Support Performing Arts

Established in April 2018 to mark the change of Performing Arts Department Chair from Melia Bensussen to Robert Colby, the Performing Arts Opportunity Fund (PAOF) has a two-fold goal:  

  1. Create resources for current Performing Arts Students to pursue all opportunities to further their training and careers outside of the classroom including attending auditions, acquiring technology, traveling to conferences and professional networking events and relieving any hard-ship of being in an Emerson Stage show.

  2. Build a dedicated Performing Arts scholarship fund to create opportunities for students to enroll in our program.

Your contribution has immediate impact, much like the outcome of a great production inspiring the next generation of theatre makers, and carrying on the high standard of a Performing Arts education at Emerson.  Our graduates are working throughout the profession, from Broadway and tours, to regional theatres of all sizes, to museums and community centers and schools and graduate programs:  from design to stage management to directing, writing and producing, to acting and teaching and leading community change.  Your support realizes these dreams.

This fund was launched with a generous $100,000 gift from committed donors who believe in the values and future of Performing Arts at Emerson College.  Just as all collaborators are valued inside a theatre production, so are contributions of any amount.  Even the smallest amount makes a big difference to a student in need.

Performing Arts

A Message from Melia Bensussen, Outgoing Chair, Performing Arts:

April 2018

Eleven years ago I was honored to have been named Chair of the Performing Arts Department at Emerson.  We had recently settled into the new Tufte building after our migration across town from Beacon Hill and Brimmer Street; the Majestic, Semel and Greene Theaters were a long way from The Fireplace and the Circle, and the future of Performing Arts looked shining bright to all of us.  

As hopeful and optimistic as I was then about the future of this program, I could never have imagined the tremendous rise of the quality, intensity, creativity and depth of our students, alums, faculty, staff, guest artists and supporters.  

So many people, shows, and changes have moved through these 11 years: beloved faculty like Harry Morgan, Leo Nikole, Mary Ellen Adams, Robbie McCauley now hold Emeritus status, soon to be joined by Tim Jozwick and Mary Harkins who are retiring this spring.  Already beloved new faculty have joined our ranks.  Staff have come and gone, but mostly, wonderfully for us, have come and stayed.  Productions rehearse and tech and get struck, and live on for all of us in different ways.

As successful as these years have been, I know well how much work remains to be done, especially in areas of cultural inclusion and diversity, not just in our program but in the theatre industry as well. 

My time as Chair concludes at the end of this academic year; I will be taking a one-year sabbatical and will return as Producing Director of Emerson Stage in Fall 2019, the position I originally held when I started as an Assistant Professor at Emerson in the Fall of 2000.  I am thrilled to announce that Bob Colby will succeed me as Chair of Performing Arts, and I am very excited for him and the department.  Bob is a nationally recognized leader in Theatre Education, running a highly-ranked program in a field that is more important than ever.  Please join me in congratulating Bob on this achievement, one of so many in a remarkable career.


Melia Bensussen

Performing Arts at Emerson College

Theatre is more than a craft: it’s a way of connecting with others, of approaching challenges, and engaging the world. As a theatre artist in Emerson’s Department of Performing Arts, you will receive the necessary tools to focus your creative talents towards a fulfilling career—and life—in the theatre.

Emerson's mission is to train future leaders in arts, culture, and communication. The Department of Performing Arts' undergraduate and graduate programs encompass a core liberal arts curriculum, promote civic engagement, and demand that students create with clarity, integrity, and conviction. As a student here, you will work with active theatre professionals who have deep connections to the performing arts community in Boston and beyond. Your education will include studio work, classroom study, and the opportunities to apply lessons learned in the studio and class to real-life experiences—both in Emerson’s vibrant creative environment, and in the thriving theatre scene located just steps from our campus. 

In Emerson’s Department of Performing Arts, we see our students as artistic collaborators and as colleagues. Welcome to our community. 


Link to PA Dept Web Page: