Feb 25, 2021  
College Catalog 2020-2021 
College Catalog 2020-2021

Theater and Dance

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Full-Time Faculty and Instructional Staff: Thomas Barrett, Beth Cleary, Lynn Farrington, Wynn Fricke, Cláudia Tatinge Nascimento (Chair), Harry Waters Jr.

Visiting Artists and Part-Time Faculty: Sarah Bellamy, Cheryl Moore Brinkley, Patricia Brown, Krista Langberg, Jill Lile, Kathy Maxwell, Randy Reyes, Robert Rosen, Harrison David Rivers, Marciano Silva dos Santos

The Theater and Dance Department (THDA) welcomes students who want to explore or build a future in various area of performance. We offer small academic and studio courses at all levels, and students are closely mentored by expert faculty. We encourage those without previous experience to try a beginning course in acting, dance, design, performance technologies, or playwriting. THDA offers a major in Theater and Dance, and minors in Dance, Theater, and Performance Design and Technologies. Our Department is home to many students pursuing double majors. With the exception of dance technique courses, THDA classes fulfill Macalester’s Fine Arts requirement.

We believe that a liberal arts education equips students to break new ground in the performing arts. THDA aims to prepare the next generation of performers, choreographers, designers, directors, playwrights, researchers, and stage technicians. We have a longstanding commitment to exploring performance as a global endeavor, and THDA productions reflect that commitment. Each year, more than 300 students participate in these productions. Auditions are open to all.

Located in the Twin Cities, Macalester College is in the heart of a thriving arts community, with more theater seats per capita than any other city in the country besides New York City. Here you will find nationally recognized LORT theaters such as the Guthrie, attend international performances at the Walker Art Center, and see new works by exciting companies such as Penumbra Theatre, Mixed Blood, Jungle Theatre, among many others. The Department’s location facilitates our students’ transition to the profession. THDA courses often bring students to off-campus theater and dance productions. You will learn the vocabularies of the discipline, take classes with guest artists, and become part of a vibrant arts community.

In line with Macalester’s liberal arts focus, the Theater and Dance Department at Macalester College prepares students to:

  1. Create of new artistic and scholarly work (authorship);
  2. Engage in intellectual and embodied research;
  3. Demonstrate a range of creative and scholarly skills;
  4. Employ arts and cultural studies theories;
  5. Productively foster and participate in community engagement;
  6. Be skilled collaborators.

Theater and Dance Productions

Participation in theater and dance productions at Macalester is available to all students at the college. THDA holds open auditions every semester, and technical theater positions are filled by experienced and new students interested in learning these skills. 

General Distribution Requirement

All four-credit theater and dance courses count toward the fine arts general distribution requirement. Two semesters of African-based Movement also count toward the fine arts general distribution requirement. 

General Education Requirements

The Theater and Dance Department offers courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and U.S. identities and differences. These are posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements is available in the graduation requirements  section of this catalog.

Majors and Minors

The Theater and Dance Department offers a Theater and Dance Major, as well as three minors: Theater; Dance; and Performance Design and Technologies.

The Theater and Dance Major consists of a sequence of courses designed to prepare theater and dance artists and scholars for immediate and excellent work in the fields, and for graduate study in M.F.A. or M.A./Ph.D. programs.

The minors in Theater and Dance are very flexible to allow a wide range of Macalester students to pursue the coursework in the performing arts in their particular areas of interest.

The minor in Performance Design and Technologies prepares students who prefer to engage with the applications of the visual arts in performance and technical expertise.

Theater and Dance Capstone and Honors

Theater and Dance majors are required to enroll in THDA 490 Capstone and Honors Seminar, and complete a senior capstone project that consists of individual research leading to an essay of 20-25 pages. 

The Department participates in the Honors Program. The Honors Project in Theater and Dance is a year-long research project that builds on the individual research developed during the Capstone Seminar. Honors Projects may take the form of a monograph (60-90 pages) or consist of a creative component accompanied by a critical essay (30-45 pages). The Department encourages majors with a demonstrated record of excellence in Department coursework and production to pursue Departmental Honors in their senior year. Capstone and Honors proposals are due the week after spring break of the applicant’s junior year. Honors projects are accepted at the discretion of the faculty and staff.

The Department recommends that majors begin planning for the Honors Project as early as possible in order to meet the coursework required for different areas of study. Rising seniors should submit a Capstone Proposal the week after Spring Break and begin work during the summer preceding their senior year. Students who elect to study abroad in the spring of their junior year should make all the necessary arrangements to submit their Capstone Proposals by the deadline. Those pursuing a fall graduation should enroll in the Capstone Seminar their junior year.

Proposals are evaluated based on the candidate’s preparation; quality of preliminary research; clarity of the objectives of the process; and, when applicable, the rationale for staging a given production. The Theater and Dance Department may request the submission of a revised proposal addressing the faculty’s questions and/or concerns. The THDA faculty and staff will determine a candidate’s primary advisor and the composition of the Honors Project Committee.

Students are eligible to pursue an Honors Project in Theater and Dance if they have a Macalester College GPA of 3.30 or better, and a Theater and Dance GPA of 3.50 or better. Additionally, applicants should have completed, or be enrolled in, the following seven courses required for the Theater and Dance major, as well as required coursework for their field of interest. Please note that eligibility does not guarantee the acceptance of a project for Honors.

Study Abroad in Theater and Dance

Students wanting to study performance-history, performance training, design/architecture at another international or U.S. campus should consult with Theater and Dance for recommendations of well-regarded programs. Any student seeking conservatory-style training (for instance, in Moscow or Dublin) should plan their Macalester major carefully and early, in consultation with the Theater and Dance faculty. It is strongly advised that students plan to study away in the fall of their junior year.

Independent Study

The Department offers independent study options in the form of internships, independent studies with a faculty member, tutorials and preceptorships. Recent internships have included work at the Walker Art Center, Penumbra Theatre, Park Square Theater, and the Minnesota Jewish Theater Company, among others. When students pursue Honors Projects, they are encouraged to enroll in a supervised independent study to support that work. For more information contact the Department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Topics Courses

THDA 194 , THDA 294 , THDA 394 , THDA 494  

Topics courses in theater and dance focus on current and often inter-disciplinary issues in performance history and theory, methods and design. Recent topics courses have included: “Auditions,” Creative Non-Fiction Performance,” “Gender and Race Theory in Performance,” and “Magic in Motion: Advanced Technical Production.” Topics courses are announced every year in advance of the registration period.


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