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NTID Department of Performing Arts was established in the fall of 1974, with the opening of the college's new permanent buildings, as an integral part of the curriculum following the success of the student drama club founded by Dr. Robert Panara in 1969.
Today, NTID Department of Performing Arts offers an array of theatre courses and produces 3 productions and one outreach tour per season.
We are very proud of our students' accomplishments and our programs. Our success is demonstrated by the fact that, while we have no major in theatre, historically, the majority of Deaf theatre professionals have been NTID students or faculty. They have appeared, and continue to appear, in national and regional television commercials, network and cable television programs, major motion pictures and independent films, national and international theatre tours, Broadway, regional theatres, and international theatre festivals. Our programs and our students, faculty, staff and alumni have been honored with numerous awards from organizations ranging from theatres to government agencies to corporations and private foundations.
We also offer a professional traveling troupe, Sunshine 2.0, that provides performances and activities for deaf and hard-of-hearing children and adults that highlight the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM), as well as educational topics about the Deaf experience. For more information, visit their site.
Classes are taught by a dedicated group of award-winning theatre professionals who teach a variety of classes in the area of performance and technical theatre.
NTID Department of Performing Arts offers a special certificate in performing arts that documents the academic training students receive while actively participating in Performance or Technical Theatre activities.
The Performing Arts Certificate program broadens employment opportunities for Deaf graduates in applied arts and imaging, professional and technical communication and related business areas, industrial technologies, and other fields by expanding their repertoire of marketable skills. Students develop knowledge of standard theatrical operating procedures along with principles and practices of theatre accessibility for Deaf people, allowing them to work in professional, regional and community theatre. It also provides a solid foundation for those who wish to pursue further education in film, video, theatre, and related forms of performing arts.
The Performing Arts Certificate is designed to provide students with knowledge of theatre terminology, practices and protocol in addition to practical experience in performance and technical theatre. Students must take 3-three-credit courses from the Performing Arts program and a production practicum (at least 1-credit hour) to meet the certificate requirements.
The certificate requires the successful completion of 10 credits comprising three separate courses chosen from the listing below. Additionally, one credit of Theatre practicum is required.
Prerequisites for Admission
Applicants for the Performing Arts Certificate must be students in good standing in an undergraduate program at RIT/NTID or hold an undergraduate degree from one of those programs.
At least 10 credit hours selected from the following courses:
Introduction to Performing Arts
Introduction to Stagecraft
Sign Mime, Creative Movement & Visual Theatre
Dance I: Jazz & Hip Hop
Appreciation of Theatrical Design
Scenic & Lighting Technology
Scenic Painting and Props
Costume, Mask, & Stage Makeup
Dance II: Modern Dance & Ballet
Theatre History through Deaf Eyes
Seminar in Performing Arts
Performing Arts Practicum
Please note: All courses must be taken as an elective to qualify for the Performing Arts Certificate. Courses may not count towards multiple requirements.
Introduction to Performing Arts
Studies the characteristics and elements of theatre and the performing arts, emphasizing the principles and conventions that have guided theatre productions through history. The course examines the ways that theatre influences and is influenced by cultures and by individual life experience. Particular attention is paid to the development of scripts, visual theatre, theatre vocabulary, and the emergence of Deaf and multicultural theatre.
Introduction to Stagecraft
Introduces the technical and design processes of theatre, including scenery, costume, lighting, make-up, and prop craft. Students experience the range of skills needed to create successful productions, and identify their own areas of interest and strength for future theatre participation.
An introduction to the actor's craft, process, and technique. Major performance methods are introduced in both physical approaches to acting (Grotowski, Delsarte, Alexander technique, multi-cultural methods from African Griot to Japanese Noh) and psychological approaches (Stanislavsky, Meisner, Hagan, Strasberg). Strategies for script analysis, translation, memorization, stage combat, mask, and mime prepare the student for Acting II.
Sign Mime, Creative Movement, and Visual Theatre
Expands students understanding of the use of physical space through creative movement strategies. These are supplemented by images, gesture and sign representation of story elements. Techniques developed from visual theatre practices are studied. Through active participation, students learn the language of movement, mime and visual theatre. Ensemble work based on performance standards, character creation and theme development is emphasized.
Dance I: Jazz and Hip-Hop
Provides students with a wide range of dance movement and dance vocabulary, which is created from jazz dance, hip-hop and other contemporary dance idioms. Students will experience a variety of dance form through physical movement including the styles of Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett and Frank Hatchett as well as elements of street dance, including the styles of Laurie Ann Gibson and Shane Sparks.
