BWW Student Center's School in the Spotlight: Vassar College
Vassar has a long and distinguished history in drama, dating back to the early 1900s. We were the first among what were once called the "Seven Sisters" colleges to establish a formal Department of Drama. It was created through the efforts of Gertrude Buck, who started the Vassar Dramatic Workshop in 1916; WinifrEd Smith, who established the Division of Drama in 1938; andHallie Flanagan Davis, who began producing plays in 1927 for the Experimental Theater of Vassar College. Davis is an especially important member of this early group of distinguished faculty. She was a dynamic and talented woman who became famous in the 1930's for her "Living Newspaper" productions. While teaching at Vassar, Davis was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to direct the Federal Theater Project as part of the WPA. The Department of Drama carries on the innovative work of these pioneering women and still produces productions as the Experimental Theater of Vassar College. The Department's academic strength is evident in its liberal arts approach to the study of drama, integrating areas of history and literature, with an expectation that both students and faculty will produce powerful and vigorously experimental works.
From the very beginning, the Department of Drama has been graced with talented, creative, and energetic students who have become dedicated theater artists. Edna St. Vincent Millay began her playwriting career at Vassar, and talented actors like Meryl Streep, Frances Sternhagen, Lisa Kudrow, and John Tenny are among the college's graduates. Many other recent graduates are enjoying successful careers as actors, directors, designers, and writers and several have formed their own theater companies that continue to produce exciting, innovative, and inspiring theatrical work.
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