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Student Scholarship

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Thesis Projects

Students in their second year choose an area of focus for their capstone Thesis project. Please explore these snapshots of some recent graduates' thesis projects.

Acting Theses

villanova macbeth kyle fennie thesis

Graduate Acting Thesis (Played Macbeth on mainstage)

Snippet from thesis paper:

"...This process has given me the opportunity to explore avenues of my art to their furthest end, and I am full of new found knowledge and respect for this work to which I have committed my life. It has changed the way I approach my work; altered my process as an actor and ensemble member by forcing me to take risks early on in the rehearsal room; given me insight into who I am as an artist and scholar; and taught me what it is to lead a company of actors in an inspiring fashion. Macbeth has been an extensive study in my craft as an actor, a challenge for me as an artist, and the undertaking of a lifetime."

villanova theatre meg trelease lady macbeth acting thesis

Graduate Acting Thesis (Played Lady Macbeth on mainstage)

Snippet from thesis paper:

"The role of Lady Macbeth was a profound challenge and a great breakthrough for me as an actor and as a theatre maker.  Collaborating with Dr. Christy and Kyle, preparing myself mentally and physically for the specific needs of the role, and navigating a long and intense rehearsal and performance process has left me with a lasting sense of accomplishment.  I am proud of my devotion to the work, and I feel like I gave a performance worthy of the Lady.   I believe that my work on this role represents a synthesis of my work towards my Master’s degree in Theatre, and I definitely believe that my success is a reflection of my education at Villanova.  I feel very blessed and grateful to have had the opportunity to play Lady Macbeth, and I will carry a small part of this powerful, vulnerable, beautiful woman with me always."

rebecca cureton eurydice villanova theatre thesis ma masters

Graduate Acting Thesis (Played Eurydice on mainstage)

Snippet from thesis paper:

"...I wanted my Eurydice to be a woman on a journey to finding herself and her inner strength. I had to find the power within myself to take her journey through vulnerability. One of the greatest compliments I received in person was from Dr. Raymond Saraceni, who took note of Eurydice’s gradual strength.  I can only hope this was felt by others."

stephen tornetta thesis acting ma masters villanova thesis eurydice

Graduate Acting Thesis (Played Orpheus on mainstage)

Snippet from thesis paper:

"...A new confidence has been developed in me. I know I can tap into my own experiences,  using them to connect my intentions from one moment to the next, especially when dealing with complex characters like Orpheus. I must trust that. Ultimately I discovered, and embodied, what it means to feel utter joy and happiness and also the saddest grief we can experience as human beings. As Kurt Vonnegut says, “To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.” I’m not sure how well or how badly I practiced my art, but I felt that my soul grew during this process. I was excited, and scared at the beginning of this journey, but sad for it to come to end, but like Eurydice, I had to say my final good bye."

megan rose wieder thesis project a wonderful noise master ma in theatre acting

Graduate Acting Thesis (Played Sadie on Mainstage)

Snippet from proposal:

"I'm excited to present a unique approach to the rehearsal process and performance of Sadie in A Wonderful Noise. I plan on embodying the teachings of Saint Augustine though the rehearsal process and incorporating his values into the process of developing a character in order to create a more three dimensional character, all while guiding me back into the folds of community, humility, and stewardship. Saint Augustine's teachings, as outlined on Villanova University's website, stress the importance of interior contemplation, the cultivation of humility and seeing others as equals, the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, the formation of community, the call to the sacramental life, and the obligation of stewardship. These qualities translated into the theatre through the rehearsal process, the performance, and the self, have provided the blueprints for the path of my thesis."

Dramaturgy Theses

villanova theatre dramaturgy
Alix Rosenfeld's lobby display for A Wonderful Noise.

Graduate Dramaturgy Thesis


"In some way, I think that every class that I have taken at Villanova has had a hand in developing my dramaturgical skills, so it seems strange to pinpoint a select few. However, the dramaturgy course taught by Ray Saraceni, Valerie Joyce’s Script Analysis class, and Michael Hollinger’s Playwriting class come most to mind when I consider the courses that have had the greatest impact on my dramaturgical process so far. The effect of the dramaturgy course on a dramaturgy thesis is perhaps too large to put into just a sentence or two, but I will say that Ray’s class taught me the art of putting together a thorough and complete dramaturgical portfolio. This kind of detailed work in the classroom has informed my work for A Wonderful Noise, and I am a more careful and meticulous dramaturg because of it. In this same fashion, Valerie’s class gave me the necessary tools to dive into the world of the play in such a way that I was able to find dynamic pieces of information pertaining to both the values of the characters and the values of 1941 America at large, and I am excited to see how this gets woven into the production during the rehearsal process. Finally, the playwriting course has been truly integral to my approach as the production dramaturg. Given that this musical is still being revised, a class on how a play begins, moves through the revision process, and culminates in the finished product has been invaluable. Though A Wonderful Noise is closer to the “finished product” phase of the process, it’s been necessary for me to able to see where there is still work to be done, and Michael’s class taught me yet another side of script analysis and dramaturgy that pertains specifically to play development."