Appreciation of Theatrical Design
This course fosters the understanding and appreciation of design as part of theatrical productions with specific reference to the fields of scenic, lighting, and costume design and the personnel involved. Students will explore the historical and cultural aspects of theatre while examining the relationship to their activities in everyday life. Students will learn how theatrical scripts and stage directions influence the design, aesthetics, and use of space in a theatrical production, and how to use the script to visualize the design process. Deaf Theatre and other cultural references will be used to discuss the ever growing need to address diversity and accessibility in theatrical productions. Emphasis will be placed on using literary analysis of themes and metaphors inherent in a script to develop an appreciation for the artistic and aesthetic aspects of technical theatre. No artistic or technical skills necessary.
Scenic and Lighting Technology
Provides hands-on exploration of basic scenic and lighting techniques utilized in theatre productions. Students gain an understanding of scenic construction methods and technology and lighting practice, as well as the safe and proper use of tools and equipment. This course prepares students for Theatre Practicum and running crew responsibilities.
Scenic Painting and Props
An introduction to the methods and materials of theatrical painting and props through a project-oriented class. Techniques, communication, and use of appropriate materials and tools are emphasized. Students apply the skills learned to individual and group projects. This course prepares students for more specialized work in Theatre Practicum.
Costume, Mask, and Stage Makeup
Explores basic stage makeup, mask and costume construction techniques. Students will gain an understanding of the visual ways to develop and present a character on stage. Student actors and technicians will create makeup designs, masks, and small costume pieces as a hands-on expression of the research and development of a character concept. This course prepares students for Theatre Practicum and running crew responsibilities.
A second-level course in the development of college student actors. This course covers advanced acting techniques and vocabulary, both for developing the actor's craft and for understanding the practical theatrical jargon used by professionals. Particular attention is paid to the physical, emotional, and mental actions an actor reveals to his/her audience. Development of script translation technique related to character development is also emphasized. Practical attention is given in preparing the student actor to enter the entertainment industry or community theatre with viable working skills.
Dance II: Modern Dance and Ballet
This course provides an introduction to Ballet and Modern Dance. Through Ballet's vocabulary (French, Sign, and English), discipline base, protocols, and specific movements, students perform floor, center, and barre work. The course also provides an introduction to dance that gives students access to the language as well as the fundamental movements of Modern Dance. The styles and technique of Martha Graham (contraction) and Jose Limon (fall and rebound) are explored. Ensemble work, performance standards and creation of character and theme are stressed. Each student is responsible for their own communication in the classroom. This course is open to all RIT students; an interpreter will not be provided.
Theatre History Through Deaf Eyes
Examines theater from its earliest origins to contemporary types of theater and issues in dramatic presentation. The role of theater in society and in a variety of cultures is examined with particular attention to the role of Deaf performers, directors and play creators in specific historical periods.
Credits 1 - 3
Applies technical, performing, script analysis, stage management, and other skills to an actual theatrical production. Students contract with a faculty mentor for responsibilities and the appropriate credit expectations. In addition to production responsibilities, students are expected to complete reading and writing assignments connected to the production. This course is repeatable for credit.
Seminar in Performing Arts
Using seminar and workshop approaches, this course gives students the opportunity for focused, in-depth study of a selected advanced topic in theatre. Specific topics vary from semester to semester, and address such areas as methods of acting, playwriting, production design, systems of analysis, genres of dance, translation, and historical influences on theatre art. This course is repeatable for credit.
Each season several productions are produced in the Panara Theatre and 1510 Lab Theatre. These productions are presented simultaneously by Deaf actors who sign the lines and hearing actors who speak the lines.
Every aspect of an NTID production is accessible to both Deaf and hearing people: back stage, onstage, or in the house. The following sections will give you an idea of how we produce this unique form of theatre.
2020 - 2021 Theatrical Season
NTID Performing Arts and RIT College of Liberal Arts are thrilled to announce the 2020-2021 joint theatrical season. The plays and dance performance present a wide array of cultural, political, and social issues. Two productions will be presented on the Panara stage, and two productions will be performed in 1510 Lab Theatre.
