Theatre students Megan Staples and Christina Hoffman at the Liverpool International Theatre Festival, Canada
Grand Valley's theatre program offers significant opportunities for all students to become involved in theatre study and practice, regardless of gender, age or race. Stage productions often display cross-gender and color blindcasting, and include older and more experienced returning students, community performers and professional actors in age-appropriate roles. Guest artists are often selected for their knowledgeability and skill as technicians, directors, writers, or actors-of-color. Coursework in theatre history and literature deals with significant plays and production trends in both western and non-western theatre. And each season, plays produced by the University are drawn from United States and other national cultures to reflect the breadth of the dramatic canon and the diversity of global theatre in the contemporary world.
Of special note is the University's annual Fall semester play focusing cultural diversity, a feature of GVSU's theatre program since 1992. Plays dealing with domestic and international cultural issues are staged in order to give all University students--and drama students in particular-the opportunity to become acquainted with trends and practices in this area. Some of our more recent play titles have included KINDERTRANSPORT (Holocaust), AN IDENTIFIED ENEMY (Iraq War), DUTCHMAN (white racism), and AUTUMN IN THE VALLEY (labor relations in The United States).
Additionally, nationally-recognized artists-of-color from the professional theatre are brought to campus each year for short and long-term residencies in order to work with the casts and crews of these shows. These celebrities have included motion picture actor Juan Ramirez, off-Broadway stage manager Hurvey Morris, and playwrights such as Amiri Baraka, Elizabeth Wong, Charles Smith, Douglas Turner Ward and Migdalia Cruz. These artists guide and mentor theatre students in acting, writing and technical production skills; and contribute significantly to the professionalism of Grand Valley's theatre program.
GVSU has also been significantly involved in the publication of theatre texts by ethnic writers from the United States and abroad. In fact, no other university in the nation has done more in this area than GVSU. Since 1995, the University has financially supported the publication of twelve national and international anthologies of intercultural and multicultural contemporary plays. Additionally, since 1998 the Theatre program has taken its students overseas to the Caribbean, Europe, and China for residencies where they perform shows and participate in management and technical production tasks while enjoying the intercultural environment of workshops, performances and social events with theatre groups from around the world.