Matthew Wright, Chair of Theater, Associate Professor of Theater
Heather Anderson Boll, Assistant Professor of Theater
Jeremy Benjamin, Lecturer in Lighting Design and Technology
Justin Emeka, Assistant Professor of Theater and Africana Studies
Chris Flaharty, Associate Professor of Theater; Costume Designer
Caroline B. Jackson Smith, Associate Professor of Theater and Africana Studies
Daniel James, Lecturer, Technical Director
Christorpher McCollum, Visiting Assistant Professor
Paul Moser, Associate Professor of Theater
Joseph P. Natt, Lecturer; Technical Director
Eric Steggall, Managing Director/Lecturer
The Theater Department offers students the opportunity to study acting, directing, design and production, theater history and criticism, and playwriting within the broader context of a liberal arts education. In addition to coursework, theater students acquire practical experience in all aspects of the theater by participating in departmental productions. Because the performing arts are collaborative by nature, the department fosters a strong sense of community while respecting both cultural diversity and individuality. The major objectives of the department are:
- To provide critical understanding and enhanced appreciation for theater arts and their relationships to other areas of liberal arts learning.
- To provide concentrated preparation in theater for students wishing to pursue advanced studies or professional careers.
- To provide practical experiences in all aspects of production.
- To encourage interdisciplinary artistic collaboration and studies across other academic disciplines.
The introductory level courses are open to all students interested in broadening the scope of their education or who are majoring in a related field and wish to use theater as a resource. Students wishing to pursue more intensive involvement in theater are encouraged to enroll in intermediate and advanced-level courses in technique along with courses in production, history, and the aesthetics of theater. Students also have the opportunity to work closely with guests and artists-in-residence each year. Guest directors, playwrights, and other specialists may offer workshops lasting from a few days to one month.
The Theater Curriculum
The Theater curriculum offers courses in acting, directing, history, criticism, design, and production. In addition to class meetings, many courses have a laboratory component that involves students in the process of creating a theater production. The program also sponsors theater residencies from time to time, which have included workshops with specialists in stage combat, Le Coq, masks, Noh, Suzuki and Viewpoints.
Oberlin College Theater (OCT) Season
Each year, the Theater Department produces a season of theatrical offerings that includes three faculty or guest-directed mainstage productions in Hall Auditorium, and several student-directed projects in the Little Theater. Casting in all of these productions is open to all Oberlin College students. Smaller scale productions such as the THEA 101 Showcase and the Directing Class One-Act Festival are intended to provide a bridge between the classroom experience and fully mounted productions. In addition to productions that are sponsored by the Theater and Dance Program, students have the opportunity to participate in productions sponsored by other departments and student theater organizations such as Oberlin Student Theater Association (OSTA) and Oberlin Musical Theater Association (OMTA).
Senior Projects and Honors
Seniors majoring in theater are strongly encouraged to pursue a senior “capstone” project that will serve as the culmination of their undergraduate studies. Usually, the senior project will evolve directly from the student’s concentration (see below, Areas of Concentration) within the major. (e.g. directing, designing, or acting in a full length production, etc.) Applications for Senior Projects must be submitted to the Theater program secretary by April 1st of the student’s junior year. If the project requires assignment of space in Little Theater or an alternative venue, the project application must be accompanied by a LT application, available from Janice Sanborn in the Theater office.
The Honors program is designed to offer a few exceptional theater majors the opportunity to undertake a full year (i.e. two semester) creative and/or scholarly project under the close supervision of a faculty sponsor. These students will be invited by the faculty, from the pool of Senior Project applicants. In order to qualify for Honors status, applicants must
- Possess a proven ability to successfully complete a significant scholarly/research project, as evidenced through course work and/or submission of a significant sample of scholarly writing
- Have a minimum GPA of 3.65 both overall and within the department
Winter Term provides an opportunity for students to engage in projects sponsored by the faculty in acting, directing, design, and theater research. Normally, several on-campus Winter Term theater productions are in rehearsal during the month of January. Guest artists are often brought in to work with students in areas such as physical theater, stage combat, voice, and acting. In addition, students use this time to become active in various alumni and off campus theater-related internships.
The following faculty members are available to sponsor Winter Term projects, as indicated. Ms. Anderson Boll: acting; directing. Mr. Copeland: history and criticism in theater; playwriting; performance. Mr Emeka: acting; directing. Mr. Flaharty: costume design; makeup; design research. Ms. Jackson Smith: acting; directing; writing/dramatic literature; other performance projects. Mr. Moser: acting; directing. Mr. Wright: acting; directing.
