Program Details

Program of Study

The WIU Department of Theatre and Dance offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in theatre, including a Bachelor of Arts in theatre, Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theatre, Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in acting, MFA in directing and MFA in design. The department also offers minors in dance and in theatre. The department is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST).

The Bachelor of Arts in Theatre is a liberal arts degree with options in performance and production/design. The 120 semester hour (sh) BA in theatre provides a well-rounded core of theatre courses in acting, stagecraft, theatre history, dramatic literature and theatre design and technology, as well as upper-level study in the option specialties. BA students also take a minor, general education courses and electives. No audition or interview is required for admittance to the program. The BA in theatre is a GradTrac program.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre degree is designed to prepare students for a professional career in musical theatre or admission into an advanced degree program. The BFA in Musical Theatre provides the student with rigorous specialized training in dance, acting and voice. This 138 sh program requires proficiency assessment throughout the four years of study. Students must complete their general education courses and 95 sh in musical theatre courses, but a minor is not required. Students must complete a professional summer semester as part of their coursework requirements. Candidates for the BFA program are selected by annual auditions and interviews.

Performance and Production Opportunities

Western is highly regarded for ambitious theatre and dance programs, offering a vast array of performance and production opportunities. University Theatre and University Dance Theatre produce six mainstage theatre productions and the Winter Faculty DanceWorks and Spring Gala Dance Concerts every season. Additional opportunities to perform and work behind the scenes designing, building and crewing productions are available through the very active studio production season, which presents 10-12 shows each year. There are also other performance opportunities in dance during the academic year.

Exciting Facts About Theatre and Dance at Western

  • The curriculum offers multiple levels of acting, voice, movement, acting for the camera, costume, scenic and lighting design, theatre practice and a three-part survey of World Theatre History.
  • Dance courses are offered in ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, composition, dance history, improvisation and musical theatre dance.
  • There is a strong stage combat program at Western. Students can take numerous courses in combat and earn certification in armed and unarmed combat. We have one of the best theatre armories in the country.
  • BYOP (Bring Your Own Play), Western’s own ten-minute playwriting festival. Numerous BYOP playwrights have gone on to win national awards and international productions.
  • The department has gained national recognition for its students’ performances and presentations at the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival and the American College Dance Festival.
  • Students in the musical theatre BFA program receive singing training from teachers who are trained in both Classical and Contemporary Commercial Music (CCM) vocal techniques, including specialists in belt voice and Somatic Voicework℠, the Lovetri Method. The BFA musical theatre degree program is one of Western’s Signature Academic Programs.


The theatre and dance facilities include three theatres, well-appointed shops, acting studios, dance studios and classrooms, including the following:

Hainline Theatre is a 387-seat proscenium theatre for mainstage and dance productions.

Horrabin Theatre is a 161-seat thrust stage for mainstage productions.

Simpkins Hall Theatre is a flexible space, which changes configuration every semester for studio productions.

Brophy Dance Studio is a spacious dance studio with a Rosco sprung floor and marly surface.

All of the theatres have up-to-date computerized lighting and sound equipment. The scene and costume shops are well-equipped and staffed by professional personnel. The theatre and dance department’s classrooms are located in Sallee and Simpkins Halls. The department has its own computer CAD lab.

Jeff Young

Possible Careers in Theatre and Dance

Theatre students make OUTSTANDING employees for their wide range of abilities, such as creative problem solving, time management, performance and public speaking, professionalism, attention detail, motivation, commitment, collaboration and teamwork, self-confidence, to name a few! They are well prepared to enter careers in:

  • Professional Acting and Directing
  • Theatre Management/Arts Management
  • Stage Management
  • Designing
    • Costumes
    • Lighting
    • Scenery
    • Sound
    • Projections
  • Teaching
    • Acting
    • Directing
    • Design
  • Public Relations
  • Graphic Design
  • Communication
  • Foundation/Development
Michael Boatman

Accomplished Alumni

The WIU Department of Theatre and Dance has alumni who have won Joseph Jefferson Awards for acting and design in Chicago, Kevin Kline Awards for acting in St. Louis and Emmy Awards for their work in television. Former Western students have appeared in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, major motion pictures, television series, commercials, outdoor dramas and regional theatre.

Former Western theatre students have designed sets for local, regional and network television shows; and they work as technical directors, designers, dressers, technicians and stage managers around the world.

Dance students have worked professionally for the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Alabama Contemporary Dance, Philadanco and the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Company.

