One important thing to know about Theater at Bryn Mawr College is that everyone is welcome—no matter their level of experience. Curiosity, hard work, and excitement are qualities the faculty and staff hold dear, in themselves and in their students, and with those qualities, students are well set up to learn the skills involved in theater.
Developing those skills is partly the scholarly work of researching and reading theory, and partly the work of putting that theory into practice. As actors, dramaturgs, directors, designers, stage managers, and in many other roles working on theater productions, students are asked to take what they learn in class and rehearsal and go deeper, by applying that learning to the creative process of making live performance, as well as through discussion and writing.
Mark Lord, director, dramaturg, writer, and chair of the Theater Program says, “Our program is grounded in the actual making of theater, which means that we engage fully in the creative work and the theories that engage that work. We try to put theory and practice into productive dialogue with one another. By doing so, we enter into conversation with artists who have gone before us and with artists in the same room with us, as we test what we’ve learned, formulate our own new ideas and questions, and strengthen our own creative practices.”
The Theater Program actively supports and promotes the value of creative practice in a liberal arts education.
The Theater Program is made up of working artists. Everyone involved has their own creative life—they act, direct, research, write, design, and make all sorts of things, here at Bryn Mawr and beyond the campus, in their own lives. As artists committed to the development of their own creative practices, faculty and staff are deeply committed to helping students develop a creative practice and lives of their own as artists.
Why is all that important? Assistant Professor of Theater Catharine Slusar, an actor and director and the program's main acting professor, has this to say about the role of theater and the arts in a liberal arts education:
Theater is like a curiosity engine that helps to form agile minds through learning to dissect metaphor and imagine new worlds from a variety of perspectives. This curiosity serves to further students in any major they choose to pursue. We cannot create new worlds, new vaccines, new experiments unless we can imagine them. bell hooks writes, “The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is—it’s to imagine what is possible.” We cannot imagine if we do not learn to question and to wonder. The study of theater and the arts is not an extra; it is essential to a true liberal arts education.
Students do not need to major or minor in theater to be involved (but they can!). And students don’t need to want a career in theater (although, faculty and staff will happily guide them in that direction if that is the goal—even for those who are not majors). Every student involved in the Theater Program is welcome to audition, take classes, work in production, dig deep, ask questions, and expand their liberal arts education and their lives as creative thinkers through the work done here.
When a student works in and with the Theater Program, they will be a creator among other creators, learning together and working collaboratively to build something important.
Whether or not students decide to major in theater or work in theater later in life, the experience of making theater will serve them for the rest of their lives. Theater graduates go on to be scientists, authors of cookbooks, sociologists, screenwriters, lawyers, photographers, and folklorists—not to mention actors, stage managers, and lighting designers.
If the goal of a liberal arts education is to build the strength and flexibility of creative intellectual muscles—to teach students how to learn and how to examine and question what they've learned; to help them formulate new ideas and create new worlds; to empower them to take on any job, project, or challenge they like in our lives; and to enable them to work collaboratively to imagine a better future—then theater is a perfect way to exercise those muscles. Reach out to email@example.com to learn more.