Mission and Goals

The study of Theatre at William & Mary encompasses classes, laboratories, and theatrical productions that teach students to understand, appreciate, and pursue the various aspects of theatre within the College's liberal arts framework, including the study of theatrical history and theory, the analysis of dramatic literature, the study of producing plays, the theatrical performance itself, and the study and evaluation of performances.  The Theatre program emphasizes the value of active inquiry rather than passive exposure in acquiring knowledge.  Beginning students receive models and guidelines and opportunities to experiment.  Advanced students undertake major independent projects, both scholarly and creative, that test models and explore new approaches.

The Theatre curriculum:  The Theatre curriculum is a combination of creative and scholarly studies that are a microcosm of the liberal arts experience and embrace an interdisciplinary approach in bringing students into close contact with major humanistic concerns and questions.  The Theatre major requires students to take a variety of departmental courses, exposing students to history and theory as well as the technical and performance aspects of the theatre, and to participate in a various aspects of departmental productions.  The curriculum includes:

  • Introductory classes which serve majors, minors, and other students.  These courses introduce students to the basic concepts of the theatre and fulfill GER 4, 5, 6, and 7.
  • Production-based classes, including acting, design, directing, playwriting, and management that offer in-depth exposure to all aspects of theatrical production.
  • Classes in the history, theory, and literature of the theatre, that place the theatre in its historical and cultural context.

Theatrical productions:  Theatrical productions are indispensable ingredients in the Department's educational and artistic mission.  Performance is a vitally significant laboratory that tests and demonstrates concepts and theories examined in classes.  In keeping with the Department's liberal arts philosophy, participation in department productions, both on and off stage, is open to all members of the campus community including non-majors and underclass students. Qualified students, with faculty supervision, also research and create scenic, costume, sound, and lighting designs for mainstage productions.  Our productions include:

  • The William & Mary Theatre.  William & Mary Theatre productions are directed by the faculty and are typically presented on the Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall mainstage.  Selection of plays is guided by educational and artistic concerns for students, both majors and non-majors, as well as campus and community audiences.  The selection of plays presented on the mainstage looks past any single year to a four year span, ensuring a breadth and depth of theatrical experiences for student participants and audiences.
  • The Second Season. The Department sponsors plays directed by students, including original works by student playwrights, which are typically presented in the Studio and Lab theatres.  Student directed plays range from workshop presentations by beginning directors to full length productions by selected seniors.
  • The Virginia Shakespeare Festival.   Selected students, volunteers, and trained artists, from the College and elsewhere, work with the Virginia Shakespeare Festival in the summer.  The Festival presents works by Shakespeare in repertory, and provides opportunities for advanced studies and practice not feasible during the academic year.