Stages of Life

Open Access
Rosenfield, Olivia Zilberman
Area of Honors:
Musical Theatre
Bachelor of Fine Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Raymond Sage, Thesis Supervisor
  • Annie McGregor , Honors Advisor
  • Susan Russell, Honors Advisor
  • Erik Erikson
  • Satges of Life
The first part of my thesis is a live solo performance (with an accompanying script) that integrates an overview of psychologist Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development with musical theatre songs, monologues, poems, and stories related to each of those stages. Weaving together eight performance pieces, each one related to a stage of Erikson’s theory, will bring together my two main academic pursuits while at Penn State: musical theatre and psychology. It also allows my solo performance to dramatize the shape of a human lifetime, traveling from infancy to adulthood and innocence to experience. In that way, it provides an opportunity to reflect autobiographically on my own growing up, especially at this transitional moment when I’m on the brink of leaving the safe confines of school and entering into the “real world.” The second part of my thesis is this essay, which presents a brief biography of Erikson’s life and accomplishments, an overview of each of his psychosocial stages of development, and an explanation of why I selected the specific songs/dances/poems/stories that I chose to illuminate each stage in my solo performance. Overall, I hope that the audience who sees my solo performance, and the readers who encounter this written overview of it, will come away with a greater understanding of how musical theatre literature can be used to interpret and understand psychosocial theories about the human experience.