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Theatre & Dance

Why Theatre?

Theatre in the Liberal Arts

The mission of the Department of Theatre & Dance 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 theatre 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 Theatre 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 Theatre & Dance 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 theatre 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.

Learning Goals

Students who graduate with a major in theatre will be able to demonstrate:

  1. Fluency in the vocabulary of the various disciplines (including acting, directing, design, playwriting, dramaturgy) within the field of theatre
  2. Knowledge of the major trends, works and individuals in the history of the theatre
  3. Ability to contextualize theatre trends, works and individuals in historic, geographic, artistic, political and social terms
  4. Ability to critique and analyze their work and the work of others in a productive and supportive way
  5. Clear and persuasive communication skills:  oral, written and visual
  6. Critical thinking through synthesis of textual and performance analysis and research
  7. Skills in leadership, management and collaboration
  8. The importance of creativity in all aspects of their lives
  9. A greater understanding and expansion of their own imaginative tools and resources

What We Do

Unlike many of our peer institutions, our “season” is built around students:  we routinely produce 6-8 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 and participate in all productions.  

We believe that students who major in theatre are change-makers and leaders-in-training, evidenced by this essay.