Theatre: Acting & Direction Major

BW's comprehensive theatre majors include studies in acting, auditioning, voice, script analysis, directing, stage management and more.

Theatre: Acting & Directing


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Undergraduate Admission

(440) 826-2222, (877) BW-APPLY,




Explore your theatrical expression and develop the technical and narrative skills needed for a successful and rewarding career in acting and directing.

Baldwin Wallace's theatre major integrates extensive hands-on learning with comprehensive coursework. You'll build skills in acting, voice, movement, make-up, audition techniques, script analysis, directing, stage management and more. 

Foundation courses in literature, history, performance, technical and collaborative studies help you develop analytical skills and insights into professional theatre. Small class sizes, individual attention and faculty mentoring are at the core of the program. You’ll be encouraged to participate in professional apprenticeship opportunities nationally and abroad.

BW faculty are practicing professionals with contacts at Cleveland’s Great Lakes Theater, Cleveland Public Theatre, Beck Center for the Arts and Dobama Theatre, as well as Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.

Through these opportunities, you'll gain experience, earn Equity points, network and build an impressive resume. On campus, you can get involved in theatrical productions through performance, design and construction, production, management and marketing.

With both proscenium and black box theatres, BW offers traditional and contemporary audience settings that provide a variety of learning environments, including theatre in-the-round, thrust staging and more.

  • "Intimate Apparel" by Lynn Nottage

    BW produces a wide range of plays, including classics and new works.

  • "Quality Street" by JM Barrie

    BW takes a fresh approach to the classics, as evidenced by this acclaimed staging of a neglected masterpiece.

  • Music Theatre student applying makeup

    Backstage at Baldwin Wallace

    Actors prepare in two large, well-lit dressing rooms. BW has an outstanding costume department that treats all students like professionals.

  • "The Diviners" by Jim Leonard Jr.

    A busy production schedule means there are many opportunities to perform on the BW stage beginning freshmen year.

  • Music Theatre student dancing during performance

    "What is Love?" - a devised play based on "Romeo and Juliet"

    Entirely student written and conceived, this production represents one of the many ways BW students benefit from exceptional hands-on learning opportunities. Technical skill, innovation, creativity and a commitment to new works are hallmarks of the theatre major.

  • Male music theatre student kneeling during performance

    "The Two Noble Kinsmen"

    Stage combat classes are offered as an elective to BA in theatre students. Weapons taught include rapier, dagger, hand-to-hand and broadsword.

  • A BW professor works with students in the theatre

    Faculty-student collaboration

    One-on-one coaching and mentoring are at the heart of BW’s theatre major.

  • "Pericles" by Shakespeare

    Our two annual Shakespeare productions feature live music performed by the casts.


  • Actor
  • Director
  • Critic
  • Theatre manager
  • Stage manager
  • Playwright
  • Casting or talent agent
  • Dramaturg


At BW, theatre majors can focus their studies in acting and directing, dance and movement, design and technical and stage management. All programs include a solid foundation of courses designed to give students a comprehensive overview of theatre.


Heighten your understanding and appreciation of British theatre through a study abroad experience. The program is a three-week, credit-earning immersion course in British theatre that includes a nine-day trip to London. It is led by BW theatre faculty.

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Theatre Productions

Baldwin Wallace's theatre and dance department produces two main stage productions and a series of one-acts each semester. Productions include musicals, operas, plays and a dance concert.

Mainstage Series 2019-2020


Co-production with
BW Music Theatre

Book by Harvey Fierstein
Music and Lyrics by
Cyndi Lauper

Directed by Victoria Bussert
November 12-24

By Anton Chekov
Directed by Brennan Murphy
January 22-26

fyoo zh en 20
The Body Politic
of the Beautiful

Based on the research of
Dr. Ana de Freitas Boe
Directed by Sara Whale
February 12-15

By Stephen Dietz
Directed by Scott Plate
April 22-26

Studio Series 2019-2020

By Stephen Adly Guirgis
Directed by Nathan Motta
October 23-26

Directed by Keira McDonald
March 25-28

Lab Series 2019-2020

Marginalia: Interplay with Poe
Directed by Sara Whale
October 31-November 2

By Sarah Ruhl
Directed by Maria Maggard
November 14-16

Written & Directed by Shane Thatcher
January 23-25

Dance Works in Progress
Directed by Sara Whale
April 29

December 10
May 5

Staged Readings 2019-2020

By Wendy Wasserstein
Directed by Martin Friedman
September 20-21

By Bertolt Brecht
Directed by Martin Friedman
March 20-21


Offered as a major and a minor, theatre offers four programs of study: acting and directing, dance and movement, design and technical and stage management. BW also offers a major in music theatre through its Conservatory of Music and a BFA in acting.

The theatre major provides a broad perspective of the literature, history and creative practices of the discipline. Courses prepare students to appreciate and participate in theatre at all levels of performance, production, direction, design and management.

You can study acting, directing, voice and movement, scenic and costume design, lighting, stage management, theatre history and more. You also can take special seminars in contemporary topics.

The theatre major prepares students to:

  • Develop an awareness and appreciation of theatre and/or dance as art forms and as a vital asset to society
  • Acquire competency in their chosen area of study
  • Acquire an understanding of the history of the theatre and/or dance including its literature and criticism
  • Develop responsible standards of criticism regarding the aesthetics of theatre and/or dance
  • Develop research skills/techniques applicable to scholarly and/or production needs
  • Develop an understanding of the collaborative nature of theatre and/or dance by active participation in production work within the program
Course Catalog

Course Descriptions

Course descriptions, requirements for the major and additional information can be found in the University Catalog.


