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Theatre

Theatre production of Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

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 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 2022

Our Dear Dead Drug Lord
by Alexis Scheer
Directed by Daniel Kramer
October 26, 27, 28, 29 at 7:30 p.m. 
October 29 at 2:00 p.m. 
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre
Buy Tickets

New Play Reading Series
Flypaper
by Lillian Groag, directed by Claire Trivax MFA
Thursday, November 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Acting Studio 1

New Play Reading Series
Intangible: A Study of Cats In Boxes
written by Montgomery Quinlan, directed by James Tanner Echols MFA 
Thursday, December 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Acting Studio 1

Poof!
by Lynn Nottage, directing by Liv Dunbar '23J
Thursday and Friday, December 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Chrysalis Jam
Andrea Hairston, Tony Vacca, Pan Morigan, Higher Help, and Chrysalis Theatre
Sunday, December 11 at 4:00 p.m.
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Spring 2023

New Play Reading Series
Flash Play Festival
Thursday, February 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Acting Studio 1

My H8 Letter to the Gr8 American Theatre
written and directed by Diana Oh '08
February 24, 25, March 2, 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

New Play Reading Series 
Orchestra Orpheus Opus Onus 
written by Kate Soper, directed by Michael Rau
Thursday, March 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Location TBD

La Ruta
By Isaac Gomez 
Directed by Monica Lopez Orozco
April 21, 22, 27, 28, 29 at 7:30 p.m.
Theatre 14

AUDITIONS: My H8 Letter to the GR8 American Theatre
written and directed by Diana Oh '08

WASSSSUPPPP PARTY PPL!!! IMBIBING FOR MY H8 Letter to the Gr8 American Theatre

THE PROCESS will be: AWESOME, A PARTY, A HEART-CENTERED ROCK OUT, A JUICY SOUL MISSION, A SENSITIVE SPACESHIP, queer futurity now. Looking to build a community/familee of Artists, and not just a company of Actors. Searching for your authentic and full self. May this process be a healing, invigorating, and empowering one. If you read this play and it sends your heart ablaze and relief through your bombastic bones: THEN THIS ROOM WANTS YOU. If you do not like laughter or tears, or a sick beat, or immigrants or qtbipoc or folx of different access needs crushing life: this room probably isn’t for you. My Service Dogs will definitely come to some rehearsals. And the first rehearsal will be a potluck. A piece of Art made by queer and trans, folx of color, and allies. 

Looking for Performers of all kinds with things like: weird hobbies and side gigs. Musicians, Knitters, DJ’s, Future Burlesque Stars, Performance Artists, People Who’ve Never Acted Before but Whose Friends Are Always Telling Them THEY ARE HILARIOUS, Actors who are SICK OF THE BULLSH*T, white allies who have read White Fragility and who are on the right side (aka the fun side) of history, Dancers, Wild Thinkers, Lewk Slayers, Asian Americans, African-Americans, Latinx, Indigenous, Queer Folx, Trans Folx, multi-lingual folx, white allies, Queer Elders, Performers who don’t speak English as a first language. 

About My H8 Letter to the Gr8 American Theatre: There is a before and after this play and liberation is on the other side of it. 

For Auditions: auditions are trash and are the worst and I want to make art with people who are cool, funny, and have awesome moral compassses. Read the Play: and choose whatever excerpt you want to bring in to read from the play and share with us – if it’s a scene: ask your friends to do it with you, or we will read it with you in the room: make the room your own, yay!!! and share yourself: DON’T BE NERVOUS!!! Love side gig/skillz/talents too! (i.e. I’m hilarious, I write songs, play trumpet, bake tofu, know ASL, am a novice at Dance Dance Revolution). This play is a malleable one: it will morph to honor the performers, ages, abilities, and identities in the room.

Don’t worry too much about the Track Breakdown - let us figure out that math.

Read more here!

Auditions:
Sunday, November 13 and Monday, November 14,
7:00-9:00 PM

Acting Studio 1, Mendenhall CPA
Please let us know if you are interested but unable to make either date.
Callbacks will be on Tuesday, November 15, 7:00-9:00 PM

Rehearsals:
Begin January 9, 2023. Exact schedule TBD. We typically rehearse 5 days per week. 

Performances:
February 24, 25, March 2, 3, 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Casting Breakdown: 
TRACK 1: Asian-American, Femme, Trans, or non-b
TRACK 2: African-American, Femme, Trans, or non-b
TRACK 3: bipoc, femme, trans, non-b, or masc 
TRACK 4: bipoc, femme, trans, non-b, or masc 
TRACK 5: bipoc, trans, non-b, or masc
TRACK 6: caucasian, femme 
TRACK 7: caucasian, femme, 40+
TRACK 8: caucasian, cis-male, or masc 
TRACK 9: caucasian, cis-male or masc, 40+
TRACK 10: bipoc, femme, trans, non-b, masc
TRACK 11: caucasian, cis-male, 40+

Audition Prep:
No appointment necessary. No preparation required, but auditioners are encouraged to choose a portion of the script that appeals to them. Perusal script available at this link. Sides from the script will be available at the audition and here.

Contact/Questions:
Production Manager, Nikki Beck, ncbeck@smith.edu

FALL 2022

Open Shops
Costume Shop Open Hours
Fridays, 1:00-4:00 p.m.

Scene Shop Open Hours
Wednesdays, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Mendenhall Tour
Email Nikki Beck if you are interested!

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

SPRING 2023

Theatre 200 Meeting
Monday, January 30 at 4:30 PM 
in the Mendenhall CPA Green Room (T114)
Email ncbeck@smith.edu for more information.


Tilly Adams
Assistant Costumer/Cutter

Nikki Beck
Production Manager

Emily Justice Dunn
Costume Shop Supervisor

 

Alicia Guidotti
SmithArts Administrator, 
Administrative Assistant Supervisor (Arts)

Shelley Latham
Publicity Manager for the Performing Arts

Amy Putnam
Technical Director

Lisa Rizzo
Theatre Administrator

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: 413-585-3201
Administrative Assistant:
Lisa Rizzo