Wake Forest Department of Theatre and Dance

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Wake Forest Department of Theatre and Dance
Academic staff
16 full-time faculty
Location, ,

Wake Forest Department of Theatre and Dance is a department within Wake Forest University which instructs students in theatre and dance and puts on four productions each school season and maintains the university's theatre.[1] The department is based at the Scales Fine Arts Center on campus.[2][3] The department cooperates with other branches of the university to focus to contemporary topics in the media by sponsoring films and other activities,[4][5] lectures and workshops, charitable events and guest performers. In 2011, the department had eleven full-time theatre faculty and five full-time dance faculty.

University theatre[edit]

The university theatre has been offering plays and musicals since 1942.[1] In the first decade of the twenty-first century, there have been four main productions during each annual school season, and feature musicals, comedies, drama and tragedies. The theatre is led by John E. R. Friedenberg, a senior lecturer who has taught at Wake Forest since 1990 and who serves on the boards of several theatre and arts organizations.[6] Friedenberg and several other directors take turns working on different productions, and typically direct one production each academic year. The program makes use of the MainStage theatre in the Scales Center as well as the Ring Theatre.[7][8] In addition, the theatre is the venue for other types of productions, such as one-person performances.[9]

Many productions combine skills from theatre and dance professors and tackle sometimes unusual projects. For example, the production Sonnets for an Old Century featured "newly dead" persons in an airy space who were encouraged by the "experienced dead" to make a statement to the world, and to relate stories of their lives.[10] In the Wake Forest production of Smash, a socialist millionaire infiltrates an upper-class school for girls to try to plant the seed of socialism into their young minds since they may become "future cabinet ministers", but the comedy erupts into love triangles, mistaken identities, and light-hearted look at Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.[2] The play Three Penny Opera was first performed in Germany in 1928, and it needed minor adjustments to make it work for modern audiences, such as modeling the character Peachum on Bernie Madoff:

I've updated it a little for American audiences ... in terms of making sure any of the British references were references we would clearly recognize, like Soho versus Highgate, perhaps ... I'm just trying to put (the story) into a context where they realize that the issues of corruption, and of power corrupting, are still very current, very prevalent.

— Director J. E. R. Friedenberg in the Winston-Salem Journal, 2010[7]

Theatre productions have won positive reviews. Sonnets for an Old Century won plaudits for having a "strong ensemble performances".[10] Friedenberg's production of Three Penny Opera kept the audience "fully engaged" including "more-than-risqué costumes" and excellent music, according to one report.[11] The production of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath in 2011 was praised for its "stagecraft" and was described as an "ambitious and admirable" take on "challenging material."[12] The production of Eurydice was described as a "crazy salad of ideas about music, words, living in the present and remembering the past."[13] Directing, according to Friedenberg, is not about multitasking but rather having the "experience and context to be able to figure out which tree needs attention when you look at the forest." It is a process of breaking down complex productions into smaller steps and approaching them in the right order. He added "I think the most important part of the learning curve is to trust yourself, to know your team and how they work, and to know when to push and when to wait." In 2011, Friedenberg recruited playwright John Cariani and star of the TV show Law & Order to work with Wake Forest theater students during their dress rehearsal phase of Cariani's play Almost, Maine.

Programs of instruction[edit]


Students who choose to major in theatre are required to take a minimum of 33 course-hours in subjects such as acting, voice and movement, design and production, directing, scene design, and history of western theatre.[14] Majors are typically declared by students during the spring of their sophomore year, but they are urged to do so sooner if inclined.[14] Students must take two courses in dramatic literature.[14] Students who choose to minor in theatre are required to take 18 course-hours.[14] Students must have a 2.0 grade point average to graduate.[14] The department is located in the Scales Fine Arts Center.[14] Students have gone on to careers in acting and directing.[15] According to director J. E. R. Friedenberg, the program can teach techniques, tools, processes, and provide opportunities to practice the craft of acting and directing in an environment with constructive feedback.


