“I gained so much confidence in myself as a performer and individual amidst the guidance of EMU’s fabulous directors and the support and friendship of my fellow performers. The theater department’s focus on social justice through the arts has had a lasting impact on me – I have found my voice and the means in which I can work for social change and justice in my life.”
-Kelsey Landes, EMU student from Harrisonburg, Va.
Productions and Performances
At EMU, we want to engage our audiences, make them think outside the box. Recent productions have explored epic warfare, farcical slapstick, the consequences of terrorism, psychological thrillers, and how relationships work.
Students have a voice in selecting each play. We want you to read the plays, report on them, debate them, help select the season, and play an integral role in bringing the works to life. Here, you learn by doing.
And learning continues after the play is over. You’ll “unpack” the experience at a round table discussion, when we’ll see how we all grew from our experience, what we learned.
Student success and recognition
Regular entrants in the Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival, our productions are judged by professional directors and designers, and are routinely nominated in student award categories.
In 2010, several students were nominated for the national Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship and an EMU student designer won the regional award for sound design – the second year in a row an EMU student has been recognized by the Kennedy Center.
Original student works
EMU Theater students stage their own independent works with breathtaking regularity. Over the last few years, students produced works as diverse as a multi-media anti-war play and a centuries-old English Christmas play staged outdoors.
Become a director – learn by doing
Motivated students like Steve Kniss, class of 2011 vocal performance and digital media major from Chicago, learn to direct by doing. Steve wrote about his debut turn as director during his junior year.
He began his senior year by directing the musical comedy ‘The First Five Years,’ and starring in it, too! That’s him in the photo with EMU actress Kelsey Landes.
Gonzo Theater improv: be a clown!
“I love getting new people involved in Gonzo. There’s nothing like seeing fellow students challenge themselves and grow artistically through the opportunity this event has provided them.”
– Elisha Keener, EMU class of ’16
Gonzo Theater nights present a unique challenge: view an inspiration posted somewhere on campus, write a short play in under forty-eight hours, and hand it to a director who gets one hour of rehearsal before an audience sees it – scripts in improv actors’ hands – at a late night studio show.
Past Gonzo topics have ranged in topic from Russian modernist poetry to Britney Spears. No matter the topic, it’s wacky and fun. The student-led improvisation troupe packs the house out at every performance.
EMU… where theater lives
Come study with us. You’ll learn by doing, and become the actor, director, designer, technician, and playwright you know you are. This is a place where the theater lives.