For Prospective Students
Dear Prospective Vassar Student,
Thank you for your interest in Vassar and its Department of Drama.
Vassar is a liberal arts college, and our curriculum addresses the subject of drama in the context of the larger issues of the liberal arts. Although the requirements for a concentration allow each student a good deal of individual choice, all drama majors take courses which explore dramatic literature and the history and theory of drama, as well as practical courses in acting, directing, dramaturgy, design, etc. As a Department of Drama in a liberal arts college, we do not see ourselves as a theater conservatory, although we do try to bring the highest professional standards to all of the courses we offer, and our instructors are persons with distinguished professional backgrounds.
Professor Gabrielle H. Cody and Professor Denise A. Walen teach most of our dramatic literature and theater history courses or performance studies seminars. In addition to being scholars, both Ms. Cody and Ms. Walen are also directors; Ms. Cody also teaches theater-making and performance. Our primary directing instructor is Professor Christopher Grabowski. Associate Professor and Department Chair Shona Tucker, Senior Lecturer and Assistant Director of VRDT Kathy Wildberger, and Adjunct Assistant Professor Darrell James teach acting, voice, and movement courses; our design courses are taught by Assistant Professor and Director of Theater Stephen Jones and Lecturer Kenisha Kelly. Adjunct Instructor Catherine Filloux teaches our playwriting course.
Freshmen interested in a drama concentration at Vassar enroll in our introductory courses during their first year at the college: Drama 102 Introduction to Theater-Making and Drama 103 Introduction to Stagecraft, which are offered in both the fall and spring semesters. Students may take 102 or 103 in either semester or in some cases concurrently. These courses form the prerequisites for most upper level coursework in drama. In the sophomore year students begin more specific work in acting or other aspects of the theater arts and continue taking courses in dramatic literature and theater history. As seniors, drama majors may undertake a special “senior project” in an area of choice. Such projects might involve acting, directing, design, playwriting, or research in dramatic literature and theater history.
Auditions for department major productions are not limited to drama majors; however students must be enrolled in drama courses. Additionally, more “open” auditions are held for a variety of workshops and other theatrical presentations which the department sponsors, and these auditions are open to any interested students. In addition to what we do within the department, there is a great deal of extracurricular theatrical activity at Vassar. A few years ago, the college established a new facility called the Susan Stein Shiva Theater in what had been a part of the old buildings-and-grounds complex. This black box theater was created for the exclusive use of extracurricular student theater groups at Vassar, and the student-directed plays are presented in the Shiva Theater nearly every weekend of the academic year. Some of these are original works written by Vassar students.