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Imagine spending a semester in London, the center of the theatre world…or being prepared for theatre and life. You’ll do both at SMU. A dynamic, energetic, holistic experience, awaits you. In the theatre and dance department you’ll be immersed in every aspect of theatre production—from performance to craft—and come away transformed.

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Performances & Productions

To be a world class artist, you need a big stage. You’ll discover the Department of Theatre and Dance at Saint Mary’s is a perfect fit. Here, you’ll live, learn, and perform in a community where creativity loves to swing into action with its sleeves rolled up. And you’ll find every opportunity to develop the pre-professional theatre skills in performance, musical theatre, design, production, or management that you need to succeed beyond SMU.

At Saint Mary’s you’ll discover countless hands-on experiences. You’ll collaborate with visiting theatre professionals, direct your own scenes and plays and get involved in design or other technical opportunities beginning as early as your freshman year.

  • Perform in the state-of-the-art theatre spaces and facilities on our campus where we stage numerous departmental and student-run productions every year.
  • Immerse yourself in the four annual theatre productions and two annual dance productions that the department stages on the Winona campus. While two to three of these shows are mounted in the Page Theatre, one or two are staged either in the Valencia Arts Center Studio Theatre or the Performance Center Studio Theatre. In addition, you’ll also find countless other performance and design/technical opportunities, including student-directed scenes, one-act plays, and graduation projects.
  • Get involved in the Page Professional Series that brings renowned professionals, artists, and performing companies to the campus.
  • Take advantage of real-world opportunities to polish your craft through Alpha Psi Omega, a national theatre honor society.
  • Spend a semester of your junior year in London through our unique Stefanníe Valéncia Kierlin Theatre Program. From classroom learning, to attending numerous performances in London’s West End, Off-West End, and Fringe theatres, to mounting a full theatrical production in a London theatre, to studying at Dublin’s acclaimed Gaiety School of Acting as well as traveling across Great Britain and Ireland, this is an experience that will transform you forever.

Meet the Faculty

If you believe great artists are known by the company they keep, Saint Mary’s is the place. Whether in the classroom, the theatre, or on stage, you’ll be surrounded by an exceptionally talented community of nationally recognized artists and theatre professionals. You’ll find them to be dynamic teachers and deeply caring mentors as passionate about theatre, dance, and the performing arts as you…and as dedicated to ensuring your talent occupies center stage in your education as you are.

What kind of mentors will you find? How about the former long-time resident musical director for New Tuners Theatre in Chicago who has directed (or music-directed) the world premieres of more than 20 new musicals? Or an 18th-century performance historian…who also hosts a website featuring his virtual-reality reconstructions of numerous historic theatres across the world? Or one of the 25 directors selected nationally to participate in a weeklong directing symposium conducted by Jerry Freeman? Or an outstanding choreographer who’s received the Miguel Terekhov Ballet Choreography Award for the state of Oklahoma? Or a scenic and lighting designer who has designed in theatres from Maine to Alaska and in Europe and Australia? Check out our faculty profiles and you’ll discover a list of accomplishments that goes on and on.

It helps that our student-to-faculty ratio in theatre arts averages 10:1. And that we’re an intimate, liberal arts setting. Because it means you get to work 1:1 with professors who not only have earned degrees from prestigious schools across the nation but who also bring with them extensive experience—in teaching, acting, directing, designing, and management. And that you’re able to seize every opportunity or offer, even as a freshman. No competing with graduate students for major roles. No waiting period to get involved, on stage or off.

Course Work

Creativity needs context to express itself. Sure, our course offerings and productions focus on ensuring you develop pre-professional theatre skills in a wide variety of areas, including performance, musical theatre, design, production, and management. But they also focus on giving you the critical insights, analytical and communication skills, confidence, and context you need for critical appreciation of theatre and dance in all its forms. So you may graduate well-prepared for a lifelong pursuit of the performing arts—as a profession, an avocation, or simply a source of inspiration and entertainment.

Our theatre majors choose from four areas of focus—performance studies, musical theatre, technical theatre, and theatre management. Those who excel also find the opportunity to qualify for departmental honors as graduating seniors. Are you a non-theatre student? Opt for a minor in theatre arts or a minor in dance that includes courses in dance techniques, dance history, dance composition, nutrition, voice and movement, and anatomy and kinesiology. And we also offer an Irish dance track—the only university-associated program of its kind in the nation—that provides you the skills to test for the certification you need to teach Irish dance.

Regardless of the path you choose, our rigorous, challenging curriculum will help you develop a strong foundation of knowledge, skills, and dispositions in a variety of areas and contexts, including:

  • Cultural awareness and sensitivity by understanding how theatre functions within a particular historical and cultural context.
  • Problem solving and critical thinking by analyzing dramatic literature for interpretation and production.
  • An aesthetic sensibility by engaging in the practice and process of theatrical production and discovering meaningful approaches to dramatic criticism.
  • Research and communication skills by engaging in efficient and ethical research on various topics of the theatre arts.
  • Specific knowledge of important theatrical movements, works of dramatic literature, and dramatic theory from the past and present.

Careers in Theatre

How far will you go after SMU? SMU theatre graduates go on to become successful actors, writers, arts administrators, costume designers, directors, drama and theatre teachers, set designers, talent agents, and technicians in theatre, film, and TV. They become seasoned theatre professionals in such big cities as Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Saint Louis, and New York. Many of them continue at SMU, pursuing their M.Ed. degrees to become inspiring, effective educators. Many others gain admission to prestigious graduate and conservatory programs nationwide.

You’re limited only by your own imagination. But wherever they go, however they choose to succeed in the world, you’ll find there are some things our graduates share in common. A passion for their craft. A willingness to engage, hands-on, with their creativity in ways that ensure more people benefit from it. The ability to understand the impact they can have as artists on the lives of others. A profound appreciation for the role that theatre, dance, and the performing arts play in enriching communities and connecting cultures. And, above all, a deep desire to shape a meaningful, creative life of service and leadership. Sound anything like you?

Recent Graduates on the Move

“The Saint Mary’s theatre major is completely hands-on. Instead of just graduating, I left SMU with a résumé and the experience I needed to succeed.”

Timothy Marcus ’07 | Production Stage Manager | Porgy and Bess International Tour; Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Spain

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