The study of Theater is the exploration of the nature of self and community through the combination of rigorous investigation with the collaborative process of making of art.
The Theater major is designed to prepare students for successful careers in theater and film providing, in conjunction with study in other areas of the liberal arts, unique and effective preparation for success in such diverse fields as business, law, communications, arts administration, education, and social service.
Our curriculum enables students to develop a rich understanding of both the enactment of the written word and the essence of theatrical expression. In addition to preparing our students for further study and related careers in theater and film, we encourage each student to explore ideas of self and community, expressing their discoveries through one or more aspects of theater, culminating in the Senior Project.
Because the development of a theater artist is enhanced by time as well as training, we encourage students considering a Theater major or minor to consult with department faculty and begin taking courses in the first year.
Most Theater classes are intimate in size and, along with the production program, foster close collaboration with department faculty and with fellow students.
Our program of study, while extensive, is flexible and can accommodate any double major or minor. Typically, one quarter of our majors pursue a second major including Film and Media Studies, Music, Art, Economics, English, Psychology, languages, and sciences.
Many theater students enrich their experience through study abroad in their junior year (or fall of the senior year.) For actors, this frequently means competing for a position at the London Dramatic Academy. Students have also studied in Australia, France, Brazil, Senegal, Italy, Spain, and Japan. Independent Summer Research abroad is also possible through the Richter Traditional Scholarship.
Each student experiences the essentially collaborative nature of theater through participation in theater productions as actors, playwrights, technicians, managers, and designers. Our production program is the laboratory in which we put into practice the ideas presented in the classroom. Students closely collaborate with faculty and guest artists in the process.
The Theater Department produces four faculty or guest artist directed productions each year. Three of these are Main Stage productions stage in the Keck Theater, two in the fall semester and one in the spring. Every other year, the spring production is a musical. The fourth production, the studio production, emphasizes the rehearsal process, privileging the actor over technical production. Site-specific or rehearsal-style staging is typical of these productions.
Any currently enrolled Occidental student at any class rank may audition for theater productions, including Mainstage, Studio, Directing Midterms and Finals, the New Play Festival, and student created projects.
Beyond the Classroom
The Theater Department takes advantage of the rich opportunities provided by our location in Los Angeles. Students are encouraged to broaden their self-discovery through opportunities for Community Based Learning and through internships. Our rich, ongoing relationships with Los Angeles theater companies provide opportunities for internships and independent study. Artists from these companies are frequent and regular guest artists for productions and workshops.
- New Play Festival
The annual New Play Festival, under the direction of Laural Meade, provides a unique opportunity for student playwrights. Through a competitive selection process, a small number of student written plays are selected. Guest professional directors from the Los Angeles Theater Community work closely with the playwrights to revise and sharpen their scripts. Guest actors work along side student actors to bring the new plays to public readings and performances on the Keck Stage.
Now in its 17th year, the Occidental Children’s Theater shows are conceived and directed by Jamie Angell. A professional company of six actors and one stage manager, under the direction of Jamie Angell and movement training of Nick Erickson, create and perform four short theater pieces based on folk tales. Performances take place in the Hillside Amphitheater and at local parks and schools from early July through August. The cast members and stage manager are current theater students or recent graduates. Auditions for these paid summer positions are held in the spring semester, and cast members frequently also teach in the Summer Institute of Fun.
Movement and dance courses are offered through the Theater Department. These courses include T’ai Chi, Beginning and Intermediate Ballet, Modern Dance, Beginning and Intermediate Afro-Caribbean Dance, Dunham Technique, Beginning and Intermediate Choreography, Jazz/Tap and Folk/Historical Dance. Special dance and movement Workshops are held in conjunction with guest artists such as the SITI Company and Grace Shinae Jun.
Work/Study positions are available in such areas as Front of House (Box Office, House Manager, and Ushering); Production (Costume Shop and Scene Shop), through Performing Arts Facilities, and in the Department Office. Job Descriptions and application forms are posted online through the Human Resources Office.
History & Alumni
Theater has been an important part of the Oxy campus since the beginning of the 20th Century and, with the addition of Acting to the curriculum of the Speech Department in the middle of the century, the formal study of theater has been an exceptional vibrant program.
Our alumni include leaders of major theater institutions such as Playwrights Horizons, The Center Theatre Group, The SITI Company, and The Guthrie Theater; Tony award winning actors and designers; writers working in theater, television, and film; stage managers working in equity and non-equity theaters; actors pursuing active careers in theater, television, and film; and educators working in K-12 and at the college/university level.
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