Theatre Arts & Music Department Programs

"We operate on a very intense schedule for a small department. But the quality of our productions is very high, and we have gained a reputation in the larger community so our audience always expects excellence.” – Krista Hansen, MFA, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

The Dominican theatre arts program has two main performance spaces: Lund Auditorium, which seats 1,170, and Martin Recital Hall, which seats 180.

The department produces three main stage shows each year, plus two or three additional events, including a staged reading and a black box experimental theater performance.

Theatre arts majors are welcome to audition for parts upon arrival at Dominican, ensuring many opportunities to polish their craft. In fact, even nonmajors can audition for shows, though majors will be cast when possible.

Every student who works on a production, whether onstage or backstage, signs a contract. In it, the student agrees to properly prepare for and attend all rehearsals and performances. Contracts are rare in the student world, but they demonstrate just how professional Dominican productions are.

Theatre arts majors must also plan and execute a final senior performance/production project approved by the theatre arts faculty. Students may prepare a thesis role (with additional work assigned), direct a production, create a fully designed technical layout for a production, perform their own original performance material, or produce in-depth dramaturgical research on an assigned production. The final project may qualify a student to earn a degree with distinction.

 

Concentrations

The Theatre Arts department requires a set of 13 foundational courses. Additionally, each major is required to read 100 plays, most of which will be covered in their coursework.

All theatre arts majors must meet these additional requirements:

  • One audition each year
  • Two audition workshops
  • One arts management workshop
  • A final capstone project

Majors can pursue a concentration by choosing their electives from one of five different areas.

Performance (Acting & Directing)

This program facilitates the use of many theatrical techniques. Students will:

  • Enhance their self-awareness and confidence
  • Increase their physical and vocal dexterity
  • Engage their imaginations
  • Assess textual meanings and historical data
  • Apply thought and feeling to action
  • Highlight aesthetic detail
  • Articulate their ideas and observations.

As students gain trust in themselves, their classmates and the creative process, they develop valuable life skills that can be used in any career or situation. Performance majors are encouraged to appreciate the viewpoints of others and to explore how the arts reflect and shape our society.

Design/Technical

Through classes, departmental productions and work at the Performing Arts Center, students will gain valuable experience and the opportunity to participate in many technical aspects of theatre— scenery, costumes, lighting and sound.

This concentration provides direct, practical experience in a positive and dedicated atmosphere, where students work with highly trained faculty as well as professional designers and touring companies.

Advanced students also earn significant responsibility in various production areas, including:

  • Stage management
  • Scenic art
  • Set construction
  • Wardrobe
  • Sound
  • Props
  • Electrics

Our flexible and extensive technical curriculum gives students a solid foundation in the skills needed to compete in today’s entertainment industry.

Dramaturgy

The dramaturg wears many hats.  Students wanting to pursue this multi-disciplinary profession will acquire knowledge in

  • Research methods
  • Theatre history
  • Dramatic world literature
  • Aesthetic criticism
  • Creative writing, including script writing
  • Communication skills, especially public relations
  • Theatre production

A dramaturg, when collaborating on specific plays, must provide answers to questions posed by actors, designers, directors, and audience members.  Students will learn to explore not only the explicit meaning of a text, but also the significance that grows out of a play’s historical period, stylistic genre, and production history.

Students of dramaturgy will gain a working knowledge of the effects of theatre throughout time.  In pursuing artistic meaning with passion, they will contribute to the production of inspiring work for diverse audiences.

Theatre in Education

Students will learn to bring theatre to children of all ages. They will also study how the art form benefits children’s mental, physical and emotional development. This field of study includes:

  • Selecting, interpreting and staging age-appropriate literary and dramatic works
  • Acquiring interdisciplinary technical skills
  • Teaching performance through production, storytelling and improvisation


Students pursuing careers in teaching or early childhood education may either major in this concentration or use it as a minor to support an education major. The early childhood education major also offers theatre arts as one of its fields of study.

Theatre Studies

This concentration is designed to satisfy students who want a broad overview of theatre’s many facets, rather than just one aspect of theatre.

The concentration helps students become informed theatre generalists and benefits those who have a strong interest in multiple areas of theatre. It involves an artistic and academic pursuit of both past and present forms of theatre and encompasses select courses from two or more of the above concentrations.

Minor

“A theatre minor will give you a skill set that any employer would want, including communications and time management. Plus, you’ll show that you can take direction and know how to collaborate with others.” – Krista Hansen, MFA, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

All Dominican theatre arts majors must complete either an interdisciplinary minor or a double major. Those who are interested in theatre typically have broad interests, so many majors find this requirement to be a good fit with their goals. Common choices for minors include:

  • Apparel design
  • Art history
  • Business
  • Communications
  • English
  • Graphic design
  • Music

All theatre arts minors are required to read 35 plays, most of which will be covered in their theatre coursework.

Students completing a theatre arts minor with a concentration in performance, theatre in education or theatre studies must meet these additional requirements:

  • One audition each year
  • Two audition workshops
  • One arts management workshop

Music

Dominican either offers a Music major or minor.

Music Major

Students who wish to major in music will take a majority of the classes needed to complete the major at neighboring Concordia University.

Under a cooperative exchange plan, full-time Dominican students may take one or two courses per semester at Concordia. Music majors may take more than two. There is no additional fee for this privilege. The exchange agreement does not cover special fees for music lessons—students must cover those costs.

Students register first at Concordia to confirm that there is room in the course, then at Dominican. Concordia is located a half-mile east of Dominican’s Main Campus and across from Dominican’s Priory Campus.

Dominican students wishing to major in music would take the Core Curriculum and electives at Dominican. They would then complete the requirements for the music major as specified in the current Concordia undergraduate bulletin, in consultation with the Chair of Concordia’s Music department.

Several of the specific music courses Concordia requires may be taken at Dominican. Most of them would be taken at Concordia, however.

After Dominican

“We treat our profession with a hefty dose of realism, so we require students to also complete a minor in a related field or a double major.” – Krista Hansen, MFA, Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts

Dominican’s Theatre Arts department encourages all theatre arts students to pursue their dreams, but it’s good to have a backup plan, too. That’s why the department requires all majors to complete either a double major or a minor in another field.

Within the theatre profession, career opportunities for Dominican theatre arts graduates are extensive. They include:

  • Actor
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Designer (lighting, sound, scenery, costume)
  • Talent agent/scout
  • Performance artist
  • Casting director
  • Film/print model
  • Stage/combat artist
  • Dramaturg
  • Facilities/house manager
  • Stage/company manager
  • Screenwriter
  • Playwright
  • Box office administrator
  • Audience developer
  • Theatre public relations/marketing manager

Graduates who want to step outside the theatre world will also find themselves well-prepared to pursue substantive opportunities in the business, political and education spheres, too, including:

  • Speech writer
  • Motivational speaker
  • Corporate trainer
  • Arts educator
  • Script writer for corporate and training videos