator
  • THEA 236 Applied Theatre: Backstage Running Crew
  • THEA 238 Applied Theatre: Makeup Crew
  • THEA 333 Applied Theatre: Assistant Stage Manager
  • THEA 335 Applied Theatre: Master Electrician
  • THEA 433 Applied Theatre: Stage Manager
  • THEA 434 Applied Theatre: Costume Designer
  • THEA 435 Applied Theatre: Lighting/Sound Designer
  • THEA 436 Applied Theatre: Technical Director
  • THEA 437 Applied Theatre: Set Designer
  • THEA 438 Applied Theatre: Makeup Designer
  • THEA 439 Applied Theatre: Director

The Major

For the Major, students complete the following courses:

  • THEA 250 Introduction to Theatre: Collaboration, Analysis and Expression
  • THEA 260 Acting I
  • THEA 270 Theatrecraft
  • THEA 280 Script Analysis
  • THEA 350 Trends in Western Theatre History
  • THEA 382 Special Topics or any cross-listed dramatic literature course (may satisfy this major requirement only once)
  • THEA 370 Directing
  • THEA 386 Devised Theatre
  • Minimum of six credits in three different areas of Applied Theatre
  • One three-credit course in the Visual and Performing Arts Division outside of the Theatre Arts Department
  • Two upper-level electives in Theatre Arts (courses numbered 300-399)
  • THEA 488-1 Senior Capstone Experience - Preparation
  • THEA 488-2 Senior Capstone Experience - Implementation
  • Successful completion of oral review of Senior Project and Oral Comprehensive Examination

The Minor

  • THEA 250 Introduction to Theatre: Collaboration, Analysis and Expression
  • THEA 350 Trends in Western Theatre History
  • One of the following:
    • THEA 260 Acting I
    • THEA 270 Theatrecraft
  • At least three areas of Applied Theatre credit and one three-credit, upper-level Theatre Arts course OR
  • One credit of Applied Theatre and two three-credit upper-level Theatre Arts courses

Integrated Pathways

Integrated Pathways (IPs) can help you make direct connections between your academic interests and possible career paths. These programs are comprised of 4-6 courses as well as related extracurricular activities.

Courses

* Key

Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:

  • (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
  • (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 130, 132, 134, 135, 230, 234, 235, 236, 238, 250, 260, 261, 282 and 333.

THEA 130 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

THEA 239 INTRODUCTION TO THEATRICAL MAKEUP (3 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.

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.

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. There will be a public performance.

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.

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.

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.

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.

*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 339 ASSISTANT DESIGNER (2 credits)
Assistant designers will work closely with the costume, lighting, props, sound or scenic faculty designer on the theatre arts mainstage production. They will learn first hand how to successfully collaborate with the production team while gaining real life experience in the theatre design industry. They will take the time to carefully develop their craft by observing the faculty designer and take on an active roll in the design process. Assistants will take a leadership role in the various production shops and apply creative problem solving skills to any problem that might rise. Upper level requirement. Prerequisite: THEA 270 or consent of instructor.

*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. (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. (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.

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 362 AUDITION PORTFOLIO (2 credits)
Acting students select, develop and practice a portfolio of monologues to showcase their unique gifts. Students also will practice instant script analysis, cold-reading and improvisational audition skills, learn how to locate regional audition opportunities, and prepare a professional resume and marketing materials. (This course is strongly recommended for KCACTF Irene Ryan nominees.) Prerequisites: THEA 230, THEA 260 or permission of the instructor. 

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. (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. (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.

*THEA 386 DEVISED THEATRE (4 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. (RCH)

*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. (RCH)

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.