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Coursework in the Western Theatre program combines the academic disciplines of theatre history, theory, performance studies, and dramaturgy with the production specialties of acting and directing. Research faculty in Western theatre have such diverse interests as Russian theatre, performance theory, the American avant-garde, and African-American drama. Teaching and productions in the Western area reflects a similar diversity and international scope. Students have also attended special workshops and training programs in commedia dell’arte, stage combat, Theatrical Biomechanics, clown, devised theatre, and TV. Guest artists in residence have included Anna Deavere Smith, Gennadi Bogdanov, Antonio Fava, and Tim Miller.
Our department is widely renowned for its World Theatre history classes, which are co-taught by Western Theatre and Asian Theatre specialists. Western Theatre History courses treat topics from commedia dell’arte to women in theatre to contemporary political drama. Western Theory courses address major dramatic theories, contemporary critical theory, and performance studies. Students connect with their community through classes and work in dramaturgy, a field with increasing relevance in contemporary American theatre. Dramaturges reach out to classrooms across the island through the Page to Stage program, an outreach effort that interfaces with secondary schools, community colleges, and universities. Recent Western theatre educational events include the “Brecht In/And Asia” international conference and a public event series on “The Zombie Renaissance.”
Western theatre faculty and directing students regularly present class ic and contemporary work on the Kennedy Theatre Mainstage and in the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre. Productions vary from the classics, such as Shakespeare, Aeschylus, Ibsen, and Gogol, to contemporary works, including Mee, Mamet, Churchill, Steinbeck, and Rodgers & Hammerstein, as well as new works by MFA playwrights. Frequent collaborations with the Asian Theatre program result in uniquely exciting productions. Late Night Theatre, a student-run theatre company, offers students opportunities in theatre management and artistic direction, as well as another venue for experimental theatre work in an intimate setting.
Specialized Western Theatre graduate degree programs are offered at the MA, MFA, and PhD levels.