B.F.A. Contemporary Theater Students Celebrate First Year

April 12, 2016

This past fall, the freshman B.F.A. contemporary theater class began their studies at the Boston Conservatory. This may not seem altogether extraordinary, except for the fact that this class is the first of its kind at the school, ushering in a new degree program founded on ensemble techniques and the creation of new works of theater. Students in the contemporary theater class have spent the year paving the way for the program through extensive training and devised work, often inspired by their own personal experiences.

As a culmination of this inaugural year, they presented an adaptation of The Odyssey on April 29-30, 2016. Following the events of the Trojan War, The Odyssey tells the story of Homer's iconic hero as he undertakes his 20-year journey home. Exploring the themes of family, life, death and the concept of home, this epic adaption will be devised and presented as the group’s final project.

While The Odyssey is acknowledged as a classical piece of storytelling, both students and director Chris Webb feel it is relevant material for today’s audience. Webb cited that in choosing the piece, he considered the central themes as parallel to the student experience. “The Odyssey is about the journey home and explores the idea of family—these students come from all over the country and this is a way for them to explore the idea of where home is and who you are,” Webb explained. “This program allows a play like The Odyssey to be contemporized to fit into their generation’s zeitgeist.”

When asked about their first year experience overall, many students grappled with how to sum it up, using terms like “immersive,” “challenging” and “thrilling.” Students expressed the importance of contemporary work in today’s society, citing that all art was contemporary in its time, and that telling stories that are reflective of the day fulfills a social responsibility. Student Shreya Navile said, “We want our work to create a dialogue; it is easy to use theater to point out all of the problems in society, but we hope this dialogue helps to create solutions as well.”

Learn more information about the contemporary theater B.F.A. The final project took place on April 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. in Studio 201, 31 Hemenway Street. The project is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis as space is limited.