Theatre Arts, Academics | Earlham College
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Theatre Arts

Personalized Training for Today's Theatre Artist

Overview    |   Opportunities  |   Rariden Scholarship  |   Meet An Earlhamite   |   Our Faculty   |   Plan of Study   |   Courses    |    Visual and Performing Arts Events

Earlham sees theatre as an essential part of the human experience; stories brought to life through imagination and shared in community can transport and transform us. The Theatre Arts Department teaches Earlham students to create theatre that elicits empathy, challenges the intellect, and encourages intentional decision-making. The faculty strive to develop interdisciplinary anti-racist theatre artists with a personal sense of responsibility to the communities in which they will live and work.

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.

Between our flexible 125-seat black box theatre and 350-seat proscenium theatre, we guarantee a total of six to 10 annual departmental, senior project and student theatre company productions. These provide opportunities to perform, design, stage-manage, devise, direct, produce and take on other leadership roles throughout the year. 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.

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.


In our 2018-2019 academic year, the theatre arts department produced three full productions and two student short projects, two 24-hour festival projects with Earlham Theatre Company and two student class showcases.

Eighteen students attended the Region 3 Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Madison, Wisconsin, winning accolades and awards in both performance and design/technology.

Nearly 40 theatre students attended a professional performance in Cincinnati during both the fall and spring semester. We also had 12 professional guest artists and collaborators presenting workshops, and designing, contributing or responding to our productions, assisting the 71 majors and non-majors who participated in theatrical events this year.

Education Outreach activity included a free school day matinee of our fall production of Much Ado About Nothing for area middle and high school students. The eighteen Earlham students involved in devising the world premiere production of The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway also shared their page-to-stage experience with Richmond Friends School students at various points in the process. This production toured to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (the world's oldest and largest arts festival) where students performed their own work, attended a mix of new, experimental, musical and traditional performances by artists from around the world, and explored the culture of Scotland through Earlham's EPIC Advantage Program.

Five students spent their off-campus spring semester in the United Kingdom and our two graduating seniors already have full-time positions that will begin after their summer theatre projects.

Special Learning Opportunities

  • Epic Advantage: International Fringe Festivals
  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival
  • Off-campus Learning Programs (Study Abroad or New York Arts)
  • Indianapolis Fringe Festival
  • Funded Internships
  • Student-Faculty Collaborative Research Projects
  • Earlham Theatre Company (Student Led Organization)
  • Field Trips to Professional Theatres
  • Networking with Guest Artists
  • Student Employment Opportunities

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

Sage HaleWolf
Stories That Need to be Told

As a child, Sage HaleWolfe ’18 knew that actors didn’t just magically appear from a box behind a movie screen.

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Mallory Ward
Immersed in Theater

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

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Laurence Ruberl
When Computer Science and Theatre Mix

Laurence Ruberl ’20 hopes that studying Computer Science and Theatre Arts is the perfect combination to allow him to return to work at NASA.

Read More

Our Faculty

Lynne Perkins Socey
Associate Professor of Theatre Arts

Mia Slayton
Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

Jeff Templeton
Administrative Assistant for the Visual and Performing Arts

Plan of Study

General Education Requirements

Because Theatre Arts is an interdisciplinary art form, it contributes to many of the Earlham College general education requirements, including Earlham Seminars, Arts distributional requirement, Diversity-International, Diversity-Domestic, Writing Intensive and Research.


The Program

The Theatre Arts Department believes a strong liberal arts education combined with hands on experience is the best preparation for a career in theatre. Students take a wide breadth of classes while choosing a career track to dive deep into.

The Junior class collaborates in the season selection process to determine the focus of their senior capstone project. During the Senior year, students collaborate on all aspects of production preparation and performance related activities and then turn focus toward their post graduation plans.


