Undergraduate Research in Theatre

Below are recent Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) projects completed by students studying Theatre at Pomona College.


Freedom in Structure

Benjamin Hogoboom ’19; Advisor: Giovanni Ortega

My intention for the Summer Undergraduate Research Program was to better understand how William Shakespeare has lasted through the centuries and maintained a position in the theatrical canon of popular entertainment. In order to do so, I took part in an apprenticeship program at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, one of the leading classical theatres in the nation, focusing specifically on the Bard’s work. The program, which admitted apprentices based on an intensive application and audition process, involved classes dedicated to play reading, movement, voice and speech, stage combat and acting, as well as observing professional actors in main stage shows. Throughout all of these experiences, one principle was always present: freedom in structure. When dealing with Shakespeare’s works, it was clear that certain things were concrete like his language, plots and characters. However, it was also exciting to see how much interpretation could be left up to his practitioners in every new production and adaptation. Through text analysis, Viewpoints movement training, vocal workshops as well as acting courses, I have come to better understand how the Bard’s plays and characters have remained intriguing through countless interpretations and adaptations.
Funding Provided By: Cion Estate SURP Fund

Chasing Hybridity: Exploring the fabric of masculine culture through the synthesis of theatrical forms

Zed Hopkins ’20; Advisor: Giovanni Ortega

From Japan, to Singapore, to Australia, this project explores the fabric of masculine culture through the synthesis of two opposing theatrical forms. The theoretical objective for this process is to experiment with the Japanese form of Butoh and its role within the broader framework of contemporary (western) performance. On a more personal level, the goal is to reflect on the current issues surrounding masculine culture and the repercussions of our social disconnect with such issues. These two goals have been achieved through the development of a hybrid performance piece titled “Welcome to Manhood” which was conceived in Japan with guidance from Butoh practitioner Yoshito Ohno. Through the collation of audience feedback from performances in Singapore (Haque Centre of Acting and Creativity), Sydney (Arts, Culture and Innovation) and Brisbane (Magda Artz Centre), it has become clear that the fusion of Butoh and contemporary performance has a profound effect on the audience’s experience. Furthermore, this research process has highlighted the need for further exploration into such a relationship and the ongoing responsibility of our communities to challenge the norms of masculine culture. As an extension of this initial stage of development, I began curating an immersive art exhibition that took these predeveloped notions of masculinity and intermediality to the next level. Working with young artists from around the world, I explored the boundaries of art and audience, presenting the RAW exhibition in Melbourne (Next Level Studios) and Brisbane (Metro Arts). The culmination of these two projects then allowed a much deeper understanding of synthesis in the creative space and the subsequent positive effects such synthesis can have on the audiences’ experiences.
Funding Provided By: Cion Estate SURP Fund

LUNA Database for Pomona College Theatre Garment Collection

Yiqiao Mao ’19; Advisor: Sherry Linnell

This project involves research into dating and recording the period style and construction techniques for some of the historical garments (ranging from late 19th century to mid 20th century) that have been given to the Pomona College Theatre Department. This will provide important research information for students and anyone else who wishes to research these garments. For dating the period of the garments, the approach used is viewing the actual garments and comparing them to historical catalogues and books that describe typical garments of each specific time period. For recording the construction techniques of the garments, the front view, back view, seams and trim details of the garments were photographed to give a comprehensive view of each garment. The primary goal of this research project is a functioning online database that students can use to research clothing from the late 19th century to the mid-20th century. Extensive style and period Information along with detailed photographs of each item of clothing will be located in the database. The database can be accessed through the Pomona College LUNA Library.
Funding Provided By: Cion Estate SURP Fund