The Department of Theatre Arts provides focused, pre-professional training within the context of broad, liberal arts study. Through a program of applied studio courses, workshops and full productions, students learn an immediately useful set of theatre skills to prepare them for entry-level professional theatre employment or advanced study in professional theatre training programs and graduate schools. Study of textual analysis, literature and theatre history helps students place the theatre within its larger cultural context, and to think critically, reason clearly, imagine creatively, and communicate effectively about theatre and the world of which it is a part.
The department accomplishes its goals with two separate BA programs that share a common foundation of history, literature, and aesthetic principles:
Theatre Arts is a self-directed degree. After completing the common core classes, students select a mix of electives which may concentrate on specific fields of theatre craft, like acting or technical theatre/design, or they may choose to generalize and work in several different areas.
Musical Theatre is a prescribed degree. After completing the common core classes, students focus their studies specifically on musical theatre performance in the areas of acting, voice, singing, music, and dance.
Theatre Arts and Musical Theatre Dance Minors provide courses and production opportunities for students in other majors who wish to add intellectual and practical understanding of theatre to their college experience and resume.
Classroom experiences are coordinated with and supplemented by the department’s extensive program of eight 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 a wide range of historical periods, genres and production styles.
Alongside faculty mentors, students assume the bulk of production responsibilities in the department season. Opportunities exist for students to stage manage productions, act various roles, fill many technical positions, and assist faculty in the direction, design, and choreography. Exceptionally qualified students may occasionally direct, design or choreograph a major production. Many students work as paid assistants in the shops and on touring shows that use the University facilities.
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 small dance/rehearsal studio, make-up and dressing rooms, a script library, a music library, practice rooms equipped with pianos, recording facilities, an extensive costume collection, and a computer lab. A large dance/rehearsal studio is available to the theatre department in Acker Gymnasium.
In addition to the regular academic program and production season, the department either directly sponsors or supports participation in other exciting professional organizations and student interest groups: The "Off-Broadways" (Musical Theatre Touring Troupe), Court Theatre (CSU, Chico’s pre-professional summer stock company), Chico Dance Theatre, CSU Summer Arts, Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival, Alpha Psi Omega (national theatre honor society), and many student theatre and dance organizations. Faculty also participate in professional and national theatre organizations and students may be invited to participate in presentations at conferences.
Qualified graduating seniors are provided with extensive faculty coaching in preparation for various national unified audition/interviews held each year for professional companies and graduate schools. Prior to their senior year, especially motivated 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 through the country and abroad, and work professionally as actors, designers, technicians and stage managers in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, on national tours, in various regional theatres, theme parks/cruise lines, 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.