Along with studio/practical courses in acting, design, tech, and directing, we require our majors to complete a four-semester sequence of rigorous academic courses that trace both the literature and history of western theatre from the ancient Greeks to the America's current Postmodern avant-garde.
Each major period is treated within the context of specific cultural dynamics including study of anthropological theory, art and music history, political theory and social history; this is an unusual format, entirely integrative and thorough.
Our majors come away with exposure to classics and a survey of theatre history trends, but also a clear sense of how theatre reflects its time and place, why theatre is central to an understanding of a given culture or period, the varied functions and effects of theatre on a community . . . how theatre engages the liberal arts.
Throughout, this sequence engages the traditional canon as well as tracing the significant contributions and theoretical concerns raised by women and minorities in Western theatre. Our theoretical approach is humanist; our pedagogical approach is to aim every assignment toward building not only a better practical base for making theatre, but also a general and humane base for respecting the theater's varied functions in society.
The four-year theatre major is framed with seminars for entering Freshman (or transfer students) and seniors. Both courses require diagnostic/assessment examinations, and the writing of a personal theatre "manifesto" (ideal/concept paper).
Immediately, our freshman are introduced to and are given the opportunity to interview our faculty in the Freshman Seminar; they are also required to search our library's resources and compose a four/five-year plan toward graduation.
In our senior's seminar, students build up audition repertories, compile design portfolios, write resumes for differing field objectives, and research application to graduate programs.
At the end of our student's four years here, each will have accumulated a portfolio that includes the assessment exams, samples of their best writings for a variety of courses, video records of all their final performances in acting course work, sketches and working drafts for designs, and complete academic transcripts.