THE 242 Theater and Culture
An overview of representative plays, people, spaces, and events from the birth of the modern era to the present.
As a theater major at Connecticut College, you are immersed in the art, craft, and theory of theater – acting, directing, design, technical theater, playwriting, dramaturgy, and dramatic literature. We have three theater spaces on campus, and the creative process of making theater is happening in at least one of them at any given moment. The liberal arts offer limitless ways for you to explore connections with other disciplines that will enrich your theater studies. You develop a strong working relationship with your professors. They direct and critique your performances, and are available for ongoing consultation and discussion. At Connecticut College, theater is an investigation that inspires you intellectually and creatively, and the working relationships you build can last well beyond your time on campus.
You can participate in our main stage productions as well as in independent productions sponsored by the department or by student groups. Works recently staged include “Cloud Nine;” “Detroit;” “As You Like It;” “Four Dead in Ohio: Antigone at Kent State,” an ensemble-adaptation created by the students; and “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel,” a collaboration with the departments of music and dance. As a senior, you may choose to work with a faculty mentor on a one-semester capstone project or a two-semester honors study in writing, performing, directing or design. The project represents the culmination of your college study of theater and may serve as a starting point for future work.
You have many opportunities to intern at regional or New York theaters, study abroad and collaborate with guest artists in acting, directing, design, playwriting, and dramaturgy. Students have completed summer internships at the nearby Eugene O’Neill Theater Center as well as the Pearl Theatre, the Signature Theatre, The Public Theater, and the New York Theater Workshop, all in New York City. In your junior year, you can study at theater institutes in the U.S. or abroad. Recently, students have gone to Moscow, Italy and Ireland.
Virginia (Ginny) Anderson joined the theater faculty in 2013 after four years at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she directed for the main stage and taught a variety of theater history courses including theater history survey courses, Women’s Theater, African American Theater History, Children’s Theater, Theater in the United States, LGBT Theater, and The AIDS Epidemic in Theater and Film.
David Jaffe's courses include Acting I: Preparation; Acting II; Directing One: Coaching the Actor; and the Advanced Scene Study rotation of Styles, Shakespeare, and The Realists: Chekhov, Ibsen, and O'Neill.
Edward T. Morris is a set and projections designer for live performance. Recent designs include Yale Repertory Theatre, Martha Graham Dance Company, Atlantic Theater Company, The Barrow Group, Gene Frankel Theatre, Princeton University, Yale Opera, Opera Memphis, and Columbia University. Edward is a proud member of Wingspace Theatrical Design and United Scenic Artists Local 829 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. Mr. Morris is also a lecturer at The New School for Drama.
Sabrina Notarfrancisco is a costume designer for live performance and film. In addition to teaching courses in Costume History and Costume Design and Construction, she works closely with students in the costume studio, a hands-on environment where theory and practice seamlessly intersect.
Kenneth Prestininzi is a playwright, director, dramaturg, teacher and producer. Prior to coming to Connecticut College, he was the Chair (acting) and Associate Chair of Playwriting at the Yale School of Drama and a Pembroke Fellow at Brown University.
A: Conn is not a campus that you have to learn to love and I knew from my first tour that I could find a place here where I would be nurtured and appreciated.
A: I have always been captivated by storytelling and having never taken a formal theater class before, I wanted to push myself into unknown territory as I entered college. I was immediately struck by the collaborative nature of the craft and the experience and possibility that is inherent in live performance.
A: I took “American Drama” with Ken Prestininzi the first semester of my sophomore year. We were reading 3-5 plays a week and the full immersion in theater (varying in content and structure) allowed me to build my language in responding to theater, as well as my critical understanding of the work and my enthusiasm for the art.
A: I am a board member and artistic director of Wig & Candle, the small, but hungry, student-run theater company. We produce around 5-6 productions and events each semester, giving stage to any and all Conn students. Through Wig & Candle, I have had the humbling opportunity to direct three plays in my time here. These projects put what I learned from my professors into action, allowing me to find my own voice. In my senior year, I assisted director Ken Prestininzi on his production of “Cloud 9” by Caryl Churchill, an experience of close observance and attentive assistantship. Lastly, I directed “Mud” by María Irene Fornés, featuring three talented peers, as my cumulative Theater Senior Capstone project.
A: The career office has helped me better understand a way to make room for yourself in the professional world. Theater is a place where the more people you know and work with, the more you can involve and expand yourself. They helped me reach out to theater communities and find opportunities that gave me a starting point. After graduation, I am going for part of the summer to Berkeley, California, where I will take part in an ambassadorship at the Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep. After that, creating art is the ideal plan. Theater is anywhere and everywhere, and thanks to the Theater Department, I feel confident enough in my abilities to contribute and create.