Theatre Studies

Academic Program Introduction

The Theatre Studies program encompasses performance, playwriting, design, stagecraft, directing, and public speaking, as well as academic investigations into the history and currency of this ancient global art form. Students gain a deep awareness of the technical components, practical applications, and historical and social contexts of theatrical performance craft.

Under the guidance of faculty who are working theatre professionals, students develop confidence and self-sufficiency as creators who can envision a product, state their goals, and collaboratively turn their ideas into reality. The program actively aims to cultivate well-rounded majors and makers for whom theatre is the nexus of many disciplines. Students have the opportunity to apply their studies to department productions, a thesis, or a capstone project. Our program is open to all Wellesley students, and there is no special audition process.

Learning goals

  • Understand the evolution of dramatic literature while developing original work.
  • Craft a compelling, connected, embodied performance as an actor or director.
  • Learn the elements of design and stagecraft.
  • Develop a framework for artistic collaboration and problem-solve both independently and within an ensemble.
  • Achieve competence to compete with conservatory-trained graduates for graduate school or opportunities within the industry.

Programs of study

Theater major

Students will gain knowledge and appreciation of the history, literature, movements, and opportunities of the theatre through practical application in performance, design, and production coursework.

Course highlights

  • This course offers the advanced students of the theatre arts an opportunity to incorporate the performance, stage management, set design, lighting design, costume design, sound design, and directing disciplines available within the department into one focused and fully-produced project through an immersive investigation of a full-length script. Students will conduct dramaturgical research to contextualize the world of a play, establishing connections among the text, actors, and production elements, and creating a platform for conversation in the Wellesley community. Concurrently, students will implement performance and production techniques, engaging every aspect of the collaborative process of theatre-making.  Actors and stage management will commit to 3+ scheduled rehearsals weekly. Students interested in participating as a designer or stage manager should contact the instructors significantly prior to registration.   Students interested in performance must audition in the first week of each semester - invitations will be issued by the instructors within the add/drop period. The course will culminate with a fully supported public production, to be directed, managed, and advised by Theatre Studies faculty, serving as a capstone of integrated learning in the department. 
  • This course invites students to take funny women seriously. Through their legacy of work as well as oral histories, we will investigate the evolving challenges and triumphs of women whose comedic voices influenced American expectations over the last century. Elaine May, Joan Rivers, Carol Burnett, Gilda Radner, Whoopi Goldberg, Margaret Cho, Wellesley's own Nora Ephron and more will make us laugh. Forms to be explored include writing, improvisation, stand-up, comic acting on stage and screen, cartooning, plus new media. Creating belly laughs changed the culture on which these women were commenting — ultimately, through deepening our understanding of the purposefulness and craft of comedy, our collective goal will be the creation of several forms of original comedy works. Students will have the opportunity to participate in the Theatre Studies Showcase at the end of the semester.

Research highlights

  • Two students stand on a stage.

    At the annual Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Wellesley students present both design and performance work to peers and a panel of industry professionals.

  • Group of student sit on a bench under a statue of William Edward Forster while listening to a tour guide.

    In spring 2023, students of THST 345: Practicum: Theatre Production participated in a research trip to London, studying the history of Restoration-era English theatre, before mounting the historical comedy Or, by Liz Duffy Adams that semester.

  • Students take part in a tech rehearsal for a play.

    Design students attended the 2023 United States Institute for Theatre Technology to learn from industry professionals and discover new technologies, under the guidance of production manager and faculty member David Towlun.


  • Honors thesis

    Seniors majoring in theatre studies may pursue an honors thesis exploring work outside the curriculum. Recent thesis students have written, rehearsed, produced, and performed their own full-length work, collaborating with both outside professionals and fellow students.

  • Beauclair-Masson Fellowship

    This fellowship is awarded to a performance or directing-focused major in support of a senior honors thesis or independent study. It can be used for research, travel, procurement of books, films, or other expenses.

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

Our graduates work in all aspects of the theatre, film, and television industry—and beyond—as actors, writers, directors, filmmakers, designers, dramaturgs, stage managers, agents, managers, casting directors, photographers, professors, teachers, and arts advocates, and in various leadership roles.

Theatre Studies Program

Alumnae Hall
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Marta Rainer
Program Director
Sarah Vandewalle
Academic Administrator