Experiential learning bridges classroom study with real-world opportunities. You can enhance your studies through theatre productions, internships, co-curricular activities and student organizations.

Student Organizations

Theatre Arts and Performance

This organization supports student theatre artists and those interested in theatre on campus. It informs students of events and opportunities in theatre, maintains an open forum for student ideas and projects, and raises awareness of on- and off-campus theatrical events.

United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT)

The BW student chapter of USITT is committed to strengthening the skills of technical theatre students while carrying out the mission of the national organization. USITT serves to create vibrant dialogue among practitioners, educators and students.


The Department of Theatre and Dance is located in Kleist Center for Art & Drama. It houses two theatres: Mainstage and Black Box Theatre.

The Mainstage Theatre is a large 512-seat proscenium theatre. The stage has a 67-foot fly loft with a counterweight system. The stage opening is 44' by 24' with an extended 15-foot apron, ample wings and depth measuring 30 feet. This facility also boasts a new lighting system installed by ETC. With over 200 dimmers, lights are operated on an Emphasis board including a WYSIWYG program.

The Black Box Theatre is a smaller, flexible theatre with seating between 100-250. This unique studio space is intended to provide a variety of seating arrangements, including proscenium, three-quarter-thrust and in-the-round. The theatre has a balcony around three sides and a lighting grid 23 feet above the stage floor. This space also boasts a new Strand Century Lighting system with a 520 series light board.

Off-Campus Experiences

Baldwin Wallace's close proximity to Cleveland and its nationally ranked arts organizations offers outstanding learning and performance opportunities. BW students worked with many of them, including:


At Baldwin Wallace, you’ll experience personal and professional growth in a supportive community that challenges and inspires you to succeed.

Recent BW theatre acting and directing majors are finding their success in a variety of careers and studying in top graduate programs. 

Cait EnglerCait Engler ’15 is an actor based in Los Angeles. Her most recent credits include roles on Ed Alonzo’s “Psycho Circus” and “Neal Patrick Harris: Circus Awesomeus,” which aired on HBO Canada. She has extensive commercial and independent film credits. Cait is from Waconia, Minnesota.

Kelly SmithKelly Smith ’14 is an actor and a member of Actor’s Equity. She holds an MFA from Florida State University Asolo Conservatory. She performs with the Asolo Repertory Theatre and Dog Days Theatre. Kelly is from Willoughby, Ohio. 

Sarah BellSarah Bell ’14 is an actor based in Chicago. She is recurring actor with We Three Plays and teaching artist with Chicago Youth Shakespeare. She holds a master’s in classical acting from the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in London. Sarah is from Westerville, Ohio. 

Jill TigheJill Tighe ’13 is producer and actor with DC Drunk Shakespeare and company member with a Shakespearean improve troupe at Unified Scene Theatre in Washington, D.C. She played Cat in Jonelle Walker’s "TAME." The production received a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Play or Musical Adaptation.

Susanne HoustleSusanne Houstle ’12 is MFA candidate at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, where she studies costume design under a full tuition fellowship. At BW, she developed the versatility to work in a variety of capacities in the field. She has worked exclusively in theatre since graduation. Susanne is from Avon Lake, Ohio. 

Caitlin LewinsCaitlin Lewins ’10 is an actor, musician, writer and director based in Cleveland. She was recently awarded a Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellowship with Cleveland Public Theatre. This prestigious fellowship supports emerging playwrights as they develop new works. Caitlin is from Cleveland. 

Laura BergLaura Berg ’05 is company member with Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland. BW faculty helped her get hired as an understudy with the professional classical theater as an undergraduate. Laura was recently the first woman to play Hamlet in a Great Lakes Theater production. She is from Akron, Ohio. 




(440) 826-2239,

Full-Time Faculty

Tesia Benson
Assistant Professor
Make-up, Costume Construction

Victoria Bussert
Director, Music Theatre Program
Professor of Theatre

Gregory Daniels
Coordinator, Dance Program
Associate Professor of Dance
Jazz, Tap

Anjanette Hall
Assistant Professor

Les Hunter
Associate Professor
Playwriting, Script Analysis, Screenwriting

Keira Lea McDonald
Associate Profesor

Brennan Murphy
Department Chair, Theatre & Dance
Associate Professor
Acting, Voice

Annika Sheaff
Assistant Professor
Ballet, Modern Dance

David Allen Stoughton
Assistant Professor

Sara Whale
Assistant Professor
Ballet, Modern, Improv, Choreography

Charlotte Yetman
Costume Design Program Coordinator

Adjunct Faculty

Laura Welsh Berg

Melanie Boeman
Costume Shop Manager

Pamela Decker
Theatre History, Dramaturgy, Script Analysis

Martin Friedman
Script Analysis, Intro to Theatre

Dylan Fujimura
Technical Director

Shannon B. Fujimura
B.F.A., Kent State University

Fred Gloor
Improvisation, Intro to Theatre

Heidi Glynias

Tracy Grady
Area Coordinator, Music Theatre
Singing for Actors, Voice

Todd Krispinsky
Theatre Management

Christine McBurney

Lisa Ortenzi
Creative Dramatics

Corrie Purdum
Stage Management 

Pandora Robertson
Movement, Devised Theatre

Kelly Smith

Bob Taylor
Theatre Seminar in London

Dusten Welch
Resident Fight Director, Stage Combat


Yolanda Kennedy
Office Manager

Josh Padgett
Assistant Technical Director