Academic program



Theater at Bates invites students to develop existing abilities and enthusiasms and to discover new ones. Studying theater means making connections. There are many parts to assemble: dramatic literature, acting, directing, design, technical skill, the history and critical theory of the stage. Because theater is an art that spans millennia and is practiced all over the world, connections must be made with and between multiple cultures and traditions. To make things by making connections is to learn about process, self-discipline, collaboration, and critical thinking. To that end, the curriculum strikes a balance among artistic training, technical skills, and the study of literature and history. Majors are prepared for graduate work in the humanities, for further professional training, or for initial steps toward a career in the field.

In conjunction with academic work, the department annually produces more than a dozen plays, dance concerts, and other performance events in its three theaters. These involve large numbers of students, both majors and nonmajors. The department invites all members of the community to join in the creation of these events.

More information on the theater curriculum is available on the website (bates.edu/theater).

Major Requirements

The theater major comprises two tracks. Track A, Theater Studies/Dramaturgy, synthesizes the study of the history, theory, and practice of theater, and requires a minimum of ten courses, including a written thesis. Track B, Theater Makers, focuses on the study and process of creating live theater and requires a minimum of twelve courses, including a production/performance thesis. Playwriting requires a minimum of eleven courses including a thesis.

Track A: Theater Studies/Dramaturgy
This track focuses on the study of dramatic literature in its historical and critical context, with special attention to the relevance of such knowledge to the production of plays.
1) Core Courses.

Two of the following:
DN/TH 105. Introduction to Performance Studies.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
THEA 223. Dramaturgy: An Introduction.
AF/TH 254 Black Theater and Performance in America.

One of the following studio courses:
DN/TH 102. Collaboration in Action.
THEA 130. Introduction to Design.
THEA 132. Theater Technology.
DANC 151: Making Dance.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
EN/TH 242 Screenwriting.
THEA 250. Directing.

2) Elective Courses.
Six of the following:
DN/TH 102. Collaboration in Action.
THEA 130. Introduction to Design.
THEA 132. Theater Technology.
DANC 151. Making Dance.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
ENG 213. Shakespeare I.
ENG 214. Shakespeare and Early Modern Racialization.
ENG 239. Shakespeare's Queens.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
EN/TH 242 Screenwriting.
THEA 250. Directing.
AF/DN 252. Contemporary Issues in Dance.
ENG 296. Methods and Modes of Literary Study.
THEA 339. Advanced Playwriting.
FYS 437. Arts in Performance.
FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.
FYS 487. Politics and Performance on Stage and Screen.
THEA s26. Theater Production Workshop I.
JPN s29. Performing Fukushima: Theater and Film.
THEA s33. Central European Theater and Film.

3) THEA 457/458 Senior Thesis. Students in this track undertake a substantial thesis, with the topic subject to departmental approval.

Track B: Theater Makers: Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting
1) Core Courses. THEA 102, 105, 130, 132 must be taken by the end of the third year.
Two of the following:
DN/TH 102. Collaboration in Action.
DN/TH 105. Introduction to Performance Studies.
THEA 130. Introduction to Design.
THEA 132. Theater Technology.
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.

At least one of the following:
ENG 131. Tragedy and the Drama of Voice.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
THEA 223. Dramaturgy: An Introduction.
ENG 239. Shakespeare’s Queens.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
EN/TH 242 Screenwriting.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition.
FYS 337. Arts in Performance.
FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.
FYS 487. Politics and Performance on Stage and Screen.
JPN s29. Performing Fukushima: Theater and Film.
THEA s33. Central European Theater and Film.

With prior approval from the advisor, a professional internship may substitute for this elective.

2) Area of Focus.
At least five additional courses based on a specific area of focus and from among the courses listed below. Where applicable, students should complete courses sequentially. They should consult with their major advisor before registering for additional electives.

Option A: Acting Focus
The acting option offers the student an immersion into the creative process, and there is an emphasis on ensemble-building techniques, a sense of play and experimentation.

All of the following:
DN/TH 202. Devising Performance.
THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
THEA 361. Advanced Acting.
DN/TH 290. Performance/Production. (Performance in one production prior to thesis; half-credit course).

One and a half additional credits chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Option B: Directing Focus
The directing option offers the student a chance to experiment with the fundamentals of how to direct a play, analyze text, and collaborate with actors and designers.

DN/TH 202. Devising Performance
THEA 250. Directing.
THEA 370. Directing II.

One additional course chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Option C: Design Focus.

1) Design courses. One of the following:
THEA 231. Scene Design.
THEA 232. Lighting Design.
THEA 233. Costume Design.

At least one of the following additional design courses:
THEA 231. Scene Design.
THEA 232. Lighting Design.
THEA 233. Costume Design.
THEA 235. Fashion: A Survey of Western Culture.
THEA 236. Pattern Drafting and Draping.
THEA 295. Stage Management for the Performing Arts.

Three additional design-related courses, at least one in art and visual culture, that support the design concentration in consultation with the major advisor.

Option D: Playwriting
In the playwriting option, the student explores the foundational document of any theatrical production, the script. Courses focus on the craft of writing, the theory of dramatic literature, and the importance of understanding movement and space as it relates to the creation of a dramatic work.

In addition to the theater-makers core courses above, the playwriting track requires:

All of the following:
THEA 223. Dramaturgy: An Introduction.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
THEA 339. Advanced Playwriting.

One of the following:
DANC 151. Making Dance.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition.
Two half-credit courses in DN/TH 290. Performance/Production, or DANC 270. Studio Dance.

3) THEA 456,457/458 (Senior Thesis). All production/performance capstone or thesis projects are subject to departmental discretion. To be eligible for a production/performance thesis, students must have completed at least eight of the eleven required courses, including the requirements above specific to the particular focus of study (e.g., Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting). Topics for a production/performance thesis should involve a substantial artistic project in acting, design, directing or playwriting. The thesis features a written component examining the theoretical basis and the process/product of the research. Projects are always subject to departmental approval and resources.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

Pass/fail grading may be applied to one course in the major.

Minor in Theater



The minor in theater consists of six courses from the following two lists:

a) Two to four of the following studio courses:
DN/TH 102. Collaboration in Action.
DANC 151. Making Dance.
THEA 130. Introduction to Design.
THEA 132. Theater Technology.
THEA 231. Scene Design.
THEA 232. Lighting Design.
THEA 233. Costume Design.
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition
THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
THEA 350. Directing II.
THEA 361. Advanced Acting.
THEA s26. Theater Production Workshop I.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition.


b) Two to four of the following theoretical courses:
DN/TH 105. Introduction to Performance Studies.
ENG 131. Tragedy and the Drama of Voice.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
THEA 223: Dramaturgy: An Introduction.
ENG 239. Shakespeare’s Queens.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
EN/TH 242. Screenwriting.
THEA 339. Advanced Playwriting.
FYS 437. Arts in Performance.
FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.
FYS 487. Politics and Performance on Stage and Screen.
FYS 485. Contemporary Comedy.
JPN s29. Performing Fukushima: Theater and Film.
THEA s33. Central European Theater and Film.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

Pass/fail grading may be applied to one course in the minor.