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Theatre arts

  • Careers/internships
  • About the program
  • What alumni say

Augustana graduates have completed Ph.D. and M.F.A. programs in theatre history, acting, directing, set design, theatre technology,
costume design and lighting design.

Recent Augustana theatre alumni have built successful careers as talent agents, regional theatre performers, television and film actors, independent film producers, lighting designers, sound technicians, directors, stage managers, and teachers at the secondary and college levels.

Some recent graduates:

Ben Webb '10 is teaching English and theatre in the Laboratory Schools of Illinois State University.

Macy Marie Hernandez '13 is head speech and drama coach at United Township High School, East Moline, Ill.

Andrew M. Lia '09 is the stage and production manager in Los Angeles.

Augustana offers a major and minor in theatre arts with a choice of emphasis in performance, design and technology, or theatre history and research. Students of all majors, including first-years, may participate onstage or behind the scenes.

Qualified undergraduates often design lighting, scenery or sound for productions and serve as members of the production team, working alongside performance and design faculty. The department's size ensures close mentoring and support. Most classes in theatre arts enroll fewer than 30 students, and upper-division courses often cap at 12. 

The department stages three major productions each year, including a musical in conjunction with Opera @ Augustana, in a season that explores a certain topic or theme. Each main stage plays runs for six performances over two weeks. Theatre majors also produce an annual Festival of Short Plays. Performances span a wide range of genres and historical periods.

Every main stage production involves one or more student dramaturges who work under faculty supervision to inform the audience, cast and crew of information pertinent to the production. While resident dramaturges are common at regional theatres across the country, undergraduate programs in dramaturgical research and writing are rare.

While there is a significant time commitment expected of all students involved in theatre productions, students can and do participate in other activities including choir, band, orchestra, athletics, debate, student government and others.

Each year, the department offers workshops and field trips to professional theatres and conferences at an affordable cost. Extended trips to places like New York City, London or Ontario may become an integral part of the student's experience.

Students may apply for and receive funding to support theatre-related travel and research through the Nancy Salen Mueller Theatre Exploration Award.

Jacquelyn Schmidt '12, theatre arts and English-writing, with minor in art

Copywriter at Sage Products, Cary, Ill.

"When I first came to Augustana, I only took a theatre class because it was something I had done in high school. I soon learned that theatre was one of my passions and that I needed to continue growing as an artist. I also feared that I wouldn't have a solid plan for after graduation. Through my hard work during the past four years, three departments at Sage Products inquired about continuing my internship after I graduate. Also, when I first came to Augustana, I was incredibly shy. The classes I took and the challenges I faced at Augustana have helped me gain the confidence to articulate my ideas. I am now more comfortable talking to managers at work and am able to express my ideas in a professional manner."

Estlin Feigley '93, history, with minor in theatre arts

Creative Director, Dreaming Tree Films, an independent film company, Chicago

"[Without the liberal arts] you can learn the technical skills in filmmaking, but to tell a story you have to have a broader knowledge base. You have to have something to say and talk about."

Philip McKinley '73, theatre arts, English, education, art and music

Broadway theatre director  

"The mentoring and guidance I received from the faculty and the staff while attending Augustana College reinforced my passion to pursue my career aspirations and my life's ambitions. Augustana provided me with a true liberal arts education and background, and there is no value you can put on it. It is priceless."

Theatre continues to receive national recognition

Months after the performance of "A Green River" at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Augustana's theatre program continues to receive national recognition. Keenan Odenkirk '18 of Oro Valley, Ariz., was awarded Distinguished Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role. Additionally, the department received a Certificate of Commendation for Ensemble Performance.

Myatt, Baxter '14 at work in "The Way West"

Two people with Augustana connections are involved with "The Way West," opening this weekend at New Ground Theatre in Davenport. It's directed by Christina Myatt, secretary for the college theatre department, and Sarah Baxter '14, has a leading role. "It's a classic family dysfunction show," said Myatt. "The playwright has chosen to put together Westward expansion as a good analogy of this family's financial troubles."

Review: All You Need Is Like at Augustana

Director Jennifer Popple’s decision to set her Augustana College production of As You Like It in the 1960s is one of the most appropriate changes in time-setting for theatrical material... Such shifts sometimes seem gimmicky, or are better in concept than execution, but here it works, and works well.

Theatre putting '60s twist on Shakespeare

Augustana's Department of Theatre Arts will put a groovy spin on Shakespeare’s "As You Like It" during the first two weekends of May. “The pastoral comedy of 'As You Like It' and the revolutionary decade of the 1960s bring forth such similar themes," said sophomore Trevor Jablonski, who is dramaturge for the production.

Cranford to help build a musical theater program

Jerry Jay Cranford, who is finishing up his second year of teaching acting and musical theater at Kansas State University, will join Augustana later this year to help build a musical theater degree program. "They already have a good idea. They think I'm the missing link in the puzzle to get it all started," Cranford said earlier this week. "They have a lot of big things coming up very quickly. It's going to be a very good time at Augustana."
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