Major: Theatre
Program Director:
 Frazer Lively Professor of Theatre
Course Catalogue pages

The theatre major requires a minimum of 37 semester hours in the discipline; the theatre minor requires 18 hours. Classes include acting; directing; voice and movement; theatre literature and history; African American theatre; creative drama/children’s theatre; Shakespeare studies; playwriting; American musical theatre; race, ethnicity and gender in performance; yoga for actors; stage combat; a senior seminar; lab courses in production; theatre practicum and special topics. All Wesleyan students, regardless of their major or year, are welcome to take part in the theatre department’s productions that are mounted each year. These productions include contemporary plays, classics, African-American plays, children’s plays, student-written plays, and student-directed plays.

Theatre is a collaborative art form expressing and critiquing the thought, dreams and cultural visions of a society. The theatre major helps students explore their potential as theatre artists and/or theatre scholars. Through the study of theatre in a liberal arts context, students learn to examine themselves and the world as they develop their creative abilities and critical skills. The courses at Wesleyan are appropriate for students with general interests in theatre as well as for students with professional and scholarly aspirations. The theatre department offers a wide range of courses, with a commitment to enlarging the students knowledge through analyzing plays; learning about theatre of the past and present; studying dramatic writing, performance and directing; learning about technical theatre and theatre management, and bringing productions to life.

Departmental productions, from three to twelve each year, focus on strong roles for women and allow students to excel in areas traditionally dominated by men, such as playwriting, directing and technical work. Theatre students have numerous opportunities to work on productions throughout their college careers. Majors may wish to focus in one or more curricular tracks: performance, theatre management, and dramaturgy. Coursework offers introductory, intermediate, and advanced studies in theatre disciplines.

The Wesleyan student who majors in theatre receives a basic foundation that may prepare her for a professional career, apprenticeships, graduate studies, or work in a related field. The theatre degree enhances career paths that call for collaboration, organizational abilities, effective speaking, problem solving, creativity, and analytical/critical skills. For information about specific courses offered, please see our Academic Catalogue.  

Wesleyan’s theatre facilities are unsurpassed for an institution of its size. The Porter Fine Arts Building houses two theatres in addition to theatre classrooms, work space, and storage for scenery, costumes, makeup, electronics, and properties.

The 1,200-seat Porter Auditorium boasts a forty-foot proscenium, twenty-line counterweight fly system, a computerized light board, and dressing and makeup rooms. It is a popular venue for local and touring performances. The Grassmann-Porter Studio Theatre provides an intimate theatre space. Wesleyan productions also take place in professional Macon facilities, such as the historic Douglass Theatre.

Macon's lively theatre community provides varied opportunities for play performance and attendance. Students act and do technical work for Theatre Macon, Macon Little Theatre, First Street Arts, and the theatre at the Children's Museum. In addition, Atlanta's superb professional theatres are within easy driving distance.

Field Study
Local sponsoring organizations that especially welcome theatre students as interns include Macon Little Theatre, the Grand Opera House, Theatre Macon, the Douglass Theatre, Georgia Advocacy for Children, and local television stations. Summer internships are often done at professional companies around the United States and abroad. Our students have recently worked at Santa Fe Opera, Unto These Hills, the Banner Elk Theatre, The Lost Colony, the Lincoln Theatre in Nebraska, and the Maine State Musical Theatre.

Fine Arts Scholarships
Talented students in the performance arts may compete for scholarships ranging from $1,000 to full tuition per year. Fine Arts Scholarships in Theatre are available to students who are interested in being involved in the theatre program as a major or minor. The scholarships require a commitment from the student beginning the first year. Candidates for fine arts scholarships also may be candidates for academic or leadership scholarships. All scholarships are renewable for up to eight semesters.Those interested in theatre scholarships are required to audition and should contact the chair of the Theatre Department to schedule auditions. 

The prestigious Lane Scholars Program provides two scholarships annually to academically superior first year applicants for admission whose intended major is in the area of Fine Arts. Each scholarship recipient receives an annual award valued at $14,000 to full tuition per year. This program is in honor of Linda H. Lane who was a friend, leader, benefactor, and an associate professor of music at Wesleyan. Eligible candidates must possess high academic credentials and demonstrate their interest, and the ability to engage,  in research. Interested candidates should contact Wesleyan's Office of Admission for more information about this and other scholarship opportunities. Request more information!


Special Opportunities
Guest artists enrich the Theatre Department by teaching classes and contributing to the extracurricular productions. Recent guest artists have included playwrights Linda Eisenstein, Rita Nachtmann, Steven Dietz, and Pearl Cleage, and actors from the Shenandoah Shakespeare Express. On Wesleyan’s small and close-knit campus, students have numerous opportunities to become involved in theatre, and they can take on major roles and responsibilities right from the start of the educational experience. Women  take most  of the roles and are in charge of all technical work. Access to theatre faculty and facilities is virtually unlimited.

Outcomes & Postgraduate Opportunities
Theatre and music & theatre studies help to prepare students for careers in acting, dance, musical performance, stage management, technical theatre production, arts administration, playwriting, public relations, communication, drama therapy, and television and film production.

These programs also provide excellent training for lawyers, schoolteachers, social workers, psychotherapists, arts camp leaders, business executives, politicians, professors, community leaders, and ministers, to name just a few -- everyone who needs strong communication skills in dealing with the public.

Students who major or minor in theatre may choose to pursue graduate studies in theatre history, theatre literature, acting, directing, playwriting, children’s theatre, creative drama, theatre management, set or costume design, technical theatre, or theatre management.

