Introduction to Skidmore Theater

More so today than in the past, theater plays a vital role in our understanding of how cultures perceive themselves in all their diverse spheres of activity. Knowledge of theater's past and present enables students to gain invaluable insights into who we are as social beings and as creative individuals. By situating theater studies at the center of a liberal arts education in which interdisciplinary learning is prized, our students, majors and non-majors alike, immerse themselves in a richly collaborative atmosphere where artistic creativity and production skills evolve in concert with literary, philosophical, and analytical proficiencies.

Course offerings in acting, directing, design and production, theater history, and theory intersect and nourish one another through a judicious balance of classroom/studio work and our departmental productions which are generated by both students and faculty. One of the department's primary goals — to locate the practice of theater within a critical and cultural framework of social and aesthetic ideas — is highlighted by its seminar productions. Here the production process itself is supplemented by an ongoing seminar component in which students involved in the play explore its themes within a far-ranging humanistic context.

The department offers three principal areas in which students can choose to focus their studies: acting, directing, and design and technical theater. Additional areas available for concentration which can be designed in conjunction with specific faculty members may include dramaturgy, history, playwriting, stage management, and theater management. Students are also encouraged to avail themselves of professional internships and study abroad programs (such as the Skidmore Shakespeare Programme, The NTI Moscow Art Theater School Program, The London Theatre Program, The Second City Program, The IES Gaiety Theatre Program, or the National Theatre Institute). By taking full advantage of all that our program has to offer, we firmly believe that our graduates will be well-positioned to enter into the profession, into a graduate program, or into an advanced training program as responsible and caring practitioners of the craft and artistry of theater.

We believe that the goal of a life in the theater is best served by a broad based liberal arts education in conjunction with strong training in the theories and techniques of making theater. Through this relationship students understand the intellectual, moral, and political context of the world that the theater artist will ultimately express on stage. We seek to provide an atmosphere where students generate theater, work as collaborative artists, and apply interdisciplinary research to the production process.

In addition to being able to draw upon a wide range of general knowledge acquired at the college, a theater major should be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of theater history, dramatic literature, theory, criticism, theater management, acting, directing, design, and technical theater. To this end, students are required to complete a core of specified courses.

We believe strongly that the theater artist must accept a responsibility to the art, the community, the world, and to fellow artists. This means offering the very best entertainment to an audience while accepting full responsibility for an understanding of the potential for educating, engaging, and possibly offending that audience. A theater artist must also accept full responsibility for always dealing with fellow artists, the community, and community property in an ethical and conscientious manner.

The primary purpose of the departmental productions is to educate the student in the art and craft of making theater. Productions are chosen which will provide the most appropriate educational opportunities for student actors, directors, designers, and technicians. The needs of students always comes first. Faculty members will not seek to exploit students merely for the fulfillment of their own creative needs. Indeed, this is possible since members of the faculty have had, or continue to have, rich professional careers outside of the department. Whenever possible, qualified student directors and designers are considered when staffing productions.

  • inspire critical thinking in all students
  • inspire connections and responses to sociopolitical issues
  • inspire a code of ethics for production process and critical review
  • understand public accountability
  • encourage aesthetic risk taking
  • serve the college community as an educational resource in promoting an understanding of the theater arts
  • provide a history of the art connecting students to the heritage of the theater
  • provide varied but compatible theoretical approaches in the classroom, studios and on productions
  • inspire discipline, dedication, and drive in the making of theater
  • provide a variety of training opportunities and experience in production
  • provide experiences outside the college which expand the student's understanding of theater and world issues
  • operate a theater company within the college community which serves as a model for production ideals and ethics and process and which serves as a forum for critique and analysis

Although at Skidmore a student receives a Bachelor of Science degree and therefore has more studio time than theater students in most Bachelor of Arts programs, we are not a conservatory training program — We have neither the necessary resources nor sufficient contact hours. We do, however, seek to prepare our students for the best possible professional training by developing appropriate techniques and habits and by developing a professional attitude toward all work. It should be noted that a remarkable number of Skidmore Theater graduates successfully pursue advanced training and careers in theater after graduation.

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