The Theatre Program was founded by Professor William Grandgeorge, who has been a part of Roger Williams College/University since 1969. Before moving into the Performing Arts Center in 1986, performances were held in the Coffee House Theatre (now a classroom in the FCAS building).
The Theatre Program offers four main season productions each academic year (two in the fall and two in the spring). A usual season features a musical, a classical play, a modern play, and a contemporary play.
The program produces an annual "Freshman Play." This is traditionally the first production of the year and the cast and crew are usually comprised of only freshmen and new students.
In the spring, the program also produces several "Senior Projects." These are fully mounted productions. A senior acting project is directed by a faculty member. Senior directing projects are directed by seniors while senior design projects can be either a student or a faculty directed production.
The student organization, Stage Company, also produces once a semester. The offerings range from full-length plays, to one-act plays, to shorter plays, to a variety of performance types. All Stage Company productions are supervised by a member of the faculty.
Each academic year the program sponsors trips to see three or four professional productions by companies like Trinity Repertory, The Gamm Theatre, 2nd Story Theatre, and American Repertory Theatre. After the performance we meet for food, drink, and a discussion of the production led by a member of the faculty.
At the end of each academic year the program conducts mock auditions and interviews in which all theatre students participate. Actors present a professional audition while directors and designers offer conceptual plans for a hypothetical production (the faculty chooses a title prior to the interview). Students are then given constructive criticism by the theatre faculty.
The Roger Williams University Theatre Program aims to provide each student with a well-rounded, general mastery of all areas of the theatre arts and an appreciation of the place of theatre in our world. Through the study of theatre the program also hopes to imbue students with love of learning while honing their tools of thought and expression. Our goal is to prepare students for further academic study, and careers in theatre and other liberal arts related areas. We seek to serve both those specializing in the study of theatre and those for whom theatre is studied as an adjunct to areas of concentration.
The formal course curriculum and the production program are designed to work symbiotically. The production program is designed to provide the working laboratory where the ideas and skills taught in the classroom are demonstrated, reinforced and mastered. The plays produced are chosen to afford students opportunities to research and to experience a range of materials in a variety of styles and genres.
In addition to the goals mentioned above, the program’s courses, productions, and activities are intended:
- To deliver historical and global perspectives on the cultures of the world and the theatre’s place in those cultures. Through its semester abroad in London the program is able to expand and reinforce the multicultural and international nature of theatre. The London Study Abroad Program is integrated into the curriculum and functions as a crucial step in the intellectual development of our students.
- To teach students necessary professional and life skills, such as communication, collaboration, self-discipline, self-discovery, self-reliance, creative problem resolution, and critical thinking all aimed toward a heightened consciousness and appreciation of the human condition.
- To help students to develop research, analytical, organizational, and communication skills that are fundamental to the theatre as well as to a wide variety of business and creative pursuits. Students are required to take courses that develop all of these skills and are then encouraged to use and apply these skills to production and courses in other studies.
- To expose students to high quality productions and professionals through field trips, our London Study Abroad Program, workshops, and visiting artists.
The Theatre Program, through curriculum, productions, and activities, also strives to challenge and enrich the wider academic and regional communities intellectually, culturally, and artistically by providing a range of theatrical events for all to experience.