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Knox's theatre program excels at working closely with students to create the best that theatre has to offer -- observation and analysis of all dimensions of human experience, and public performances that engage audiences on multiple levels. The study of theatre offers a means of understanding the world and one's place in it through creative expression in a fundamentally collaborative art form.
Theatre students at Knox learn about all areas of theatrical practice in the classroom and the rehearsal studio by taking courses providing expert training in performance, literature, and design; by collaborating with professors on faculty-directed mainstage productions; and by working independently on student-directed and student-designed productions.
Knox offers courses in acting and directing, dramatic literature and theatre history, design, dramaturgy, and playwriting. The Theatre major requires introductory courses in drama, acting, and design, and a range of upper-level courses that permits students to specialize in their particular areas of practical interest while ensuring that all majors engage in in-depth study of a broad range of dramatic literature.
Five different minors allow students pursuing theatre as a secondary field to focus on one of five areas of concentration, each requiring five credits:
A unique opportunity available at Knox is Repertory Theatre Term, during which students dedicate themselves full-time to the study and production of two major plays. Students take no other courses during "Rep Term." Working together with faculty-members, students form a repertory theatre company in which they serve as actors, designers, and crew. Intensive and rewarding, "Rep Term" is a Knox highlight for many students.
The Caffe Cino Project. Four short plays originally staged in the Caffe Cino - the Greenwich Village coffeehouse-turned-theatre that initiated New York's Off-Off-Broadway movement in the late 1950s. For this production, we built a detailed replica of the Caffe Cino inside the Studio Theatre.
Maple and Vine. This recent hit play by Jordan Harrison contrasts the contemporary world of smartphones and sushi with that of the 1950s - when only the husbands went to work and the wives sewed their own dresses. Staged with extensive use of video projections.
In the Next Room or the vibrator play. In Sarah Ruhl's 2009 play, set in upstate New York in the 1880s, a young doctor's wife grows curious about the sounds she hears behind the door to her husband's examining room. Production team included a student dramaturg completing a year-long Honors Project.
Next Fall. Geoffrey Nauffts' play (nominated for a Tony Award in 2010) explores faith, love, and commitment through a relationship between two gay men, one an agnostic, the other a Fundamentalist Christian. Professor Jeff Grace directed Next Fall in the same term as he taught a new course on gay and lesbian theatre.
The two shows of the most recent Repertory Theatre Term in Winter 2013:
The Green Bird. Carlo Gozzi's eighteenth-century fiaba draws on the Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte in telling its magical story of imprisoned princesses, kindly sausage-sellers, and singing apples.
The Caucasian Chalk Circle. Bertolt Brecht's 1944 parable play explores the relationship between law and justice through the stories of a servant who saves a child of noble birth and a petty criminal who's made a judge.
At Night's End. A world premiere, produced while playwright Motti Lerner was in residence at Knox as Visiting Israeli Scholar. Set in Haifa at the peak of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, At Night's End explores the impact of that conflict on one Israeli family. Lerner was directly involved with students in the rehearsal process and in post-show discussions following each performance.
Harbach Theatre is a spacious 600-seat main stage (revolving proscenium and thrust), with a computer-controlled lighting system. Studio Theatre, dedicated to student work, is a flexible, yet fully capable experimental stage. Large, fully equipped costume and scene shops complete the facilities, which have been rated third among all colleges and universities in Illinois and by far the best among institutions of comparable size.
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