Theatre is unique in the range and breadth of its areas of study. It has a rich history, literature, and body of critical theory as well as a number of skill areas where knowledge is put into practice. The sequence of courses in theatre is designed to provide an understanding of each of these areas. The program aims to provide each student with a well-rounded, general mastery of all areas of the art of theatre. In addition, study of the theatre opens a window to the history of our society and culture in a variety of historical contexts. As its particular focus and in keeping with the mission of Roger Williams University, the Theatre Program offers a liberal arts theatre degree with a strong emphasis on practical learning and professional skills.
The theatre program includes a major, a minor, and a Core Concentration. Beyond their more general studies, many students pursue specialization tracks through a series of courses and production experiences in the areas of performance or design. The tracks culminate in capstone experiences such as Senior Projects in performance, design, production, research or with professional internships.
From the beginning of their program, students’ mastery of lessons learned in the classroom is supported by the Program’s active production schedule. The Program offers a number of public performances each semester providing theatre students, the University community, and the region beyond the University with an exposure to a wide range of styles and types of theatre. During their four years at the University, students have the opportunity to work on and see a broad sampling of our theatrical heritage, ranging from the classics, such as Shakespeare and Greek tragedy, to plays drawn from the modern repertory. Special emphasis is given to the musical theatre.
Productions vary from student-directed one-act plays and Senior Projects to the larger and more elaborate faculty-designed-and-directed full-length plays. As part of their program, students are expected to participate in all aspects of the theatrical process: backstage, on stage, control booth, publicity, and front of house.
While the production program is an integral part of the theatre program, it is open to all students in the University regardless of their major course of study. The same is true of membership and participation in the Stage Company, the student drama club.
An important element in the overall design of the program is the semester-long London Program. Since 1971, theatre students have spent the fall semester of their junior year in London under the direction of the Roger Williams theatre faculty and a group of English theatre professionals. They see over 40 plays, concerts, dance events, and exhibitions, study the practical workings of various professional theatres and meet with a range of working theatre practitioners. The full schedule of classes taken by students in London combines theatre studies with courses that provide a broad background in the culture and history of England and Europe. These include field trips to every corner of London and many sites around England.
Many graduates of the theatre program pursue careers in a wide range of the theatrical arts: film, television, and the live theatre. Others have become educators. Theatre graduates can be found teaching on all levels, from elementary to university. Increasingly, those students interested in professional or teaching careers continue their studies through advanced academic and professional degrees in graduate schools throughout the country. But as befits a liberal arts program, many of our students take the research, analytical, organizational, and communication skills that are fundamental to the theatre arts and apply them to a wide variety of business and creative pursuits. Regardless of their ultimate career paths, theatre graduates take with them a deep appreciation of theatre as an art and of its place in our culture.