The Theatre Program: Performance Studies

all the world ...

photo by Mary Frederick, Amico Studios.

Where do we find theatre? In a 1,000-seat Broadway house and the favelas of Buenos Aires ... in an opera house and a drag club ... on the State House floor, and in the protest marches outside.

The Performance Studies concentration makes a serious academic study of the theatre — its place in the societies of the world, today and throughout history. This growing field investigates the human body engaged in symbolic action, using ideas from the performing arts, cultural anthropology, gender studies, oral history, and other related disciplines.

The curriculum examines performing arts such as theatre, dance, performance art, and music, but also inquires into cultural performances like political protests, fashion shows, sporting events, and worship services. The concentration reveals how performances form community and shape identity with material consequences for performers and audience members alike.

Students often undertake Performance Studies as a second concentration, to complement coursework in directing, design, or acting, and to deepen their understanding of the medium of theatre.

Coursework for students in the Performance Studies concentration:

  • Foundation courses for theatre majors listed here.
  • A studio course in directing.
  • A studio course in acting.
  • Additional courses in theatrical and aesthetic theory and theatre history, drawn from the Department's extensive Theatre Scholarship offerings.

Performance Studies concentrators also have the option of studying non-theatrical performance forms in such classes as:

  • Dance & Society
  • Dance History
  • African Dance & Cultures
  • World Music
  • Witchcraft, Magic, & Sorcery
  • Vodou in Haiti & the Diaspora


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Photo: Cabaret performance by the students of Troy Dwyer's First Year Seminar, "Of Kings and Queens: Drag Theory and Performance." Photo by Mary Frederick, Amico Studios.