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Bachelor's and Master's Programs

Theatre Alive - Studies in Theatre, Drama & Performance | J-Term Study Abroad in Europe | IAU

United Kingdom

December 29, 2024 - January 16, 2025

This seminar course examines the complex relationship between London (a major urban center) and the art, industry, and practice of performance and drama. Additionally, this course focuses on class and gender, and the ways in which theatre engages with and represents these systems. London is a diverse and historied city, which makes it a brilliant site for this course. Not only will we be reading plays, we will also be using field work (museums and galleries, backstage tours, live performance, historic sites) to add relevance and cultural context to our in-class discussions about theatre. Developing an understanding of the way theatre, ballet, and visual art provide narratives and events that support the status quo or actively questions, disrupts, or overturns the narratives of dominance is central to an understanding of the cultural necessity for the free voice of arts to a society or culture.

Please note: IAU reserves the right to cancel programs due to low enrollment. Itineraries are tentative and subject to change at the discretion of IAU. Students should consult with an IAU advisor prior to purchasing their flights.


Students can choose one of the following courses:

  • Theatre 385: Studies in Theatre, Drama & Performance
  • Literature 385Studies in Theatre, Drama & Performance

View the 2024 syllabus here. Please note that this is a tentative schedule based on the previous year's and/or current offerings in London. If the program runs, the plays and readings, the performances, and the overall schedule will be updated to reflect the available offerings at that time. All content and the itinerary is subject to change.


View the 2025 itinerary here. All details are tentative and subject to change. IAU reserves the right to alter the itinerary.

About the Professor

Gretchen Elizabeth Smith is Associate Dean for Students in the Meadows School of the Arts and Head of Theatre Studies in the Division of Theatre. She provides oversight for the Meadows offices of Student Academic Services; Scholarships & Financial Aid; and Recruitment & Admissions, and for the Theatre Studies track of the Division of Theatre’s B.F.A. program. Dr. Smith has been a tenured faculty member of the Division of Theatre for two decades, as well as holding the position of Chair (2018-2021).

She teaches courses in theatre history and performance studies, including seminars focusing on gender in performance and theory, American and English dramatic literature, analyzing performances of ritual and festival, and the B.F.A. playwriting sequence.

As a theatre historian and performance studies scholar, her research interests include analyzing texts and images from Molière’s popular and court performance in France during the reign of Louis XIV, and investigating Paris’s female performers (actresses, dancers, singers, and others) across the conflicting duality of employee and icon during the second half of the 19th century. She is currently writing about the imagery of Molière in texts published between 1660 and 1682.

As a playwright, her scripts focus on women and identity, interrogating narratives surrounding history, biography, gender, bodies and ageism; her plays have been performed in various cities including New York and Athens.

Since 1995, she has been the mentor and producer of New Visions, New Voices, staging original full-length plays written by B.F.A. students. Plays and playwrights from NVNV have gone on to readings and production in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Austin, Miami, and Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild and the International Centre for Women Playwrights, and served as the Regional Director of playwriting for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. In this position, she was instrumental in bringing the work of student playwrights to regional and national conference audiences as well as awarding honors and scholarships.

Dr. Smith is also active in SMU’s Study Abroad program. She has taught and led programs in London and Oxford since 2003 and is a past member of SMU’s Education Abroad Council. She has been an active mentor in SMU’s Engaged Learning program, working with over 25 students on projects centered in Dallas, New York, Seoul, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Moscow and London. She received Engaged Learning’s Excellence in Mentoring Award for her contributions.

Program Fees

Please view the Program Fees page for details. 

Did you know? Students who enroll in a January Term Seminar and the spring semester at one of IAU's campuses consecutively are eligible to receive a $2,000 grant credited to their spring semester invoice. In order to be eligible to receive the grant, students must participate in the Early Start Program during the week between the end of the January Term Seminar and the start of the spring semester. The Early Start Program allows students to move in with their hosts a week before the semester begins, receive language instruction, and participate in local cultural activities! Visit IAU's Scholarship page for additional details.