The Theatre Arts Program regularly sponsors a number of events to foster a sense of community among theatre students, to bring students and faculty together outside the classroom, and to create special opportunities for training with guest artists. Among the regularly scheduled events are “First Fridays,” opening night parties, and “postmortem” discussions the week after each production. What follows is a brief description of each of our regularly scheduled Theatre Arts gatherings.
On the first Friday of each month that the university is in session, the Theatre Arts Program hosts theatre-related events of interest to Theatre Arts students and the greater performing arts community at Penn. "First Fridays" include workshops, symposia and question-and-answer sessions with established performing artists, playwrights, producers, and other theatre professionals. First Fridays may also offer students the opportunity to learn or refine particular techniques in a relaxed, extra-curricular forum, often over a meal. Past examples of such technique-based workshops include acting for the camera, clowning, commedia, and auditioning. First Fridays have also included trips to the gallery openings in Old City, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, and other professional performances. All are welcome and encouraged to join us in these enjoyable, sociable afternoons. (One need not be a major to participate.)
Opening Nights and Opening Parties
Opening nights are festive occasions for the Theatre Arts Program. Our tradition is for faculty members and majors to attend the performance together and to celebrate afterwards, with refreshments at a reception that is open to all members of the audience. Please make note of this year’s dates on our production calendar and plan to join us on opening nights, for both the performance itself and to socialize with members of the cast and production crew as well as the larger Theatre Arts community.
During the week following each production, the Theatre Arts Program meets at the dinner hour, gathers in a circle, and analyzes the production process. The postmortem brings together all members of the production team and the Theatre Arts Program community--faculty, staff, majors, minors, students currently taking theatre classes, spectators—anyone interested in joining the conversation. Majors are strongly encouraged to attend all postmortem discussions. Facilitated by a Theatre Arts faculty member, the postmortem opens up a conversation about all aspects of the production process including: the director’s choice of the play; the specific challenges of the rehearsal process; design decisions; actor choices; and audience reception.
Theatre Arts takes advantage of our location in Philadelphia, and we frequently arrange local theatre outings throughout the year. Among recent productions we have attended are the Wooster Group’s The Emperor Jones; the Arden Theatre’s The Piano Lesson; and the world premiere of Bill Irwin’s The Happiness Lecture at the Philadelphia Theatre Company. On occasion, we travel to New York to see productions of special interest.