What Makes UW-L Theatre Unique?

Affordable, Quality Education.

Theatre logoUW-La Crosse offers an affordable education at a well-respected university within the Wisconsin System. UW-La Crosse has been recognized as an exceptional university with a wide range of academic programs. U.S. News & World Report and Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazines consistently rank UW-L among the best colleges in the country and an outstanding value.

Invigorating Classroom Learning with Practical Production Experience.

At UW-La Crosse Theatre, students become involved in production work from the very start of their academic career. Not only does this get them involved in our program in a very tangible way but it also provides them with a network of peers within the department. As an undergraduate theatre program, UW-L Theatre is able to give students specialized attention and production opportunities since they are not competing with graduate students for roles and design projects. Students receive a tremendous amount of hands-on experience through classroom projects and realized production performances allowing students to demonstrate, refine and expand the skills they’ve learned in the classroom.

Creative, Collaborative Atmosphere for All.

The atmosphere within the Department of Theatre Arts is supportive, positive collaborative and artistically stimulating. Over 800 students are involved in theatre productions each year as backstage crew, technicians, designers, stage managers, performers, and front of house staff. Participation in theatre productions is open to all UW-L students regardless of their major.

Costume shop student sewing costumesInvigorating, Fresh Theatre Training.

UW-La Crosse offers a strong liberal arts education and The Theatre Arts curriculum allows concentrations in five distinct areas of study: general theatre, design/technical, performance, music theatre, and theatre management. Students at UW-La Crosse may major in one theatre emphasis area while minoring in another. The concept behind this type of program is similar to a bachelor of fine arts in which students are saturated within their field of study thus enhancing their educational opportunities and professional marketability.

Challenging and Diverse Productions.

Productions at UW-L are professional on every level which challenge our students, designers, performers and technicians as well as our audiences with the most diverse theatre offerings in the region. UW-L Theatre produces eight productions per year which include 4 mainstage productions, a musical, a children’s show, a dance concert, and a SummerStage musical. Productions range from classical to contemporary comedies, dramas, and musicals. UW-L Theatre also features several student directed productions, class projects, and senior acting recitals.

Student Academic Excellence.

Theatre students are part of the “best and the brightest” on campus with a grade point average of 3.16 (as compared to 3.07 GPA for the entire UW-L student body). Excellence in the classroom, as well as in productions, is the foundation of the theatre arts program with many students successfully managing classroom and production work, nightly rehearsals, employment, family and friends, and other extracurricular activities.

Nickel and DimedStrong Student/Faculty Relationships.

Our student to faculty ratio is smaller than many comparable programs, allowing for more individualized attention. We know who our students are and how they’re performing academically and artistically. UW-L Theatre Arts has a comprehensive system in place to provide each student with regular feedback on their progress and development as a student and as an artist. Each semester, faculty meet with each student individually to discuss, review, and assess their growth and development and to set academic and professional goals. Feedback is provided through a variety of means including major/minor meetings, freshman/junior year assessment, mandatory academic advising, portfolio/performance reviews, production adjudications, and senior exit interviews and surveys.

Committed, Professional Faculty-Artists.

Our faculty-artists are extremely approachable and always willing to assist students to help them to achieve their academic and artistic goals. The Department of Theatre Arts has five full time artist-educators remain active within the professional theatre world and share their expertise with their students. Faculty are dedicated to providing educational and artistic opportunities to students outside the classroom including guest artists, resume workshops, audition technique seminars, and trips to see professional theatre. Theatre faculty have a varied mix of sub-specialties allowing for greater expectations both in the classroom and in production. Each faculty member is a specialist in his/her field though many of us have overlapping specialties allowing for greater exposure for students.

Centrally Located for Cultural and Artistic Opportunities.

The UW-La Crosse campus is excellently located between the breathtaking bluffs and Mississippi River. La Crosse has a thriving cultural community with three theatre venues, community and university symphonies, a regional arts center and numerous art galleries. Professional theatre opportunities in Minneapolis, Madison, Chicago, and Milwaukee are just a few hours drive from La Crosse.

