The Department of Theater is a small, warm, close-knit community that has access to all the resources of a large university.
Aspiring theater artists who come here find themselves in the middle of the action. Our students get hands-on experience in the art of making—and thinking about – theater. We approach theater through a prism that fosters marketable skills like discipline, teamwork, oral and written communication, creative expression, collective problem-solving. For undergraduates that means a liberal-arts approach that has them taking classes in all areas of theater on the principle that broad-based knowledge will make students better at their chosen area and more employable once they graduate. Graduate students specialize early on, but they, too, learn through collaboration with faculty, fellow students and guest artists of all backgrounds, crafting a common language as they make theater together.
At both levels, students work very closely with caring, committed, outstanding faculty. The training they get is is relevant not just to theater and related fields, but to many other areas of daily life and in many careers.
Want information about our graduate program? Go here.
Who we are and what we do
What can you do with a degree in theater?
Megan Cannon '96, an alumna, offers an answer:
So what can you do with a theater degree? What CAN'T you do with a theater degree?
I use my degree every day, and have since graduation. At UMass, I learned focus and determination. I learned poise and self-confidence.
After college I planned events and solicited donors for money in the alumni offices at Brandeis, Wheaton and Westfield State. I credit my professors in the Department of Theater for arming me with skills like time management and looking at large picture and small details at the same time.
After years away from theater, I broke my way back in by applying for a job at 6 Flags New England. There, I was a pyrotech for the Batman stunt show, a character actor, costume actor, dancer, special effects make-up artist, director, parade coordinator and puppeteer. I succeeded at 6 Flags because of the confidence and work ethic I learned at UMass. I learned to challenge myself, and it certainly paid off.
I also spent a season as a manager Santaland at Macy's in New York. What better way to use my theater degree than to wrangle elves and unruly puppeteers? Don't get me started on Santa and the Missus!
Currently I am the production manager at FoodPlay Productions, a touring children's theatre that teaches children all over the country about good eating and healthy living. I audition, hire and manage actors and stage managers. I am in charge of all props, sets, sound, costumes, vehicles, housing and budgets. I attribute my supervisory skills to my directing classes at UMass. Directing a show requires sensitive handling of actors, as well as confident decision-making.
I know that the experiences that led me here started with the amazing foundation provided by my UMass theatre degree.
— Megan Cannon '96