About the 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 combines academic scholarship and artistic practice, with particular emphasis on theatre as a forum for collaboration, experimentation, and social engagement.
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 and Scene Study to Solo Performance and Ensemble Creation. Other elective courses include Directing, Dramaturgy, Playwriting, and Stage Management, as well as seminars on such topics as Asian theatre, avant-garde theatre, black American drama, documentary theatre, gameplay and performance, LGBTQ theatre, medieval and Renaissance drama, theories of theatre and performance, transmedia, and women in performance.
The BA major in theatre and performance provides a solid liberal arts education in the theatre, which can prepare students for further professional training, internships in the professional theatre, graduate studies, or other careers that require critical and creative thinking.
Working Onstage and Backstage
Students are encouraged to experience many aspects of theatrical production, and this BA program provides many opportunities to audition for roles and to work in a variety of capacities backstage in student- and faculty-directed productions. Enterprising students who have taken the necessary courses may write, design, direct, or perform in their own original productions, often as part of a senior project. Students receive academic credit for fulfilling the mandatory production crew requirement, as well as for participating as actors, designers, or stage managers in faculty-directed productions. Outstanding students may have the opportunity to assist on a BFA or BA production as a dramaturg or assistant director.
Studying Abroad and Across the Disciplines
Students are encouraged to take advantage of study abroad opportunities, since being socially conscious and globally aware is vitally important in today’s interconnected world. To broaden their knowledge, students are also encouraged to pursue relevant courses in other disciplines, such as anthropology, art history, arts management, cinema studies, dance, gender studies, literature, media, sociology, and the visual arts. Through a broad range of courses and experiences, students will develop unique perspectives on the relationship between theatre, performance, and society.
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.
Across and Beyond the Conservatory of Theatre Arts
While the theatre and performance BA program has its own goals and curriculum, it regularly works with other programs in both the conservatory and the School of Film and Media Studies. Theatre and performance students collaborate with theatre design/technology students on senior projects and with playwriting and screenwriting students on the development of new plays. Members of the BFA acting faculty teach several courses offered to theatre and performance students, and there are also opportunities for advanced theatre and performance students to work as dramaturgs and assistant directors on productions of the Purchase Repertory Theatre.
Admission to the theatre and performance BA program is separate from and has no bearing on admission to the acting BFA program.
Performance Venues and Opportunities
The recently renovated Humanities Theatre is the principle venue for faculty- and student-directed productions in the BA major in theatre and performance. Students in the major have also used alternative and nontraditional theatre spaces, including the Underground Theatre (located in the Performing Arts Center) and Dance Theatre Lab (located in the Dance Building), particularly when developing independent projects with student clubs and organizations that present extracurricular performances. In addition, students are encouraged to see a wide range of performances by professional companies and other Conservatory of Theatre Arts productions at the Performing Arts Center.