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College of Letters and Science

Theatre and Drama

Note: Beginning summer 2015 freshmen and transfer students who wish to pursue a degree in theatre and drama will declare their major through the School of Education. Students who are currently pursuing a degree in the College of Letters & Science with a major in theatre and drama will need to complete the degree by May 21, 2017. Any student who plans to graduate after this date, or wishes to pursue undergraduate studies in the School of Education prior to summer 2015, should contact Jim Stauffer, the undergraduate advisor, for more guidance. 

Requirements for the Major—Individual Emphasis
Requirements for the Major—Acting Specialist Option
Additional Information about the Major
Honors in the Major
Distinction in the Major
Note on Course Offerings

6173 Vilas Hall, 821 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706-1497; 608-263-2329; fax 608-263-2463; theatre.wisc.edu

Professors Archbold, Boyette, Dharwadker, Saldivar, Vanden Heuvel, van de Water; Associate Professors Brassard, Furumoto, Peterson, Sims, Trotter; Assistant Professors Lisowski, Fan; Staff—Greco, Hunt, Wagner

Undergraduate and Honors Advisor: Contact Jim Stauffer at jbstauffer@wisc.edu or the department office, 6173 Vilas Hall, 263-2329 or theatre.wisc.edu

Minority Student and Faculty Liaison: Norma Saldivar, nsaldivar@wisc.edu

The undergraduate curriculum consists of (a) the study of theatre history and theory, dramatic literature, and the practical arts of theatre production (acting, directing, designing); and (b) participation in theatrical performances. In theatre and drama, theory and practice are linked, each enriching the other, and the student major will be fully involved in a program aimed at contributing to cultural life by educating artists, scholars, teachers, and audiences in a vital art form.

The department is divided into three areas for administrative purposes: (a) Theatre Research, including Theatre for Youth, (b) Acting and Directing, including Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness, and (c) Design and Technology. Education students interested in pursuing Theatre for Youth as a minor through the School of Education should contact Manon van de Water about requirements. Students outside the major who wish to extend their familiarity with theatre in both theory and practice are encouraged to enroll in department courses; many of these courses can satisfy the Humanities breadth and/or Ethnic Studies requirements for graduation.

The Department of Theatre and Drama's University Theatre is a practical laboratory for the student's academic work. Vilas Communication Hall contains spaces for participation in acting, directing, design, theatre technology, and stage management. These facilities include theatres that allow for modified proscenium, thrust, and flexible staging. A typical University Theatre season includes 5 major productions including a production for young audiences, and additional studio productions and student-produced work. A typical University Theatre summer season includes one to two major productions as a part of the department's offerings in the summer sessions. Credit is available for participation in University Theatre productions.

Theatre and drama majors, including acting specialists, may elect either the B.A. or the B.S. degree. Within the theatre and drama major, the undergraduate student may create an emphasis in general theatre studies, acting, design, directing and stage management, theatre for youth, theatre research, or theatre technology by focusing elective credits in a specific area. Undergraduates with a primary interest in acting may audition to qualify for the "Acting Specialist" option in the major.

Requirements for the Major—Individual Emphasis

40 credits minimum, with a minimum GPA of 2.0, as follows:

Acting:  150

Theatre Research: 120, 224, 324, and 424. Note that 120 may be taken for 4 credits to satisfy the General Education Communication B requirement.

Production: 160, 161, and 162 are required for all majors.  Students elect to take either (361 and 561) or 462.

Design, Directing, or Theatre in Education: 362 or 363 or 366 or 368 or 372.

Electives: Any theatre and drama courses. Majors are urged to consult the undergraduate advisor in selecting courses, especially when building an emphasis in any one subject area.

Requirements for the Major—Acting Specialist Option

Theatre and drama majors with a primary interest in acting may audition for the acting specialist option in the major. This is a highly structured program of study, best begun as early as possible in the student's career. Specific courses are required in acting, voice, movement, directing, technical production, and dramatic literature and theatre history. Admission is by audition only; auditions are held at the midpoint of each spring semester prior to enrollment for fall classes. Students must successfully complete Theatre and Drama 250 Fundamentals of Acting before admission to the program. Students who qualify for the acting specialist option are expected to audition for University Theatre productions.

40 credits minimum with a minimum GPA of 2.0:

Acting: 250, 350, and one from among 440, 450, 541, 550, 551, or 557

Voice and Movement: 140, 240, and one from among 342, 351, or 442

Theatre Research: 120, 224, 324, and 424. Note that 120 may be taken for 4 credits to satisfy the General Education Communication B requirement.

Production and Design: 160; 161; 162; 361 or 561 or 462.

Drama in Education, Directing, or Stage Management: 357 or 362 or 368 or 379.

Additional Information about the Major

All students are required to fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. Courses designated as intermediate or advanced count toward this requirement.

Declaring the Major

Students who intend to major in theatre and drama must register in the department office by the beginning of the junior year, and preferably by the sophomore year.  Please consult with the undergraduate advisor prior to declaring. Declaring the major will increase enrollment options in classes and other opportunities offered by the department.

Students wishing to graduate as acting specialists must audition to qualify. Auditions are held each spring semester. Check with the department office for dates and times. After qualifying for the Acting Specialist Option, students must amend the declaration of the major to reflect this option.

Honors in the Major

Students interested in earning Honors in Theatre and Drama should ordinarily declare to the department their intention to graduate with Honors in the Major at the end of their sophomore year or the beginning of their junior year. Students should consult with the departmental honors coordinator and departmental advisor to determine the best way to fulfill honors requirements and how to make the most out of the Honors in the Major experience in the field. To earn the B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Theatre and Drama, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major and the following additional requirements:

  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 3.5 in major courses above 300 level and an overall GPA of at least 3.3 in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation.
  • In completing elective credits in the theatre and drama major, credit distribution should be as follows: 3 credits of 300 level or above, 6 credits of 400 level or above, and 6 credits of 500 level or above.
  • Complete 3 credits from the Integrated Liberal Studies Program.
  • Complete a two-semester senior honors thesis, 681(3 cr) and 682 (3 cr), for a total of 6 credits.

Students will plan each semester's program in consultation with the department honors advisor.

Students should check with the department honors advisor at least once a year to make sure that requirements have not been modified, as well as to seek guidance about planning the best possible Honors in the Major curriculum that reflects their special interests.

Distinction in the Major

Students majoring in theatre and drama who are not honors candidates may earn Distinction in the Major if they have at least a 3.5 grade point average in the major and complete special work prescribed by the department. Qualified students should request more information from the undergraduate advisor.

Note on Course Offerings

Students should be aware that some courses are not offered on a regular basis. Some are offered every other year, some on the basis of student enrollment in the department, and some on the basis of current staffing. Please contact the department office for information on specific courses.