Student Research: The Geography of Theatre

June 7, 2016

Luke Steffen ’16 combined his two majors (theatre and geography) in a research project to track the growth of professional theatre in the United States. By mapping out resident professional theatre companies in 20-year intervals, he aimed discover if the growth in resident professional companies had a significant spatial pattern. He presented at the 2016 OWU Student Symposium.

Steffen selected 1913 as the starting year because it is the year when the Actor’s Equity Association, the only union for stage actors in the United States, was founded. He discovered that before 1993, professional theatres were mostly centered on large population centers, although there were exceptions to this rule: Charismatic leaders were able to establish theatres in areas without large populations. In addition to showing important historical trends, Steffen believes this project demonstrates the limits of cartography in its ability to represent a complex development over a large spatial area and a long period of time.

Project Title: The Development of Resident Professional Theatre in the USA, 1913-2013: A Geographic Perspective
Student: Luke Steffen ’16
Mentor: Dr. Bonnie Gardner

Read the full symposium abstract.