Director’s Note + Mission Statement

“All of art is a search for ways of being, of living life more fully.”
— August Wilson

Mission Statement

The Lewis Center for the Arts operates on the principle that rigorous artistic practice is a form of research, innovation, discovery and intervention. The Program in Theater and Music Theater’s season exists to support our students’ artistic practice. We hope to investigate questions about ourselves, others, and the events and systems that affect us all, through the embodied, imaginative and collaborative medium of theater. We strive to interrogate accepted wisdom and explore the underknown in order to better understand our shared humanity, to engage each other in dialog, and to expand knowledge in the theater field. We seek for our theatrical research to be in service of a more caring, just and sustainable world.

Theater Season Values:

We believe that theater should be a place for inclusion, belonging and community-building, and that the principles of anti-racism and social justice must be applied to the use of our program resources of people, space and time.

We believe that in order to fully engage with each other in this collaborative and intimate medium, all students, faculty and staff must be committed to working to create an inclusive, welcoming and anti-racist space in the design studio, audition and rehearsal room, classroom and theater.

We expect our students to take intellectual and creative risks, and we respect the right of the artist and the student to experiment and to fail.

We believe that theater is a space to develop the imagination and the ability to play, which best happens in a safe space with strong community commitments.

We recognize that the development of theatrical crafts are an intrinsic part of becoming an artist, and believe that our season can and should serve the growth of your craft. However, our season choices should prioritize the LCA mission of research, innovation, discovery and intervention.

We believe that college is a place to explore creative processes; product is not important to the theater program. We therefore encourage you to pause and reflect when the process is not going well, rather than pushing through.

As faculty, staff, guest artists and senior theater certificate students, we aim to model and encourage generosity, transparent communication, personal responsibility, thoughtful preparation and flexibility as best practices for effective collaboration and creative growth.

What is anti-racism and an anti-racist practice?

A person who practices anti-racism is someone who works to become aware of and to change systems of racism. An anti-racist practice is alert to:

How racism affects the lived experience of people of color and Indigenous people;

How racism is systemic and has been part of many foundational aspects of society throughout history, and can be manifested in both individual attitudes and behaviors as well as policies and practices within institutions;

How white people participate, often unknowingly, in racism.


Director’s Note

Welcome to the Princeton program in theater, where we hope to see you soon! We are a vibrant and diverse community of students, artists, scholars and craftspeople who come together to tell stories. We believe that it matters to tell, and to listen to, each other’s stories, face to face. And because theater tells stories through words and gestures, through light and shadow, through music and dance, through fabric, through color, through technology, we believe that making theater is a process of learning to make collaboratively. Although COVID has made face to face theater making impossible, we are delighted to be exploring what socially distant theater can be, and how our theater spaces and communities might look different—more inclusive, more accessible, more welcoming—when we are able to breathe the same air again.

Program in Theater Offers Something for Everyone: Jane Cox, Director of the Program in Theater at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts welcomes everyone who has an interest in theater to get involved with the program.

If you think that you have something to share—whether you bring a pen, your own body and voice, a needle and thread or a light bulb—we invite you to join us and learn to make something as part of a group. It’s a bit scary, but it’s a very exciting way of learning to relate to yourself and to other people. We welcome total newcomers to the arts as well as folks who’ve been making things since they were small children. You will leave any theater class a better collaborator, a better listener, more inventive, more resourceful and more articulate than you came in.

We are lucky to have internationally renowned working artists across our faculty, with whom a student of any experience level can study acting, playwriting, design, directing, producing, community engagement. We are lucky to have world-class scholars whose courses range from South African Protest theater to Latinx musicals on stage and screen. We are lucky to have a full array of talented and generous craftspeople in scenery, costumes, stage management, lighting, all of whom love introducing our students to the many pleasures and skills of putting a theater piece together. We are lucky, above all, to have the brilliant students of Princeton University as our core group of collaborators.

We teach many of our classes in practical studio settings, because we believe that learning to make theater is a physical act that you (mostly) can’t do sitting down, even if you are studying virtually. We teach our classes in small groups, because we believe that theater making is about people, and is best passed on from one human being to another, in as intimate a setting as possible.

We do not offer a theater major, because we don’t think theater should be about theater (most of the time)–it should be about economics, space exploration, social justice, physics, computers, ghosts. A great liberal arts education is the best possible training for a life in the theater. A class in theater is a wonderful training for life.

We make a lot of theater at Princeton, to give as many students as possible the experience of getting onto a stage, whether in person as an actor, or as a designer, a stage manager, a writer. We teach theater that is driven by questions, not by product—we center developing a creative and collaborative process. If you’d like to give any of these things a try, whether for the first time or the twentieth, we have room for you. In fact, we need you.

Jane Cox