Department of Theatre and Dance
Dr. Robert Willenbrink
Missouri State University
901 South National Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65897
Programs in the department give students an exceptional foundation for careers in theatre and dance including work as directors, designers, technicians, performers, choreographers, and educators. Graduates are working professionally in many capacities including professional dance companies, regional theatre, Broadway, film & television, Las Vegas, established summer stock and festivals, and in university level education. Graduates who have completed the teacher certification program are working in secondary schools throughout the nation. The department hosts numerous professional career development opportunities including Tent Theatre, an established Equity (AEA) affiliate theatre.
All of the programs in the department meet the standards of excellence established by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and the department is fully accredited by NAST.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance offers three emphases: Acting, Dance, and Design/Theatre Technology/Stage Management. These programs share a common core curriculum that includes diverse courses in addition to specialized courses in their chosen area of emphasis.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis in Acting is aimed at students focused on a performance career in theatre, film, or television.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis in Dance is aimed at students seeking professional careers or who want to pursue an advanced professional degree, or to work in such areas as dance therapy, dance fitness, or dance studio ownership.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance with an emphasis in Design/Technology and Stage Management is for students who want in-depth pre-professional training for entry-level work or who may want an advanced professional degree.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre is a focused training program offered through cooperation with the Departments of Music, Theatre and Dance.
Admission into the BFA programs in Acting, Musical Theatre, and Dance require a formal audition/interview in addition to acceptance into the university. Application materials and audition information can be found on the department’s web site.
The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre degree is for those students who desire a generalist program with course opportunities in acting, directing, technical theatre, dramaturgy, performance studies, theatre for social change, and theatre for young audiences. The program entails a strong core of theatre courses in addition to general education, foreign language, philosophy, fine arts, and western civilization requirements for the university. A minor is also required.
The Bachelor of Science in Education in Speech and Theatre leads to certification in speech and theatre, grades 9-12. Since the state of Missouri regards these as a single certification, students must take course work in both departments within the university. The department offers a Theatre track which requires 39 hours in theatre and a minimum of 14 hours in communication. In addition, students must complete the university general core of requirements and courses in professional education, including supervised teaching.
The MA in Theatre allows student the opportunity to develop an individualized theatrical perspective through an intensive graduate program that entails focused study in history, theory, criticism, and practice. An accelerated degree option is also available.
The department offers a wide variety of courses in dance and theatre. Dance courses include ballet, modern, tap, musical theatre, choreography, history, pedagogy and production. The varied offerings in theatre include performance courses in acting, period styles, voice and movement, solo performance, stage combat, group performance, acting on camera, and directing. Technical courses are offered in the areas of scenery, lighting, costuming, makeup, sound, and stage management. Other theatrical course offerings include theatre for young people, social theatre, theatre history, and theatre for youth, among others. One script analysis course and an introductory theatre technology course are required of all theatre majors.
The department recommends that students take a combination of departmental course work and university general core requirements starting with their semester of program entrance. During the initial semesters, each student should enroll in six to eight hours of major coursework and eight to nine hours of general requirements. A work sheet for each major area showing specific requirements, a semester by semester breakdown, and an overall outline of course advisement by years, is available on the department website. Please refer to the Missouri State Catalog online at www.missouristate.edu/catalog for a complete listing of course descriptions.
The department includes exceptional faculty members with strong professional backgrounds and specializations. Currently twelve full-time faculty members teach in theatre and three full-time in dance. All full-time faculty members have appropriate and competitive terminal degrees for their areas of specializations. Additionally, all faculty members are current industry professionals and serve as artists-in residence, directors, choreographers, designers, and performers. Several are noted published scholars and all acting faculty are members of professional performance unions. In addition to the departmental faculty, five full-time professional staff members also work with students in the areas of dance, musical theatre and theatre technology.
