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Jimmy Bickerstaff, M.F.A., Ph.D., Co-Chair, Academic
Judy Myers, M.F.A., Co-Chair, Production
The department of theatre and dance seeks to foster an understanding and appreciation of the theatre arts and dance that is consonant with the mission of Saint Mary’s University. The department provides students with the opportunity to develop pre-professional theatre skills in acting, directing, musical theatre, dramaturgy, design, technology and management. The department prepares students for entry-level positions in the theatre industry as well as entrance into graduate-level studies. Through its course offerings and productions, the department consistently and consciously promotes a nourishing, diverse, and innovative artistic environment at the Winona campus with a commitment to inspiring a life-long pursuit of the theatre as a profession, avocation or a source of delight and entertainment. Theatre students receive a well-rounded core of theatre studies and are able to focus their individual training by choosing one of five tracks: Acting/Directing, Dance, Musical Theatre, Design/Technology, or Theatre Studies. Minors are available in Dance, Musical Theatre, and Theatre.
General Department Goals
Engagement with the department’s curriculum and production program facilitates the development of students’ knowledge, skills and dispositions in these areas:
- Cultural awareness and sensitivity: understanding the way theatre and dance function within particular historical and cultural contexts;
- Problem solving and critical thinking: analyzing dramatic literature for interpretation, production, and scholarly research;
- An aesthetic sensibility: engaging in the practices and processes of dance and theatrical production and discovering meaningful approaches to dramatic criticism;
- Research and communication skills: engaging in effective and ethical research on various topics of theatre and dance;
- Specific knowledge: the study and practice of technical skills, creative practices, and an understanding of important theatrical movements, works of dramatic literature, and performance theory from the past and present.
The department produces four theatre productions and two dance productions on the Winona campus annually as well as one theatre production in London each fall. This includes a range of periods, genre, and styles, as well as student-generated work. A variety of additional performance and design/technical opportunities for students include the Second Page Improv Troupe, graduation projects, and student-directed or choreographed work. Our biennial main-season production of SPLaSH!, is a completely student produced, directed, designed, acted, and in many cases written short play festival. Additionally, the department sponsors student participation in programs through the American College Dance Association, our chapter of USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology), and the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Students are also encouraged to participate in the technical aspects of the Page Series, which brings to campus professional performing arts companies and artists each year. We invite eligible students to join Alpha Psi Omega; a national theatre honors society or the National Honor Society for Dance Arts.
Stefanníe Valéncia Kierlin Theatre Program in London
Theatre majors who meet institutional requirements and who are in good standing in the department are expected to participate in the London theatre semester in London, England in the fall semester of their junior year. The program is open to all Saint Mary’s students. The London theatre experience, under the guidance of Saint Mary’s University faculty, includes:
- Attending classes in theatre and dance, as well as courses focusing on broader enrichment;
- Attending numerous performances in London’s West End, Off-West End, and Fringe theatres;
- Fully mounting a student production in a London theatre;
- Studying at Dublin’s renowned Gaiety School of Acting; and
- Traveling to various sites in the United Kingdom as well as additional travel in Europe.
The Lillian Davis Hogan Scholarships are endowed four-year renewable scholarships for bachelor-degree-seeking students intending to major in theatre. The Saint Genesius Award is a talent-based scholarship for the continued study of dance technique and performance at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Theatre Department Honors at Graduation
Theatre offers graduating seniors the opportunity to qualify for departmental honors. These honors are to inspire and reward students who have completed outstanding work within the department. The criteria for department honors are a 3.700 department and major field GPA and a 3.300 cumulative GPA. A senior paper and public presentation or similar creative experience judged to be of superior quality by a committee of departmental faculty is also required. Departmental distinction is reserved for students who perform academically at the top level of all graduates from the department.
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