Corporations that have hired Western students include Paramount Pictures; Walt Disney Productions; the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theatres in Chicago; the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; the Folger Theatre in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.; the Public Theater in New York; the Alabama, Wisconsin and Georgia Shakespeare Festivals; Spielberg Productions; and NBC, Nickelodeon, CBS, Showtime, HBO, PBS, WGN and ABC television networks.

Theatre and Dance Courses

Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for detailed program information and course requirements.


100 University Theatre Perspectives. (3) An introduction to all elements of the theatre by providing students with lecture/demonstrations and hands-on experience in eight areas of theatre study. Primarily for Theatre majors. Lab.

101 Play Analysis. (3) (General Education/Fine Arts) Analysis of plays in terms of plot, theme, character, dialogue, etc., preparatory to approaching the dramatic materials in terms of theatrical production. Production attendance is required.

110 Introduction to the Theatre. (3) (General Education/Fine Arts) Designed to acquaint the student with an overview of the aesthetics of drama and the practical aspects of the living theatre. Production attendance is required. IAI: F1 907.

130 Theatre Practice. (1, repeatable to 2) Designed to increase proficiency in preparation and presentation of theatrical performance. At least one facet of the student’s contribution must be carried out under the direct supervision of a member of the Theatre faculty. Open to freshmen only.

145 Fundamentals of Lighting and Sound. (3) An introduction to stage lighting and audio production including basic electrical theory, control systems, instrumentation and equipment, industry practices, and safety.

150 Stagecraft. (3) Study of basic skills of play production including carpentry, scenic painting, and prop construction.

151 Technical Theatre Practicum I. (1) Training and supervised work in theatre production, including costume construction, set and prop construction, and crew assignments. Prerequisite: THEA 150.

165 Fundamentals of Costume Construction. (3) An introduction to costuming and costume production for the theatre including sewing, draping, crafts, and wardrobe.

170 Movement I. (2) This course will develop an awareness of the actor’s physical self while expanding the actor’s physical potential. This course will also develop the actor’s kinesthetic awareness to be sensitive to stimuli such as other people, various environments, and psychological moods.

171 Voice Techniques I. (2) Development of the physical and aesthetic nature of voice production. Individual analysis of voices directs attention to improvement of quality, articulation, and pronunciation.

172 Acting I. (3) (General Education/Fine Arts) Fundamental concepts, terms, and techniques in acting. Participation in class exercises and problems give the student an opportunity to begin developing skills in performance. IAI: TA 914.

176 Techniques of Musical Theatre Performance. (3) Designed to introduce the student to the practical demands and staging of musical comedy in the theatre. Emphasis will be placed on specific dance routines, musical comedy styles, and audition pieces. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

201 Multiculturalism in Theatre. (3) (General Education/Multicultural Studies) An analysis of multicultural issues found in drama. The class will survey cultural differences as well as the issues and topics unique and specific to various cultures and minorities.

230 Theatre Practice. (1, repeatable to 2) Same as THEA 130. Open to sophomores only.

251 Technical Theatre Practicum II. (1) Continuation of THEA 151. Training and supervised work in theatre production including costume construction, set and prop construction, and crew assignments. Prerequisite: THEA 151.

269 Make-Up. (2) Practice and theory of make-up in the theatre, designed to develop proficiency in the various techniques and styles of make-up application. Lab fee: purchase of make-up kit required.

270 Movement II. (3) Continuation of THEA 170— Movement I. This course explores the actor’s own movement habits and patterns, and develops methods for altering and implementing new physical mannerisms for created characters through movement and masks. Prerequisite: THEA 170 or permission of instructor.

271 Music Skills for Musical Theatre I. (2) Basic musicianship skills with specific applications to Musical Theatre situations. Prerequisites: Musical Theatre major with sophomore standing; B.F.A. music fundamentals proficiency or MUS 180—Fundamentals of Music; B.F.A. piano proficiency or MUS 065—Remedial Piano.

273 Improvisation for Theatre. (3) Designed to enhance intuitive and spontaneous skills of acting through a series of structured exercises focusing on conflict, situation, and characterization. Prerequisite: THEA 172.

274 Music Skills for Musical Theatre II. (2) A continuation of THEA 271. Prerequisites: Musical Theatre major with sophomore standing and THEA 271; B.F.A. music fundamentals proficiency or MUS 180— Fundamentals of Music; B.F.A. piano proficiency or MUS 065—Remedial Piano.

