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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."

Ackermann '12 directs vegan wolf in 'Little Red'

Kailey Ackermann '12 directs a new version of "Little Red Riding Hood" (in which the wolf is secretly a vegan) for Davenport Junior Theatre. “I am inspired by the dedication of the kids,” she said. “I can tell that they really want to be there and really want to work. Seeing young people with that kind of motivation is really inspiring."

'Theatre every actor aspires to perform'

Senior talks about experience of acting in "Green River" at Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival.

"A Green River" gets 'standing O' at regional fest

Augustana's production of "A Green River" got a standing ovation at the Kennedy Center's regional college theater festival, but students will have to wait until March to see if they will be invited to the national festival.

"Breaking Bad" star shares advice with students

"Breaking Bad" star Bob Odenkirk Tuesday encouraged Augustana theatre students to concentrate on steadily getting better at what they do, and not so much on the "big break." He joined the students for an informal workshop in the Black Box Theatre. Earlier in the day he had lunch with students, and on Monday evening spoke at an event at the Center for Student Life.

Students and alumnae work on "Aesop's (Oh So Slightly) Updated Fables"

Augustana students have been collaborating with three successful alumnae who majored in theatre in the production of the upcoming "Aesop's (Oh So Slightly) Updated Fables" Dec. 11-14.
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