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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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Succeed around the globe

Award-winning faculty whose experience spans the world provide individualized instruction, giving students the extra edge they need to succeed. Preparation that extends beyond skills and experience – that’s what you’ll find in the School of Theatre.

The School of Theatre offers undergraduate and graduate degrees covering a range of areas, including Acting, Musical Theatre, Stage Management, Theatre Design and Technology, and Directing.

Learn more about our community commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

 

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Live theatre at Centre Stage

The School of Theatre houses Penn State Centre Stage (PSCS), the professional theatre training program in Central Pennsylvania. PSCS presents theatrical masterpieces and new gems – including a series of livestreamed virtual performances – by emerging masters.


Learn more about Penn State Centre Stage

The Wild Party

Risk and excess are the life of the party in this jazz-flavored contemporary musical.

An explosive tale that cracks the door open on the seedy underground of the prohibition era, Andrew Lippa’s The Wild Party steamrolls and roars its way across the stage. The 2000 Off-Broadway gem garnered an array of industry accolades, including Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Obie awards. Based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem of the same name, this darkly brilliant show features one of the most exciting, pulse-racing scores ever written, and a heroine that makes her own way.


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Degree
Offerings

A discussion with students

B.A. in Theatre

The B.A. in Theatre inspires the next generation of theatre professionals to shape the future of the industry after experiencing an impactful education supported by endless artistic outlets.
Theatre students performing a scene from Argonautica.

B.F.A. in Acting

The B.F.A. in Acting degree program trains the next generation of stars using a holistic educational approach that prepares performers for success on every stage.
Musical Theatre students performing the halftime show at Beaver Stadium.

B.F.A. in Musical Theatre

The B.F.A. in Musical Theatre is a revered and intensive professional training program that prepares students to step into the spotlight on Broadway and beyond.
School of Theatre dress rehearsal of Argonautica.

B.F.A. in Theatre

With options in Stage Management and Theatre Design and Technology, the B.F.A. in Theatre trains the behind-the-scenes theatre professionals to produce a transformative theatrical experience by artistically engaging modern technology and skills.
Scenic design from the play Argonautica.

M.F.A. in Theatre

The M.F.A in Theatre program is one of the most unique and well-respected theatre education programs in the country that consistently exists as a conduit to Broadway and beyond. Collaboration...
Stage crew students adjusting sound and lighting for the production rehearsal of Violet, located in the Playhouse Theatre at Penn State University Park campus.

Theatre Minor

The Theatre minor is designed for personal enrichment or to enhance study particularly for students in the humanities, communication, and the arts.

Teaching and Learning during COVID

Performance classes – on campus, on Zoom – always flexible, creative, and engaged!
Design Technology and Management is dedicated to achieving even deeper learning and higher levels of productivity and technique during the pandemic.

Alumni Spotlight

You’ve gotta work hard to play hard. Sure, some people can skirt by without working as hard as others, but that will only take them so far.
Penn State Musical Theatre alumna Brinie Wallace

Alumni Spotlight

Brinie Wallace

B.F.A. in Musical Theatre 2016

Brinie Wallace is currently an ensemble member in the North American tour of The Book of Mormon after premiering the musical in Australia. She says her Penn State education reinforced in her the need to be “present and persistent” in the musical theatre profession, so you are ready to take on whatever challenges come your way.

Brinie Wallace, second from the right, performs as a member of the ensemble in the nationally touring Broadway production of “The Book of Mormon.” Wallace is a 2016 Penn State School of Theatre graduate. IMAGE: The Book of Mormon (c) Julieta Cervantes 2019

Studios, Labs and Venues

Production studio spaces, a design and lighting lab, and venues that support student, faculty, and professional performances.
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Theatre Arts Production Studio (TAPS)

The Theatre Arts Production Studio (TAPS) features a large, state-of-the-art equipped scenic shop with adjacent properties shop and scenic paint studio. The costume shops,


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Pavilion Theatre

The Pavilion Theatre, built in 1915, is a key venue for the Penn State School of Theatre. Designed by architects Frank Miles Day and Charles


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Penn State Downtown Theatre

Finished in 2003, the Penn State Downtown Theatre Center is an intimate 152-seat theatre in the heart of downtown State College. The Penn State


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Playhouse Theatre

The Playhouse Theatre is a 383-seat proscenium-thrust theatre equipped with a dual level, moveable pit, full fly space, and advanced lighting and sound control


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Theatre Lighting Lab

The Penn State School of Theatre Lighting Lab is one of the most advanced and well-equipped labs of its kind in the country. Seating


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Faculty Spotlight

Students around a piano, working alongside Simpkins and playwright Joe Iconis.
Students around a piano, working alongside Simpkins and playwright Joe Iconis.

John Simpkins

Head of Musical Theatre

John Simpkins is head of Musical Theatre and the Nagle Family Endowed Chair at Penn State. He is also a professional director who recently directed the world premiere of Tony-nominated Joe Iconis’ Love in Hate Nation, which was commissioned by Penn State Musical Theatre as part of its New Musicals Initiative.

His recent new musical credits include the World Premiere of Legendale (music by Andrea Daly, words by Jeff Bienstock) at Fredericia Teater in Denmark and the subsequent American Premiere at Human Race Theatre Company. Recent new plays include the World Premieres of Raging Skillet (by Jacques Lamarre) at Theaterworks Hartford, The Bus (by Jim Lantz) at 59E59 Theaters and For Better, For Worse (by Reed Arnold). Regionally, he has directed at Sacramento Music Circus, Lyric Theatre Oklahoma, North Carolina Theatre, the Engeman Theatre, and Sharon Playhouse (where he also served as Artistic Director).

John Simpkins
The Wild Party play image collage showing piano keys, paisley fabric, and drinks ware as Prohibition ephemera.
Nov 2 - 4

Preview - Wild Party

Playhouse Theatre
Risk and excess are the life of the party in this jazz-flavored contemporary musical.  An explosive tale that cracks the door open on the seedy

Events

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Performance - Wild Party

Playhouse Theatre
The Wild Party play image collage showing piano keys, paisley fabric, and drinks ware as Prohibition ephemera.
Nov 6 - 12

Risk and excess are the life of the party in this jazz-flavored contemporary musical.  An explosive tale that cracks the door open on the seedy


Matinee - Wild Party

Playhouse Theatre
The Wild Party play image collage showing piano keys, paisley fabric, and drinks ware as Prohibition ephemera.
Nov 6 - 14

Risk and excess are the life of the party in this jazz-flavored contemporary musical.  An explosive tale that cracks the door open on the seedy


Preview - Midsummer Night's Dream

Pavilion Theatre
Place holder image for Events
Nov 30 - Dec 2

Four Athenians run away to the forest only to have Puck the fairy make both of the boys fall in love with the same girl.


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News from A&A

College of Arts and Architecture to honor Alumni Award recipients on Nov. 5

The College of Arts and Architecture will honor its 2021 Alumni Award winners in an in-person ceremony, open to the public, at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5, in the Music Recital Hall.

The College of Arts and Architecture will honor its 2021 Alumni Award recipients in an in-person ceremony, open to the public, at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5, in the


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Penn State Centre Stage offers first-ever sensory-friendly performances

Two sensory friendly showings of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” are scheduled for Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. and Oct. 6 at 7:30 p.m. at the Playhouse Theatre.
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Higgins receives Association for Theatre in Higher Education outstanding teacher award

Jeanmarie Higgins, associate professor of theatre, is the 2021 recipient of the prestigious ATHE Oscar Brockett Outstanding Teacher Award.
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