276 Musical Theatre Studio. (3) Performance of major roles of Musical Theatre in studio projects. Emphasis on the student’s integration of singing, acting, and movement into a unified performance. Prerequisite: Musical Theatre major with sophomore standing.

278 Musical Theatre Lab. (1, repeatable to 3) Individual or small-group laboratory work to assist theatre students in preparing for musical auditions, Summer Music Theatre, Musical Theatre techniques classes, and personal growth. Prerequisite: MUS 180 or permission of instructor.

298 Independent Study. (1–3) Private work on specific problems in performance or tech/design with an approved advisor. Student must request course the semester before enrolling.

311 (Formerly THEA 272) Acting II. (3) Continuation of THEA 172—Acting I, with the emphasis on script analysis and in-class scene study. Prerequisites: THEA 170 or DAN 113; and THEA 171 and 172.

321 Stage Management. (3) Study of the procedures involved in stage management with opportunities for the student to gain experience in this area.

323 Theatre Organization and Management. (3) Study of the procedures involved in theatre publicity and sales with opportunities for the student to gain experience in this area.

330 Theatre Practice. (1, repeatable to 2) Same as THEA 130. Open to juniors only.

337 Professional Semester. (12) Designed to give the undergraduate student the opportunity and the learning experience to practice the craft of theatre off-campus in a professional situation. Students may enroll in this course only after they have been accepted into a reputable theatre organization and have received approval from the Theatre faculty. Because most of the student’s time will be spent off-campus working in a theatre, or with a theatre organization, students should not enroll in any other courses during the semester they are enrolled in THEA 337.

338 Advanced Topics in Technical Theatre. (2) Creative and practical projects assigned in conjunction with major campus productions. Prerequisite: THEA 150 or permission of instructor.

345 Lighting Design I. (3) In-depth investigation of the varied aspects of stage lighting theory, design, and practice. The practice will include theoretical production experiences. Prerequisite: THEA 145.

350 Technical Theatre Practicum III. (1) Continuation of THEA 251. Training and supervised work in theatre production including costume construction, set and prop construction, and crew assignments. Prerequisite: THEA 251.

354 Theatrical Drafting. (3) Advanced study of the principles and methods of drafting conventions and techniques employed by the theatre designer or technician. Prerequisite: THEA 150 or permission of instructor.

355 Scene Design I. (3) Introduction to the methodology and practice of scene design. Application of knowledge through a series of fundamental design projects. Prerequisite: THEA 354 or permission of instructor.

356 Theatrical Rendering. (3) Media and techniques employed in the presentation of theatrical designs. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

365 Costume Design I. (3) History of fashion. Discussion of the theory of costume design and color. Projects assigned in interpreting historical clothing into theatrical costume. Prerequisite: THEA 165.

371 Voice Techniques II. (3) Increasing vocal effectiveness through ear training and the development of voice techniques required in problem performance areas. Prerequisites: THEA 171 and 172, or permission of instructor.

372 Acting: Characterization. (3) Intense and extensive character analysis and improvisation exploring possible strategies and approaches an actor may take in presenting a character. Prerequisite: THEA 270 and 311.

373 Acting: Shakespeare. (3) Designed to deal with individual problems of the actor. Consideration is given to acting in verse drama, particularly the works of Shakespeare. Prerequisite: THEA 270 and 311.

381 (Formerly THEA 282) Directing I. (3) The director’s function in theatrical production from an aesthetic and practical standpoint. Prerequisite: THEA 101, 172, and 321.

382 Directing II. (3) A continuation of the development of directorial skills using classroom exercises, discussions, and scene work. Prerequisite: THEA 381 or permission of instructor.

390 World Theatre History I. (3) (Global Issues) A survey of world theatre history and literature from its origins in antiquity through the 17th century, tracing the social, political, and economic conditions in which theatre has developed around the world. Prerequisites: successful completion of ENG 180 and 280.

391 World Theatre History II. (3) A survey of world theatre history and literature from the 17th century to the 1930s, tracing the social, political, and economic conditions in which theatre has developed around the world. Writing Instruction in the Disciplines (WID) course. Prerequisites: successful completion of ENG 180 and 280.

392 World Theatre History III. (2) A survey of world theatre history and literature from the 1930s to the present, tracing the social, political, and economic conditions in which theatre has developed around the world. Prerequisites: successful completion of ENG 180 and 280.

400 Independent Research and Projects. (1–6, repeatable for different topics to 6) Individual study or research under supervision of the faculty. Open to seniors who have demonstrated special competence in Theatre. By permission of the department chairperson only. Student must request course the semester before enrolling.

