Theatre Arts

College of Creative Arts
Acting Dean: Wan-Lee Cheng

Department of Theatre Arts
CA 103
Web Site:
Acting Chair: Yukihiro Goto

Undergraduate Coordinator: R. Washington
Graduate Coordinator: J. Schechter
MFA Graduate Coordinator: J. Wilson


Professors—Baron, Conboy, Eilenberg, Goto, Kowsar, Peters, Schechter, Washington

Associate Professors—Arhelger, Roehrman, Tomalin, Wilson

Assistant Professors—Damashek, Miller,


B.A. in Drama
Minor in Drama
M.A. in Drama
M.F.A. in Theatre Arts: Concentration in Design/Technical Production

Program Scope

The Department of Theatre Arts offers a comprehensive program of both practical and theoretical courses for undergraduate and graduate students whose interests center on various aspects of educational and professional theatre.

The curriculum provides the student with a foundation for advanced study in the dramatic arts, for teaching, or for a career in professional theatre. As a center for the training of future theatre artists, the department is committed to introducing a diversity of theatrical traditions and cultures to students. To this end, the department employs its three dedicated theatre spaces and its one shared theatre space as learning laboratories, in which students collaborate with faculty and guest professionals. Studio workshops and advanced stage productions in those theatres are the culmination of the educational experience.

The department actively seeks and facilitates interdisciplinary programs of study and production with other members of the College of Creative Arts, as well as with Departments and Programs from across the campus. The department also encourages and facilitates collaboration with off-campus area theatres. In these ways we enlarge students experiences, and open new connections between students, the college, the campus as a whole, and the community, offering students an education grounded in practical professional stage practices as well as diverse on-campus academic and production experiences.

Faculty members encourage and facilitate collaboration with off-campus area theatres, in ways that enlarge students experiences and open new connections between students and the community. This contact with the community offers students an education grounded in practical professional stage practices as well as university classes and production on campus.

The diverse backgrounds of both faculty and students in the program provide our campus and community with a wealth of theatrical experiences and attractions. Graduates of the program are prominent in professional theatre throughout the nation, with positions of leadership in theatre, television, film, and theatre education.

Fundamental to the major program is a core of required courses designed to develop a foundation upon which to elect, upon advisement, one of the following areas of emphasis: performance, play development and dramaturgy, technical theatre and design, or popular theatre.

The minor program is not a requirement for any credential or degree but is intended to give the student an opportunity to pursue an interest in theatre arts.

The Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts offers a Concentration in Design/Technical Production. The three-year Master of Fine Arts is designed to provide rigorous, professional training to prepare students for careers as professional theatre artists or artist teachers. The concentration focuses on specialized skills in the areas of scene design, costume design, lighting design, and/or technical production.

The M.F.A. program combines the elements of professional practice and scholarly work to project a production concept through a specific discipline. The philosophy of the curriculum is based on two necessities of theatrical art: collaboration and discipline. Students progress through a full-time sequence of courses which trains them to work with other specialized theatre artists in realizing a total work of theatre, as well as to excel in their own chosen arts. The program is designed to develop the candidate's practical skills and personal strengths towards motivating communication, commitment, and support among the production group.

The Master of Arts in Drama provides training for students wishing to expand their knowledge and increase their competence in the fields of history and literature of the theatre, acting, directing, theatre design, and production; seeking teaching credentials where the master's degree is required; and preparing for further graduate work elsewhere.


The Department of Theatre Arts produces its plays in four performance spaces: McKenna Theatre, a proscenium stage with orchestra pit, fly system, and film/video projection systems is the largest theatre in the College of Creative Arts with a seating capacity of 701. The Little Theatre is a smaller proscenium stage with fly system and a seating capacity of 250. The Studio Theatre is a modified thrust stage with fixed grid and seating capacity of 78. The Brown Bag Theatre is a black box theatre with a seating capacity of 55.

The performance spaces are supported by outstanding technical facilities. Theatre Arts classes and production work are conducted, with professional supervision, in the Scene/Paint Shop, Costume Shop, Properties Shop, Lighting Laboratory, and Sound Design Laboratory.

Career Outlook

Career opportunities in theatre arts include performance and technical positions in professional, regional, and community theatres, as well as the areas of film and television, for actor, director, stage manager, designer (lighting, costume, scenery, and props), and craftsperson (stitcher, carpenter, props artisan). Teaching positions range from elementary and high school theatre classes through community college and university curricula in all aspects of the dramatic arts. Other career possibilities include such diverse fields as advertising, design (interior, fashion, display), drama therapy, and recreation.


The core consists of the twenty-four units listed below while the area of emphasis consists of twenty-one units of required and elective courses. No fewer than twelve units, planned with and approved by an assigned adviser, must be taken in residence study.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Core Courses
TH A 130 Acting Workshop I
TH A 205 Introduction to Technical Theatre and Design
Units selected from the following:
TH A 310 Stage Scenery and Properties (2)
TH A 312 Costuming and Make-Up (2)
TH A 313 Stage Lighting and Sound (2)
Units selected from the following:
TH A 340 Principles of Directing
TH A 341 History of Directing
TH A 460 Play Development Workshop
TH A 531 Understanding and Performing Shakespeare
TH A 401 Theatre Backgrounds: 500 B.C.-1642
TH A 402 Theatre Backgrounds: 1642-1900
TH A 403 Theatre Backgrounds: 1900-Present
TH A 515 Stage Management
Total for core
Area of Emphasis (area chosen on advisement)

Area of Emphasis

The B.A. in Drama offers four areas of emphasis: Performance, Play Development and Dramaturgy, Technical Theatre and Design, and Popular Theatre. Information about the specific requirements of each Area of Emphasis may be obtained at the Theatre Arts office or by visiting the department's web site:

Teaching Credential: The Single Subject Approved Program (English Subject Matter: Drama Emphasis) requires completion of courses in English as well as Theatre Arts. For details on this program, please consult credential advisers in the English Teacher Resource and Advising Center.


