About the Theatre Program

The Theatre program at Willamette University offers a Theatre major with the flexibility to craft an individual emphasis. A foundational theatre core allows students to build their own emphases and pursue coursework in their area of interest.

A faculty, staff and guest artists with extensive academic and professional experience teach a wide-ranging curriculum, providing the student with a rich variety of perspectives from which to learn. Theatre is a vital part of the liberal arts experience at the University through the public performances of three to four plays and a dance concert per year, as well as student-created projects and a wide array of classes available to majors and non-majors alike.

Students majoring in Theatre are provided with a range of experiences within all areas of the theatre: acting, directing, stagecraft, costume construction, design, dramaturgy, lighting, voice, movement, theatre history, and dramatic literature. It is the department's intent to train Theatre majors in all aspects of the discipline during their four years at Willamette, thereby creating a well-rounded theatre artist. Just as the liberal arts environment provides the student with insight into and an understanding of a variety of subjects, the Theatre department strives to create an environment conducive to the individual growth of the student within the context of the most collaborative of the arts disciplines.

The time spent in a university is valuable not only for the particular instruction a student receives; it also serves as a time of great personal growth and heightened self-awareness. The theatre department supports this growth in ways both tangible and intangible. The great amount of work done in the department in classes and with mainstage productions demands that the students budget and prioritize their time and energy. Truly, there is no class or subject irrelevant to the study of theatre, and the department's outlook reflects this respect for our place as an integral and vital part of the College of Arts & Sciences. Students are expected to develop a high level of self-discipline in the theatre department. Pride of commitment to the work and the willingness to take on the responsibility that comes with being part of an ensemble are tangible rewards that students will carry with them long after graduation. Also, classes offered through the theatre department meet several General Education (Modes of Inquiry) requirements.

In addition to the permanent faculty, there is a guest artist program, providing students the opportunity to learn from and work closely with theatre artists currently working in the profession. Two or three guest artists each year, in the capacity of actors, directors, designers or choreographers, are invited to take up residency for the duration of a production. During that six week period, the guest artists are also involved in the teaching of classes and workshops. Members of the Theatre faculty approach their work with a high level of professionalism and the expectation that the type of student Willamette University attracts will embrace the demanding yet rewarding opportunities that lie ahead, and rise to meet and learn from those myriad challenges.

Mainstage productions are selected with care to provide the students with experience in a wide range of theatrical styles. From the Greeks to Shakespeare to the most recent works by contemporary playwrights, the emphasis is on producing exciting interpretations of well-written texts. The department reaches out to the school community through matinee performances offered specifically for high school audiences. The Theatre at Willamette is a vibrant, exciting, challenging department filled with faculty and students striving to continue the journey of discovery and interaction with our fellow humans that leads to greater understanding of ourselves, our neighbors and our world.

The Willamette Playhouse is the home of Willamette Theatre classes, workshops and productions. The building, newly renovated and re-opened in 2010, includes a movement studio, directing and lighting studio, acting studio, costume shop, prop storage, makeup room, scene shop, light and sound production facilities, dressing rooms, classrooms, and faculty offices. There are two performance areas: the mainstage black box theatre, which offers flexible seating of up to 250, and a small laboratory theatre, which features flexible seating of up to 50.

Students in scenic painting class

Scenic Painting class at Pelton Theatre's scenic studio

Willamette University


M. Lee Pelton Theatre
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.

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