“This program is a superstar in undergraduate theatre education. Western Michigan University is considered an elite program, with some of the highest quality students in the nation.” —Brant Pope, chair, Department of Drama and Dance, University of Texas-Austin
The Bachelor of Fine Arts program in design and technical production accepts up to 15 students each year, allowing for small classes and one-on-one interaction with the faculty. A comprehensive curriculum is offered in scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound. The curriculum is designed to give students a general overview of all aspects of theatre production, as well as advanced course work in specific areas.
Students work as designers and technicians on fully produced, faculty-directed productions in three different theatre spaces using state-of-the-art equipment. Technical assistantships and work-study assignments are also available in all production areas and provide additional opportunities for hands-on, practical experience. Masterclasses with nationally recognized, professional artists are provided to expand the academic experience beyond the classroom even further.
Students study their craft in a state-of-the-art Design Studio with 24 CADD workstations at custom-designed drafting tables. A large scene shop is located on-site and is equipped for metal and wood construction. The department also maintains a costume shop with dye facilities, a lighting lab, automated fixtures, and digital audio and projection systems. Our advanced facilities ensure that students are exposed to the most current technology.
Preparing Your Interview
Acceptance to the program occurs on a rolling basis - there is no application deadline - however, we encourage students to complete their applications by February 15th to ensure that spots remain available in the program. Candidates will interview with members of the theatre design faculty and staff in a virtual Zoom format. The interview is designed to allow the potential student an opportunity to speak about their work in theater and the arts and share any information about themselves and their interest in the theatre. Please note that a formal portfolio presentation with realized design work is not necessary to have a successful interview. For the interview, dress professionally and comfortably. Your portfolio materials will be viewed prior to your scheduled interview so that during the interview we can spend time getting to know you and your theatre passions.
On your interview day, you will have the opportunity to speak to some of our current students and attend a ‘virtual tour’ of our facilities. You will also have the opportunity to ask the faculty any questions you may have about our program during your interview. A separate informational parent meeting with Department Chair, Joan Herrington, will also be scheduled on the interview day.
Applicants should upload any of the following items to their GetAccepted application or contact Kathryn Wagner for further information on how to best share your portfolio materials:
- Photos of Theatre Production Work
- Any other art or design-related work (art projects, photography or schoolwork)
- Examples of carpentry, sewing, craft skills, etc.
- Examples of any drafting (may be architectural, industrial, mechanical, etc.)
- Graphic work or projects (posters, programs, t-shirt designs, etc.)
Watch this video for more information on how to prepare for your interview:
The Department of Theatre makes annual awards of scholarships in several categories and for varying amounts. These are made in recognition of the variety of talents necessary for success in the performance, design, technical, stage management, and arts management areas of the theatre.
Professionally, our alumni work at all levels of the industry including educational theatre, civic theatre, regional theatres Off-Broadway, and even on Broadway in productions including Avenue Q, Jersey Boys, South Pacific, Sundays in the Park With George, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Phantom of the Opera. We have additionally placed students in related industries with companies like Pixar, Cirque de Soleil, Auerbach Pollock Friedlander and Meyer Sound Laboratories.
For further information on Department of Theatre majors or the minor, email Debra Gambino, academic advisor.