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During their first two semesters of enrollment, first-year students must complete satisfactorily at least seven faculty-evaluated courses (which may include independent study), four of which must meet areas of distribution in four of Hampshire's five distribution areas, and a Campus Engaged Learning Activity (CEL-1).
Some recent 100-level course offerings include: The Design Response; Acting and Presence; Playwriting; Directing Contemporary American Drama; Absurdity and Magical Realism in the Theatre; and Dramatizing Children's Literature. Within these Division I courses, students do both group work and independent projects. Additionally, students are encouraged to participate in various capacities in campus productions, audition for five-college productions, or help in the creation of an advanced student's Division III project.
The Division II represents the core of a student's concentration at Hampshire. With the help of the Division II faculty committee, the student drafts a concentration statement: a description of the various learning activities to be completed over the span of three semesters that reflects the student's interests and goals and demonstrates breadth and intellectual rigor. Students must include at least one course in each of the following: acting or directing, child drama or applied theater, design, playwriting or performance creation, and theatre history or literature. Many Division II concentrations are multidisciplinary, interweaving two or more fields of study, and may include fieldwork, internships, or study abroad programs.
For example, a student with interests in theatre and Asian Studies took a range of courses at the Five Colleges in elements of both theatre and cultural studies. She did an internship with New Century Theatre, in nearby Northampton, to gain some directing experience. To include her interests in Asian studies and satisfy her multiple cultural perspectives requirement, she traveled to China and took classes while directing students there in a play about American culture. The possibilities for integrating multidisciplinary passions with in-depth production work are endless.
An Exploration in Producing, Directing, and Design
Levels of Communication in Theatre and Education
A Tale of Two Arts: Designing as a Director, Directing as a Designer
Profitable Narcissism: Theater, Creative Writing, and Acting
Social Identity and Social Communication--How Theatre, Fiction, and Social Theory Communicate Identity
In the final year at Hampshire, students undertake a major independent study project with the guidance of a faculty committee. Students are expected to complete two advanced learning activities during this year (which often include assistant teaching), and spend the majority of their time working intensively on their Division III project.
A production-based Division III project usually involves some combination of producing, playwriting, acting, directing, or designing (lights, sound, costume, or set).
A research-based Division III project could be anything from an analysis of genre in dramatic literature to a curriculum proposal for a community-based after-school program.
Some Division III projects don't fit neatly into either category. Take, for example, a student who concentrated on religious studies and theatre at the Division II level, and decided to write a musical about the Annunciation for her Division III. In the fall term of her fourth year, she took a course at Smith College that focused on representations of the Virgin in art through the centuries. Additionally, she worked with one of her Hampshire professors, a classicist, researching various accounts of the Annunciation in literature and sacred texts. In the spring, she began the work of writing the text and lyrics of the play in collaboration with a Division II music student who wrote the songs.
She also took a Theatre Concentrators' Seminar in which early drafts of the play were given a staged reading and were critiqued by the rest of the class. In the late spring, she produced her musical as a staged reading, and received a lively and detailed response from her audience.
For her final portfolio, she wrote a retrospective, detailing her research, the process of writing itself, and what she had learned from the audience's feedback.