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Theatre & Musical Theatre Programs

Offering a BA in Theatre, a BA in Musical Theatre, and a minor in Theatre.

Theatre and Musical Theatre

American University's Theatre and Musical Theatre Programs will provide you with the necessary education to enable you to perform in, design, manage, or direct a production and succeed in a variety of professions outside the theatre. Both programs are grounded in a strong liberal arts tradition. The Theatre major features specialized tracks in Performance, Design and Technical Theatre, or Arts Management. Theatre majors may also opt to honor the liberal arts tradition by choosing the broadly focused and interdisciplinary Theatre Arts track. The Musical Theatre major builds upon the same liberal arts foundation of the theatre major by combining it with serious training in acting, voice, and dance. Regardless of major or track, all students are encouraged to develop their critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity.

The theatre and music theatre faculty offer students the benefit of their academic training as well as their expertise as seasoned scholars, performers, writers, directors, designers, and choreographers. They are dedicated and committed to their profession and as professionals are able to bring some of the "real world" into the classroom.

In the past, theatre students have had the opportunity to work closely with and observe internationally recognized artists in core classes, electives, productions, and extra-curricular seminars and workshops. Some of our distinguished guests and teaching artists include: Broadway composer Dick Scanlon, LA Writer/Producer and Emmy winner Gary Dontzig, Broadway Director Scott Ellis, Signature Theatre's Michael Baron, Fords' Theatre's Mark Ramont, Synetic Theatre's Paata Tsikurishvili, Broadway designer James Kronzer, and Hollywood actor Herb Edelman.


Professor Carl Menninger

Learn more about Carl Menninger, professor in the Theatre and Musical Theatre Program.


How many theatre productions are students able to perform in?

The Department of Performing Arts produces 4 mainstage theatre shows per school year. Our students have the opportunity to participate in a wide range of shows from classics to contemporary works; from traditional book musicals to new cutting edge musicals. We also feature a New Works program that affords students the opportunity to be a part of premiere productions of original new plays and musicals. We produce four shows a year in our Studio Theatre in the Katzen Arts Center. In total, we produce three musicals, three plays, a new-student showcase and a senior capstone every year.

What other opportunities do students have to participate?

There are numerous student-run performing groups including AU Players, Rude Mechanicals, and AU in Motion. In these groups and several others, students produce, direct, write, choreograph, design, and perform. In addition to participation from performing arts majors and minors, these companies draw students from all across the campus and from many disciplines. They perform to packed houses.

What is the Greenberg Theatre?

The 300-seat Greenberg Theatre on Wisconsin Avenue is state of the art. It is in a thriving section of the city-accessible to campus, restaurants and the metro. This will be home to many outstanding seasons of events in the years to come. American University celebrated the theatre's fifth anniversary in 2007.

What is the Katzen Arts Center?

The Katzen Arts Center brings all the visual and performing arts programs at AU into one 130,000 square foot space. Designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, the new center provides state-of-the-art instructional, exhibition, and performance space for all the arts disciplines. The performance spaces include a 290 seat recital hall and a 100 seat black box theatre.

The Center features the extraordinary 30,000 square foot AU Museum with a variety of gallery spaces for exhibition of exciting contemporary art from the nation's capital region and the world, along with AU's own Watkins Collection and the collection of Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen.

The Katzen Arts Center stands as a clear statement to the community that at the heart of the city, there exists a place where the arts are honored as the heart of higher education. That place is American University.

Can I double major?

The 51-credit Theatre or Musical Theatre major is designed to allow students the opportunity the double major in another area of study.

What have some of our recent theatre graduates gone on to do?

Recent alumni have worked at virtually every major theatre and arts organization in the DC metro area, including The Kennedy Center, Signature Theatre, Ford's Theatre, The Folger Shakespeare Library and Folger Consort, Studio Theatre, Arena Stage, and The National Players National Tour. Many have gone on to graduate school in a variety of disciplines including acting and design. Our alumni also range in profession from actors, designers, and arts managers, to educators, lawyers, translators, writers, and business people. Some have started their own professional theatre companies.

Can non-majors audition for theatre productions and get involved in theatre groups?

WE HAVE AN OPEN CASTING POLICY! You don't have to be a major or minor to get involved.

Can students get involved with technical theatre and behind-the-scenes experiences?

There are lots of opportunities in stage management and technical theatre for majors and non-majors alike. Our Design and Technical track of the theatre major is growing at a rapid rate. Student stage managers and design and technical theatre students enjoy the same liberal arts foundation courses as our other majors, in addition to gaining terrific hands-on experience. Most significantly, our design and technical students get work on and off campus! Current students and alums earn money in DC's thriving theatre community.

What opportunities does the DC theatre community offer students?

DC offers a large, diverse and exciting theatre community with over 80 working professional theatres. Students are therefore exposed to a wide range of styles and types of theatre. Additionally, the DC area provides rare opportunities to see and be a part of international and multicultural performances, performance on the national and international political "stage," government jobs in the arts, arts education, and arts policy.