A minimum of twenty-two units, of which at least eleven must be at the upper division level, should be planned with an assigned adviser.



Applications for classified status in the M.F.A. program are accepted beginning October 1 of the preceding year, for admission the following fall. Applications for classified status in the M.A. program are accepted beginning October 1 of the preceding year, for admission the following fall.

For both programs, contact the department office and the SFSU Division of Graduate Studies for specific application deadlines in March for fall and October for spring.

Applicants are required to file the CSU Graduate Admission Application with the SFSU Division of Graduate Studies and submit requested materials to the Department of Theatre Arts. Admission to classified status requires acceptance by both the university and the Department of Theatre Arts.

Students must meet university and departmental requirements and must normally have completed an undergraduate major in theatre arts. Consideration is given to students with a strong undergraduate minor or other relevant work. Admission to the program is based on evaluation of a student's previous work and supporting materials.

Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: evaluation of graduate student's statement of purpose, which is a written requirement for admission to classified status in the Theatre Arts Department. On the basis of this material the M.F.A. or M.A. graduate coordinator may properly advise a student of the need to obtain additional skills in writing. If remedial work is required, it is so indicated as a condition to classified status. Level Two: judged by a graduate student's written work while enrolled in TH A 707. It is expected that papers written for this course will demonstrate scholarly style. If papers written for this course do not earn a superior grade, students must secure the graduate coordinator's permission before enrolling in other 700-level courses.

Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting all general requirements, a diagnostic examination on the entire field of drama may be given at the time of registration in order to assist the M.F.A. or M.A. adviser in developing each student's program. Weaknesses in any area may necessitate enrollment in specified courses selected in order to build strength in the area. Such courses are usually taken in addition to the minimum number of units required for completion of the graduate major.

Completion of the Degree

To complete either the M.F.A. or the M.A., students must satisfy all university and Department of Theatre Arts requirements. The university requirements are described in the front of the Graduate Education section of this Bulletin. Department requirements are provided in detail by the M.F.A./M.A. graduate coordinators and M.F.A./M.A. advisers. In addition to satisfactory completion of the course requirements, the department requires satisfactory performance on yearly departmental reviews, participation in the department's production program, and the successful completion of a final creative project or thesis. The Department of Theatre Arts accepts a limited number of transfer units on a course-by-course basis.


Graduate Advisers—Arhelger, Roehrman, Wilson

Admission to the Program

Applicants seeking admission to the M.F.A. in Theatre Arts must submit the following materials directly to the Department of Theatre Arts, M.F.A. Graduate Coordinator, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132-4157: (1) statement of purpose (include proposed area and/or areas of emphasis); (2) copy of transcripts from all colleges or universities attended; (3) three letters of reference from people who know the applicant's theatre work; (4) a current resume; (5) other information considered appropriate, but which does not appear on transcripts; and (6) a portfolio of slides and designs to be submitted upon request to the M.F.A. coordinator.

First Year Evaluation

The Department of Theatre Arts M.F.A. committee evaluates each student's performance at the end of the first year and recommends for or against continuance in the program.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Core Requirements
TH A 705 Seminar: Performance and Production Theory
TH A 711 Collaborative Processes in Theatre
TH A 740 Play Production Concepts
TH A 757 Internship in Theatre
TH A 894 Creative Work Project
Total for core
One of the following:
TH A 701 Seminar: Theatre History and Historiography
TH A 702 Seminar: Shakespearean Production Style
TH A 710 Seminar in Stage Arts
TH A 750 Design Studio
TH A 810 Advanced Practicum in Theatre
Electives on advisement
Total for concentration
Total for degree


Creative Work Project: A candidate must demonstrate professional competency in two or more areas of design in a large-scale studio design project that also includes a written component.


Graduate Advisers—Eilenberg, Kowsar, Schechter

Admission to the Program

Applicants must submit the following directly to the graduate coordinator: (1) statement of purpose (include proposed area and/or areas of emphasis); (2) copy of transcript; (3) three letters of reference from people who know the applicant's theatre work; and (4) information considered important but which does not appear on the transcript.


All upper division courses in theatre arts in acting, directing, management, and design are acceptable upon advisement except: TH A 300, 310, 312, 313, 315, 335, 401, 402, and 403.

On-line course descriptions are available.

Core Requirements
TH A 700 Theatre Research Methods
TH A 701 Seminar: Theatrical History and Historiography
TH A 707 Seminar: Theatrical Writing
TH A 709 Seminar: Dramatic Literature and Criticism
Other Requirements
Units selected from the following:
TH A 702 Seminar: Shakespearean Production Style
TH A 703 Seminar: The American Stage
TH A 704 Seminar: Contemporary Plays and Performance
TH A 705 Seminar: Performance and Production Theory
TH A 894 Creative Work Project or
TH A 898   Master's Thesis
Upper division/graduate course in drama
Supporting upper division/graduate courses in related subjects approved by graduate major adviser.
Minimum total
and Master's Comprehensive Written Examination

Master's Thesis or Creative Work Project. Depending upon the educational and professional aims of the student, the M.A. committee recommends whether a master's thesis or creative work project is to be undertaken by the individual student.

Master's Comprehensive Written Examination. If failed may be repeated once only and must be repeated within a year of the failure. Written policies regarding this examination may be obtained from the M.A. graduate coordinator.

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