Create your future. Shape your world.
The theatre experience is essentially an act of compassion. As artists we must first imagine the experience of another and then be able to inhabit that person’s perspective in such a way that we understand how their experience would impact us. Then, in collaboration with our fellow theatre artists, we create a sacred space that engenders a performance through which the members of our audience can exercise their compassion. At its best, theatre teaches the art of compassion, enabling us all to grow in the understanding of ourselves and to make more responsible choices about how we live – knowing that our choices affect the lives of others. Quality theatre, responsibly produced, can change our world for the better.
Because theatre practitioners are required to have a broad base of multidisciplinary knowledge, the Department of Theatre Arts believes that the strongest and best preparation for a career in theatre is an excellent liberal arts education. The natural sciences provide a structure for understanding how life works; the humanities give us ways to explain our experiences; the social sciences offer a variety of useful paradigms with which we can navigate through diverse societies. The arts give us the opportunity to synthesize those perspectives. Artistic expressions of the human experience are designed such that we can stop time, step back and reflect on what we think we know, what we are feeling, and what may lead us to compassion and understanding. This journey is an adventure that may transform our lives and the lives of others.
The Department of Theatre Arts curriculum provides learning opportunities in all major aspects of theatre. Classes range from acting and directing to design and construction to global and historical theatrical practices, organization and processes; each class furthers the development of critical thinking, synthesis of ideas, and clarity of thought and expression. Academic theory is interwoven with practical application through student participation in theatrical productions and in-class projects. Three to eight 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. Guest artists to campus share their work and experience 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.
Our venue is the 350-seat Wilkinson Theatre. Its fully equipped scene shop is directly behind the stage, while the Green Room, makeup room for ten actors, men’s and women’s dressing rooms are one floor below. The rehearsal room and classroom on are also on this lower floor.
In the fall of 2014, Earlham will add to our facilities a 50’ by 50’ Studio Theatre in the new Visual and Performing Arts Center. This black box theatre, which may seat between 60 to 100 people depending on the seating configuration, increases our ability to stage smaller productions and to actively explore the dynamics of different actor-audience relationships.
The department each year organizes trips to professional theatre performances, workshops and conferences. When possible, the faculty continues professional work and is often able to extend observation, assistant and networking opportunities to students ready for such opportunities.
Many students choose to enrich their education with off-campus study. The popular Great Lakes College Association's New York Arts Program provides training and internship opportunities while living in New York City for a semester. Students who choose the London Program regularly attend theatrical performances as part of their course of study.
Most Theatre Arts Department graduates have gone in three general directions. Many have pursued graduate degrees in academics, design or performance at top institutions such as Yale University and New York University. Others have joined professional internship programs at the Actors Theatre of Louisville, Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago or companies in Minneapolis, Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco. Still other graduates now use the creative, organizational, communication and interpersonal skills they developed through their Theatre Arts studies in occupations ranging from sports broadcasting to business management to the teaching of cognitively impaired middle-school students.
Actor Owiso Odera '96 means to change the way Hollywood tells Africa’s story, and in so doing tell his own. He has appeared in recurring roles in such television series' as "Numb3rs," "Flash Forward," "Three Rivers" and "The Unit."
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.