The Department of Theater at UMass is an intimate oasis within a large research university. Guided by a spirit of creativity, mentorship, research and service, our collegial faculty are passionately committed to educating well-rounded undergraduate theater artists whose broad based, liberal arts degree fosters creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. We grow complete theater artists who have chances to bloom within and across our three major areas of study: Dramaturgy, Performance, and Design. Our energetic majors pride themselves on their take charge, “can-do” approach to their work and they take ownership of their projects.
Our excellent, high-caliber faculty marry the theoretical with the practical, guiding students to discover theatrical skills as well as life skills that serve them in the world of theater and beyond. The expertise of our faculty often engenders artistic projects and opportunities for our students, and they have opportunities to practice their budding professional skills and make artistic creations in official and less official spaces.
The spirit of mentorship permeates our department, and we tailor our teaching and advising to the specific needs and strengths of our students. We build teams in everything we do, teaching students the art of collaboration, working in groups, and tackling projects from start to finish.
We create and produce high caliber, professional artistic creations on stage, telling human stories that connect audiences and performers in our increasingly mediatized world. We model and practice professional theater-making at every level of our teaching and production process.
As a large public university, we remain committed to accessibility and opportunities for all students. While a liberal arts approach guides our undergraduate program, our fully-funded graduate MFAs in Dramaturgy, Directing and Design offer students pre-professional training, a variety of teaching opportunities and mentoring, practical and theoretical skills, and many opportunities to test and hone these skills in our annual season and our small graduate classes.
Ours is a cohesive department, sustained by a collegial and supportive faculty who are sensitive to the ongoing changes and needs of the student body, and constantly work to provide the best curriculum and mentoring possible.
Our greatest achievement is in our graduates, who either use their Theater skills and training creatively in an array of fields and jobs or who go on to do professional theater work and inspire us as the next generation of thinking artists, creative problem solvers, and enterprising young citizens.
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