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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the fall 2021 semester.

Theatre

Men in Boats performance in Theatre 14

Smith offers theatre enthusiasts extraordinary opportunities both on and off the stage. The theatre program features some 35 courses in acting, directing, design, playwriting, literature, history and dramatic theory. The department presents an adventurous mix of plays from a variety of cultures, periods and genres on its two stages. Off stage, theatre faculty and staff sponsor guest workshops, lectures and presentations by top professional performers, playwrights, technicians and designers. And the Five College theatre program multiplies students’ options in coursework and practical experience.

Theatre at Smith

The theatre department, which has between 30 and 40 majors, is part of the Five College Theatre Department consortium, which mounts numerous theatre productions each season, including musical theatre, opera, and a range of classic, contemporary and original works. The department season consists of four major productions, directed by faculty and students, including a festival of one-act plays; students also participate in writing, acting and directing for the New Play Reading Series. Majors and non-majors are welcome to audition for productions. Studios and laboratory performances initiated, produced and directed by students provide additional opportunities to act, direct, design and stage-manage shows.

Students learn from visiting innovators of the modern theatre such as playwrights Pearl Cleage, Michel Tremblay and Alice Tuan; designers Ralph Lee and Jane Musky; directors Max Stafford-Clark and Chuck Mike; and performers Ruth Malaczech, Deb Margolin, David Strathairn and Billie Whitelaw. Students frequently participate in workshops in acting, design, directing and writing for the theatre by world-renowned artists in these fields. The department also organizes field trips to New York City, where students attend a variety of plays and performances and meet performers, playwrights, directors, producers and stage managers active in the New York theatre scene.

Theatre faculty members have a variety of interests including Hispanic-American drama, the theatre of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Moliere, African-American and African-Caribbean drama, Israeli theatre, Jewish-American theatre, feminist theatre, theatre translation, Asian theatre, performance art, improvisation and collaborative creation. Courses include Theatre History and Culture, Acting, Directing, Writing for the Theatre, Set Design, Costume Design, and Lighting Design, and a rich array of courses in world drama, including American theatre, Black theatre, Jewish theatre, African and Caribbean theatre, Canadian theatre, as well as premodern and modern European theatre. 

The department has specialists in costume design, computer-aided scenic and lighting design, sound design, voice, movement, stage management, technical theatre, and theatre publicity and promotion. Smith maintains an extensive historical costume collection of women's clothing from the 19th and 20th centuries.

  • Collaboration: producing work—creating meaning—together, that we could not produce alone.
  • Competence in one or more areas:
    • Dramaturgy (History, Literature, Criticism)
    • Design and Tech
    • Performance (Acting & Directing)
    • Playwriting
  • Describe, analyze, interpret and evaluate performative, visual and written texts.
  • Contextualize and interpret diverse theatrical works, practices and traditions.
  • Creative investigation: Engage intuitively, creatively and imaginatively in investigations and research across disciplines.
  • Develop, articulate and defend informed choices and judgments. Write and speak clearly and conceptually about theatre.
  • Apply discipline and process to enhance and increase students’ capacities.

Our curriculum reflects the global connections of theatre in the past and present. We offer courses at all levels and in both history/theory as well as performance. Recent courses have included a first-year seminar on contemporary theatre and film in China; Modern European Drama; Staging the Jew, an intensive study of selected plays and films from the U.S., Israel and the Jewish diasporas; Contemporary Canadian Drama; a colloquium on African and Caribbean Theatre; and Shamans, Shapeshifters and the Magic If, which uses an international range of plays including Caryl Churchill, Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott, Bertolt Brecht, in an examination of theatre as a transformative experience beyond the mundane world.


Theatre Productions From All Over the World

We consider our productions to be the laboratories for our curriculum. We use them to explore in depth the texts and ideas discussed in our classes. Since so many of our classes include playwrights and performance techniques from all parts of the globe, it's not surprising that our plays are as diverse.

Here is a selection of a few productions staged at Smith recently.

  • Top Girls, Caryl Churchill
  • Marya, Isaac Babel
  • After Mrs. Rochester, Polly Teale
  • A Doll House, Ibsen
  • Cinders, Januz Glowacki
  • Dogeaters, Jessica Hagedorn
  • A Bright Room Called Day, Tony Kushner
  • The Golden Lotus, Wang Yansong
  • Cuentos de Eva Luna, Ellen Kaplan, based on stories by Isabel Allende

Study Abroad

Many theatre majors spend a semester or year studying on campuses all over the world, on programs approved for Smith College credit as well as programs that students have chosen for their special curriculum or location. Some programs have a strong curriculum focused on theatre. Others offer only a few related classes that might count for credit towards the major but offer a cultural experience that enriches that student's perspective on the field.

Opportunities range from Smith’s own junior year programs in Paris, Florence and Hamburg to the Smith Associated Kyoto Program in Japan, the University de Puebla in Mexico, the University of Otago in New Zealand, SIT Kenya, Rhodes University and the University of Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa and the British American Drama Academy in London.


Requirements

All Majors

All majors are encouraged to include courses in art and music in their programs as well as dramatic literature in any of the language departments.


Requirements

Theatre Major

Eleven semester courses, at least two of which must be at a 300-level, including

1. 198 and 199 Theatre History and Culture
2. Two courses from History/Literature, Criticism
3. 141 Acting I
4. One Design course: 100, 252, 253, 254
5. 344 Directing I or 261 Writing for Theatre
6. Four credits of 200 Theatre Production (these count as a single semester course)
7. Three Elective Courses: At least 8 credits of these must be beyond introductory level in Performance (acting or directing), Playwriting and/or Design.

