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Theatre Arts

Do you like to act, tell stories, and share culture with others? Consider majoring in theatre arts at Dordt. As a major in theatre arts, you’ll not only learn the technical skills necessary for the theatre industry, but you’ll have the chance to actively be part of the stage production process right from the start.

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Actor with top hat reads A Christmas Carol

Program Overview

Dordt’s theatre arts program creates an environment in which students can explore and develop their artistic insights and gifts in the art of theatre. As a student, you’ll learn to interpret and evaluate the structure and history of theatre. You’ll analyze and critique theatre’s role in contemporary culture. And you’ll practice theatre with a depth of skill and breadth of insight.

Our theatre arts majors often describe the theatre company as being “just like a family.” You’ll also benefit from smaller class sizes, meaning you aren’t a small fish in a big pond. That means you’ll have opportunities to get involved and make an impact immediately. You’ll also be challenged. Our students and faculty frequently win awards at theatre festivals and leave Dordt ready to succeed in the world of theatre. Most important is the fact that our Christian faith is central to every aspect of your work as a theatre arts major.

three music theatre students read from script while sitting on a couch

What can I do with a major in theatre arts from Dordt University?

You can choose a focus such as acting and directing, design and technical, playwriting, drama ministry, or theatre management. Our acting classes are active. Our design courses are hands-on. And our students go on to careers in stage management, acting, and directing, both regionally and in major cities across the country.

At Dordt, you will learn how to glorify God through a career in theatre, using the platform as an opportunity to show Christ in today’s culture. Here are just a few of the types of careers you’ll be prepared for with a Theatre Arts degree:

Theatre Manager

A Theatre Manager oversees all aspects of a theatre and its productions.

Musical Theatre Performer

A Musical Theatre Performer provides entertainment to audiences through narratives and performances.


An Actor portrays a character or idea in different productions and performances.

Program Options

Theatre Arts Major


  • Dordt's Theatre Arts Department hosts multiple one acts and student productions, and two mainstage shows each year. Auditions for campus productions are open to all students, so you will have the opportunity to get to know students from a variety of programs, while honing your creative skills. You can also serve in positions backstage, from costuming to lighting. American College Theater Festival representatives respond to each performance, giving our students the opportunity to advance to regional and national competition.
  • We have been invited to perform whole and partial productions at the annual regional Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. One-person shows, sets, costumes, and original music compositions have received awards, and our students have advanced to the finals in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.
  • Apply for theatre arts internships. We have had students intern at the Guthrie and CLIMB theatres in Minneapolis, the Santa Fe Opera, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in California, and more.
  • At the High School One Act Festival, our students work with high school students from across the nation who come to perform their plays. Dordt students also perform and help lead workshops and discussions about dramaturgy, directing, technical theatre, and other aspects.
  • You will learn hands-on skills by working in the scene shop, costume shop, and box office. Many of these are student employment positions, allowing you to get paid while learning valuable skills.
  • Both the scene shop and the costume shop employ student workers to complete projects, offering students hands-on experience. Dordt students with building, painting or sewing experience may apply for a work study position.

To learn more, you can also view the program strengths and learning outcomes for this program.

You can choose a focus such as acting and directing, design and technical, playwriting, drama ministry, or theatre management. Our acting classes are active. Our design courses are hands-on. And our students go on to careers in stage management, acting, and directing, both regionally and in major cities across the country.

At Dordt, you will learn how to glorify God through a career in theatre, using the platform as an opportunity to show Christ in today’s culture.

Students looking to get a degree in theatre arts will take a series of theatre arts courses that will cover stagecraft, directing, and playwriting. Students will get hands on experience by participating in the production of various theatrical performances. Additionally, students will choose an emphasis to focus their degree.

Theatre arts majors are required to complete the theatre subsection of CORE 160.

