Since 1930, the Department of Theatre Arts provides an environment of academic exploration and production experiences in the innovative and collaborative tradition of theatre-making throughout history. A broad knowledge of theater history and its literary heritage combines with the mastery of skills in performance, design, and production, leading to clear and nuanced expression from our stages. Our faculty instills a professional standard in each main-stage production as we constantly encourage students to integrate their whole education at each stage of development as young artists and scholars. If students engage in our brand of serious and joyful theatre-making in close collaboration with their peers and faculty mentors, they will be ready to enter the profession or graduate training with the best our discipline offers. Our decades-long tradition of senior projects provides a platform where students mark their development with research, performances, and production designs that rise to the level of enthusiastic young professionals. We are equally pleased when our graduates bring the skills and methods they learn in our department to other professions. As life-long learners, the passion for theatre they explored during their years with us will inspire them to contribute as audience members and supporters of the theatre community.

The core curriculum in our major mirrors our general belief that all young theatre-makers must encounter the complementary disciplines of performance, production practice, and dramatic literature and theatre history. We invite students to explore an area of concentration or to continue a generalist’s study of dramatic art. Areas of concentration include performance; design and technical theatre; and dramatic theory, history, and literature. We expect our majors to contribute to each area of the curriculum, to integrate their whole liberal arts exploration into their theatre studies, and to consistently participate in production—on stage, backstage, and in dramaturgical preparation.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in one or more off-campus programs, such as the Lawrence London Centre or the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, to deepen their understanding of the various areas of concentration prior to designing their senior projects.

Typically, majors complete most of their studies in the core curriculum early in their junior year. At that time, students begin to work toward a finalizing senior project in that area. The senior project is required of all majors and is designed to exhibit the student’s strengths in the area in which they hope to continue studies or seek employment. Students anticipating graduate study in an area of concentration should consult with their advisor to ensure that their auditions, resumés, or portfolio presentations are appropriately prepared.

Required for the major in theatre arts

Students who major in Theatre Arts will develop abilities in the following areas:

  • Literature and history: a) recognize major dramatic forms and understand the historical context from which they arose; b) interrogate a text (question closely, in a formal manner); and c) integrate systematic research to support creative choices.
  • Design and technical theatre: a) design a performance environment; and b) synthesize cultural history.
  • Performance: a) skillfully prepare a live theatrical performance; and b) execute and then evaluate a live performance.

The major in theatre arts requires the following:

  1. THAR 187: Acting I
  2. THAR 135: Stagecraft or THAR 137: Costume Crafts and Technology
  3. THAR 212: Theatre Traditions I: Greeks through the 18th Century
  4. THAR 224: Theatre Traditions II: Romanticism through the Present
  5. THAR 231: Design and Production
  6. THAR 327: Playscript Analysis
  7. Seven terms of participation in either THAR 355: Theatre Production Laboratory or THAR 357: Musical Theatre Production Laboratory. Normally granted at one unit per term of participation.
  8. Three additional courses (18 units) in a focus area or courses across focus areas or continue a generalist approach. No more than twelve units of tutorials may be counted in the theatre arts major.
  9. Senior project including enrollment in THAR 687 (1 unit)

Focus on performance

Additional courses in performance include Movement & Text, Acting II: Premodern, Acting III  or Play Directing, and 12 additional units in performance-related courses, including voice, dance/movement, and make-up. Students may also wish to consider the minor in Dance.

Focus on design and technical theatre

Additional production-related courses include Costume, Set, Lighting Design, Stage Management, Make-up, Production Systems, Props (3-units each), Advanced Design Studio.

Focus on dramatic theory, history, and literature

Dramatic Theory and Criticism and an additional course in theatre history are required. Then students will take an additional 12 units of dramatic literature in the Departments of Theatre Arts or English or in a language department. We urge students who intend to pursue graduate studies in this area to continue their language studies to the level of advanced proficiency.

Senior Experience in theatre arts

The required Senior Experience is a cumulative project that reflects each student's specific interests and the wide range of activity in our department. While majors often begin the planning process for their senior project with their advisor during sophomore year, proposals to the department are due at the beginning of Spring Term junior year. A wide variety of options are available as valid senior projects. They include:

  • Creating a major acting role and documenting your efforts
  • Directing a one-act play (up to 70 minutes, department pays for license and scripts)
  • Set, lighting, costume, or sound design for a main-stage or senior project production
  • Technical direction or stage management for a production
  • Creating and teaching curriculum for primary or secondary students in cooperation with Appleton area schools
  • Writing a play and producing an initial reading of it for a general audience. Preparation for an initial reading consists of 2–3 rehearsals. In performance, stage directions are read and actors present from music stands.
  • Scholarly activities such as writing on an aspect of theatre history for presentation or publication.
  • Presenting a staged reading of a play. Preparation for staged readings usually consists of 4–6 rehearsals. In performance, actors should be at music stands and occasionally use key props and/or costume accessories to clarify action. Lighting is general. We encourage the use of sounds elements to establish setting, set mood, and clarify action.

Proposals for projects must address the following:

  1. The requirements and challenges of the project, including impact on and intersection with the department's ongoing activity
  2. The course and production work and internship experiences that have prepared you to successfully complete the project
  3. The scholarly, artistic, and personal goals you hope to achieve with your project
  4. Request for space including preferred term and special production needs

As theatre is a collaborative art form, the senior project is often a shared experience with other seniors; the department encourages groups of rising seniors to propose joint efforts.

The department welcomes project proposals involving shared experiences with other departments. The senior project can be tailored to fit the needs of a student seeking teaching certification.

Required for the minor in theatre arts

  1. THAR 111: Introduction to the Theatre
  2. THAR 135: Stagecraft or THAR 137: Costume Crafts and Technology
  3. THAR 187: Acting I
  4. THAR 212 or 224: Theatre Traditions
  5. THAR 327: Playscript Analysis
  6. THAR 347: Acting II: Premodern or THAR 231: Design and Production
  7. An additional course in performance, design, or theatre history/literature
  8. THAR 355 or 357: Theatre Production Laboratory (3 terms of participation, normally granted at one unit per term of participation)

Teacher certification in theatre arts

Theatre arts majors can seek certification to teach theatre arts at the secondary level. Students can add an endorsement in a second area (such as English as a second language) by completing the appropriate minor. Students who plan to seek teacher certification should review the requirements in the Education section of the catalog and meet with the director of teacher education, preferably before the end of the sophomore year.