Springfield, Ohio — For the fourth year in a row, Wittenberg University has been named one of only 23 institutions in the nation by the Fiske Guide to Colleges for "Small Colleges and Universities Strong in Drama." The elite ranking places Wittenberg alongside such schools as Julliard, Vassar, Oberlin, Otterbein and Princeton.
For generations, Wittenberg's Department of Theatre and Dance has provided a foundation for success both on stage and off. From learning how "the performing arts mirror the values and practices of society" to helping students understand "that the human condition is the substance of the art experience for both practitioners and audience," the program prides itself on being an integral part of Wittenberg's liberal arts tradition.
"Theatre at Wittenberg has a long tradition of excellence," said Corwin Georges, an award-winning professor of theatre and dance and department chair. "If we look back to the 1930s we find internationally acclaimed theatre architect George Izenour at Wittenberg. If we look to the 1960s and '70s, we find film and theatre's James Rebhorn and Cathy Cox on Blair Hall's stage.
"And since then, numerous students have taken advantage of the myriad performance and production opportunities Wittenberg's theatre has provided them."
Just like the program's breadth and depth, the career options available also cross a range of fields from acting and stage management to costuming, marketing and scenic construction. In addition, leading graduate programs in theatre regularly accept Wittenberg graduates, including the University of Maryland, American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, Columbia University, Northwestern University and Wayne State University.
"The department provides a rigorous theatre education to those who are working toward careers in theatre," Georges said.
Such rigor reflects the commitment of the department's faculty members to their craft and their students, as well as their own professional pursuits.
For example, Steve Reynolds, professor of theatre and dance, just completed serving as the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region III National Playwriting Program chair and as a member of the center's national committee. Shih-Ming Li Chang, associate professor of theatre and dance, recently served on the National Board of the American College Dance Festival and danced professionally with the Susan Van Pelt Dance Company. Jimmy Humphries, associate professor of theatre and dance, works with the Texas Shakespeare Festival and Memphis' Playhouse on the Square. Ligia Pinheiro, associate professor of theatre and dance, has presented at national and international dance history conferences, and Debbie Henderson, technical assistant for theatre and dance and department costumer, is the author of several books on hat manufacturing.
In addition to being the recipient of the 2009 Governor's Arts Education Award and a past president of Ohio Theatre Alliance, Georges serves on the board of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education, of which he is also a past president, and regularly consults on arts education. He has served multiple terms on the Kennedy Center's Alliance for Arts Education Network and as its national chairperson.
"All of us in the department take great delight in developing in others an understanding and appreciation of the arts that leads to them being lifelong audience members," Georges said. "We are pleased that Fiske has recognized our efforts."
Written by: Karen Gerboth