The Path to Theatre Paved by the Liberal Arts
There is no one specific road that leads to the theatre. Whether through an arts school, a traditional conservatory, or no formal education whatsoever, actors reach the main stage from highly varied educational backgrounds. For Sarah Zeiberg ’18, an environmental studies and theatre double major, the path to the theatre has thus far been paved by the liberal arts.
“As a student at Hamilton, I was drawn to the theatre department because of its constant emphasis on leveraging classroom learning into practical application,” said Zeiberg. A complete theatrical education involves some amount of doing, of acting, using learned skills.
Though she found ample opportunities to flex her training at Hamilton, Zeiberg wondered if her skills would be easily transferable to the world of professional theatre. This question led Zeiberg to pursue her 2017 Emerson project.
Major: Environmental studies and theatre
Hometown: Malden, Mass.
High School: Malden High School
This summer, Zeiberg is interning for the Harbor Stage Company (HSC), a theatre - as described on the company’s website - “by the sea that’s right on the edge.” Founded in Wellfleet, Mass., in 2012, the HSC is a non-profit organization, and one of the only professional theatres in the U.S. run completely by artists.
Since HSC is a small ensemble, the actors must be willing and able to assist with the upkeep of all components of the company, applying their skill sets to a wide-ranging task index. Zeiberg, as an intern, will do the same, working for the company “as a bit of a generalist.”
In addition to interning, Zeiberg intends to interview the HSC members, investigating their individual educational backgrounds, and examining how these different qualifications have shaped their professional experiences.
In order to contextualize their varied degrees against the liberal arts degree she will finish next year, Zeiberg will also research contemporary educational theory. Through an inquiry into the values of a liberal arts education, Zeiberg hopes to connect the lived experiences of practicing artists to her own learning as a theatre concentrator.
Ultimately, Zeiberg hopes her research will support the value of a non-conservatory education in theatre. “Theatre is about how you can apply what you know,” said Zeiberg, “So, a combination of liberal arts groundings and academic theatre classes puts students like myself in an interesting position.”