The Sarah Lawrence College Theatre program embraces the collaborative nature of theatre. Our objective is to create theatre artists who are skilled in many disciplines: actors who write; directors who act; theatre makers who create their own projects; and sound, set, and lighting designers who are well-versed in new media and puppetry. Students have the advantage of choosing from a multidisciplinary curriculum taught by working theatre professionals that also draws on the resources of the College’s Theatre, Music, and Dance programs. At the heart of this curriculum are focused programs in acting, directing, playwriting, and design, with supplementary offerings in production and technical work.
Theatre students are encouraged to cross disciplines as they investigate all areas of theatre. The faculty is committed to active theatre training—students learn by doing—and have put together a vocabulary that stresses relationships among classical, modern, and original texts. The program uses a variety of approaches to build technique, while nurturing individual artistic directions.
The Theatre program examines not just contemporary American performance but also diverse cultural influences and the major historical periods that precede our own. Courses include Alexander Technique, acting, comedic and dramatic improvisation, creation of original work, design, directing, movement, musical theatre, playwriting, puppetry, speech, solo performance, voice, and the art of bringing theatre into the local community.
Beginning students are required to enroll in a Theatre Techniques program, supplemented by at least one component of their own choice. Continuing students create an individualized Theatre Third with the guidance of their don and the theatre faculty. Components are chosen to extend skills and interests and to develop performing and practical experience. There are open auditions for faculty-, student-, and guest-directed productions; there is a proposal system for student-directed, -written, and -devised work within the season production schedule.
The theatre faculty is committed to the philosophy that students learn by doing. Classes provide a rigorous intellectual and practical framework, and students are continually engaged in the process of making theatre. The program helps students build a solid technique based on established methodologies, while also being encouraged to discover and develop their individual artistic selves.
Wide-ranging opportunities are available for students to learn by doing. Students may participate in internships or fieldwork in New York City theatres and theatre organizations. The College’s Theatre Outreach program is a training program that uses music, writing, theatre techniques, and the visual arts to address social and community issues. The outreach course has been a vibrant component in the curriculum for more than two decades, encouraging development of original material with a special emphasis on cross-cultural experiences. Many theatre components include an open-class showing or performance. In addition, there are multiple performance and production opportunities in acting, singing, dance, design, directing, ensemble creation, playwriting, and technical work available to students throughout the academic year.
The College’s performance venues include productions and readings sponsored by the department in the Suzanne Werner Wright Theatre, a modified thrust stage, and the Frances Ann Cannon Workshop Theatre, as well as student-produced work in the student-run black-box DownStage Theatre. Workshops, readings, and productions are also mounted in the black-box Open Space Theatre and in various performance spaces throughout the campus.