Skip Navigation

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. Other courses recommended by the department include ENG 222a, ENG 222b, dramatic literature in any of the language departments.


Requirements

General Theatre Major

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

  • 198 and 199 Theatre History and Culture
  • Three courses from Division A, History, Literature, Criticism: 213, 215, 217, 218, 220, 240, 241, 312 (depending on course content), 313, 316, 319
  • 141 Acting I
  • 100 The Art of Theatre Design or 252 Set Design I or 253 Introduction to Lighting Design or 254 Costume Design I
  • 344 Directing I or 261 Writing for Theatre
  • Four credits of 200 Theatre Production (these count as a single semester course)
  • Two additional courses from either Division A or B
  • One additional course from Division A, B, or C
 

Theatre Major with an Emphasis on Acting

Twelve semester courses, at least two of which must be at the 300-level, including:

  • 198 and 199 Theatre History and Culture
  • Two courses from Division A, History, Literature, Criticism: 213, 215, 217, 218, 220, 240, 241, 312 (depending on course content), 313, 316, 319
  • 141 Acting I
  • Two additional acting courses from 242 Acting II and 312 Masters and Movements in Performance
  • 142 Voice for Actors
  • 100 The Art of Theatre Design or 252 Set Design I, or 253 Introduction to Lighting Design or 254 Costume Design I
  • 344 Directing I or 261 Writing for Theatre
  • One additional course from Division A, B, or C
  • Four credits of 200 Theatre Production (these count as a single semester course)
 

Theatre Major with an Emphasis on Design

Twelve semester courses, at least two of which must be at the 300-level, including:

  • 198 and 199 Theatre History and Culture
  • Three courses from Division A, History, Literature, Criticism: 213, 215, 217, 218, 220, 240, 241, 312 (depending on course content), 313, 316, 319
  • 141 Acting I
  • Two of the following: 252 Set Design I, 253 Introduction to Lighting Design, 254 Costume Design
  • One of the following: 352 Set Design II, 353 Advanced Studies of Lighting Design, 354 Costume Design II, 318 Movements in Design, 360 Production Design for Film
  • 344 Directing I or 261 Writing for Theatre
  • Four credits of 200 Theatre Production (these count as a single semester)
  • One additional course from Division A, B, or C
 

Theatre Major with an Emphasis on Playwriting

Twelve semester courses, at least two of which must be at the 300-level, including:

  • 198 and 199 Theatre History and Culture
  • Two courses from Division A, History, Literature, Criticism: 213, 215, 217, 218, 220, 240, 241, 312 (depending on course content), 313, 316, 319
  • 141 Acting I
  • Three of any of the following playwriting and screenwriting: 261, 262, 361, 362 or the equivalent
  • 100 The Art of Theatre Design, or 252 Set Design or 253 Introduction to Lighting Design or 254 Costume Design I
  • 344 Directing I
  • 4 credits of 200 Theatre Production (these count as a single semester course)
  • One additional course from Division A, B, or C
 

Theatre Major with an Emphasis on Directing

Twelve semester courses, at least two of which must be at a 300 level, including:

  • 198 and 199 Theatre History and Culture
  • Two courses from Division A, History, Literature, Criticism: 213, 215, 217, 218, 220, 240, 241, 312 (depending on course content), 313, 316, 319
  • 141 Acting I
  • One additional acting course from 242 Acting II and 312 Masters and Movements in Performance
  • 100 The Art of Theatre Design
  • 261 Writing for Theatre
  • 344 Directing I and 345 Directing II
  • Four credits of 200 Theatre Production (these count as a single semester course)
  • One additional course from Division A, B, or C
 

Courses cross-listed under the theatre department may be considered for fulfillment towards these major requirements at the discretion of the department.

All majors are encouraged to include in their programs, as component courses counted outside of the theatre major courses in art and music in their programs as well as dramatic literature in any of the other language departments.

Students may count up to 16 credits from programs outside the Five Colleges towards the major. On a case-by-case basis, the department will accept courses from other programs towards specific course requirements. The judgment of the major advisers will prevail, without need for full theatre faculty deliberation.

