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Theatre Arts

Within the School of the Arts, the Department of Theatre Arts has two simultaneous goals: to teach students an immediately useful set of theatre skills while providing a wide spectrum of production experiences in which to practice them; and to place the art of theatre within its larger historical and cultural context.

THEATRE ARTS: Both the Theatre Arts major and minor center around a core of fundamental courses. Each student then chooses a particular area of theatre practice in which to concentrate additional study: performance, technical theatre/design, or general theatre.

MUSICAL THEATRE: The BA in Musical Theatre provides the opportunity for students to focus their studies specifically on musical theatre performance. In cooperation with the Department of Music, students take classes in theatre, music and dance to prepare themselves to become “triple threat” actor/singer/dancers.

The primary aim of both degree programs is to prepare students for entry-level professional theatre employment or advanced study in professional theatre training programs and graduate schools. In addition, the faculty believes that the study of theatre promotes and achieves the goals of a well-rounded liberal arts education. The Theatre Department seeks to cultivate in all its students intellectual and interpersonal skills that are applicable to a wide variety of career pursuits.


Classroom experiences are coordinated with and supplemented by the department’s extensive program of eight to ten annual productions. These productions include two major musicals, a fall dance concert, an evening of student directed one-acts, and a selection of comedies and dramas that cover the spectrum of historical periods, genres and production styles.

Student Participation

Along side faculty mentors, students assume the bulk of production responsibilities in the department’s season:
they stage-manage all the shows, act leading and supporting roles, fill all the technical production positions and often direct or design sets, lights, sound, make-up and costumes. In addition to these co-curricular activities, students may work as paid assistants in the shops and on the many touring shows that use the university theatres.


Shows rehearse and perform in three theatres equipped with advanced lighting and sound equipment. The Performing Arts Center houses fully equipped scene and costume shops, a lighting lab, recording facilities, make-up and dressing rooms, a large script library, an extensive costume collection and an advanced computer-aided design lab.

Special Opportunities

In addition to the regular academic program and production season, the department either directly sponsors
or supports participation in many other exciting extra and co-curricular outreach programs: Court Theatre (our very own summer stock company), Chico Dance Theatre, CSU Summer Arts, American College Theatre Festival, Alpha Psi Omega (national theatre honor society) and a student chapter of the United States Institute of Theatre Technology. Professional theatre artists visit Chico frequently to perform, conduct workshops and master classes and to interact informally with students.

Career Outlook

Qualified graduating seniors in acting, musical theatre, tech/design, stage management, and directing are provided with extensive faculty coaching in preparation for the various national unified audition/interviews held every spring for professional companies and graduate schools. Prior to their senior year, students are actively supported in applying for internships and company positions with professional summer theatres. Theatre graduates from Chico have found places at prestigious graduate training programs throughout the country and abroad, and work professionally as actors, designers, technicians and stage managers in New York, Los Angeles, on tour, in various regional theatres, entertainment parks and in film and television. They have found careers as teachers at universities, colleges and high schools. Businesses also seek employees with backgrounds in theatre arts because of their exceptional communication and interpersonal skills.