The Major

For the Major, students complete the following courses:

  • THEA 250 Introduction to Theatre: Script Analysis
  • THEA 260 Foundations of Acting
  • THEA 270 Theatrecraft
  • THEA 350 Trends in Western Theatre
  • THEA 422 Production Leadership
  • THEA 481 Internship
  • THEA 388 Junior Seminar
  • THEA 488 Senior Capstone & Career Preparation

In addition, students complete:

  • One of the following Genre Studies courses:
    • THEA/ENG 359 Shakespeare
    • THEA/ANCS 358 Greek and Roman Drama 
    • THEA/ENG 380 Theatre: Multicultural Theatre
    • THEA 387 Theatre for Social Change
  • One of the following courses:
    • THEA 370 Directing
    • THEA 386 Devised Theatre
  • One of the following courses:
    • THEA 122 Production Practicum
    • THEA 230 Applied Acting

Students also complete one of the following tracks:

Performance Track

  • THEA 360 Acting Styles
  • THEA 362 Audition Portfolio
  • THEA 386 Devised Theatre
  • Music Ensemble or Music Lesson
  • One from the following courses:
    • THEA 261 Voice & Movement for the Stage
    • THEA 239 Intro to Theatrical Makeup
    • THEA 470 Directing II

Design & Technology Track

  • THEA 371 Design 1: Costumes, Sets and Lights
    (You may take this course more than once)
  • THEA 372 Design 2: Drawing and Rendering
  • THEA 373 Design 3: Portfolio
  • One from the following courses:
    • ART 202 Cloth Art
    • ART 205 Drawing I
    • ART 220 Introduction to Metals & 3D Fabrication
    • ART 225 Painting I
    • ART 235 Photography I
    • MUS 372 Making Music with Computers
    • MUS 171 Music Theory I

Management Track

  • THEA 422 Production Leadership (Must take 4 semesters)
  • MGMT 240 Leadership Skills
  • MGMT 342 Leadership & Dealing with Differences
  • THEA 345 Introduction to Stage Management


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
  • Complete the following requirement:
    • At least three credits from the following:
      • THEA 122 Theatre Production Practicum
      • THEA 230 Applied Theatre Acting
      • THEA 422 Advanced Theatre Production Practicum   AND
    • One three-credit, upper-level Theatre Arts course


    • One credit from the following:
      • THEA 122 Theatre Production Practicum
      • THEA 230 Applied Theatre Acting
      • THEA 422 Advanced Theatre Production Practicum   AND
    • Two three-credit, upper-level Theatre Arts courses


Applied Minors

Applied Minors (APs) 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.


* 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
  • (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 122, 230, 250, 260 and 282.

Practical experience in offstage positions for Theatre Arts productions. Open to any experience level, students will participate in various production roles involved in the theatrical process, including set construction, costume construction, run crew, lighting crew, dramaturgy and design. Credits are awarded for varying amounts of committed work time over the course of the semester, both inside and out of the classroom or shop setting. Students will commit to 60 hours for one credit or 90 hours for two credits.

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.

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.

Students are introduced to the concepts, vocabulary, and interdisciplinary techniques of the process of developing theatre from page to stage. Cooperative discussions around the analysis of scripts from a variety of disciplines leads to student exploration of artistic, social and ethical questions in relation to season selection and specific audiences. Students also analyze and write response papers to both scripts and live theatre events.

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.

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.

This course focuses on the principles and practices of contemporary stage management, and interpret the function of the stage manager in the entire production process. The class identifies the relationship of the stage manager to the director, designers, technical director, actors, stage crew, and wardrobe and properties managers, and specifies responsibilities and practices of a successful stage manager.

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)

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 (4 credits)
This course focuses on Shakespeare's plays, and on the ways they represent an exacting storytelling craft filled with precise techniques: character webs and conflicts, symbols, and scene weaves. Along the way, students will team up to explore how Shakespeare pioneered some kinds of stories still read and seen today, and discover what Shakespeare's stories have to say about the how and why of human experience. Also listed as ENG 359.

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.

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Advanced practical experience in offstage positions for Theatre Arts productions.  Students will participate in specialized leadership roles involved in the theatrical process, including direction, design, set construction, costume construction, stage management, dramaturgy and more. Prerequisite: Permission 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)

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.


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.

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.

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.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.