Department of Theatre
Mission: To engage imaginatively with the inheritance of the past, the questions of the present, and the possibilities of the future through embodied and intellectual inquiry into theatre and performance.
What do we value?
In the Department of Theatre, faculty, staff, and students understand drama, theatre, and performance as artistic and social practices, and as means and objects of study that model the investigation and production, the making, of a sustainable, equitable, livable future. We pursue theatre and performance within the purpose of the university: to learn, explore, and fashion disciplines of inquiry, new ways of knowing and so new structures of knowledge. Theatre is a site of public encounter, and we undertake its many forms of collaboration in order to speak with the campus and the community, to perform an imaginative, ethical engagement of possibility: of critical dialogue among the arts, humanities, and sciences; of social and climate justice; of equity and inclusion; of the manifold joys of creative work across the regenerative interdisciplines of theatre and performance.
What do we do? In the Department of Theatre, faculty, staff, and students
practice: inquiry across a range of platforms of scholarly and artistic production that define and enlarge one another, participating in learning modes of embodiment, of spatial array, of visual and sonic design, of written expression, and of cultural interpretation across a range of forms
create: make art and make scholarship, in the understanding that theatre provides a process and a means for making oneself, and making a livable world
learn: the historical, cultural, social, political, and aesthetic contexts of drama, theatre and performance, and the contemporary practices of performance as means of seeing theatre today as an instrument of critical invention and ethical performative intervention
collaborate: with others with different skills effectively, productively, creatively, ethically, and equitably
reflect: on the process and the product of making, on the political and ideological work of aesthetics, on the interplay between creative work and equity, justice, and citizenship
Who are we?
The Department of Theatre are
faculty and staff specialized in a wide range of disciplines, professional artists and scholars who engage in critical creation across a range of platforms
students majoring in Theatre, or taking courses as nonmajors, pursuing a variety of paths toward their future. Among other avenues, our students have gone on to pursue further study in MFA and PhD programs in various fields, leading to professional careers in theatre, as well as to academic careers in the humanities, theatre, and performance studies. Many find the writing, performance, and collaborative skills developed in the study and practice of theatre essential in their future work in a variety of professional settings.
Where are we? The Department of Theatre
is in and of New York, the nation’s theatrical capital, sustained by an unrivalled range of performance from Broadway to off-Broadway to off-off Broadway, and extending across the city’s five boroughs
is part of the vibrant, diverse civic community of Morningside Heights and Harlem
is part of an energetic and distinguished academic community, making theatre, learning theatre, understanding the theoretical, social, cultural, ideological the work of theatre in conversation with the interrogative work of research across an academic campus
is engaged with the city, with a wide range of artists and scholars, and with our sustaining communities.
acknowledges its location in Lenapehoking, the territory of the Lenape people, as a step towards recognizing the traditional and enduring stewards of this land and disrupting the invisibility and ongoing erasure of Indigenous Peoples
All courses, including stage productions, offered by the Barnard College Department of Theatre are open to all Barnard and Columbia undergraduate students. The Department also provides the undergraduate major for all undergraduate Barnard College, Columbia College, and General Studies students (the Columbia major is designated “Drama and Theatre Arts”). While Barnard and Columbia students fulfill the overall graduation requirements of their respective institutions (the Core at Columbia, Foundations at Barnard), major requirements are the same for all students, who take foundational coursework in the literary, cultural, and embodied traditions of global performance as well as in the practices of acting, directing, design, dramaturgy, and playwriting. All majors then specialize in a specific area and undertake advanced thesis work, leading either to a formal essay of original research, or to an artistic project (in acting, design, directing, dramaturgy, playwriting, or solo performance) accompanied by written documentation. Barnard and Columbia students receive their degrees from their respective colleges of Columbia University.
The Department mounts a full season of productions in the Minor Latham Playhouse and the Glicker-Milstein Theatre, a crucible of investigation sustained by the collaboration between undergraduate students and professional theatre artists. Department of Theatre productions are both a learning process and a scene of encounter, where perceptions are shaped for the attention and creative reflection of a larger public.
Department of Theatre, Barnard College
The faculty and staff of the Barnard College Department of Theatre stand in close solidarity with the powerful actions protesting for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and others, only the most recent victims of racist state violence in the United States. As artists and scholars, working professionals teaching, researching, writing about, and making theatre, we are daily aware of both the deep history and contemporary inflections of racism defining the landscape of the arts in the U.S., and strive with our students to imagine and to bring about the kind of change that must permeate all our institutions: the police and the courts, the institutions of health care that have proven so inadequate to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities in the current pandemic, the practices of education, and the work of the arts as well. In the Department, we are committed to expanding our critical and performative engagement with racism—in the curriculum, through invited artists and scholars, onstage—and indeed with historical and contemporary forms of political, colonial, class, and sexual injustice encoded in cultural systems; we will be announcing the actions consequent on those commitments in the coming academic year. But this week, as we are enraged by the actions of the police, and grieve the lives that have been lost to them, we support friends and colleagues, activists, artists, and students in the essential struggle to make Black Lives Matter here and now, today.
We are also concerned about our students, knowing that they, and many others involved with that most political of artforms, theatre, will want to engage creatively with this struggle; we have found these writings by other theatre practitioners useful:
American Theatre "Tired but Not Daunted in the Twin Cities"
American Theatre "Black Lives Matter: U.S. Theatres Stand With the Movement for Racial Justice"
The Howlround Theatre Commons offers many excellent essays and resources written by Black theatre makers: Link here.
And for those seeking a starting point for resources concerning the wider community of BIPOC ( Black, Indigenous and People of Color) in theatre: Indigenous Theater and Performance of North America Resource Guide
Finally, The Movement for Black Lives has called for a week of action in defense of Black lives: Link here.
Barnard College Department of Theatre Kenneth Janes Award: Brianna Johnson BC ‘21
Columbia College Austin E. Quigley Award: Joel Meyers CC ‘21
Joseph Milton Fee, Jr. Award in Playwriting: Phanesia Pharel BC ‘21
Dasha Amsterdam Epstein Awards in Honor of Patricia Denison
Acting: Eliza Ducnuigeen BC ‘21
Design and Production: Anna Pettit CC ‘21
Directing: Award not given in 2021
Dramaturgy: Jaclyn Stroud BC ‘21
Playwriting: Adam Glusker CC ’21, Kay Kemp CC ‘22
Theory, Criticism, and Research: Kathy Fang CC ‘24