Memorial Hall, built between 1867 and 1882, is a striking granite and stained-glass memorial to Bowdoin's Civil War veterans. It was converted to a theater facility in 1955.
Memorial Hall was completely renovated a few years ago and now includes state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal, set, and instructional facilities. The centerpiece is Pickard Theater, a 600-seat theater with proscenium stage equipped with a full fly system and computer lighting. The 150-seat Wish Theater was added at the same time, addressing the needs of experimental, educational theater with a very flexible, relatively small space with high-tech lighting and sound. Renovations also included a fully equipped design classroom, new seminar rooms, expanded rehearsal space, and a new dance studio.
The dance program within the Department of Theater and Dance has an academic curriculum of courses in dance history and criticism; choreography; dance and culture; dance technique and repertory and performance. The focus is on modern dance and choreography. There is a minor in dance and one in theater and students may self-design a major in dance and theater or dance and another appropriate subject, for example, religion, education, psychology, anthropology, Africana studies, etc.
The department sponsors teaching residencies and performances by nationally known dance companies. In the past four years the Alvin Ailey II Company, Merce Cunningham, Mark Morris, David Parker, and Trisha Brown David Dorfman have performed in Pickard Theater and offered discussion sessions with students.
VAGUE (Very Ambitious Group Under Experiment) is an extracurricular student-run dance club for all levels, all styles.
Many students choose to do an English/Theater Major, or self design a Major combining another department with their interest in theater or dance. Of these, some have gone on to graduate school programs at Brown, Columbia, and Sarah Lawrence in Acting and Directing, others have gone on to Medical school, law school, and advanced work in many other areas using the full breadth of their Bowdoin education. Students also design Independent Studies, create work through one of the many student groups, or just audition for any and all shows through our open door audition process in which anyone on campus can come and get involved at any time. Several junior semester theater programs are available, including one with the National Theater Institute in CT and the British American Dramatic Academy in London.