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People and Programs

The Multicultural Theater Practice Certificate

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Pursuing a Multicultural Theater Practice Certificate

The Multicultural Theater Certificate blends the teaching of history and theory with the practical aspects of theater-making by offering students throughout the university an opportunity to deepen their studies in this important and growing area of arts and academic study.

For more than twenty years, the Department of Theater has offered courses that provide students with an understanding of the history, representation and creative processes of people of color, as well as the cultural context of multicultural theater in this country. Initially, these courses were developed through collaboration with New World Theater, a professional not-for-profit organization founded in 1979 to present and produce work by artists of color. Since 2009, the year New World Theater closed, the Department of Theater has continued to teach courses with a multicultural focus and to support the development and implementation of new courses. Recently, these have included Black Power Plays, Brown Paper Studio: An Applied Theater Process, Contemporary Repertory: Africa, Hip Hop and Theater, Multicultural Theater and the Latino Experience, Arts & Culture in South Africa: The Grahamstown Festival Course, and Translation.

The Multicultural Theater Certificate builds on the legacy of New WORLD Theater to further explore, examine, contest, and define the roles of artists of color within and outside of the American theater canon. Additionally, a central theme of the certificate is the consideration of what future direction theater practice and theory might take, and how ideas of “multiculturalism” and “diversity” are part of that future. The certificate contextualizes and interrogates these terms, and engages students in critical dialogue about issues of self-definition, cultural equity, emerging aesthetics, and the evolving language of theory and practice. The coursework of the certificate asks students to rethink theater history in the U.S. and beyond while contributing to conversations in the present tense about the creation, development and production of multicultural theater and imagining the future of the arts in the United States. It extends the dialogue to new horizons by imagining the future of the arts not just in this country but also around the world as we explore international and intercultural perspectives.

The work in the classroom is enhanced through internships that bring students into direct contact with professionals in the field at multicultural arts organizations locally, regionally and nationally. Additionally, performances, lectures and workshops in the Department of Theater and the surrounding Five College area will give students hands-on experiences with the artists, artistic forms, and content they are studying.

Certificate Requirements

Any UMass Amherst undergraduate student in any major or field is eligible for this certificate, including those in Continuing and Professional Education (CP & E, University Without Walls (UWW), and Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC). The Multicultural Theater Certificate is not currently envisioned as a stand alone “program” or administrative unit. Rather, it is a series of classes (core and elective) that will result in a certificate supplemental to an undergraduate student’s declared major. Although no certificate currently exists for graduate students, it is part of the long-term goal for the department.
To receive the certificate, students must successfully complete 24 credits consisting of 7 courses and 1 three-credit internship at an approved performing arts institution with a multicultural focus.

There are three required courses:

1. Theater 130: Contemporary Playwrights of Color (3 credits)
2. Theater 397K: Multicultural Theater and the Latino Experience
3. Theater 597D: Special Topic: Multicultural Theater Practice (3 credits)

Visit SPIRE for more details on these courses.

In addition, students are asked to choose 4 electives:

1. For non-theater majors: at least three courses (9 credits) in aspects of theater craft such as acting, directing, voice, movement, design, playwriting and one course (3 credits) from the menu of courses approved by the Certificate administrator and board advisors
2. For theater majors: at least three courses (9 credits) from the menu of course approved by the Certificate administrator and board advisors and one course in theater craft such as directing, voice, movement, design, playwriting (3 credits).

Visit SPIRE for more details on these courses.

For course selection and other matters pertaining to the successful completion of the certificate, students will work with the certificate administrator, Priscilla Page, who is a dramaturgy faculty member in the Department of Theater teaching the multicultural theater courses, the student's academic advisor, and faculty members teaching multi-cultural theater courses.

Contact program administrator Priscilla Page, Department of Theater Senior Lecturer

Contact Department of Theater faculty affiliated with the Certificate program:

Judyie Al-Bilali
Harley Erdman
Megan Lewis
Gilbert McCauley

NEW! Collidescope 2.0 Archival page

Our production of Collidescope 2.0: Adventures in Pre-and Post-Racial America was an enormous undertaking that included nearly two years of preparation in the form of research, conversations, and run-up events that looked at the issue of our country's racial history and is an example of the kind of multicultural theater. Records of the production including photos, articles, research, and more are archived on a special page of our website. We invite you to visit the page and look around at the hard work accomplished by the Collidescope 2.0 team!

This page is maintained by Department of Theater.
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