Requirements

  • Theatre 198a and 199b as the basis
  • Six courses including one semester course approved by an adviser in each of three of the following different divisions plus one four–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
  3. Costume, lighting or scene design

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 2018

New Play Reading Series: Bear Hug
Written by Siobhan McManamon ’17; directed by Emma Laube ’17
Thursday, September 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

New Play Reading Series: The Crash, The Clinic, Trio, Fuzz and Powder, John 1:5 and an excerpt from Never Catch a Falling Knife
Written by Rosemary Ewing ’19J; directed by Tari Owei ’21
Thursday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

Moonlight on the Miskatonic
World premiere musical; music and lyrics by Clifton J. Noble; book by Samantha Noble; directed by Ellen W. Kaplan
October 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Theatre 14

New Play Reading Series: Pook
Written and performed by Mary Beth Brooker MFA ’20
Thursday, November 8 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

New Play Reading Series: In Session
Written and directed by Marty Bongfeldt AC ’19
Thursday, November 29 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

New Play Reading Series: I'ma Be My Own Sun and Dumb House
Written and directed by Andrea Hairston
Friday, November 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

Fall Studio Production: Far Away
By Caryl Churchill, directed by Gabby Farrah ’19
December 6–9 7:30 p.m. in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Spring 2019

New Play Reading Series: Coming of Age
By Ellen W. Kaplan, directed by Hannah Simms
Thursday, February 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

The Moors
By Jen Silverman; directed by Isabelle Brown ’19
February 22, 23, 28, March 1, 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

New Play Reading Series: Grains of Wheat: a Play About the Paper Brigade
By Abigail Weaver ’19
Thursday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

New Play Reading Series: Them What Brung You
By Tanya Ritchie AC ’19; directed by Mary Beth Brooker MFA ’20
Thursday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. in Acting Studio 1

As You Like It
By William Shakespeare, directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer
April 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m. in Theatre 14

Spring Studio Production: The Universal Language
By David Ives, directed by Cathy Kennedy ’20
May 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m., Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

As You Like It

By William Shakespeare; directed by Daniel Elihu Kramer

A girl named Rosalind is in love with a boy named Orlando—which is convenient because they’ve been banished to the same forest. Orlando is in love with Rosalind. Orlando is also very attracted to a boy named Ganymede. And what does it mean to be a girl or a boy anyway? Or to play one? Come to the Forest of Arden and find answers for all your questions. Or questions for all your answers.

Auditions: Sunday, January 27, 7–10 p.m., Acting Studio 1; Monday, January 28, 7–10 p.m., Acting Studio 1

Callbacks: Tuesday, January 29, 7–10 p.m, Acting Studio 1

Performances: April 19, 20, 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m., Theatre 14, Mendenhall Center, Smith College

Rehearsals: Beginning February 24, Sunday–Thursday 7–10 p.m, subject to change

Casting Breakdown: 10–15 actors

Audition Prep: Sides will be provided from the script. Musicians and singers welcome!

Scripts: The performance cut of the script will be available after auditions. Full scripts of As You Like It can be found online.


Questions about auditions? Contact the production manager, Nikki Beck, ncbeck@smith.edu

The Universal Language

By David Ives, directed by Cathy Kennedy '20

The Universal Language brings together Dawn, a young woman with a stutter, and Don, the creator and teacher of Unamunda, a wild comic language. Their lesson sends them off into a dazzling display of hysterical verbal pyrotechnics—and, of course, true love.

Auditions: Sunday, March 3, 7–10 p.m. in Acting Studio 1; Monday, March 4, 7–10 p.m. in Acting Studio 1, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts, Smith College

Performances: Wednesday and Thursday, May 1 and 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre

Casting Breakdown: 3 actors

Audition Prep: Sides will be provided from the script

Scripts: Perusal scripts available in Josten Library


Questions about auditions? Contact the production manager, Nikki Beck, ncbeck@smith.edu


Staff

Nikki Beck
Production Manager

Emily Justice Dunn
Costume Shop Supervisor

Alicia Guidotti
Theatre Administrator

Nancy Horn
Costumer/Cutter

Joan Hornbuckle
Financial Administrator

Shelley Latham
Publicity Manager for the Performing Arts

Daniel D. Rist
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