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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:
- Dramatic Literature and History
- Design and Technology
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.
Recent Knox College Theatre Productions
Mary Stuart, by Friederich Schiller and directed by Neil Blackadder, is a political thriller in which Elizabeth I rules Protestant England, but her cousin Mary, a Catholic, has a strong claim to the throne. Mary fled her native Scotland following a Protestant coup, and has been under house arrest in England ever since -- for nearly two decades. Now Mary has been found guilty of treason; but Elizabeth knows that having her rival executed could prove politically disastrous.
Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare and directed by Liz Carlin Metz, creates a topsy-turvy world where lovers and pranksters, mistaken identities (and genders), disguised ladies who have given up on men, a wise fool and a merry band of musicians, and a cross-gartered, moonstruck Puritan lacking a sense of humor populate a charmed tale of misdirected love and mischief. "If music be the food of love, play on!"
Under Construction, by Charles Mee and directed by Jeff Grace, is inspired by the Norman Rockwell covers on the Saturday Evening Post in the 1950s and the installation artwork of Jason Rhoades in the early 21st century. A collage of scenes, from both then and now, the play weaves together multiple figures and stories to build a landscape of an 'essential' America, its open society, and the many possibilities it affords to anyone at anytime.
A Lie of the Mind depicts two families shaken by the tectonic violence lurking beneath the glittering waters of the collective national myths depicting the American Dream, The Family, and The Individual.
King Berenger has ruled for four centuries, but even monarchs are not immortal. "You are going to die in an hour and a half," one of his two wives tells him, "You're going to die at the end of this show." Berenger's resistance to this announcement provides the starting-point for Exit the King, Eugene Ionesco's 1962 philosophical comedy about human beings' relationships to living and dying
Euripides' Medea, a new translation by Robin Robertson, directed by Jeff Grace, -- a modern staging of the Greek classic tale of sorceress Medea's shocking revenge on her husband, Jason, the Greek hero of the Argonauts, after he abandons her and their children for a new wife. See video and read about the students perspective on the production.
The Serpent, by Jean-Claude van Itallie, directed by Jeff Grace, -- a postmodern interpretation of a 'ceremony' first developed in the 1960s by the Open Theatre, employing 'transformational' acting techniques. TKS Coverage of The Serpent.
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, by Tony Kushner-Repertory Term XV -- the award-winning and groundbreaking epic two-part play about the 1980s AIDS crisis and much more in a spectacular production featuring cutting-edge video projection technology.
Part 1: Millennium Approaches, directed by Kelly Hogan, and Part 2: Perestroika, directed by Elizabeth Carlin-Metz.
Three Sisters, by Anton Chekhov, translated by Kristin Johnsen-Neshati, directed by Neil Blackadder -- the classic turn-of-the-century drama produced on a raked stage and drawing on the students' training in psychological realism. TKS Coverage of Three Sisters.
Intimate Apparel, by Lynn Nottage, directed by Kelly Lynn Hogan -- a moving drama about an African-American seamstress in 1905, featuring an ensemble of dancers as well as beautiful costumes.
Three Houses Beyond the Fourth Wall -- an original piece written and performed by students in a devised theatre class, directed by Lindsey Snyder.
Tartuffe, by Molière, directed by Neil Blackadder -- is the classic 17th-century French comedy featuring a spectacular garden set as well as elaborate period costumes.
Hamlet, directed by Elizabeth Carlin-Metz -- presented in Studio with an unusual degree of directorial and design input from advanced students.
Rosa and Blanca, by Rebekka Kricheldorf, translated and directed by Neil Blackadder -- the English-language world premiere of a contemporary riff on a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.
Nora, by Ingmar Bergman, adapted from Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, directed by Neil Blackadder -- featuring a more concise script written by the acclaimed film director, staged "in the round" on the stage of Harbach Theatre.
As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, directed by Liz Carlin-Metz -- direction inspired by the "hippie" movement of the 1960s, featuring live music and original compositions of Knox student Adam Prairie and the Knox band The Hoot Hoots.
The Skriker, by Caryl Churchill, directed by Liz Carlin-Metz -- a spectacular production of the feminist play featuring mythical characters, vibrant costumes, and a set with trap doors and slides leading underneath the stage.
Round Dance, by Arthur Schnitzler, directed by Neil Blackadder -- featuring live period music performed by a student string quartet, student designed and created period costumes, and translations by the director himself.
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 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.