The mission of the Vassar Drama Department is to provide our students with a strong multidisciplinary approach to the practice of Theater-Making, the study of Theater History, Dramatic Literatures, Performance Studies, and Global Theatrical practices.
I am excited to take on the challenge of serving as the incoming Drama Chair during this time of change and renewal in our Department. My door stands open, and I encourage you to come see the beautiful chair’s office, CDF 320, and to meet with me about any matter, large or small! As I start my 29th year on the faculty, I invite us all of look for “Glimmers” in our lives and work. Glimmers, coined in 2018 Deb Dana, Glimmers refer to small moments of joy, clarity, inspiration, openness, and safety. Take a moment to tune in through all your senses—Glimmers abound!
Christopher John Grabowski
Professor and Chair of Drama
Our study of theater engages theory and practice as inseparable, dynamically interrelated elements, and considers our Experimental Theater as a laboratory for the bold exploration of form incorporating the study of history, Historiography, and the intersection of race, gender, class, and queerness.
We assume that there is no one truth or correct methodology, but rather multiple solutions to the questions we pose. In addition, we work in tandem with other disciplines and departments on campus. We understand that our methods of inquiry, pedagogies, and practices are constantly evolving. Similarly, we strive to maintain the strongest possible ethics of equity and inclusion both in our educational goals, and hiring protocols.
The requirements for concentration allow each student a good deal of agency and individual choice, allowing students to take classes which explore Theater-Making, Dramatic Literature and the History/Theory of Theater, Scenography, Dramaturgy, Production methods, as well as courses in Acting, Movement for Actors, Extreme Performance, Directing, Playwriting, Stage Management, and Technical Theater.
The Drama curriculum reflects our mission for both non-majors and majors: to encourage students to read deeply and to understand the basics of literary-critical analysis through phenomenological and practical means. Drama 102, “Introduction to Theater-Making,” reflects our teaching philosophy and our collaborative process. It is designed to engage students as critical audience members, helping them to move beyond purely emotional reactions to critical judgment and analysis and to become effective and generous collaborators. In these ways, the course fulfills the college’s mission of helping students to develop their powers of reason and imagination through processes of embodied analysis and synthesis. Our culminating course, “Drama 390. Senior Project in Drama,” is an intensive and collaborative thesis that explores a particular text, or practice and can also consist of original work in Playwriting. Alternatively, we also strongly encourage scholarly research and critical writing as the basis for a thesis.
By the time drama majors leave Vassar, we expect students to have developed the ability to think critically about literature and production, text and performance, and to be able to express original critical and analytical thought through clear prose. Finally, we expect students to have gained an understanding of and practical ability in the various elements of theatrical production: acting, directing, playwriting, design, dramaturgy, and technical theater.
Upcoming Productions and Events
Vassar juniors and seniors of any major may enter an original play in this competition, which ends on January 22, 2024. The author of the winning play receives a $1,000 award, a certificate from the Drama Department, and a staged reading/reception on April 21, 2024.
Five new plays by Vassar seniors, presented at the Powerhouse Theater. This annual festival is dedicated to the extraordinary contributions of James B. Steerman, who retired as Professor Emeritus of Drama and Film in 2011.
Campus community only, please.
A play about two men, one White and one Native American, and the relationship they have through, and with, the game of lacrosse. Open to the public, reservations required.
A modern retelling of Georg Buchner’s classic play Woyzeck. Performances Feb. 22, 23, 24. Reservations required.
Campus community only, please.
A senior project in drama directed by Kendall Wienecke ’24. Performances March 28, 29, 30. In The Martel Theater. Open to the Public, reservations required.