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 eleven 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.

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.

All of the following:
THEA 101. An Introduction of Drama: Theater and Film
THEA 200. The Classical Stage.
THEA 220. The Modern Stage: Ibsen to the Present.
THEA 223. Dramaturgy: An Introduction.

One of the following:
THEA 240. Playwriting.
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.
THEA 130. Introduction to Design.

2) Elective Courses.
Four of the following:
AF/DN 252. Contemporary Issues in Dance.
DANC 151. Making Dances.
ENG 213. Shakespeare I.
ENG 214. Shakespeare and Early Modern Racialization.
ENG 239. Shakespeare's Queens.
ENG 296. Methods and Modes of Literary Study.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
FYS 437. Arts in Performance.
FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.
PHIL 234. Philosophy of Language.
THEA 132. Theater Technology.
THEA 220. The Modern Stage: Ibsen to the Present.
THEA 360C. Independent Study-Production Dramaturgy.
THEA 339. Advanced Playwriting.
THEA 370. Directing.

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

Track B: Theater Makers-Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting
1) Core Courses. THEA 101, 130, 132 must be taken by the end of the third year.
All of the following:
THEA 101. Theater and Film: An Introductory Survey.
THEA 130. Introduction to Design.
THEA 132. Theater Technology.
THEA 200. The Classical Stage.
THEA 261. Beginning Acting.

At least one of the following:
THEA 220. The Modern Stage: Ibsen to the Present.
THEA 223. Dramaturgy: An Introduction.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
FYS 337. Arts in Performance
FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.
FYS 487. Politics and Performance on Stage and Screen.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
ENG 131. Tragedy and the Drama of Voice.
ENG 239. Shakespeare’s Queens.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition.
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 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:

THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
THEA 362. Advanced Acting.
Two half-credit DN/TH 290. Performance in two productions prior to capstone/thesis.
Two additional courses 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.

THEA 360A. Independent Study-stage Manager
THEA 360B. Independent Study-Assistant Director
THEA 360D. Independent Study-Director.
THEA 370. Directing.

One additional course chosen in consultation with the major advisor.

Option C: Design Focus.

1) Design-related Focus 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.

At least one of the following:
THEA 360E. Independent Study - Assistant Design in the Area of Focus
THEA 360F. Independent Study – Design

Two additional design-related courses, at least one in Arts and Visual Culture, that support the design concentration in consultation with the major advisor. Total credits: 12-13 (depending on a one- or two-semester thesis)

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 Dances.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition.
Two half-credit courses in DNTH 290 or DANC 270 studio dance.
THEA 360C. Independent Study-Production Dramaturgy.

3) THEA 456 (Senior Capstone) or 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 THEA 101 and the requirements above specific to the particular focus of study (e.g., Acting, Directing, Design, Playwriting). Topics for capstone or thesis should involve a substantial artistic project in acting, design, directing or playwriting. The capstone includes a portfolio component examining the process and product of creative research. The thesis features written component examining the theoretical basis and the process/product of scholarly research. Projects are always subject to departmental approval. Capstone and thesis are projects of equal stature.

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:
1) THEA 101. Theater and Film: An Introductory Survey.

2) Five courses from the following two lists:
a) Two or three of the following:
DANC 151. Making Dances.
FYS 437. Arts in Performance.
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.
THEA 263. Voice and Speech.
THEA 362. Advanced Acting.
THEA 370. Directing.
THEA s26. Theater Production Workshop I.
DANC 262. Embodying Activism: Performing a Living Definition.


b) Two or three of the following:
FYS 437. Arts in Performance.
FYS 447. Holocaust on Stage.
FYS 487. Politics and Performance on Stage and Screen.
FYS 485. Contemporary Comedy.
THEA 129. Shakespeare in Production.
THEA 200. The Classical Stage.
EN/TH 201. Contemporary African and Caribbean Theater.
THEA 220. The Modern Stage: Ibsen to the Present.
THEA 223: Dramaturgy: An Introduction.
THEA 240. Playwriting.
THEA 339. Advanced Playwriting.
THEA s27. Theater and Film.
THEA s33. Central European Theater and Film.
ENG 131. Tragedy and the Drama of Voice.
ENG 239. Shakespeare’s Queens.

Pass/Fail Grading Option

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