Directing Theses

the flick annie baker villanova amanda coffin directing thesis

Graduate Directing Thesis

Snippet from proposal:

"This play is about a movie theatre stuck in the world of film and its hard (but
necessary?) change to digital projection. This play is about movie theatre employees
unable to move on with their lives—stuck in their parent’s attics or trying to figure out
who they like and what they are attracted to or dealing with their own suicidal impulses and loss of faith in humanity. Neither situation has a correct answer—should the movie theatre convert to digital because it will make more money, or should they keep the film projection because that is art, and movies should be seen on film? The movie theatre employees have opinions about the fate of their workplace, but they don’t have any say in the matter. What they do have a say in is their own lives. They make decisions throughout the play to work with one another, fight with one another, steal from their boss, act as ideal employees and act as horrible ones, and it is in these decisions that the characters grow and move forward. At its heart this play is about the difficulty of change and its necessity. How do you move on in life? How do you find what you’re meant to do? How do you connect with the people around you? Its essential idea is that of moving on: Staying in one place is the death of movie theaters and humans—whether for good or for bad, these characters must learn to move forward in their lives and make decisions."

villanova crave annie baker thesis ma elise d'avella masters directing students

Graduate Directing Thesis

Snippet from thesis proposal:

"The manner in which the characters of Crave interact and relate to each other strays far from every day waking reality. The dialogue is written in a stream of consciousness style with vague connections and rapid transitions. At times, it seems that there is no interaction at all; the characters are screaming into the void hoping that someone will eventually hear them. A narrative between the characters does eventually begin to emerge, and within that narrative the four characters act as an interchanging chorus. As one or two of them step out and become more individualized in their actions and identities, the remaining become active observers, manipulating their interactions by prodding, pushing, pulling, intensifying, blaming, or supporting. Kane manipulates the role of the chorus by creating dissention amongst them, tearing apart the whole. The active characters of any given moment must fight through this noise and chaos to be heard and to reach each other. Kane does not specify this, but I believe that there is plenty of room in the text for the characters to reach out to the audience as well. Just as the action of the play is unrestrained by a narrative structure, the characters are not held away from the audience by a fourth wall. Sarah Kane deconstructs the walls of narrative structure to allow the action of Crave to flow freely and erratically from moment to moment. She manipulates the structure of the chorus to examine how people are both connected by their pain and separated by their needs for identity and individuality."

Playwriting Theses

villanova theatre playwriting kristin miller

Graduate Playwriting Thesis (full length play written and performed for a reading)

Snippet from her proposal:

"I do not believe that the theatre is only a place for entertainment. I do not want to be dazzled by sequins or wowed by an intricate dance number. Laughter is only important when it changes the temperature in the room, allowing us to feel the weight of what came before. The theatre is not an escape from the problems of our world and our lives, but instead a place we can go to find answers. The greatest depths of humanity are explored within the confines of a play. The theatre is the safest and most dangerous place in the universe. The theatre affords us the opportunity to experience the greatest tragedies and triumphs, but emerge at the end of the night into a world completely unchanged. In most cases, the audience sits in the dark for a couple of hours. There is literally no action on the part of the audience—except that they are watching and listening. The shift, if it happens, is completely internal. It is the task of the audience to externalize and make tangible the emotional, visceral experience they’ve had during the play. This is how theatre can, and should be, a vehicle for social change."

Dorian Gray the musical chris dayett playwriting thesis villanova university

Graduate Playwriting Thesis (full length play written and performed for a reading)

Snippet from proposal:

"After viewing the 2009 film, I immediately became infatuated with Oscar Wilde’s story –not for the “selling one’s soul to the devil” aspect, but for the concept that one’s sins could be washed away each night and transferred to an inanimate object that then takes on a life of its own. I thought the story resembled that of Jekyll & Hyde, with its dark Victorian undertones of murder, jealousy, rage, and troubled love. I felt it would make a great piece of musical theatre."

Solo Performance Theses

cari brezina villanova theatre

Graduate Solo Performance Thesis

Snippet from proposal:

"In this project, I will work to illuminate the themes from the stories from the life of my grandmother, Sun Ei Dill, using my body and voice as the primary resonators. (Grotowski uses this term when distinguishing between the Poor and Rich theatres. The the Poor Theatre, the actor uses the body as the primary resonator or voice for the thought, contrasting with the Rich Theatre, which is based in text, and therefore relies upon other voices -- i.e. lights, sound, costumes, scenery, characters, etc.). And by theme, I mean the subject matter that is found in the devising process that becomes the focus of the story."

Ophelia Jessica Otterbine Villanova Theatre Solo Performance

Graduate Solo Performance Thesis

Snippet from proposal:

"The idea for Ophelia came as a quilting of sorts, a combination of puzzle pieces. I realized rather quickly that telling stories for and about the female experience was an incredibly important recurring theme in my solo work. I have studied gender and women’s studies during and since leaving undergrad, and even work as a Graduate Assistant in the Gender and Women’s Studies program here at Villanova. In my adulthood, I have always known that I was a feminist and that the area of women’s rights was my greatest social passion. However, never before had I realized that it was also a huge part of the very fabric of my artistic identity. It quickly became a priority in my Solo Performance projects, with several works exploring themes of rape culture, female expectations and social identity, pregnancy, and dating relationships. Therefore, when considering the topic and scope of my solo thesis project, I realized very quickly that feminist issues must be involved in whatever piece I created."

Department of Theatre and Studio Art
800 E. Lancaster Ave.
Villanova, PA 19085