Our Mission and Vision

WE STAND AGAINST INJUSTICE

#BlackLivesMatter

Theatre and Dance have historically been platforms for social justice actions. In light of recent anti-Black violence and police brutality across the country, and also in light of Charleston’s own history of violence stemming from hate, the Department of Theatre and Dance reaffirms our condemnation of these actions. What follows is our amended statement pledging our commitment to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and our affirmation as allies of the BIPOC  and LGBTQ+ communities in Charleston and beyond. We are also including a list of action items that the Department of Theatre and Dance commits to initiating in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Department of Theatre and Dance at the College of Charleston stands against injustice. As faculty and staff in the performing arts, we strive to make our classrooms, our productions, our department, and our campus a safe and inclusive space for our diverse student population of all backgrounds, abilities, and identities. We strongly believe that acts performed by white nationalist, neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate, racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and ableist groups and ideologies pose a threat to the safety, productivity, dignity, and happiness of our BIPOC faculty, staff, and students, members of the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, persons of Muslim and Jewish faiths, people who are differently abled, and their allies. We recognize words and actions spoken, enacted, and threatened by representatives of these organizations as hateful and we are unified in our resistance to stand against them and any other person that would purposely intimidate, violate, or otherwise diminish anyone’s experience within the College of Charleston community and beyond.

While our department has been making efforts to initiate change and create a more inclusive and equitable environment, we know that a statement is not enough. We have more work to do. We affirm our commitment to the Core Values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion identified in the College’s new strategic plan. We will push harder for change this year and into the future. 

The Department is establishing a number of goals pertaining to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access. These include:

  • Ensure an anti-racist, feminist, and anti-colonial approach to course content;
  • Produce works that represent diverse perspectives and highlight important issues facing our community and country;
  • Foster a more inclusive environment across production and performance platforms;
  • Improve transparency around departmental initiatives and decisions;
  • Acknowledge the history and state of the department with regard to diversity, inclusion, access, and equity.

Our action plan for the academic year 2020-21 includes:

  • Initiate listening sessions for current students to invite critical conversations about diversity, inclusion, equity, and access in the department, moderated by an external facilitator;
  • Engage with our alumni network to solicit suggestions and discussion for change;
  • Require diversity training for all faculty and staff;
  • Review and revise course curricula to adhere to goals pertaining to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access.
  • Assess past seasons for diversity content and make recommendations and adjustments to our season selection process;
  • Include progress towards our diversity goals in Constant Contact publications;
  • Assess and address the accessibility of the theatre experience for differently-abled audience members;
  • Implement open departmental meetings for students, faculty, and staff to share updates on initiatives and progress towards our goals and acknowledge concerns; 
  • Start a Suggestion “Box” on our website for members of our community to voice their concerns regarding these issues.

These goals and action items are fluid. We are developing them as our current circumstances continue to unfold. We believe that flexibility and the ability to improvise is necessary to the sustainability of our theatre and dance community. We will update these goals and action items as necessary on the website.

It is our role as theatre makers and educators to devise anti-racist strategies across our departmental platforms in partnership with our students, staff, and faculty. We stand in solidarity with other departments, programs, and organizations that promote equity, celebrate Black joy, and strive to de-center white supremacist and colonial narratives that pervade the curriculum and the canon. 

Please join us in our ongoing efforts to achieve a more equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible CofC theatre and dance community.

Suggestion Box

How can we create the change that we want to see?

While our department has been making efforts to initiate change and create a more inclusive, equitable, and accessible environment, we have so much more work to do. Leave us your comment, question, suggestion, or topic that should be addressed here and we will add it to an upcoming agenda for our department discussions. 

Click HERE for the Suggestion Box.

Mission

The Department of Theatre and Dance offers distinctive and diverse opportunities for students at the College of Charleston, as well as for the College and community as a whole. The Department provides broad instruction at the undergraduate level in theatre and dance within local and global contexts, as well as in-depth instruction and experience in the practice of theatre and dance in a liberal arts setting. At the graduate level, we provide focused instruction in theatre education. The melding of theory and practice in these disciplines stimulates the skills necessary for a successful life both in and out of the professional arts. Additionally, the Department presents a production program that furthers the understanding of the creative process and showcases the accomplishments of our students. This program provides entertainment and thought-provoking theatre and dance for the College and community at an artistically high level.

Vision

In On the Parts of Animals, Aristotle divides systematic knowledge into two distinct types: one being "scientific" or detailed knowledge of a given subject, the other being an "educational acquaintance" or critical knowledge of the subject. Aristotle and later Renaissance era thinkers noted the distinction and promulgated the ideal of the liberal education--possession of at least a critical awareness of all subjects. The liberally educated person should have the knowledge to judge the likely truth or falsehood of a proposition about any subject by someone purporting to be an expert in that subject and thus be "liberated" from ignorance.

The educational goals of the Department of Theatre and Dance are twofold and treat the two types of knowledge with equal importance--the ideal graduating theatre and dance student has detailed knowledge of a chosen area of the theatre and dance art as well as critical knowledge of other theatre disciplines and all the arts and sciences. Implied in the latter is a critical awareness of the diversity and importance of the entire world's cultures and their individual contributions in theatre specifically and to the world in general. It is crucial to both goals that the student develop a strong ability to communicate detailed and general knowledge, verbally and in writing, and to at least understand the graphical languages of visual communication. The areas of "detailed" knowledge within the department have more specific goals which are outlined below.

The classroom goals of the Department of Theatre and Dance are anchored by a common belief. The faculty agrees that an essential component of all aspects of theatre and dance education is a strong grasp of the craft and practical aspects of the art form. Just as the sciences in the liberal arts promote a sound practical understanding through laboratory experience, all aspects of the Department of Theatre and Dance seek to provide the student with meaningful experience in the foundation skills upon which theatre and dance production and criticism rest. To this end, recommended course sequences in acting, design, theatre for youth and general theatre begin with craft experience and build toward aesthetic and holistic understanding. The ultimate goal is a level of detailed knowledge which, combined with a liberal knowledge of the humanities, allow the student to pursue advanced theatre studies, to seek employment in the industry, or to pursue a career in any field of choice.

In support of this goal all production practices are explicitly linked via classroom discussions and assignments with the theory and literature of the theatrical art form. A strong process-oriented approach is taken both in instruction and in faculty production work as an example to the student of the advantages of well-rounded working methods that draw not only upon craft and art skills but also upon a solid knowledge of literature, history and the humanities.

The Department extends the pursuit of these goals beyond the classroom by including in its production program works from other cultures, other languages (in translation), and modes of thought other than those found in Western European or English-language cultures.

 

 

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