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About Us: General Information

The Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was established in 1925, making it the second oldest theater department in the country. It counts among its graduates many alumni distinguished in the world of theatre and beyond.

For undergraduates, the department offers a comprehensive degree (B.A.) in Dramatic Art; it also offers minors in Dramaturgy, Theatrical Design, and Theatre Production, as well as Writing for the Screen and Stage, an interdisciplinary minor in partnership with the Creative Writing program of the English Department and the Department of Communication Studies. The department also offers a variety of courses for interested non-majors.

The graduate section of the department is comprised of three highly competitive M.F.A. programs in Acting, Costume Production, and Technical Production.

The department is also the home of PlayMakers Repertory Company (PRC), a professional (LORT/AEA) theatre named in 2003 by the Drama League of New York as one of the fifty best regional theatres in the country. Each of the department’s programs are supplemented and enhanced by interaction with PlayMakers artists.

The Department of Dramatic Art supports the University’s core value encouraging diversity and equal educational and employment opportunities throughout the University community.  These values are articulated in the University’s non-discrimination policy and by the office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

A Letter from the Chair:

The Center for Dramatic Art is always a vibrant hub of artistic activity, but the past few months have been especially busy as Vivienne Benesch has joined us as PlayMakers new Producing Artistic Director as of January 1, 2016, directing a beautiful production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters as her debut in her new role.  Vivienne has a long and distinguished career as a director, actor, and teacher.  She has directed In the Next Room, Red, and Love Alone for PlayMakers and we are looking forward to what we will build together.

Our undergraduate production arm, the Kenan Theatre Company, opened its season this October with the annual Lillian Chason Production, Meg Miroshnik’s The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls, directed by Aubry Snowden, a recent graduate of the Brown University/Trinity Rep MFA Directing Program.   The KTC season continued with The Existential Imagination, a dance-theatre piece created and directed by Exercise and Sports Science Lecturer Heather Tatreau, followed by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman’s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost, directed by Dramatic Art faculty member Gregory Kable; and the season closes with Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, directed by Dramatic Art faculty member Mark Perry.  Both The Existential Imagination and The Cherry Orchard have required courses attached to them and are part of a push to draw greater connections between classroom study and production in the Department as a whole.

PlayMakers Repertory opened its Mainstage season with Ayad Akhtar’s powerful meditation on the quandary of being a Muslim-American in the U.S. today, Disgraced.  The production was particularly meaningful for a Chapel Hill still reeling from the murders of three young Muslim students this past year.  Following Disgraced we opened Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar, directed by Michael Dove, Artistic Director of DC-area Forum Theatre.  Peter and the Starcatcher, directed by PRC Associate Artist Brendon followed Seminar for the holidays.  Our spring season began with Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters in a new translation by Libby Appel and Allison Horseley under the direction of our new Producing Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch.  We continued with Jackie Sibblies Drury’s compelling play, We Are Proud to Present  .  .  ., and the season closes with Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.  PRC2 opened with Trieu Tran’s Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam, continued with KJ Sanchez’ Highway 47, and closes with Dan Hoyle’s The Real Americans.

We are in the second year of the renewal of our highly successful artistic development grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that supports the development of new work from nationally acclaimed theatre ensembles that specialize in innovative devised work.  This past summer Critical Mass from Los Angeles joined us to begin development of a piece about surveillance.

The series of budget cuts that the University as a whole and the Department in particular continues to sustain makes it difficult to continue to do our work, but it is in the nature of theatre people to come together and collaborate to find innovative solutions to whatever obstacles are thrown in front of us.

The show does go on!

Adam Versenyi
Professor and Chair
Head of Dramaturgy