Major and Non-Major Off Campus Study
Many students majoring in theater elect to take advantage of the numerous study away programs available in the field. Oberlin has several designated Affiliated Programs, including:
- The Great Lakes College Association Arts in New York program
- National Theater Institute at The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center
- Trinity/La Mama Performing Arts Program in New York
- Spring Semester at NYU’s Tisch School Of The Arts
- The British American Drama Academy
Before credit is awarded for off-campus study, students must obtain tentative prior approval the Chair of Theater and the Associate Dean of Studies. After the study is completed, the student must supply evidence of satisfactory participation. A maximum of four full courses of off-campus study, or the equivalent, may be applied to the major in Theater. Please visit the Study Away Office for additional information about the above-listed programs, as well as others that might be of interest.
It is recommended that those students intending to pursue a career and/or advanced studies in the field of Theater or related performing arts consider declaring a major in Theater. The major program of study is designed to allow students the flexibility of pursuing general theater studies while focusing on a particular emphasis within the Theater curriculum, such as acting, directing, history/criticism, playwriting, or production/design.
Students who intend to major in theater must first secure a faculty advisor. This should be an instructor in your area of intended concentration and would ideally be someone with whom you’ve already successfully completed intermediate level coursework. (For example, students wishing to declare a Theater major with a concentration in Acting would first successfully complete THEA 200: Introduction to Scene Study, and ask an acting instructor to be their advisor). You’ll then schedule an appointment with your advisor and work closely with them to design an individualized plan of study and acquire the necessary approvals.
Areas of Concentration
Because of the wide range of disciplines within the field of Theater, it is helpful for the student to guide his/her course of study by focusing on one or two specific areas of concentration. Within our program, we have delineated these areas of concentration: Acting, Directing, Critical Inquiry, Interdisciplinary Performance, and Production/Design (including Stage Management). It must be remembered, however, that these are merely areas of study and that, by majoring in Theater, it is expected that students will take courses in all of these areas, while focusing on one. We believe that, in order to excel at any one area within the broad field of Theater, it is essential to acquire a working knowledge of all areas.
Theater Major Requirements (10 full courses) to include:
1. Two full courses in Western Theater History (THEA 252, 253)
2. Two full courses (or equivalent) in Performance, chosen from THEA 100 (Acting1), 101 (Intro to Theater Arts),
200 (Acting 2), 202 (Acting for Camera), 208 (Directing 1), 210 (Movement, will count as a half course),
218 (Stage Combat, will count as half course), 268 (Black Arts Workshop),
269 (Voice, will count as half course), 270 (Speech and Dialects, will count as half course).
3. Two full courses (or equivalent) in Production and Design chosen from THEA 172 (Prod. Scenery),
173 (Prod. Costumes). 174 (Lighting), 212 (Stage Management), 222 (Introduction To Design),
232 (Costume Design), 236 (Set Design), 312 (Production Workshop)
4. Two full courses (or equivalent) in Theater Studies chosen from THEA 254 (Asian Theater),
264 (African American Drama), 302 (Non-Literary Theater), 309 (Theater of the Millennium),
317 (Texts and Concepts), 324 (Concept of The Avant-Garde), 333 (Stage to Screen),
or any cross-referenced Dramatic Literature course offered by another department (see list below)
5. Two full courses (or equivalent) advanced-level (300 or 400 level) Theater Electives in student’s
area of concentration
[Students concentrating in Playwriting may count CRWR 330, 470, or 480 as these concentration electives]
6. Two Theater Crews (THEA 199) – 0 credits – experiences
THEA 995: Private Readings may not substitute for any major requirements.
Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major.
Theater Minor (5 full courses) to include:
1. Two full courses in Western Theater History (THEA 252, 253)
2. One Production and Design elective (full or half course)
3. Two full courses at the intermediate or advanced level in the student’s area of interest
4. One Theater Crew (THEA 199) – 0 credits – experiences
* The Theater faculty offers few dramatic literature classes. Most of these are offered by English, Classics, and various language departments. Because these courses vary annually, students should check to see if it counts towards the Theater Studies requirement. A student may count CRWR 330 Playwriting Workshop toward this requirement, but no Private Readings or Independent Study.
** Declaring a Theater major or minor does not guarantee consent of instructor for upper-level classes outside of a student’s area of concentration.
The following courses from other departments count toward the Dramatic Literature requirement of the Theater major.
CRITICAL STUDIES COURSES*
(Note: THEA 100:Acting 1 is a prerequisite for all 200-level Acting/Directing courses, THEA 200: Acting 2 is a prerequisite for all 300-level Acting/Directing courses)**
PRODUCTION & DESIGN COURSES