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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 Web '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."

Monologues go where the light don’t shine

Junior Rukmini Girish, like many, used to feel uncomfortable saying the word "vagina." Now, she’s directing "The Vagina Monologues," a tradition at Augustana. This will be the 11th annual performance. This year, 25 women will participate in the form of speaking, organizing and producing the Monologues with a crew of six men and women backstage. Proceeds sales go to Family Resources.

Augustana students go 'Under the Gun'

Theatre majors and minors performed a series of short works this weekend called “Under the Gun.” Director Mara Cantrell-Paulson said the goal of the performances was to encourage conversations about gun control in our country and around the world. “We’re all across the political spectrum,” she said about the performers. “We come from various places around the U.S. and we all had relatively similar stances, but we didn’t know a whole lot about the topic.”

Internship profile: Midwest Institute of Opera

An internship that provided performance experience was just what Elyssa Lemay wanted. Senior LeMay is a vocal performance and theatre major, so her internship as a singer at the Midwest Institute of Opera was just the ticket.

Feigley '93 uses film to aid tornado victims

Dreaming Tree Films of Chicago, the production company run by Estlin Feigley '93, will present its new feature "The Stream" to raise funds for the Washington Illinois Tornado Relief Fund. The family of one of the children who stars in the film lost their home in the November tornado. "The Stream" premieres at 7 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Peoria Riverfront Museum's Giant Screen Theater.

Student tells untraditional Christmas story

Gary Miller, a junior creative writing and theater major from Denver, Colo., performed an original piece -- “Jesus, Santa, and Walmart: A Christmas Story” -- at a MUCH (Midwest Undergraduate Conference in the Humanities) at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
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