Division of the Arts
Theater and Performance
The Theater and Performance Program aims to develop innovative thinkers and artists who use great theatrical ideas from the past and present to imagine and instigate the theater of the future. Theater and performance are intrinsically collaborative art forms, and collaboration and devised theater making are at the heart of Bard’s program. Students study and perform in the landmark Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry. The program is run in close partnership with Live Arts Bard, the College’s professional residency and commissioning program for the performing arts.
The Theater and Performance Program trains well-rounded theater makers who study the history, theory, and contemporary practice of theater and performance; hone their technical abilities as writers, performers, and directors; and create their own productions and performances under the mentorship of master artists and teachers. Students are encouraged to explore the intersection of theater and performance with dance, music, the visual arts, film, and literature, as well as with the sciences and humanities. They work side by side with a faculty of leading professional theater and performance artists; in addition, a wide range of visiting artists from this country and abroad bring a global perspective of cutting-edge theater and performance to the Bard campus.
Areas of Study
Theater and Performance offers courses in context, technique, and creative practice and research. Students who major in the program are expected to take classes in all three areas of study. Context courses include the history of theater and performance, contemporary practice, theories of theater and performance, dramatic literature, and world theater. Technique courses include skills-based classes in playwriting, directing, acting, voice, movement, dramatic structure, performance, and composition. Creative practice and research comprises productions, performance laboratories, master classes, and specialized workshops.
The Theater and Performance curriculum emphasizes courses in context and technique, ensuring that a strong foundation is built in the first two years of study. The following courses are required before Moderation: Theater 145, Introduction to Theater and Performance: Revolutions in Time and Space
; Theater 201, Introduction to Acting: The Actor and the Moment
; Theater 207, Introduction to Playwriting: The Theatrical Voice
; Theater 244, Introduction to Theater Making
; and Theater 246, Introduction to Theater History: Great Theaters of the World
. In addition, students participate in the creation and performance of a group-devised Moderation project. After Moderation, students are required to take two courses from a menu of options in each of the three areas of study—context, technique, and creative practice and research (for a total of six courses). Students must also complete a Senior Project.
Students choose from one of the following four categories:Research paper
: a 50- to 60-page paper on a significant aspect of theater and/or performance; theater or performance history or theory; dramatic literature; contemporary or historical practice.Devised project
: an original work of theater developed or performed by one to three students; and a 20-page paper detailing the project’s context and artistic goals. Solo performance
: a solo work, written and performed by a student; and a 20-page paper detailing the project’s context and artistic goals. Specialized project
: a detailed investigation of one of the major areas of theatrical practice through a performance component, for example, writing a play, directing a play, or performing a major role in a Theater and Performance Program production; and a 20-page paper detailing the project’s context and artistic goals.
Recent Senior Projects in Theater and Performance
- “Acting Out: The Manifestation and Enactment of Black Identity in Performance”
- “The Battle for Stanislavski: Stella Adler, Lee Strasberg, and the System in America”
- “The Birth of Character as Constructed: How Nonbinary Gender Identities Might Become Intelligible”
- “What Could Have Been: The Transformative Effect of Site-Specific Performance on Space through the Evocation of Memory”
The Theater and Performance Program is located in Bard’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The Center’s state-of-the-art facilities include studios, workshops, and two theaters, including the flexible LUMA Theater, which seats up to 200.
Program courses emphasize the truly inclusive nature of theater, which encompasses performance, literature, design, history, artistic community, and intellectual rigor. Students are expected to acquire a solid familiarity with dramatic literature and to develop the ability to research the historical context and dramaturgy of a play and to write about it.