Dance is offered as an academic minor subject. Courses include dance composition, ballet, tap dancing, jazz dancing, history of dance, improvisation, and social dance.[16] Experienced dancers can try out for the Wake Forest Dance Company.[16]

Student groups[edit]

Student groups involved with acting include the Anthony Aston Players which does a number of projects during the school year including campus wide service and charitable events such as Project Pumpkin and Hit the Bricks and presents readings with its Rep Hour program, and produces one-act and full-length plays.[17] Other groups include a student comedy troupe known as the Lilting Banshees, a Christian theatre troupe called the Living Parables, and a multicultural theatre ensemble known as Umoja.[17] Student dance groups include Gotta Dance and Taylor Academy of dance.[18]


Theatre productions at Wake Forest 2000–2010
Date Production Director Notes
2012-11-03 As You Like It Sharon Andrews
2011-10-28 Almost, Maine J. E. R. Friedenberg
2009-09-25 Doubt Brook Davis
2009-10-30 Sonnets for an Old Century Cindy Gendrich & Christina Soriano
2010-02-19 The Threepenny Opera J. E. R. Friedenberg
2010-04-09 Moonchildren Sharon Andrews
2008-09-26 Intimate Apparel J. K. Curry
2008-10-31 All My Sons Sharon Andrews
2009-02-13 The Underpants J. E. R. Friedenberg
2009-04-03 King Lear Cindy Gendrich
2007-09-28 Machinal Brook Davis
2007-11-02 Twelve Angry Men J. E. R. Friedenberg
2008-02-21 Wings Cindy Gendrich
2008-04-05 The Gondoliers James Dodding
2006-09-22 An Enemy of the People Brook Davis
2006-10-27 Nathan the Wise J. K. Curry
2007-02-16 Psycho Beach Party Cindy Gendrich
2007-04-06 Romeo & Juliet Sharon Andrews
2005-09-23 Hay Fever Cindy Gendrich
2005-10-28 Marvin's Room Ray Collins
2006-02-10 Gint Sharon Andrews
2006-03-31 Kiss Me Kate J. E. R. Friedenberg
2004-04-25 The Secret Rapture Brook Davis
2004-10-29 Catch-22 Sharon Andrews
2005-02-11 Antigone Cindy Gendrich
2005-04-01 Twelfth Night J. E. R. Friedenberg
2003-09-26 Angels in America Brook Davis
2003-10-31 Goodnight Desdemona J. K. Curry
2004-02-13 Monkey Business Sharon Andrews
2004-04-02 Into The Woods Cindy Gendrich
2002-10-02 The Marriage of Bette & Boo Cindy Gendrich
2002-11-06 The Cherry Orchard J. E. R. Friedenberg
2003-02-19 Vieux Carre Sharon Andrews
2003-04-04 The Servant of Two Masters James Dodding
2001-10-03 The House of Blue Leaves J. K. Curry
2001-11-07 A Midsummer Night's Dream Sharon Andrews
2002-02-20 A Lie of the Mind Cindy Gendrich
2002-04-12 The Secret Garden Brook Davis
2000-09-29 Lysistrata J. E. R. Friedenberg
2000-11-03 Biedermann and the Firebugs Brook Davis
2001-02-16 Off the Map Cynthia Gendrich
2001-04-06 School for Scandal Sharon Andrews

