Department of Performing Arts

COVID-19 impact on performing arts.

The show must go on, perhaps even virtually!
Learn more

Overview

Ballet style dancers in movement each holding a scarf

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.

In addition to all the accomplishments and programs described above, learn more about newly developing performing arts opportunities at RIT.

Academics

Production photo with black background and gloved hands with glow in the dark strips on each finger

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:

Course Title Course Number Credits
Electives
Introduction to Performing Arts NHSS-120 3
Introduction to Stagecraft NHSS-122 3
Acting I NHSS-130 3
Sign Mime, Creative Movement & Visual Theatre NHSS-132 3
Dance I: Jazz & Hip Hop NHSS-134 3
Appreciation of Theatrical Design NHSS-220 3
Scenic & Lighting Technology NHSS-223 3
Scenic Painting and Props NHSS-224 3
Costume, Mask, & Stage Makeup NHSS-225 3
Acting II NHSS-231 3
Dance II: Modern Dance & Ballet NHSS-235 3
Theatre History through Deaf Eyes NHSS-240 3
Seminar in Performing Arts NHSS-249 3
Required
Performing Arts Practicum NHSS-248 1

Total Credits:

 

10


Please note: All courses must be taken as an elective to qualify for the Performing Arts Certificate. Courses may not count towards multiple requirements.

Courses

Upcoming Auditions

Like theaters all around the world, we've made adjustments to our 2020-2021 theatrical season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our top priority is to offer exciting and innovative productions while maintaining the safety of our students and audiences. Some productions will be changing from how they were originally envisioned--for example moving from live to virtual performance spaces. Some productions have been postponed and replaced with plays that can more easily allow for safety protocols such as social distancing. We want to remind you that we are here, and we will be here with you, brainstorming new approaches for how best to create theatre in this ever-changing landscape.

SOMNIUM
Conceived and Directed by Omen Sade

SOMNIUM is a cross-departmental, interactive digital-theatre experience where the audience is the hero. In SOMNIUM a group of scientists voyage into the collective dream-space of humanity, searching for the origin point of dreams. What dangers will they face? Will they make it back alive? Find out, in SOMNIUM!

AUDITIONS: August 5, 7, & 8 from 6-8pm EDT
POTENTIAL CALLBACKS: August 10 from 6-8pm EDT
LOCATION: Auditions and callbacks will be held via Zoom.

VIDEO SUBMISSIONS: If it’s easier for you, we are also accepting video submissions in place of a Zoom audition. See details below if you’d prefer to submit a video audition. The submission deadline for video auditions is Sunday, August 9.​

REHEARSALS: starting in late August, rehearsals will be 3-4 times a week on Zoom and/or in person.
TECH: Mid-October
SHOW: Launches October 30, 2020


THE AUDITION: Auditions will consist of either a Zoom audition with the director or a video submission.

  • ZOOM AUDITION: Please visit https://signup.com/go/PNToAuM and sign up for an audition slot. After selecting a time, instructions will be given to you to complete the Audition Form. Zoom details will be given to you upon completing the form. For your audition, please prepare a short piece of text of less than 2 minutes. It does not have to be a traditional monologue, but can be any text of your choice. Both hearing and Deaf actors are encouraged to audition.
  • VIDEO SUBMISSION: For your audition, please prepare a short piece of text of less than 2 minutes. It does not have to be a traditional monologue, but can be any text of your choice. Record yourself performing the text and upload your video to YouTube (remember to make it unlisted, not private). Then complete the Audition Form here: https://forms.gle/3qZjZrUR6tpMJvRj6. There is a place on the form to include a link to your video. Both hearing and Deaf actors are encouraged to audition.

THE CALLBACK:
Callback notifications will be emailed out after August 8. You only need to attend callbacks on August 10 if you receive this email notification. Callbacks will consist of Zoom readings with other actors.


CHARACTER BREAKDOWN:
Professor Alfred Canus - Expert on human psychology, dream states, and the subconscious. Has always wished he could see beyond the confines of our quotidian reality. Uncle of our hero.

Captain Irene Lockspeare - Director of the Unique Methodologies Lab at CERN. A scientist, leader, a true badass. Possible military background, but it’s likely classified. Comfortable with command. Desires legacy. Driven like Captains Nemo and Ahab.

Dr. Jessica Flores - Experimental neuro-scientist and expert on the limbic system. Passionately empathic. Values her community and the position she has created in it. Bakes. Knows the name and favorite cookie of every single security guard, secretary, and janitor at CERN.

Major Tom Jedburgh - Security chief for the Unique Methodologies Lab. Former Green Beret and expert on unconventional and psychological warfare techniques. Suffers from terrible nightmares from his traumatic experiences in covert warfare.

Margaret Mackay - Graduated MIT’s Quantum Engineering program in two and a half years. IQ of 166. She is largely responsible for the design and building of The SOMNIUM. Young. Fearless. A true explore. Afraid of living an insignificant life.

