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

SCHOOL OF HUMANITIES

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Undergraduate Admission

(440) 826-2222, (877) BW-APPLY, admission@bw.edu

 

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OVERVIEW

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.

CAREER OPPORTUNITIES

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

FOUR SPECIALIZED PROGRAMS OF STUDY

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.

STUDY THEATRE IN LONDON

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.

Performances for the 2020-21 season will be streamed for viewing, no in-person audience.

Mainstage Series 2020-21

Spring Awakening
Music by Duncan Sheik, Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater
Directed by Victoria Bussert
Choreography by Gregory Daniels
Music Direction by Matthew Webb
Nov. 11  22, 2020

fyoo zh en '21
Directed by Sara Whale
Feb. 24 – 27, 2021
Inspired by Research of a BWU Professor

She Kills Monsters by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Keira McDonald
April 14 – 18, 2021

Studio Series

Stupid F##king Bird by Arron Posner
Directed by New Directing Faculty
Oct. 28 – Nov. 1, 2020

Men On Boats by Jaqulyn Backhaus
Directed by Anjanette Hall
March 24 – 28, 2021

Lab Series

Devised Blues: Uncut and Funky
Directed by Jeannine Gaskin
September 30, 2020  October 4, 2020

Muses Anonymous
Adapted and directed by Sara Whale
Oct. 29 – Nov. 1, 2020

Staged Reading: A Staged Reading
Written and Directed by Sam Sommer
Nov. 19 - 21, 2020

The Play Selection Committee is accepting proposals for the Lab Series slot Feb. 18, 19, 20, 2021
Due date for proposals: March 13
See Dave Stoughton for more info.

Testing Ground: Danceworks-in-Progress
Directed by Sara Whale
April 28, 2021

Staged Reading Series

Blue Stockings
By Jessica Swale
Directed by Martin Friedman
September 18 & 19, 2020

Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom by Jennifer Haley
Directed by Martin Friedman
March 19 & 20, 2021

CURRICULUM

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.

STUDENT EXPERIENCES

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.

Facilities

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:

ALUMNI SUCCESS

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. 

FACULTY

 

DEPARTMENT OF THEATRE AND DANCE

(440) 826-2239, theatre@bw.edu

Full-Time Acting Faculty

Victoria Bussert
Director, Music Theatre Program
Professor of Theatre

René Copeland
Assistant Professor
Directing Program Coordinator

Anjanette Hall
Assistant Professor

Keira Lea McDonald
Associate Professor
Movement Specialist

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

Full-Time Dance Faculty

Gregory Daniels
Associate Professor
Dance Program Coordinator
Jazz, Tap

Annika Sheaff
Assistant Professor
Ballet, Modern Dance

Sara Whale
Assistant Professor
Ballet, Modern, Improv, Choreography

Full-Time Design/Tech Faculty

Tesia Benson
Assistant Professor
Make-up, Costume Construction

Jeff Herrmann
Professor

David Allen Stoughton
Assistant Professor

Charlotte Yetman
Professor
Costume Design Program Coordinator

Adjunct Faculty

Leilani Barrett
Lecturer
Acting for the Camera

Laura Welsh Berg
Lecturer, Acting
M.F.A., DePaul University

Melanie Boeman
Lecturer
Costume Shop Manager

Martin Friedman
Lecturer
Theatre Literature

Dylan Fujimura
Lecturer
Technical Director

Shannon B. Fujimura
Lecturer
B.F.A., Kent State University
Stage Management

Kim Gladden
Lecturer
Dance
M.D., George Washington University School of Medicine

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

Heidi Harris
Lecturer
Acting
M.F.A., George Washington University

Christine McBurney
Lecturer
Theatre Literature

Lisa Ortenzi
Lecturer
Creative Dramatics

Dusten Welch
Lecturer
Resident Fight Director, Stage Combat

Staff

Yolanda Kennedy
Office Manager

Josh Padgett
Assistant Technical Director