401 Honors Thesis/Project. (3) A capstone course for students pursuing Departmental Honors in Theatre. Students will write a senior honors thesis or produce a final graded creative project. Prerequisite: G H 299 and 6 s.h. of in-course honors in Theatre; good standing in the Centennial Honors College; senior Theatre major.

409 Playwriting I. (2) Designed to instruct in the basic principles of the art of playwriting: objective, development of obstacles in incidents, characterization, and climax. Prerequisite: ENG 180 and 280.

419 Playwriting II. (2) Continuation of THEA 409. Students who have achieved a basic level of proficiency in the art of playwriting are encouraged to further develop their skills. Prerequisites: THEA 409; ENG 180 and 280.

430 Theatre Practice. (1, repeatable to 2) Same as THEA 130. Open to seniors only.

446 Lighting Design II. (3) Continuation of THEA 345. The varied aspects of production experience. Prerequisite: THEA 345.

450 Technical Theatre Practicum IV. (1) Continuation of THEA 350. Training and supervised work in theatre production including costume construction, set and prop construction, and crew assignments. Prerequisite: THEA 350.

451 Decor. (4) Survey of architectural elements, furnishings, and decorative motifs useful to theatre designers: prehistoric through modern including Far Eastern styles.

456 Scene Painting. (2) Introduction to painting for the stage with an emphasis on materials, texturing techniques, and three-dimensional effects. Lab fee required.

465 Costume Design II. (3) Projects assigned in interpreting historical clothing into theatrical costume. Prerequisite: THEA 365 or permission of instructor.

470 Stage Combat: Unarmed. (4) Students will learn safe, effective techniques for performing unarmed stage fights, falls, and rolls. Emphasis on acting the fight, safety, and realism. Prerequisites: THEA 170 and 172, or permission of instructor.

472 Auditions. (2) Designed to prepare the advanced acting student in the techniques, opportunities, and procedures of auditioning, interviewing, and constructing resumes for advanced study or career placement. Prerequisite: THEA 372 or 373.

473 Acting and the Camera. (3, repeatable to 9) A course designed to incorporate skills learned in basic acting classes and basic video or film production courses, emphasizing camera students working with actors and actors working in front of the camera. Prerequisite: Performance students: THEA 311 or permission of instructor; Camera students: BC 110 or 361 or permission of instructor.

474 Stage Combat: Armed. (4, repeatable to a maximum of 12) Designed to teach safe, effective techniques for various weapons. Weapons could include broadsword, sword and shield, quarterstaff, rapier, and dagger. Emphasis on acting the story and safety. Prerequisites: THEA 470 and/or permission of the instructor.

476 Advanced Techniques of Musical Theatre. (3) Continuation of THEA 176. Further development of singing and acting abilities, enabling the student to fuse these talents and perform with greater success in the genre of Musical Theatre. Prerequisites: at least two acting classes.

477 Dialects. (3) Training in American regional and foreign dialects most frequently required in performance. Various approaches are introduced so that individuals may develop personal working methods. Prerequisite: THEA 171 and 172, or permission of instructor.

479 Professional Summer Semester. (1–12, repeatable to a maximum of 12) Practical and theoretical work in all aspects of production during intensive eight-week rehearsal and performance of Summer Music Theatre. Auditions required.

481 Rehearsal Techniques. (3) The examination and practical application of techniques for the development of creative rehearsal environments, effective actor/ director communication, and strategies for exploring the moment to moment dynamics of a scene. Prerequisite: THEA 382.

482 Independent Projects in Directing. (3) Supervised independent projects in directing. Prerequisite: THEA 481 with a B or better.

483 Assistant Director Practicum. (1) Designed to give the directing student the opportunity to participate in a mainstage production, the student will work on all aspects of the artistic development of a production under the mentorship of the faculty director. Prerequisites: THEA 481 and permission of instructor.

492 Musical Theatre Auditions and Professional Preparation. (3) Designed to prepare students to be successful at professional Musical Theatre auditions and to provide them with practical skills and information related to show business (i.e.: agents, managers, unions, negotiating, contracts, headshots, resumes, casting directors, etc.). Prerequisite: THEA 276.

496 Experiments and Topics in Theatre. (1–3, repeatable to 6) Investigation and exploration of special projects or experiments which will immerse students in a specific topic, technique, or concept. Prerequisites: ENG 180 and 280; junior or senior standing.

