students on stage acting
Oberlin students perform in Tolstoy’s "Family Happiness."
Photo credit: John Seyfried

Oberlin’s theater department provides a singular opportunity for the student interested in actor training. With a faculty of working theater professionals, we guide students through a rigorous sequence of technique classes designed to prepare students for graduate training and the pursuit of professional careers.

Actor training at Oberlin is grounded in the ‘‘American method’’ textual analysis, and individualized attention to the physical instrument, giving students the necessary tools to act in a wide variety of dramatic texts.

Recognizing the collaborative nature of the theatrical event, our faculty strives to teach actors to assume a responsible, disciplined, and informed role in the creation of meaningful theater. Through this practice of time-tested and proven methodologies, scores of Oberlin acting students have achieved remarkable success in the theater and entertainment industries.

Our graduates are in many of the world’s most prestigious theater companies, film and television studios, and in graduate training schools.

Acting Curriculum

The fundamental core of the training is taught in two required courses: Acting 1, which covers the fundamentals of American method acting and text analysis; and Acting 2, Scene Study focusing on crafting character and rehearsal techniques. Students who successfully complete these two fundamental courses may be eligible to continue their training through a sequence of advanced acting electives including Advanced Scene Study, Acting Shakespeare, Acting & Directing for Camera, and Musical Theater.

As a complement to these studio classes, we encourage students to explore fundamental technique through such courses as Voice for Actors, Movement for Actors, and Speech and Dialects for Actors.

To ensure a consistently high level of artistic skill, students must audition for admission into classes in this concentration. Class enrollments are kept small so that students receive the necessary individualized attention required in successful training.

Performance Opportunities

Students have a range of opportunities to become involved in theater at Oberlin: theater classes, faculty-directed Mainstage productions, student-directed Kander Theater projects, student theater clubs, and Improv and Sketch Comedy groups. Oberlin features more than 30 of these shows a year. Auditions are open to all students, regardless of their year, or major, making it easy to get involved.

The theater program produces a Mainstage season in Hall Auditorium, which includes three faculty directed plays.

Recent shows have ranged from such classics as Shakespeare’s Pericles and Ibsen’s Ghosts, to more contemporary work such as The Laramie Project, Lucia Mad, and Wedding Band.

Contemporary musicals, such as Assassins and Spring Awakening are presented about every other year. These Mainstage shows are professionally produced by the theater program’s staff designers and technicians with student assistance.

The theater department also produces a full season in the 75-seat Kander Theater, consisting of over half a dozen student-directed productions, including senior directing projects and the Directing Class One-Act Festival that is presented at the end of the school year. These shows are produced by students under the guidance of theater faculty and staff advisors.

Recent titles have included contemporary plays, such as Dead Man's Celllphone4,000 Miles, Proof, God of Carnage, among others. In addition, musicals such as Ordinary Days and student-written full-length works have included Goodnight Tyler and Monsters Underneath.

Our acting faculty includes:

  • Justin Emeka ’95, associate professor of theater and Africana studies
  • Paul Moser, professor of theater
  • Matthew Wright, professor of theater