  • Fundamentals of Acting: This course introduces students to the fundamental principles of acting. They will gain knowledge and develop skills in character analysis, basic internal and external acting methods, characterization, listening, relaxation, concentration, and improvisation. May not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • Stagecraft: An introduction to the theory and practice of stage lighting and set construction techniques, including introductory electrical and color theory.
  • Scenic Design: An introduction to scenic design that includes design theory, design process, and the technical skills related to scenic design. May not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • Theatre History and Literature I: Greek through Neo-Classicism: Students engage the literature of the theatre from Sophocles to Moliere as an introduction to the rise, decline, and rebirth of Western drama, as well as some forms of Eastern drama. May not be taken on a pass/fail basis. Not recommended for freshman students. Satisfies Core Program writing-intensive requirement.
  • Theatre History and Literature II: Restoration through Present Day: Students engage representative literature of the theatre from Behn to Pinter and Parks as they examine the birth of modernism, anti-realism, and various forms of postmodernism. May not be taken on a pass/fail basis.
  • Applied Theatre: Capstone Production Project: The course content (directing, design, acting, technical theatre, producing, or playwriting) will be designed for each individual in consultation with a departmental supervisor. Work on the project will be done in two or three semesters with enrollment in the final semester. May not be taken on a pass/fail basis. Open only to majors and minors.
  • Playwriting and Playscript Analysis: This course provides basic instruction in writing dramatic scenes and a one-act play. It also provides advanced instruction in script analysis: theories, genre, style, methods of construction, and their implications for performance. Students will read what working playwrights say about their craft, read about and discuss the writing of plays of different styles, and workshop their script(s) in community.
  • Directing: A course on the directing process. Students will gain training in script analysis and interpretation, conceptualization, blocking, and actor coaching – culminating in the direction of a short one-act play. May not be taken on a pass/fail basis. Prerequisites: Theatre Arts 102; junior or senior standing; or permission of instructor.
  • Devised Theatre: A study of the theory and practice of theatre and drama used for human reflection or to raise awareness and affect social change. Students will learn to apply the core principles of facilitating, scripting, and play-building to real world contexts. Topics of study will depend on the focus of the course in a particular semester. The course may culminate in an original, devised performance piece that could be toured in local communities. May be repeated but may not count as more than one three-credit course towards the major or minor.
  • Professional Practices: This course introduces theatre majors to such things as resume writing, portfolio creation, and interviewing and auditioning skills. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.
  • Voice and Movement: In this course students apply voice, diction, ensemble, and movement fundamentals toward the development of clear stage speech and dialect creation, sensory awareness, ensemble performance, character movement, body control, and basic juggling and tumbling skills.
  • Improvisation for Theatre and Life: This class explores the history and techniques of improvisation from the renaissance through contemporary times. It challenges the student to grow in spontaneity and confidence in their creative capacities in all parts of life.
  • Stage Combat: An introduction to stage combat focusing on the technique for safely creating and performing stage violence. This course covers hand tohand combat and basic sword fighting methods for the stage.
  • Acting Styles: An integration of body, mind, and voice techniques for the purpose of developing a way to conventionalized period acting. Students will research period styles, practice script analysis, learn characterization techniques, participate in physical and vocal acting exercises, and apply this work in stylistic scene and monologue work. Period/Styles covered in this course may include the following: Greek, Shakespearean, Comedy of Manners, Farce, etc.
  • Sound Design and Technologies: Students will explore the physics and technology of sound. We will develop a basic understanding of how sound works in our day to day lives, discuss the technologies and tools used to control sound, and develop an understanding of how we might use this knowledge to create artistic, theatrical experiences.
  • Lighting Design and Technologies: Students will explore lighting theory, and engage in lighting design practices for the theatre. The hands-on nature of the curriculum will enable students to feel comfortable with, and be employable in an introductory position in the field of lighting design.
  • Makeup Design: This course covers the materials, principles, and practices of makeup design and application for theatre and film.
  • Costume Design: The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to costume design. Students will learn the costume design process from the analysis of a script to the final color rendering. Students will gain a basic understanding of costume history, script analysis, design theory, and basic rendering skills.
  • Voice and Body Warm-ups: A program of regularly repeated exercises designed to improve the performer’s physical flexibility and vocal strength and range.
  • Theatre Practicum: Students apply for one to three hours of academic credit for work on a theatre production. Registration for credit is required in the semester in which the project is to be produced. In addition to rehearsal, performance, or technical work, regular meetings and some written work are required.

See the course catalog for more information.

Theatre Arts Minor

Do you like to act, tell stories, and share culture with others? Do you want to participate in theatre productions while also pursuing a non-theatre major? Then consider minoring in theatre arts at Dordt. As a theatre arts minor, you’ll be able to satisfy your desire to stay engaged with the theatre and gain skills you can apply to whichever career path you choose.

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theatre arts students pretend to fight with fake swords

Ready to take the next step?

Theatre Arts Center

As a theatre arts major, you’ll have the opportunity to spend time in Dordt’s Theatre Arts Center. This location houses a theatre space, scene shop, make-up room, classroom, and the Fourth Avenue Theatre, a black box performance space which seats up to 140 audience members.

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