Smith offers theatre enthusiasts extraordinary opportunities both on and off the stage. The theatre program features some 35 courses in acting, directing, design, playwriting, literature, history and dramatic theory. Courses include Theatre History and Culture, Acting, Directing, Writing for the Theatre, Set Design, Costume Design, and Lighting Design, and a rich array of courses in world drama, including American theatre, Black theatre, Jewish theatre, African and Caribbean theatre, Canadian theatre, as well as pre-modern and modern European theatre.
The theatre department, which has between 30 and 40 majors, welcomes students to audition for and participate in its productions. It is part of the Five College Theatre Department consortium, which mounts numerous theatre productions each season, including musical theatre, opera, and a range of classic, contemporary and original works. The department season consists of four major productions, directed by faculty and students, including a festival of one-act plays; students also participate in writing, acting and directing for the New Play Reading Series. Studios and laboratory performances initiated, produced and directed by students provide additional opportunities to act, direct, design and stage-manage shows.
Smith's theatre department presents an adventurous mix of plays from a variety of cultures, periods and genres on its two stages, Theatre 14 (a 490 seat proscenium stage) and our flexible black box stage, Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre. Recent seasons have featured Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, directed by guest artist Austin Pendleton; Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House; the Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive, by Paula Vogel; an original adaptation of Isabel Allende's Stories of Eva Luna; and the world premiere of the Chinese drama The Golden Lotus, written and directed by internationally renowned artist Wang Yansong.
Off stage at Smith, theatre faculty and staff sponsor guest workshops, lectures and presentations by top professional performers, playwrights, technicians and designers. Students learn from visiting innovators of the modern theatre such as playwrights Pearl Cleage, Wendy Wasserstein, Michel Tremblay and Alice Tuan; Muriel Miguel of Spiderwoman and Peggy Shaw of Split Britches; designers Ralph Lee and Jane Musky; directors Max Stafford-Clark and Chuck Mike; and performers Ruth Malaczech, Deb Margolin, David Strathairn and Billie Whitelaw. Students frequently participate in workshops in acting, design, directing and writing for the theatre by world-renowned artists in these fields. The department also organizes field trips to New York City, where students attend a variety of plays and performances and meet performers, playwrights, directors, producers and stage managers active in the New York theatre scene. Some of the theatre artists who met with students on past trips are John Guare, Calista Flockhart, Anne Bogart, John Leguizamo, Cherry Jones, Marie-Irene Fornes, David Esbjornson and Roger Rees.
The theatre faculty members have a variety of interests including Hispanic-American drama, the theatre of Shakespeare, Chekhov and Moliere, African-American and African-Caribbean drama, Israeli theatre, Jewish-American theatre, feminist theatre, theatre translation, Asian theatre, performance art, improvisation and collaborative creation. The department has specialists in costume design, computer-aided scenic and lighting design, sound design, voice, movement, stage management, technical theatre, and theatre publicity and promotion. Smith maintains an extensive historical costume collection of women's clothing from the 19th and 20th centuries.