The Stage Is His Classroom
Domenick Scudera, Professor of Theater
To bring a play to life on the stage, directors must first fully immerse themselves in that world. The setting. The social climate. Characters’ motivations. It all plays a role in how the production will unfold long before the curtain rises on opening night.
At the intersection of the performing arts and academic scholarship, each production is its own research project—a deep dive that takes words on paper and turns them into vibrant sets and powerful performances.
“I want to provide [my students] with a rich experience and allow them to live and breathe that world. I try to choose plays that are going to allow students to experience something very different than what they might already know,” says Domenick Scudera, a veteran director and theater scholar who for 25 years— and 40 productions—has brought his bold vision to stages in Philadelphia and on the Ursinus campus.
In Hair, for example, Scudera challenged student actors to connect to young people of the 1960s and embody their revolutionary spirit. Lynne Nottage’s Sweat presented a chance for the students to convey the struggles of steel plant workers dealing with a changing economy. “That’s some of the most enriching kind of education that you can provide,” Scudera says.
“[Directing and teaching] both involve a great deal of research to prepare, and then a lot of planning in terms of putting together a lesson plan for a class, or a rehearsal plan for a production. And then, you must guide people through the experience,” he says. “Teaching ties everything together. It allows me to tap into the joy of theater. Students are so eager in their approach to theater, and every semester reminds me why I love what I do.”