Receptionist at CERN / The Dream Weaver - A dry and unimpressed receptionist who works the front desk at CERN. They have seen everything, and are perhaps over it. Also, an arachnid-like creature who exists at the origin point of thought in our universe. This multi-limbed creature is both an expression of all thought in the universe, and is the gatekeeper to ideas and dreams.

If you have questions about this audition process, email Andy at awhgla@rit.edu.

Spoon River Anthology
Curated, compiled, and inspired by the poetic Anthology of the same title by Edgar Lee Masters
Directed by Luane Davis Haggerty

AUDITIONS: Auditions will only be done via video submissions. The deadline for submissions is August 9. See below for details.

REHEARSALS: starting in late August, rehearsals will be 3-4 times a week.
TECH: November 9-12, 2020
SHOW: November 13-15, 2020 Please note: you cannot miss any tech rehearsals.

Spoon River Anthology is a collection of verse epitaphs, created by Edgar Lee Masters of 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 curator, adapter-director Luane Davis Haggerty, Ph.D. highlights Masters' inclusiveness, drawing not only on the 1918 original but adding in 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.



THE AUDITION: Auditions will consist of video submissions only. Please submit a video of no more than two minutes in length. Begin with your name and contact info. Then perform any text of your choice. This could be a monologue, a poem, a short story, a joke. Record yourself performing the text and upload your video to YouTube (remember to make it unlisted, not private). Then complete the Audition Form here: https://forms.gle/CLhdwu3ZP73LTcpN9. There is a place on the form to include a link to your video. You may also send the video link to lrdnpa@rit.edu. The submission deadline for video auditions is Sunday, August 9.

THE CALLBACK: If callbacks are needed, you will be contacted individually by the director to set up an appointment.



CHARACTER BREAKDOWN: This production will have 72 characters, each one portrayed by a Deaf actor and a hearing actor, as well as a troupe of 5-10 dancers for transitional scenes. A detailed list of specific characters can be found here.

If you have questions about this audition process, email Luane at lrdnpa@rit.edu.

Current Productions

Actors from Cabaret production, men on left, women performing on right

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.

2020-2021 Season Posters

[Image Description:
​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.]​

Dates Production Location Tickets
Oct 16-18, 2020 SOMNIUM 1510 Lab Theatre Free admission. Limited seating.
Nov 13-15, 2020 Spoon River Anthology Panara Theatre TBA
Feb 26-28, 2021 THIS 1510 Lab Theatre Free admission with ticket. Limited seating.
Obtain ticket
Apr 16-18, 2021 Angels in America: Millennium Approaches Panara Theatre Purchase

Production Details

Conceived and Directed by Guest-Director Omen Sade
October 16-18, 2020
1510 Lab Theatre, LBJ Building

Poster

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.

Showtimes
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

Ticket Information
To be Announced

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.

Showtimes
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

Ticket Information
$5.00 - Students and Seniors (60+)
$10.00 - RIT Faculty/Staff and Alumni
$12.00 - General Public

Written by Deaf playwright, Raymond Luczak
Directed by Fred Beam
February 26-28, 2021
1510 Lab Theatre, LBJ Building

Poster

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.

Showtimes
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

Ticket Information
Free admission. Limited seating.

Directed by Andy Head
April 16-18, 2021
Robert F. Panara Theatre

Poster

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.

Showtimes
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

Ticket Information
$5.00 - RIT Student, Youth (12 and Under), Senior (60+)
$10.00 - RIT Faculty/Staff and Alumni
$12.00 - General Public

Tickets


For events requiring a fee

  • Purchase tickets at: http://www.rittickets.com
  • Or purchase tickets by phone: 585-475-4121
  • Or purchase tickets at the door two hours before show time on the day of the performance.

For free events

Past Productions

Facilities

Actors on stage in time lapse so their movement is a blur of motion

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.

Theatre Capacity

The Robert F. Panara Theatre seats 440 people plus 9 handicap accessible spaces.

Seating Chart 

Click to view the seating chart.

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.

Theatre Capacity

The 1510 Lab Theatre holds 50-85 persons, depending on the design of the set.

Available for blended (deaf, hard of hearing & hearing) modern dance class, other classes and groups.

Faculty/Staff

Erin Auble
Senior Lecturer
585-475-7048
Nicole Cruz
Technical Theater Assistant
Joseph Fox
Theater and Tour Manager
585-475-4219
Luane Haggerty
Principal Lecturer
585-475-7993
Joseph Hamilton
Stagecraft Manager
585-475-6248
Andy Head
Assistant Professor
585-475-4159
Aaron Kelstone
Principal Lecturer
585-475-6036
Denise Morgan
Senior Staff Specialist
585-475-6069
Thomas Warfield
Senior Lecturer
585-475-6252

Buy-A-Seat Program

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.

To buy a seat, please use this form.

Contact Us

Please use the form below to send us any questions about NTID Performing Arts. Your question will be routed to the appropriate faculty/staff member for a response. You can also reach us by phone at 585-475-4219 (voice), 585-283-2630 (videophone), or fax us at 585-475-6787.