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Immersion and Study Abroad

Immersion is… an opportunity for undergraduate students to pursue their passions and interests through experiential learning. The Department of Theatre is an ideal place to plan your Immersion project, with its faculty well-versed in offering hands-on experiences in a variety of performance genres. Each VUT mainstage production, under faculty guidance, can be claimed for the experiential learning component or culminating project. The majority of departmental classes can also be claimed for the experiential learning component. Theatre Immersion opportunities are open to all students, not only theatre majors and minors. Check the Immersion Portal for registered opportunities or speak directly with department faculty for more information.

Production Involvement

VUTheatre welcomes students to be involved on and off the stage in our four-show production season. Auditions are open to all registered students in the Vanderbilt community and are typically held at the beginning of each semester. Backstage crew opportunities are available for all areas for both creating and running the shows. Information will be posted about crew signups each semester.

Current Immersion Projects

Below are some examples of current student Immersion projects being advised by theatre faculty:

  • Ilana Cohen and Rhylee Tucker: “Stories to Heal, Songs to Mend: A Evening of Sharing,” advised by Christin Essin, associate professor of theatre.
  • Lindsey Carroll: “An Actor’s Method,” advised by Leah Lowe, professor of theatre.
  • Isabelle Kinney: “Producing a Small Musical,” advised by Leah Lowe, professor of theatre.
  • Audrey Molina, “Towards a Theatrical Ethos in Education,” advised by Christin Essin, associate professor of theatre
  • Christina Monoco: “Creative Arts Management,” advised by Phillip Franck, professor of theatre.
  • Demi Washington: “Ethnographic Research in Women’s Sports Uniforms,” advised by Christin Essin, associate professor of theatre.
  • Richard (She) Zhang: “Long Way Home,” advised by Krista Knight, writer-in-residence of cinema and media arts.
  • Grace Zwemmer: “A Sustainable Art Exhibition,” advised by Leah Lowe, professor of theatre.

Study Abroad

Vanderbilt has partnered with IES London to offer a semester-long, study abroad program in Theatre Studies. The program’s emphasis is in London’s contemporary theatre scene, the British theatre industry and theatrical practices, and British theatre history and criticism. See the IES London information on the GEO website.

Theatre majors and minors, however, often select a study abroad experience that offers a more interdisciplinary experience and connects with another major. Theatre courses in these various programs can count for department credit toward a major or minor, in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies.


Each year, the Department of Theatre offers a Maymester course for students interested in traveling to London and other cities like Dublin, Glasgow, and Edinburgh to attend theatre and other live events to study the performance culture of the British Isles. Students across Vanderbilt join, but we especially encourage theatre majors and minors to attend.

Three women smiling
Students Lily Gussis, Sarah Lovett, and Madison Good, abroad during Maymester 2022.

Graduating seniors Will Henke, Lily Gussis, Madison Good, Shea Gordon, Sarah Lovett, and Audrey Molina enrolled in the May 2022 Maymester, led by Essin and Cizmar. In London, they saw new plays at the National Theatre and Royal Court Theatre, many musicals on the West End, and Shakespeare at the Globe and in Stratford at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Examining sports as performance, they attended the FA Women’s Football Championship at Wembley Stadium and a Highland Games Festival in rural Scotland. In Dublin, they danced, sang, and played a tin flute with traditional Irish performers, and in Belfast they visited the peace wall commemorating lives lost during the Troubles. And in Glasgow and Belfast, they enjoyed pub theatre and visited castles to study tourism as performance.

Here’s what they had to say about the experience:

“I had no idea how much I could see in one trip. Every day we did so much and saw so many things.” – Lily Gussis

“I couldn’t believe how easy it was for me to feel acclimated! I’d never been to the UK before, in fact I’d never been outside the US before, so I expected to be anxious. But we become so immersed in the culture, and very quickly we were given the tools we needed to adjust. Also, by seeing so much theatre, we were able to learn the culture’s artistic values and feel connected. It was a huge learning experience for me.” – Sarah Lovett

“I loved going to the Highland Games so much! It was so fun to be in this rural Scottish location and be with locals coming out to support their culture.” – Madison Good

“One of the most memorable experiences from our first stint in London was our trip to the Underbelly Festival in Cavendish Square for La Clique, an extravagant and mesmerizing cabaret (or what Essin called a “somewhat naughty burlesque”). – Audrey Molina

“It wasn’t the shows or the tourist attractions or even the cities themselves that made this trip so meaningful; it was the people. It was the long nights of packing into tiny hotel rooms to play Jackbox games. It was the seemingly endless train rides full of cards and practical jokes for hours on end. It was being with a group of people that, despite only knowing them for a few weeks, felt like a family.” – Will Henke

Student Stories

Olutobi “Tobi” Akisanya

Trinity College Dublin, Spring 2023

“Greetings from Ireland! Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of studying abroad at Trinity College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland. Although Vanderbilt only sent seven students to Trinity this semester, there are many perks to studying abroad with a smaller program. I have been able to travel all over Europe, explore art in a way that has refreshed me beyond belief and make friends that I know will last a lifetime. Though I miss my theater family back at Vanderbilt, my time in Ireland has served as the most beautiful as I work on completing the written component of my senior honors thesis in theater. Though thousands of miles separate me and the beloved Neely Auditorium, I know by fall a new me will be back and ready to learn.”