Drama in the Liberal Arts
The mission of the Department of Drama is to provide opportunities for students to encounter in a meaningful way the three sub-fields of our discipline: text studies (history, theory, criticism, dramaturgy, and dramatic literature), plastic studies (design, technology), and performance studies (acting, directing, playwriting). The proper study of drama includes study in all three sub-fields, allowing for a degree of concentration in one or more. The true student of theatre must acquire an understanding of each area because of the essentially synthetic nature of the art itself and the highly collaborative means by which it is created. The Drama Major at Washington College guides students toward an understanding of the synthesis of drama and theatre and toward an understanding of the essential collaboration of the two.
It is important to note that the Department of Drama embraces the principles of a liberal arts education. To that end, we emphasize, both in our curricular and co-curricular activities, the full breadth of such an education. Our students routinely double major, pairing drama with disciplines as similar as English and as diverse as Environmental Studies and Chemistry. Indeed, we look for these kinds of intersections.
That being said, the Department must also be conscious of representing a tradition that has been central to the intellectual life of world civilization for over 2500 years, and to ensure that students taking drama courses in any area become aware of the weight and splendor of that tradition. This is our hedge against the pleasing seductions of vocationalism and a “show-biz” aesthetic.
Thus, the goals of the Department of Drama are as follows:
1. To prepare the student for proficiency in performing, technical, and theoretical areas.
2. To provide the student with a theoretical and critical body of knowledge in preparation for professional employment or graduate studies.
3. To provide the student with the opportunity to develop skills in the areas of acting, directing, design, and dramaturgy.
4. To guide the student toward a synthesis of the theoretical and practical acquired in the study of drama and theatre as well as in faculty directed productions and the Senior Capstone Experience.
5. To enable the student to understand the field of drama and theatre in historical, political, intellectual, and social contexts.
In Fall 2009, the renovated Gibson Performing Arts Center became the centerpiece of the drama department, providing a state-of-the-art environment for performers, technicians, and audiences.
What We Do
Unlike many of our peer institutions, our “season” is built around students: we routinely produce 8-10 student directed productions per academic year, along with 1-3 faculty-directed productions. Students, both majors and non-majors alike, are free to audition for anything. Drama majors can write a script, perform, direct, or run technical aspects of a show to complete their senior capstone. Courses in history, acting, directing, design and dramaturgy prepare our students for internships in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., graduate work, careers in theater and in a multitude of other professions.
We believe that students who major in theater are change-makers and leaders-in-training, evidenced by this essay.