The Department of Theatre and Dance offers competitive classroom facilities and technical support. Primary performance spaces include The Coger Theatre (main stage), and The Balcony Theatre (black box). The Annex, adjacent to Craig Hall, houses professionally equipped design studios, a lighting lab, acting studios, a dance studio and rehearsal hall. A dance studio is located in McDonald Arena.
Departmental and student sponsored productions are also produced in Carrington Auditorium, the historic Gillioz Theatre, The Vandivort Theatre in downtown Springfield, and the state-of-the-art Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts. The department typically presents five productions a year and two dance concerts. In addition, solo performances, ensemble projects, one act plays, and student produced works are staged, produced, and presented by students each semester.
A student choosing a career in theatre or dance should realize that these are highly competitive fields that require an overriding love for and commitment to the art and profession. With this knowledge, the departmental faculty members engage in effective mentoring and individualized teaching to prepare each student for the demands of their chosen path.
The annual production repertoire includes an articulately selected season of classical and contemporary plays, musicals, dance concerts and performances for children. University productions are viewed as a practical and philosophical extension of the classroom. Tent Theatre presents three summer stock productions that provide students the opportunity to perform and work alongside faculty and established industry professionals. Performance and stage management students are endowed with the opportunity to enroll in the Actor's Equity Membership Candidacy Program.
The department sponsors a number of student touring and outreach groups. In-School Players consists of six to eight performers who develop their own material and then tour area elementary and middle schools during the late fall and spring; Inertia Dance Company consists of students who develop material to present as programs in communities and schools in southwest Missouri and northern Arkansas; BareStage is a peer education troupe that develops materials concerning social issues to present before campus organizations; Syncopation Entertainment Troupe develops musical and dance programs to present for university public relations and scholarship fund-raising purposes; the Giving Voice project develops presentations to address issues of equity and diversity.
Students in the department have the opportunity to participate in the American College Dance Festival Regional Conference and the American College Theatre Festival.
Other exceptional opportunities include numerous professional guest artist visitations, workshops and senior showcase/industry showcase trips to New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, and relationships with professional organizations such as Actor's Equity Association, American Alliance for Theatre and Education, American College Dance Festival Association, Association for Theatre in Higher Education, the Association of Theatre Movement Educators. Educational Theatre Association, Fight Directors Canada, International Association of Lighting Designers, Society of American Fight Directors, United Scenic Artists, United States Institute of Theatrical Technology.
Many graduates immediately enter the professional arena, while others choose to attend to graduate programs and advanced-level courses in professional schools. Former students have established a remarkable presence in the professional industries of dance, theatre, film and television. Notable examples include: Kyle Dean Massey, Kendra Kassenbaum, Kathleen Turner, John Goodman, Tess Harper, Jude Sante, Dan Ettinger, Sterling Macer, Jr., Jack Laufer, Dale Hensley, Paul Blankenship, Deidre Goodwin, James Samson, Eric Hall, and ‘le’ Wilhelm. While proud of this highly established group of graduates, the department is most proud of the high percentage rate of graduates that maintain successful careers in their area of theatrical study.
The Speech and Theatre Education program maintains a notably high job placement rate and recent graduates have been recognized as Teachers of the year. Bachelor of Arts students are quite successful as well and pursuing advanced theatre studies at New York University and Cal Arts.
BFA Design/ Technology and Stage Management students are active working professionals at Radio City Music Hall, the Manhattan Theatre Club, and the Williamstown Theatre festival. Some are pursuing advanced design study at prestigious theatre schools such as SMU, NYU and Ohio University.
The department awards Board of Governors Scholarships and Regents Scholarships each year to new students. To qualify for scholarships, first-time BFA candidates students must present auditions or technical materials, be interviewed and complete the university scholarship application. BA and BSED students must complete the university scholarship application. The scholarships are awarded on a one year basis, and students must reapply in the spring semester of each year for re-consideration. Waivers for out-of-state fees also are available. Additional information and applications may be secured from the departmental office.