Recent graduates have gone on to pursue higher degrees at Indiana University, California Institute of the Arts, Arizona State University, Catholic University of America, Virginia Tech, Duke University, Florida State University, Cincinnati Conservatory, Louisiana Tech, and Chapman University.  Wesleyan theatre alumnae include professional actors and stage managers, children’s theatre professionals, filmmakers, lawyers, directors of community arts programs, and designers. Other graduates are currently working at Cirque du Soleil, Texas Legacy, and in a New York City performance collective. Several theatre students have become lawyers, English professors, nurses, and designers. Wesleyan graduates often infuse a foundation in theatre with other disciplines -- like Tamara Francis '05, from theatre to English to finance, she's excelling in graduate school and planning a big future.

Recent grad Heather Hughes ’05 returned to her native New York upon graduation to complete graduate studies in musical theatre. Taking advantage of two outstanding academic programs at Wesleyan, she combined coursework to develop an approved self-designed major in Music and Theatre. Her senior project at Wesleyan was a one-woman show which she wrote and performed. Heather stayed very active in campus life, especially as STUNT chair during her senior year. In 2007, she finished her course work at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York City. Recently, she performed in a showcase for industry professionals in Manhattan. "I'm finally ready to embark on that most elusive of careers," she said, "a professional actor!"

Be sure to check out Ashley Hare '07's story! She's a self-proclaimed theatre geek.  In 2007, she became Wesleyan’s first graduate with a degree in the new theatre major and received the Outstanding Theatre Student Award. Following graduation, she moved to Boston for an internship with the North Shore Musical Theatre.  The excitement builds for an unforgettable Act III, and by year-end she will begin work for a prestigious internship at Imagination Stage in Washington, DC. Ashley was one of four people chosen from a pool of over 400 applicants for the 2007- 2008 season.  At Imagination Stage, she will be working in a general technician apprenticeship experiencing every aspect of production with this prestigious children’s theatre company. 

Recent Productions

by Lee Blessing 

A Point in the Heart
by Robert Fieldsteel and Jan Lewis

Princess Ida An operetta
by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan, in a contemporary adaptation by Jan Lewis.

Dead Man's Cell Phone
by Sarah Ruhl.

A new version of the Medea story, written for Wesleyan by Robert Fieldsteel and Jan Lewis.

Danger and Delight
Seven short plays directed by seven student directors.

Love and Madness
An evening of readings of student-written short plays.

Twelfth Night or What You Will
Shakespeare’s romantic comedy with all the roles performed by women, set in California in the late 1960s, adapted by Wesleyan’s Dr. Jan Lewis.

The Bald Soprano and The Lesson
Ionesco's dark absurdist comedies.

The Little Prince
A colorful, magical play for the young at heart.

Five Women Wearing the Same Dress
Alan Ball’s witty play about five bridesmaids wishing they were somewhere else.

Late Bus to Mecca by Pearl Cleage and Railing It Uptown by Shirley Lauro. Wesleyan celebrated Black History Month with these important works.

Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry
Written by Norma Bowles and directed by Wesleyan College Senior Ashley Hare. Cootie Shots was created by Fringe Benefits, a Los Angeles-based educational theatre company, and  provides a fun and constructive way to help children deal with bullying and name-calling.  

Desdemona, A Play about a Handkerchief
Paula Vogel’s witty and moving play that riffs Shakespeare’s Othello, focusing on three minor characters the night before Desdemona was murdered. In this dark comedy, Vogel imagines the behind-the-scenes machinations of three women in Shakespeare’s tragedy--a princess, a washerwoman, and a prostitute--as they struggle for power in a world controlled by men. 


A haunting play by Diane Samuels about a young Jewish girl, separated from her German family during World War II, who reinvents herself as a British woman.

Triple Threat
Three student-directed productions, including Chekhov's The Bear, Ted Shine's Contribution, and an original student-written work.

Crimes of the Heart
Beth Henley's comedy/drama about three Mississippi sisters driven by love.

A comedy about a family with hilarious communication breakdowns.

Crumbs from the Table of Joy
Lynn Nottage's nostalgic tribute to an African-American family in 1950s Brooklyn.

The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler's project to raise awareness and funds to combat abuse.


Frazer LivelyFrazer Lively Professor of Theatre . B.A. (Theatre and Dance) State University of New York at Buffalo 1983; M.A. (Theatre Performance and Literature) University of Pittsburgh 1987; Certificate in French, Sorbonne (Paris IV) 1993; Ph.D. (Theatre History and Literature) University of Pittsburgh 1997. My areas of interest in theatre history/literature/performance include symbolist theatre, Chekhov, African-American theatre, and modern protest as theatre. As a theatre practitioner, I have expertise in children’s theatre and creative drama, acting, and directing. Porter Fine Arts 119. 

Jan LewisJan Lewis Associate Professor of Theatre and Theatre Department Chair. B.A. Brandeis University (Theatre Arts); M.A. University of California, Berkeley (Dramatic Art); M.F.A. University of California, Los Angeles (Directing); Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara (Dramatic Art).  I have spent many years as an actor, director, dramaturg, and producer in the professional theatre. My research interests include American theatre, musical theatre, and race, ethnic, and gender studies in theatre and film. Porter Fine Arts 109.

Robert Fieldsteel Artist-in-Residence, Playwriting.  B.A. Dartmouth College (English: Writing); M.A. Antioch University (Psychology). My plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Also a professional actor, I have acted in more than twenty-five plays, a dozen feature films, and have guest-starred on sixteen television shows. Awards include: Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award - Best World Premiere Play; Backstage West Garland Award – Playwriting; LADCC Award - Ensemble Performance; Dramalogue Award - Performance. Porter Fine Arts 122.