Recognition of Excellence.

Theatre students and productions at UW-L have been nationally recognized for their excellence and professionalism by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Since fall 2008, UW-La Crosse productions have been awarded over 45 nominations to the Irene Ryan Acting Competition and over 25 Certificates of Merit in the areas of directing, design, and stage management. Our critically-acclaimed production of Metamorphoses was chosen to be performed at the regional festival in 2004 with Mary Leonard (faculty) receiving the Regional Award of Merit for Directing for this production. William Clow (faculty) has received the Regional Award of Merit for Lighting Design for Metamorphoses (2004) and Book of Days (2003). In 2005, student Jason Knox was the Regional Sound Design Award winner for his sound design of Tongue of a Bird and Jessica McMunn won second place in Directing at the regional festival. In 2006, freshman Theatre major, Joseph Buchel, made it to the regional semifinals of the Irene Ryan Acting Competition.

Professional Theatre Internships and Employment Opportunities.

Because we think it is essential for our students to engage with professional theatres prior to graduation, UW-L Theatre Arts faculty and staff actively assist interested students in setting up internships, paid apprenticeships, and employment opportunities at professional theaters. We believe that it is essential for students to actively connect with other theatre professionals prior to graduation. In recent years, students have interned or been employed during their college career at the Guthrie Theatre, Commonweal Theatre, Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC), the Arrow Rock Lyceum Theatre, and Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

Theatre Student in front of St. Basil in MoscowDedication to a Global Perspective.

The Department of Theatre Arts is dedicated to providing a diverse and global perspective by teaching coursework in a cultural context from various cultures/geographic regions around the world, maintaining nontraditional casting whenever possible, and linking with other organizations to provide culturally-rich programming (Ragamala Dance, Korean Mask Dance Theatre, Chinese American Dance Theatre). In order to maintain a competitive edge in a globally diverse field such as the arts, the Department of Theatre Arts has established a London Study Tour program in conjunction with Music, Honors, and Art. The London Study Tour immerses students in the artistic and cultural scene of London with the focus on attending theatre productions, symphony and choral performances, art galleries, and culturally significant locations. In conjunction with the UW-L study abroad program and undergraduate research grants, students have opportunities to travel and study theatre around the world.

Graduate School Success and Alumni Career Achievement.

Many of our graduates have gone on to earn terminal degrees at many prestigious universities around the country (UCLA, Temple, Florida State, Ohio State, University of Maryland, University of Kansas, University of Minnesota, Cal. Arts, University of California-Fullerton). Most of these students received full scholarships in excess of $30,000 each to attend graduate school. Our theatre alumni have been highly successful finding work within the field post-graduation. Our alumni can be found stage managing at First Stage Children’s Theatre and The Armory Dinner Theatre, designing lights at The New School (New York), appearing in such television series as Law and Order: SVU, Kidnapped and Homicide, directing for the Stoughton School District, teaching at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, and serving as backstage floor manager for Carnival Cruise Line productions, just to name a few.

UW-La Crosse Sign with flowersCommitment to the Community.

The UW-La Crosse Department of Theatre Arts has a strong commitment to the community. Summer outreach programs include the department’s participation in the Young Scholars program coordinated through Continuing Education and faculty involvement with Camp Creative, hosted by Viterbo University. The Department of Theatre Arts performs regularly scheduled junior high and high school matinee performances at a reduced rate for area students and teachers, participates in summer outreach programs (Young Scholars, Camp Creative), serves as mentors and acting/directing coaches for local elementary, middle and high school students, and develops workshops and job shadowing opportunities. Throughout the year, the Department of Theatre Arts also attempts to connect our productions with a variety of community service organizations such as Habitat for Humanity (Nickel and Dimed), Toys for Tots (A Christmas Carol), gay/lesbian organizations (The Laramie Project), and anti-violence/abuse groups (How I Learned to Drive).