The Theatre and Performance BA Program
The BA major in theatre and performance is designed for the intellectually curious and creative student whose interests, while including traditional theatre, extend into making new and cutting-edge theatrical and interdisciplinary work. The program is also designed to attract students who possess an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to creatively address the challenges of mounting exciting work with limited resources.
In the foundation courses of the major, students gain a strong base in theatre history and dramatic literature, together with a production practicum. Courses in performance practice range from Fundamentals of Acting to Performing the Self in Society. An advanced directing course offers the opportunity to work with digital media projections, while courses in writing for the stage include exposure to both well-known plays and nontraditional performance practices.
Our students study what theatre and performance art has been, explore what it is now, and think about what it might be. They acquire knowledge of world theatre and performance and often choose to experiment with their own creativity as performers, directors, and playwrights.
Working Onstage and Backstage
Students may audition for and work backstage on student- and faculty-directed productions and may eventually choose to write or direct their own. Students who participate onstage or behind the scenes can apply to receive independent-study credits. Occasionally, an outstanding student may have the opportunity to assist on a BFA or BA production as a dramaturge or assistant director.
Studying Abroad and Across the Disciplines
Students are encouraged to take advantage of study-abroad opportunities; being socially conscious and globally aware is vitally important in our interconnected world. To broaden their knowledge, students are also encouraged to pursue relevant courses in such areas as anthropology; art history; arts management; cinema studies; dance; gender studies; language and culture; literature; media, society, and the arts; new media; sociology; Asian studies; Latin American studies; and the visual arts.
Exploring the Relationships Between Theatre, Performance, and Society
The major in theatre and performance combines a liberal arts education in dramatic literature, theatre history, and performance theory with experience of theatre as an art form. The primary goal is to develop each student’s ability to articulate, both artistically and intellectually, the relationships between theatre, performance, and society. Although this major is not a professional training program, workshops and limited production opportunities are offered in acting/performance, writing for the stage, and directing. Three areas of focus within the broad range of courses help prepare students for careers in theatre and related fields or for graduate study in theatre, performance studies, and related disciplines.
The Relationship Between the Theatre and Performance BA Program and the Acting BFA Program
While the goals of the theatre and performance BA program differ from those of the acting BFA program, members of the acting faculty teach some courses offered to theatre and performance students, and some theatre and performance courses are required for other students in the conservatory. There are also opportunities for advanced theatre and performance students to work as dramaturges and assistant directors during the acting program’s theatre season. This option is strongly encouraged in the junior year for students who will be directing a production as a senior project.
Admission to the theatre and performance BA program is separate from admission to the acting BFA program and does not increase the likelihood of being admitted to the acting BFA program.
Performance Venues and Opportunities
There are several performance venues and opportunities at Purchase College. Professional companies perform at the Performing Arts Center (PAC), and the Conservatory of Theatre Arts offers performances at the PAC and in the Dance Theatre Lab. The theatre and performance program contributes to performance on campus with senior projects and faculty- and student-directed shows, which take place in a variety of venues. These are usually staged in the Humanities Theatre, although some senior projects may be appropriately staged elsewhere, including nontraditional theatre spaces. The theatre and performance faculty also encourages students to develop their own projects and to participate in the Drama League, a student club, and in other clubs and organizations that present student-based performances. While performance space is in high demand, spaces are available for student groups and individuals on campus.
Note: During the renovation of the Durst Family Humanities Building (closed through June 2014), the theatre and performance program is using the following spaces:
- Rehearsal and performance classes: CCS Southside Lounge and the Green Room in the Performing Arts Center
- Senior projects: Sub C rehearsal space (the “UnderGround”)
- Fall and spring mainstage productions: PepsiCo Theatre, Performing Arts Center