White flyer with four separate images. On the top left is a box with a black watch face with brown straps on top of handwritten notes, a transparent face, and a swirl of stars. Across the top is the word "Somnium". On the top right is a box with buildings and the George Washington Bridge in the background. In the foreground are two dancers, one is male in a black shirt and black hat, the other is a female in a white top and torn jeans. Across the top are the words "In the Heights". On the bottom left box are two dancers posing together on a wooden dance floor. Across the bottom is the word "THIS". On the bottom right box is a view of the New York City skyline. Above that are a set of large black angel wings. Written across the wings are the words "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches". Text from top to bottom: “NTID Performing Arts and CLA Theatre Arts Program present Joint Theatrical Season 2020-2021;
October 16-18, 2020 - 1510 Lab Theatre.
SOMNIUM, a devised, physical-theatre piece inspired by the world of classic sci-fi. Confined to a small platform, a team of slumber-nauts” trek through the hilarious and dangerous badlands of our collective Dream Scape. SOMNIUM is an exploration of our collective hopes and fears, desires and nightmares, memories and visions. Conceived by NYC-based physical theatre artist Omen Sade, this production makes use of live music, projection art, and physical theatrical techniques including mime, object manipulation, and cinematic theatre.
November 13-15, 2020 - Panara Theatre.
SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY is a collection of verse epitaphs, taken from a 1918 (a parallel era of pandemic) small-town graveyard in Illinois, its panoramic scope-allows for individual stories to create a sense of what it takes and who it takes to create a community.
February 26-28, 2021 - 1510 Lab Theatre.
Curtis Higgs, a talented dancer cursed with low self-esteem, meets Dwight, a charismatic and funny hard-of-hearing dancer who is incredible onstage and yet exploitative of his friends offstage. It is through the hunger of wanting to be an unmistakable star like Dwight, that Curtis learns the true value of friendship and gains faith in himself. This exciting play was originally performed at the Gallaudet University Ely Auditorium in 2003.
April 16-18, 2021 - Panara Theatre
New York City, 1895. President Reagan sits in the White House while the AIDS crisis rages on. Caught in the middle are a Valium-addicted Mormon and her closeted lawyer husband and two men ripped apart by an AIDS diagnosis.These New Yorkers are desperately fighting for survival as they wrestle with love, politics, and God. Throw in a few ghosts, angels, and the infamous McCarthy-sidekick Roy Cohn and you have a fantastical and heart-breaking story. Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERCA is an epic masterpiece of American drama and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.
At the bottom of the flyer are logos for RIT College of Liberal Arts and RIT/NTID.]
What dreams lurk beneath the surface of your waking thoughts? Find out in SOMNIUM, a devised, physical-theatre piece inspired by the world of classic sci-fi. Confined to a small platform, a team of “slumber-nauts” trek through the hilarious and dangerous badlands of our collective Dream Scape. SOMNIUM is an exploration of our collective hopes and fears, desires and nightmares, memories and visions. Conceived by NYC-based physical theatre artist Omen Sade, this production makes use of live music, projection art, and physical theatrical techniques including mime, object manipulation, and cinematic theatre.
Friday, October 16, 2020 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Saturday, October 17, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Saturday, October 17, 2020 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Sunday, October 18, 2020 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Directed by Luane Davis-Haggerty
November 13-15, 2020
Robert F. Panara Theatre
Spoon River is a collection of verse epitaphs, taken from a 1918 (a parallel era of pandemic) small-town graveyard in Illinois, its panoramic scope-allows for individual stories to create a sense of what it takes and who it takes to create a community.
For this production adapter-director Luane Haggerty highlights Masters's inclusiveness, drawing not only the 1918 original but modern original creations written in the style of Masters. The production gives a sense of past and present coming together through the magic of theater. In under two hours, we're introduced to Deaf and hearing, diverse and inclusive characters whose lives reflect the spectrum of human experience.
Friday, November 13, 2020 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Saturday, November 14, 2020 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, November 14, 2020 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Sunday, November 15, 2020 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
$5.00 - Students and Seniors (60+)
$10.00 - RIT Faculty/Staff and Alumni
$12.00 - General Public
THIS is an elegy to the one person who made a star our of a nobody. Curtis Higgs, a talented dancer cursed with low self-esteem, meets Dwight, a charismatic and funny hard-of-hearing dancer who is incredible onstage and yet exploitative of his friends offstage. It is through the hunger of wanting to be an unmistakable star like Dwight, that Curtis learns the true value of friendship and gains faith in himself. This exciting play was originally presented by Invisible Hands, Inc. at the Gallaudet University Ely Auditorium in 2003.
Friday, February 26, 2021 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Sunday, February 28, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Free admission. Limited seating.
