At the University of Chicago, the pursuit of academic excellence is the foundation of our artistic work. We pride ourselves on a long history of rigorous critical thinking, and we bring that same intensity and focus to the practice of performance. Is your image of an academic a person locked in the library? Ours isn’t. At Chicago, you can study with the country’s foremost Shakespearean scholar, then catch him in a late-night staged reading of a Sam Shepard play. Do you imagine artists create in a vacuum of history? With our studio classes, you can simultaneously isolate hip-hop movements while learning which 1920s performer developed them during the Harlem Renaissance.
Our courses include sequences in acting, directing, playwriting, screenwriting, dance, costume design, light design, and set design, as well as more esoteric options like Ensemble Creation, Solo Performance, Improvisation, Staging Terror, Clown, and Viewpoints and Composition. Instructors include professional actors, designers, choreographers, directors, and writers from Chicago, one of the most vibrant theater communities in the country. Students may choose to major or minor in the Theater & Performance Studies. The program challenges students to take courses in the theory and practice of two media (for example, theater, film, video, dance, music, or creative writing), while building the critical skills to effectively analyze their own work and the work of others. We believe that small classes are ideal for performance, limiting our acting classes to twelve and our ultra-advanced directing or writing courses to six. Each quarter culminates in “UT Day,” where the full day of Friday of 10th week is dedicated to showings from courses and individual projects. Five years ago “New Work Week” was established to workshop and showcase student written work, and we have recently staged fifteen plays in six days, culminating with Suzan-Lori Parks 365 Days / 365 Plays.
Guest Artists Expand Our Horizons
In addition to classes, TAPS/ UT offers workshops with a wide array of artists. Recent guests include JoAnne Akalaitis (acting directing workshop); Anne Bogart and the SITI Company (Viewpoints and Composition); Uri Caine (composition); Bill T. Jones (choreography); Fiona Shaw (acting).
Some of our guests began on our stages, as is the case with Greg Kotis and Mark Hollmann, who recently returned to join the 2009 audience in watching their Tony award-winning production of Urinetown.