Consult with your adviser regarding which study away credits, if any, can be applied to the major requirements. No more that 16 credits from study away can ever be applied to the major requirements.

Seperate from study away, no more than eight credits from outside the department (whether at another Smith department or at another of the Five Colleges) can be applied to the major requirements.

 

Requirements

Six Courses

  • Theatre 198 and 199 as the basis
  • In addition one semester course approved by an adviser in each of the following divisions plus one 4-credit course of the student’s choice (including, as an option, 4 credits of 200 Theatre Production):
  1. History Literature, Criticism;
  2. Acting, Directing or Playwriting; and
  3. Design: 100, 252, 253, 254.

Director: Leonard Berkman

Requirements

  • 430d Thesis (8 credits)
  • 431a Thesis (8 credits)
  • 432d Thesis (12 credits)
  1. Production–linked proposals for the honors program must be submitted to the department in the semester preceding entrance into the honors program and no later than March 1 of the second semester of the junior year. Non–production–linked proposals must be submitted to the director of theatre honors no later than April 4. The department recommends that all prospective theatre honors students enter the program at the outset of the junior year.
  2. Fulfillment of the general requirements of the major. These should be taken as early as possible to allow for seminars and independent study in the department and in approved related departments during the junior and senior years.
  3. Completion of honors work will be: 
  • a thesis in literature, aesthetics, critical analyses or history of any of the theatre arts; or
  • a creative project in acting, dance, design, direction, playwriting, choreography or stagecraft. Performance projects should be supplemented by production materials (logs, directors' notebooks, etc.) as requested by the department. All creative projects are to be supplemented as well by a research paper relating the project to its specific theatrical context (historical, thematic, stylistic or other).
  1. Work for a one–semester thesis or project paper must be done in the first semester of the senior year; and the thesis or component research paper is due on the first day of the second semester. Work for a two–semester thesis or project/paper must be done during the senior year, and the thesis or component research paper is due on April 15.
  2. Two examinations: a general examination in the theatre arts and an oral examination in the general field of the student's honors thesis or project/paper.


The Current Season

Fall 2021

In person attendance is open to Smith and Five College community members in the testing programs. Masks and campus IDs required.

New Play Reading Series: Fortune, this is Your House
Written by Mary Beth Brooker, directed by Mary Beth Brooker and Marty Bongfeldt
Thursday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m. 
Acting Studio 1, Mendenhall CPA

Stoop Pigeons
by Christin Eve Cato
Directed by Kyle Boatwright
October 22, 23, 28, 29, 30 at 7:30 p.m. 
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

New Play Reading Series: TBA
Written and directed by James Barry
Thursday, November 11 at 7:30 p.m. 

New Play Reading Series
Written by Sophia Pichanick, Bailey Hightower, and Cate Boram
Thursday, December 2 at 7:30 p.m. 

The Thanksgiving Play
by Larissa FastHorse
Directed by Jen Olivares
December 7, 8, 9, 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

 

Spring 2022

In person attendance is open to Smith and Five College community members in the testing programs. Masks and campus IDs required.

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992
By Anna Deavere Smith 
Directed by Kyle Boatwright
February 25, 26, March 3, 4, 5 at 7:30 p.m.
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Fun Home
Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, music by Jeanine Tesori, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel
Directed by Fiona King '22
April 20, 21, 22, 23 at 7:30 p.m. and April 23 at 2:00 p.m.
Theatre 14

Student Written Plays
TBA
April 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

New Play Reading Series spring dates are TBA.

AUDITIONS: The Thanksgiving Play
by Larissa FastHorse, directed by Jen Olivares

Good intentions collide with absurd assumptions in Larissa FastHorse’s wickedly funny satire, as a troupe of terminally “woke” teaching artists scrambles to create a pageant that somehow manages to celebrate both Turkey Day and Native American Heritage Month.

Auditions will be by video submission. Get instructional video and sides by emailing Nikki Beck (ncbeck@smith.edu). All submissions due by October 1. 

Casting Note: All ages are open and actors that “look white” may be played by POC passing as white.

Logan
Female, Caucasian looking, the high school drama teacher that's always pushing the envelope in potentially inappropriate ways. Earnest about theater and proving herself.

Jaxton
Male, Caucasian looking, yoga practitioner/actor. Politically correct to a fault, a big one. He’s that guy everyone loves, but his logical PC thinking takes weird turns.

Alicia
Female, brunette, Caucasian but has looks that would have been cast as ethnic in 1950’s movies. Without guile. Sexy and hot, but not bright.

Caden
Male, Caucasian looking, the academic. Awkward elementary school history teacher with dramatic aspirations but no experience. 

Fall 2021 Meetings 

Theatre Department Open Maker Spaces

Costume Shop Open House
Fridays 1-4pm
Scene Shop Open House
Wednesday, September 22, 6-9pm
Mendenhall Tour
Friday, September 24 - email Nikki Beck if you are interested!

To join the department of theatre mailing list, please email Production Manager Nikki Beck (ncbeck@smith.edu).


Tilly Adams
Assistant Costumer/Cutter

Nikki Beck
Production Manager

Emily Justice Dunn
Costume Shop Supervisor

 

Alicia Guidotti
Theatre Administrator, 
Administrative Assistant Supervisor (Arts)

Joan Hornbuckle
Financial Administrator

Shelley Latham
Publicity Manager for the Performing Arts

Amy Putnam
Technical Director

Alan Schneider
Assistant Technical Director

David Wiggall
Lighting and Sound Supervisor


Facilities for Theatre

 

 

Contact

Department of Theatre

Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts
Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3204
Administrative Assistant:
Alicia Guidotti