The program in Theater Arts encourages students to take advantage of the many performance opportunities on campus and off. Engaging an audience in performance is a direct extension of what is learned in the classroom and an elegant expression of the work developed in the studio. In addition to the many credit-bearing creative experiences on offer there is also an array of extra-curricular performance opportunities with the many student-governed extra-curricular performing arts groups. Theater Arts productions place students alongside Theater Arts Faculty, Staff, and Guest Artists in the mounting of full productions as performers, designers, dramaturgs, writers, and directors. Students often become directly involved in the many research endeavors undertaken by Theater Arts faculty, both on campus and in the field.
Extra-Curricular Theater and Dance
Independent of the program in Theater Arts, extra-curricular theater and dance abound at MIT. The Shakespeare Ensemble is devoted almost exclusively to the production of Shakespeare’s plays; presenting two fully mounted productions during the school year as well as scene nights and master classes for newcomers and existing members alike. MIT Dramashop undertakes contemporary and classical works. Other important extra-curricular organizations include the very active Musical Theater Guild, the MIT Asian Dance Team, the time-honored Gilbert and Sullivan Players, the Ballroom Dance Team, Dance Troupe, the improvisational dance company Movements in Time, and comedy group Roadkill Buffet, among others. The contributions of each are vital components of the diverse theatrical life of the MIT community. All extra-curricular performing arts groups undertake a full schedule of presentations throughout the year. A student-run listing of all theater groups can be found at theater.mit.edu.
Theater Arts Performance Initiatives
Apart from student-governed organizations, but with the collaboration of our students, the program in Theater Arts fields a number of research oriented performance projects, new play development studios, conferences, dance workshops, and special events per year. Faculty directed projects take place both on campus and off and are often credit-bearing, practice-based, research experiences. In many cases these experiences involve direct participation in professional productions. Students have participated in performance projects at the Institute of Contemporary Arts/Boston, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Arts Emerson, American Repertory Theater, Houston Opera, The Cutler Majestic Theater in Boston, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and internationally in Germany, France, Norway, Japan, India, Peru, the United Kingdom and Hungary. Students are also encouraged to initiate their own independent productions and workshops with the support and mentorship of Theater Arts Faculty and Staff.
In addition, the Playwrights Lab annually offers advanced playwriting students the unique opportunity to rehearse and present their original plays in collaboration with professional actors and directors. Senior Lecturer Anna Kohler’s semi-staged play-reading series It’s Alive! fosters collaboration between the MIT performance community, featuring both emerging and lesser-known maverick playwrights from around the world with six presentations per year.
Many of our students go on to study theater arts in performance and design in pre-professional graduate schools (including Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Yale Drama School, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, McGill and Cal Arts) and many have gone on to active professional careers in theater, film and related fields. However, most students pursuing a course of study in Theater Arts at MIT go on to become great scientists, engineers, and technologists who bring a rich experience in performing arts practices to the solving of important problems. We are here to provide our students with an individualized artistic experience in the performing arts.