The mission of the Drama Department is to balance the practice of theater-making with the study of theater history, theory, and dramatic literatures. Our study of theater is multidisciplinary and requires us to engage politics, social sciences, and philosophy, as well as other art forms. We assume that there is no one truth or correct methodology, but rather multiple solutions to the questions we pose. In addition, we work in tandem with other departments such as Music, Dance, and Greek and Roman Studies. Thus, our methods of inquiry are constantly evolving.
Although the requirements for concentration allow each student a good deal of individual choice, all drama majors take courses which explore dramatic literature and the history/theory of drama as well as production courses in acting, directing, and design. Even in the production courses, however, we attempt to integrate practice with theory. We believe that drama is important because of the ideas contained in dramatic texts and we expect our directors, both faculty and student, to bring a strong experimental point of view to each play they produce.
The drama curriculum reflects our mission for both non-majors and majors: to encourage students to read deeply and to understand the basics of literary-critical analysis through phenomenological and practical means. Drama 102, “Introduction to Theater Making,” reflects our teaching philosophy and our collaborative process. It is designed to engage students as critical audience members and to help them move beyond purely emotional reactions to critical judgment and analysis. In these ways, the course fulfills the college's mission of helping students to develop their powers of reason and imagination through processes of analysis and synthesis.
By the time drama majors leave Vassar, we expect them to be familiar with the history of world theater and dramatic literature from its ancient Greek beginnings to the present. We also expect students to have developed the ability to think critically about both dramatic texts and theatrical productions and to be able to express original critical and analytical thoughts through clear prose. Finally, we expect students to have gained an understanding of and practical ability in the various elements of theatrical production: acting, directing, design, dramaturgy and technical theater.