497 Musical Theatre History. (3) History of Musical Theatre, primarily focusing on American Musical Theatre, from its defining influences and roots to the present. Topics to be covered include significant productions, composers, lyricists, librettists, choreographers, directors, designers, and actors. Writing Instruction in the Disciplines (WID) course. Prerequisites: THEA 101 or permission of instructor, and successful completion of ENG 180 and 280.

498 Individual Study. (1–3) Special projects in performance or design. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, and permission of advisor.

499 BFA Senior Project. (3) BFA Musical Theatre seniors are to mount a fully-staged, recital format, production demonstrating high proficiency in the three primary areas of study: acting, singing, and dancing. Seniors are expected to direct their own productions, with faculty guidance. Prerequisites: Musical Theatre major and senior standing.


110 Ballet I. (2, repeatable to 4) Introduction to exercises at barre, exercises at center, simple allegro work, and simple adagio.

112 Jazz Dance I. (2, repeatable to 4) Survey of the historical influences from which jazz dance evolved and beginning jazz techniques.

113 Modern Dance I. (2, repeatable to 4) Beginning modern dance technique and creative approach.

116 Tap Dance I. (1, repeatable to 2) Fundamentals of tap and soft shoe.

117 (Cross-listed with KIN 117) Pilates Exercise. (1) Pilates-based, mat-work fundamentals and basic concepts of Core Dynamics and floor exercises for physical/mental conditioning that change, tone, center, balance, and strengthen the body. Holistic exercise uses specific breath support while the body is engaged in dynamic exercise and includes a posture analysis to determine individual needs and goals. Not open to students with credit in KIN 117.

119 Improvisation. (1) Exploration of individual and group movement potential in a spontaneous context, as it relates to dance.

210 Ballet II. (2, repeatable to 6) Intermediate technique and skill. Continuation of Ballet I. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

212 Jazz Dance II. (2, repeatable to 6) Intermediate skill, techniques, and movement combinations. Continuation of Jazz I. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

213 Modern Dance II. (2, repeatable to 6) Intermediate level skills and techniques. Continuation of Modern Dance I. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

216 Tap Dance II. (1, repeatable to 2) Intermediate tap dance and soft shoe skills and continued study of beginning skills and theory. Prerequisite: DAN 116 or permission of instructor.

219 Composition. (2) Introduction to application of choreographic principles with emphasis on movement invention and development of evaluative skills. Prerequisite: DAN 119. Concert attendance required

310 Ballet III. (2, repeatable to 6) Continuation of Ballet II. Prerequisites: DAN 210 and permission of instructor.

313 Modern Dance III. (2, repeatable to 6) Prerequisites: DAN 213 and permission of instructor.

316 Musical Theatre Dance. (2, repeatable to 6) This dance performance course focuses on the specific needs for a performer in Musical Theatre. Students will gain practical experience in dance areas pertinent to Musical Theatre performance such as partnering, solo work, and dancing in a chorus. Prerequisites: Musical Theatre major and permission of instructor.

382 Dance History and Philosophy. (3) A survey of dance from pre-literary times to the present in relation to philosophical and sociological factors of dance as an art form in society. IAI: F1 906.

385 Movement and Music Analysis. (3) Review of musical notation and application through playing of keyboard and percussion instruments. Analysis of recorded music for meter, rhythmic pattern, and phrasing.

386 Special Projects in Dance. (1–2, repeatable for different topics to 2) By arrangement with Dance advisor one semester in advance.

413 Advanced Techniques of Modern Dance. (2, repeatable to 6) Advanced modern dance techniques with emphasis on performance qualities in projection, vitality, and execution. Prerequisites: DAN 313 and permission of instructor.

490 Independent Study. (1–3, repeatable for different topics to 6) By arrangement with instructor.


Department of Theatre and Dance

Ms. Tammy L. Killian, Chairperson
Location: 101 Browne Hall
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
Phone: (309) 298-1543
Fax: (309) 298-2695

Theatre and Dance Website
Faculty and Staff Directory

College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC)

Mr. William Clow, Dean
COFAC Email:
Location: Browne Hall 115
1 University Circle
Macomb, IL 61455-1390
Phone: (309) 298-1618

COFAC Website

Bachelor of Arts Advisors

Carolyn Blackinton
Associate Professor
Office Location: 108 Browne Hall
Telephone: (309) 298-1713

Jeannie Woods
Office Location: 102A Browne Hall
Telephone: (309) 298-2995

Sharon Evans
Interim Chairperson and Professor
Office Location: 101 Browne Hall
Telephone:(309) 298-1543