The department’s roots reach back to 1893, when UGA students formed the Thalian Dramatic Club, one of the oldest college dramatic clubs in the country. In 1926, a second dramatic club, the Blackfriars, was formed at UGA, and there was an immediate rivalry between the two groups. In 1931, the two clubs merged under the leadership of journalism professor Edward C. Crouse to become the Thalian-Blackfriars, the official theatrical club of the University of Georgia with its own playhouse in Seney-Stovall Memorial Theatre. By 1932, the new “University Theatre” was offering its first season ticket campaign. In 1939, the Department of Dramatic Art was created with Professor Crouse as its first Department Head; the following year the named changed to the Department of Drama. The productions were mounted in Seney-Stovall Chapel until 1941, when the Fine Arts Building was completed with its 1600 seat theatre and small Cellar Theatre.
In 1951, the department incorporated Speech, becoming the Department of Speech and Theatre; the two fields split in 1969, creating the Department of Speech Communication and the Department of Drama and Theatre. In 1976, the department expanded to incorporate screen media, in particular cinema. A film studies minor was added in 1999, and a film studies major in 2006. In 1995, the department expanded its scope of inquiry further to incorporate the study and practice of digital media as a type of dramatic art, and the use of interactive media in live performance. In 2004, to reflect its expanded scope, the department’s name was changed to Theatre and Film Studies.
Over the years six department heads have preceded the present head: Edward C. Crouse (1939-1946), Leighton M. Ballew (1946-1975), Gerald Kahan (1975-1976), August W. Staub (1976-1995), W. Joseph Stell (1995-1997) Farley Richmond (1997-2000) and Stanley Longman (2000-2004).
Dr. David Saltz is the current Head of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies. There are 21 faculty members, four distinguished adjunct faculty members, three full-time staff members, and 36 graduate assistants.
The mission of the Department of Theatre and Film Studies is:
- To prepare students to become leaders in theatre, film and digital media practice and scholarship;
- To attract, support and develop faculty who produce nationally and internationally recognized scholarship and creative activity;
- To create works of theatre, performance and media that educate our students, enrich the cultural life of our community, while sustaining a regional, national and international reputation for excellence and innovation;
- To explore dramatic forms and emerging stage and media technologies, combining tradition and experimentation, theory and practice;
- To develop socially engaged and globally aware scholars, artists and audiences;
- To promote interdisciplinary collaboration in research and practice, within as well as outside our department and university and globally;
- To foster a community of faculty and students that celebrates and reflects the diversity of world theatre, cinema and digital media;
- To provide opportunities for students and faculty to cultivate their Individual talents and realize their unique visions.