New York City in the 1980s. President Reagan sits in the White House while the AIDS crisis rages on. Caught in the middle are a Valium-addicted Mormon and her closeted lawyer husband and two men ripped apart by an AIDS diagnosis. These New Yorkers are desperately fighting for survival as they wrestle with love, politics, and God. Throw in a few ghosts, angels, and the infamous McCarthy-sidekick Roy Cohn and you have a fantastical and heart-breaking story. Tony Kushner's ANGELS IN AMERCA is an epic masterpiece of American drama and is the winner of the Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Friday, April 16, 2021 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, April 17, 2021 - 7:30pm to 9:30pm
Sunday, April 18, 2021 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
$5.00 - RIT Student, Youth (12 and Under), Senior (60+)
$10.00 - RIT Faculty/Staff and Alumni
$12.00 - General Public
The Robert F. Panara Theatre is named in honor of Dr. Robert Panara, RIT's first Deaf Professor and founder of the NTID Drama Club. A 500 seat auditorium, the theatre has played host numerous guest artists such as Mikail Baryishnikov, Jane Fonda, Louise Fletcher, Marlee Maitlin, National Theatre of the Deaf, Phyllis Frelich, Bernard Bragg, Patrick Graybill, Howie Seago, Cleveland SignStage, Annabelle Gamzon, Garth Fagan Dance, Hartford Ballet, Foreigner, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Jethro Tull, American Deaf Dance Company, and many others.
The theatre opened its doors on October 3, 1974 with a production of Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Originally called the Experimental Educational Theatre (EET) the theater department has a rich heritage of offering challenging, entertaining, and provocative works of theater, all created for both Deaf and hearing audiences. We have produced work in a wide variety of theater styles; Comedy, Musical, Dance, Drama, Classical, Kabuki (Japanese), Experimental, Puppets, and new works by both Deaf and hearing authors.
A Unique Form of Theatre
In developing a production that is equally accessible to Deaf and hearing, on-stage, backstage, and for members of the audience, there are many factors to consider that are unique to this form of theater ie: designing costumes and sets that are historically accurate yet provide sightlines and clear background for the Sign Language to play against (it's difficult to read Sign Language from the audience if the actor has on a bright, paisley shirt or the set is a series of "busy" colors and lines); or how to represent off-stage dialog and/or sound effects visually; keeping focus on the actors and not on extraneous, but often necessary movement; how to interpret dialog from the script that is based on sounds such as imitation of another's voice; how to stage or "block" the show so that both the audience and the actors can see each other at all times; how to cue an actor that cannot see the action on stage, but must enter on a certain line; how to incorporate voice actors; and many, many other unique things that make this type of theater so exciting. Design and staging challenges, script translation to Sign Language, and non-traditional casting are examples of the factors that cause our Director's imaginations to soar--much to the benefit of our audiences.
From the experimentation and imagination required to mount one of our productions, we have developed a body of works that have enriched the lives of hundreds of thousands audience members and a working process that has greatly benefitted and encouraged hundreds of young Deaf performers. We are very proud of the fact that many of the Deaf Professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry are our former students, faculty and staff.
Our very successful heritage is now the backbone for our future growth. We are looking to expand our academic programs as well as our relationships with mainstream professional and community theaters. We produced the first-ever "American Deaf Play Creators Festival" and look forward to its continued growth and development. We look forward to the future, having the confidence and desire to promote artistic growth within the Deaf community and awareness of the many talents of Deaf Artists within the hearing community.
The Robert F. Panara Theatre seats 440 people plus 9 handicap accessible spaces.
The 1510 Lab Theatre is our smaller, "blackbox" type of space. In addition to holding classes the space serves as a venue for a variety of experimental, intimate, and student-directed productions.
Numerous successful productions have taken place in this space in a wide variety of theatrical styles. Admission to plays in this space are always free, but due to the popularity of the shows presented here, and because shows tend to fill up fast, we pass out tickets for admission on a first-come, first-served basis one hour prior to curtain on the day of a show--there are no reservations except those made by prior agreement with the House Manager.
The 1510 Lab Theatre holds 50-85 persons, depending on the design of the set.
Make a gift to Buy-A-Seat in the Robert F. Panara Theatre! This gift will make you a permanent supporter of the exciting performing arts program at NTID and a participant in some exciting renovations. We will mount a brass plaque with the inscription of your choice on your seat in the newly renovated theatre. It will be a permanent symbol of your generosity for thousands of theater goers to view each year. And, you will be helping to support the first major renovations to the Robert F. Panara Theatre in its thirty-year history.