Source: University Theatre Production Archives[19]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b "University Theatre". Wake Forest University. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  2. ^ a b Staff reporter (September 19, 2010). "Theater Brief: Shaw novel adaptation starts WFU's season". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. The Wake Forest University Department of Theatre and Dance's ... It features playwright Jeffrey Archer's comedy, Smash, ... The play focuses on a millionaire socialist's attempts to infiltrate an upper-class girls' school to plant the seed of socialism into the brains of the future consorts of cabinet ministers and kings. Love triangles, mistaken identities, Marx and Engels add to the laughs.
  3. ^ "Wake Forest University Department of Theatre and Dance". Wake Forest College website. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  4. ^ "Film, Play Examines Repercussions Of Repression, Torture". WXII12.com. February 3, 2009. Retrieved 2011-07-31. Wake Forest University will look at the issues surrounding repressive regimes and surviving torture and its repercussions at a film screening and theatre production ... The event ... is sponsored by ... the department of theatre and dance.
  5. ^ "Relish Events". Winston-Salem Journal. January 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-31. Theater -- THE KEY SAID RUN AND THE DOOR SAID FLY: A performance piece by The Sacred Heart Archive. Presented by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and Wake Forest University Theatre and Dance department.
  6. ^ "Department of Theatre and Dance". Wake Forest University. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31. John E. R. Friedenberg -- Director of University Theatre -- Senior Lecturer ... Director of Theatre at Wake Forest University and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Theatre & Dance where he has taught for over 20 years...
  7. ^ a b Journal Staff (February 14, 2010). "ROUNDUP: Rock opera, shows for mature audiences". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. The Wake Forest University theater department will present The Threepenny Opera ... on the MainStage Theatre in the Scales Fine Arts Center on the campus. ...
  8. ^ JournalNow Staff (June 6, 2011). "2011 National Black Theatre Festival Schedule at a Glance". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. ACCEPT "EXCEPT" -Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's National Black Theatre, Inc., New York, NY Told through the meeting of two fugitives ... (Wake Forest #2 -The Ring Theatre)
  9. ^ Ken Keuffel (August 1, 2011). "'Un-Ringing the Bell' catharsis for writer". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. Wilson ... portray all the characters in a one-person show called "Un-Ringing the Bell," ... MainStage Theatre at Wake Forest University...
  10. ^ a b Lynn Felder (November 1, 2009). "Tales From The Afterlife Rivera's 'Sonnets' is a wonderful, moving mix of dance and theater". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. WFU THEATRE: ...In Sonnets, the newly dead are welcomed by the more experienced dead into an open, airy space and invited to make a statement to the world. ...
  11. ^ Ken Keuffel (February 22, 2010). "Uneasy Truths: WFU's Three Penny Opera is a very entertaining, well-done production". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. Wake Forest University Theatre's production of The Three Penny Opera is among the best productions I've seen at WFU in some time. ...
  12. ^ LYNN FELDER (February 20, 2011). "WFU Theatre's stagecraft enlivens classic by Steinbeck". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. ... Wake Forest University Theatre ... The play, instead, ennobles that suffering. ... It was ambitious and admirable for WFU Theatre to take on this challenging material. ...
  13. ^ LYNN FELDER (April 16, 2011). "Whimsical 'Eurydice' is miracle of stagecraft". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved 2011-07-31. Wake Forest University Theatre ... Ring Theatre, Scales Fine Arts Center ... Eurydice ... ... is a miracle of stagecraft and a crazy salad of ideas about music, words, living in the present and remembering the past. ...
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Course of Study for Theatre Major/Minor". Wake Forest University. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31. A major in theatre consists of a minimum of thirty-three hours.Majors may choose their remaining courses from offerings at the 200 level or higher listed under the Department of Theatre. A minimum grade of 2.0 in all theatre courses attempted is required for graduation.
  15. ^ Cherin C. Poovey (February 3, 2011). "Change of direction". Wake Forest Magazine. Retrieved 2011-07-31. When Kelly Williams Wilkinson ('99) was a theatre major at Wake Forest she made a startling discovery: she loved the theatre, but acting wasn't her passion. That's when her mentor, Director of Theatre John Friedenberg ('81), changed her life with one observation: "I think you're a director." ... Wilkinson ... said she owes much to Friedenberg and the late Dolly McPherson, professor of English, both of whom took her under their wing....
  16. ^ a b "Dance Program". Wake Forest University. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31. The Dance Program at Wake Forest ...
  17. ^ a b "University Theatre Production Archives". Wake Forest University. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  18. ^ Brent Campbell (February 8, 2011). "Festival Of NC Dance In Winston-Salem". myFOX8.com (TV station). Retrieved 2011-07-31. More than 400 students, teachers and dance directors from dance schools and dance companies ... will showcase their talent in Winston-Salem later this month. ... Dance companies participating in the festival include ... Gotta Dance (Wake Forest), ... Taylor Academy of Dance (Wake Forest)...
  19. ^ "University Theatre Production Archives". Wake Forest University. 2011-07-31. Retrieved 2011-07-31.
  20. ^ "Curt Beech on Bad Coffee and Good Movies". UCLA. Sep 9, 2008. Retrieved 2011-08-10. ... Curt Beech, MFA '03, ... Art Directors for the next "Star Trek" feature film from Paramount Pictures...
  21. ^ "West is best!". Wake Forest University. 1994. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 1994 -- Mary Renner Beech and husband Curt Beech ...
  22. ^ Sydney-Chanele Dawkins, July 8, 2013, DC Metro Theater Arts, Accessed July 9, 2013
  23. ^ Adam Hetrick (30 Jun 2010). "The Merchant of Venice, With Al Pacino, Lily Rabe, Byron Jennings, Opens in Central Park June 30". Playbill. Retrieved 2011-08-10. The ensemble includes ...Cary Donaldson ...
  24. ^ "Drew Droege". IMDB. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  25. ^ "Drew Doege". IMDB. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  26. ^ "Chloe Loves L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  27. ^ Cherin C. Poovey, January 11, 2013, Wake Forest Magazine, What's up with Marc Palmieri ('94)? Former pitcher faces a new lineup: acting, playwriting and teaching, Accessed June 12, 2013
  28. ^ "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson". Lesfreres. January 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-10. Cast: ... Kate Roberts

External links[edit]