Aug 21, 2018  
Course Catalog 2018-2019 
Course Catalog 2018-2019


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Caroline Jackson Smith, Chair of Theater, Professor of Theater and Africana Studies
Jeremy Benjamin, Lecturer in Lighting Design and Technology
Heather Leigh Brown, Lecturer, Costumer
Jason Dorwart, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theater
Justin Emeka, Associate Professor of Theater and Africana Studies
Chris Flaharty, Associate Professor of Theater; Costume Designer
Daniel James, Lecturer, Technical Director
Paul Moser, Professor of Theater
Joe Natt, Lecturer, Senior Technical Director
Eric Steggall, Lecturer, Managing Director
Matthew Wright, Professor of Theater

The Theater Department offers students the opportunity to study acting; directing; design and production; theater history, criticism and playwriting within the broader context of a liberal arts education. In addition to coursework, theater students can 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, promoting both cultural diversity and individuality. Students who graduate with a major in Theater will demonstrate:

    1.  A broad knowledge of global performance traditions and literature, including

  • Extensive study of plays from a wide range of periods, movements, genres and cultural traditions
  • The study of our American Theater tradition, including the present

    2.  Advanced analytical skills specific to theatrical processes, appropriate for both creative work and scholarship in our discipline, including

  • Critical thinking and writing
  • An ability to articulate ideas verbally and in written communiction

    3. A broad knowledge of, and practical experience in, creating Theater, including

  • The study of such sub-disciplinesas: playwriting, acting, directing, design, technical production, arts management, and dramaturgy
  • The capacity to collaborate successfully on a Theater piece and communicate with artists and thinkers from other disciplines and within our own.

    4. Evidence of the development of advanced technique/skills with at least one sub discipline, including

  • Performance
  • Directing
  • Design
  • Theater Scholarship
  • Arts Management
  • Technical Production
  • Playwriting

    5. The development of life skills through the exploration of technique and production processes, including

  • An understanding of the depth of human experience in a variety of cultural and literary expressions
  • An understanding of cultural sensitivity
  • The development of emotional intelligence
  • The development of empathy

    6. A readiness to pursue graduate-level study or professional opportunities in the field, through successful preparation of audition materials, portfolio, curriculum vitae and other appropriate professional promotional materials

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, whether they elect to major, or not, 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.

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 the Eric Baker Nord Performing Arts Complex or Hall Auditorium, and several student-directed projects in the Kander Theater. Casting in all of these productions is open to all Oberlin College students. Smaller scale productions such as 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 Department, 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 capstone 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 Capstone Projects must be submitted to the Theater Department Administrative Assistant by the last day of classes during Fall Semester of the student’s junior year.  These forms are available on the Theater Department Blackboard site and in hard copy in the Theater Department Office, Warner 100.

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

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. 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.  Justin Emeka: acting; directing. Caroline Jackson Smith: acting; directing; writing/dramatic literature other performance projects. Paul Moser: acting; directing. Eric Steggall: Arts Administration. Matthew 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 Office of Study Away. After the study is completed, the student must supply evidence of satisfactory participation. A maximum of four full courses, or the equivalent, of off-campus study 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.

Theater Major

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, production/design, stage management and arts management.

Students who intend to major in Theater should identify a faculty advisor, or talk with the chair. An advisor is, ideally, someone in the student’s area of intended concentration, and with whom they’ve already completed one or more courses. The student will then schedule an appointment with their advisor or the chair and work closely with them to design a plan of study.

Areas of Concentration

Because of the wide range of disciplines within the field of Theater, it is helpful for the student to guide their 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, Dramatic Literature, Theater History, Production/Design, Stage Management, and Arts 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 many of these areas, while focusing on one. Playwrights are supported through work in some dramatic literature and Creative Writing classes, and in individual work with faculty members. 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 Theater History: THEA 252 - Foundations of Theater and THEA 253 - Global Theater Histories *

2. Two Critical Inquiry, Dramatic Literature and/or Theater History courses of the student’s choice. 

3. Two full courses (or equivalent) in Performance, chosen from THEA 100 (Acting1), 200 (Intro To Scene Study), 300 (Advanced Scene Study), 208 (Directing 1), 210 (Movement, will count as a half course), 268 (Black Arts Workshop), 269 (Voice), 270 (Speech and Dialects, will count as half course), THEA/AAST 368 (Black Arts Workshop II).

 4. Two full courses (or equivalent) in Production, Design, Stage Management and/or Arts Management chosen from THEA 172 (Prod. Scenery), 173 (Prod. Costumes). 174 (Lighting), 212 (Stage Management), 222 (Introduction To Design), 232 (Costume Design), 236 (Set Design), 240 (Introduction to Arts Management, 312 (Production Workshop), 340 (Advanced Arts Management).

 5. Two full courses (or equivalent) advanced-level (300 or 400 level) Theater Electives, usually in the student’s area of concentration  Students interested in Playwriting may count CRWR 330, 470, or 480 as these concentration electives, as well as Private Readings with Theater Faculty.

 6. Two Theater Production Crews (THEA 199) - 0 credits

Required Production Crew: THEA 199

Theater Majors must fulfill 2 (two) THEA 199 assignments, and must fulfill at least one 199 assignment prior to declaring a Theater major.

  • This is a non-credit bearing requirement. Theater 199 is defined as working on a designated production from tech rehearsals through strike.
  • These production crew assignments include all Theater Department productions (both Mainstage and LABseries), or major Dance Department concerts, limited to ODC, Fall Forward, and Spring Back.
  • 199s do not include Operas or extra-curricular productions.
  • Because this requirement is intended, in part, to broaden our students’ backstage experience, the two 199 assignments should ideally be for two different kinds of crew positions (for instance, they should not both be for operating the light board).
  • Students may receive credit for Stage Management or Assistant Stage Management of a Theater Department production as well as one 199 provided they meet the requirement of working all tech rehearsals through strike.
  • 100% attendance, punctuality and commitment are required for all 199s (and are neither negotiable nor optional);
  • Any student failing to satisfactorily complete a 199 assignment will not receive credit.
  • The staff supervisor will determine the number and kinds of positions for each show at the beginning of each season, allowing any interested majors to sign up well in advance.
  • Because these assignments often conflict with departmental casting, it is recommended that students fulfill BOTH 199’s before the end of their third year
  • Procedure: At the beginning of each semester, the staff supervisor will announce a mandatory meeting at which 199 assignments will be distributed. Students must attend this meeting in order to receive a 199 assignment for a given semester.

Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major.

THEA 995: Private Readings usually will not substitute for any major requirements

*Beginning with the Class of 2020: no substitutions can be made. Any student declaring her/his/their major beginning Spring 2018 should take only these two classes to fulfill the Theater History requirement.


Theater Minor (A minimum of 5 full courses) to include:

  1. One Theater History: THEA 252
  2. One Critical Inquiry, Dramatic Literature, and Theater History of the student’s choice  
  3. One Production, Design, Stage or Arts Management class
  4. Two full courses at the intermediate or advanced level in the student’s area of interest
  5. One Theater Crew (THEA 199) - 0 credits


The Theater Department offers a series of courses in African American Theater in conjunction with the Africana Studies Department, and can be a focus - though not a concentration - of a student’s Theater major or minor.

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