BRIEF HISTORY OF THEATER ARTS AT STANFORD


1895 | Formation of "Sword & Sandals"

Stanford students form the university's first dramatic club.

Higher education is often criticized for its tendency to emphasize scientitic and intellectual talents at the expense of music, art, and the drama. The theater at the Univeisity should be radical, and exclude no one of either sex who has histrionic ability. If theatricals are to be a success, they must be based upon dramatic, rather than social qualifications. We are sure, from the officers that the club will be sensible and successful. Stanford Daily, May 10 1895
1895 | a progressive production

Stanford becomes first college institution to produce a performance (H.M.S. Pinafore) in which both sexes participate.

1911 | dance courses added

Dance became a part of Stanford curriculum.

1915 | "dramatic coach"

A university staff position titled "Dramatic Coach” is established.  The "Dramatic Coach" leads and directs dramatic productions on campus.

1919 | public speaking division founded

The Division of Public Speaking is established within the Department of English.

1927 | DIVISION becomes department

The Division of Public Speaking becomes its own Department in the School of Fine Arts.

1931 | roble gymnasium opens

Roble Gymnasium opens as an athletic facility for women.

1937 | DEPARTMENT OF SPEECH & DRAMA ESTABLISHED

The Department of Public Speaking is renamed the Department of Speech & Drama, and the "Speech & Drama" major is established.

1937 | DANCE MAJOR

A major in Dance is established at the Department of Athletics.

1937 | MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM OPENS

A 15-year effort, the $587,000 Memorial Auditorium finally holds its offical opening. Intended as a memorial honoring students who lost their lives in World War I, this building was funded in part by the War Memorial Fund.

The "New Theater" houses the main 1700-seat theater, a 200-seat theater called "The Little Theater," a large workshop and costume shop. Dramatic Technical Director calls it "one of the largest school theater stages in the United States."

1939 | hurbert heffner appointed chair

After successfully directing Memorial Auditorium's first production, Twelfth Night, Heffner moves from Northwestern to become Professor and Chair of Speech & Drama. He aims to engage the wider university, instituting a student vote to select department productions.

1947 | post-undergraduate fellowships

The Department of Speech & Drama offers fellowships to post-undergradaute majors who studied acting and technical theater.

1961 | Dance degree program terminated
1965 | stanford repertory theater and mfa program founded

The new programs were made possible by a grant from the Ford Foundation. Stanford Reperotry Theater was a professional company of resident fellows at Stanford, led by Executive Head of the Dept. of Speech & Drama Robert Loper, who also served as Producing Director of the company. Resident fellows were charged with teaching MFA students. Fellows included two directors; a designer; a general manager; a stage manager; and 11 actors.

The M.F.A Program was a three-year program offering degrees in directing, design, costume, technical theater, and acting.

1965 | nitery theater opens

The Nitery Theater, a black box theater located in the historic Old Union, is created to house the newly-formed Stanford Repertory Theater.

1970 | SPEECH & DRAMA FACES 25% CUTBACKS

Both M.F.A and Ph.D. programs survive cuts. Non-tenured faculty are not renewed and production budget slashed.

1971 | DEPARTMENT OF DRAMA ESTABLISHED

The Department of Speech & Drama is renamed the Department of Drama.

1973 | pedagogical restructuring / mfa program terminated

New Department under new Chair, Charles Lyons, initiates restructuring and terminates the M.F.A program.

Since the arrival of director, critic and scholar Charles Lyons to head the department, the goal has been to integrate the theoretical with the practical. . . A master of fine arts program which 'stressed craft rather than art' was phased out and attention was devoted to building a faculty which "integrated theory and practice in their own work. Stanford Daily
1973 | Graduate program in Education with Dance Specialization established
1996 | DANCE DIVISION JOINS DRAMA

The Dance Division moves from Athletics to Drama at the invitation of Drama Chair Charles Lyons.

1996 | dance minor established

The first Dance-related degree in 35 years is established at Stanford.

2002 | roble gymnasium turned over completely to drama

Drama manages all facilities in Roble Gymnasium.

2006 | roble studio theater opens

Roble Studio Theater, a 140-seat theater built in a former basketball gym, opens for use by the Drama Department.

2008 | nitery theater reopens

The renovated Nitery Theater re-opens with a student group production of Martin Sherman's play, Bent.

2012 | department of theater & performance studies established

The Department of Drama becomes the Department of Theater & Performance Studies (TAPS).

2016 | ROBLE GYMNASIUM REOPENS

After a $28 million renovation, Roble Gymnasium reopens and becomes the homebase for the TAPS Deparmtent.