Department of Theatre
Fourth Floor, O'Kane Hall
Chair: Edward Isser, professor of theatre
Given the College's small size, the theatre program is able to provide personalized attention and address the artistic and intellectual development of each student.
Our faculty and staff — 13 members in total — serve the needs of approximately 25 students. This ratio guarantees that theatre majors and dance minors at Holy Cross receive intense mentoring and close supervision. Beginning with the freshman year, we create an atmosphere that encourages students to reach their full potential as scholars, artists and human beings.
Each year we mount two faculty-directed plays; two fully-produced student productions (including a musical); a series of one act plays; two Balinese music concerts in Brooks Concert Hall; and an annual dance concert, featuring modern, jazz and ballet pieces.
The theatrical season offers a wide variety of periods, styles, and genres — including classical Greek drama, Shakespeare, American realism, and contemporary devised works. These opportunities provide students with a plethora of opportunities to act, direct, design (lights, sets, sound, costumes) or stage manage.
Faculty interests run the gamut from commedia dell'arte to Shakespeare to gender studies to devised theatre, enabling students to take a wide-range of courses and participate in diverse production opportunities.
Majors and students who enroll in our classes find their individual intellectual needs met — whether their special interest is in acting, directing, design, dance, dramatic literature or film — and their progress is carefully tracked. The theatre major is a rigorous program providing a through foundation for those who may choose conservatory training or graduate school. Dance minors prepare for further intensive training and professional opportunities.
For major and non-majors, the department offers a variety of complementary perspectives on performance and production:
- Our acting classes combine western and eastern techniques for training body and voice while teaching the student to interpret dramatic texts.
- Our dramatic literature and theatre history courses place those texts in historical and thematic contexts and focus on them as a medium for performance.
- Our dance courses are grounded in an understanding of dance history, as well as technique and composition.
- Our design courses explore visual interpretations of texts in performance.
- Our directing courses locate performance as an intersection of all of these disciplines and train students to read texts on several levels at once. For students interested in film and playwriting, there are classes and tutorials.
Accedited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre
As a fully acredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre, the Holy Cross the program is highly regarded regionally and nationally. Our teaching and programming has been reviewed and certified as meeting all national standards for formal theatre training.
NAST accreditation assures prospective students, parents, graduate schools, and advanced training programs that member institutions provide competent teachers, adequate physical plant and equipment and sound curricula.
Institutional membership is gained through a rigorous peer review process. Holy Cross was first accredited in 1997, one of only a handful of liberal arts colleges to receive this distinction. The Department of Theatre was last accredited in April 2014. More than 177 schools and advanced training programs are member institutions.
Performing Arts Center
As part of the Become More comprehensive campaign, the College plans to establish a center devoted to the arts, where students might incorporate the arts into the essence of their everyday lives — and find the inherent connections between study and performance. The new facility will include a 400-seat proscenium theatre, a 200-seat studio theatre or flexible theatre plus technology to support creative interactions between the arts and other disciplines. Learn more about the Performing Arts Center.
Arts Transcending Borders
Arts Transcending Borders (ATB), funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is an initiative designed to enhance the role of the arts in every aspect of the Holy Cross experience by infusing the arts into students’ academic lives and creating new opportunities throughout the curriculum and the community to cross cultural, geographic, and disciplinary boundaries.
Centered in the departments of music, theatre, and visual arts, the program forges new collaborations across disciplines and introduces artists and performers into every facet of the liberal arts experience that Holy Cross offers students. Learn more about Arts Transcending Borders.
Student Theatre Awards
The department recognizes outstanding seniors with four awards:
- The George Bernard Shaw Award for the best essay in dramatic literature or film
- The Nellie M. Bransfield Award for best actor or actress
- The Robert Edmond Jones Award for best technical skills
- The Jean Rosenthal Award for extraordinary talent in lighting design