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Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
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.

Create on 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.


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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

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.

Alumni Spotlight

Penn State embraced my vision for a cross-disciplinary education that combined electrical engineering with theatre and stage lighting.
Penn State alumnus Andrew Giffin

Alumni Spotlight

Andrew Giffin

Inter-College Bachelor of Philosophy, 2005

Andrew Giffin – a Schreyer Scholar who earned a inter-college Bachelor of Philosophy incorporating studies in Theatre Design and Technology plus Electrical Engineering – is the associate lighting designer for the rock band, Phish, and is widely considered as the top lighting programmer in the industry. Andrew has designed and programmed light shows for musicians such as Pearl Jam, Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber in addition to his work on music award shows, theatre productions and sporting events.

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
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Sep 3

SOM - Bach's Lunch

UP: CSED All Faith Chapel
Voice Jury Honors Voice students with superlative performances at their end-of-semester performance final sing a program of best songs and arias. "Bach's Lunch" is a

Events

Go. Explore.

SOM - Bach's Lunch

UP: CSED All Faith Chapel
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Sep 10

Sophomore Showcase Sophomore voice performance majors sing a showcase of songs and arias as a precursor to entrance to upper level study. "Bach's Lunch" is


SOM - Bach's Lunch

UP: CSED All Faith Chapel
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Sep 17

MM Voice Students Graduate students in Voice Performance and Voice Performance & Pedagogy degrees present a program of favorite songs and arias. "Bach's Lunch" is


SOM - Bach's Lunch

UP: CSED All Faith Chapel
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Sep 24

Senior and Junior Voice Students Upper level students in voice present a program of favorite songs and arias. "Bach's Lunch" is a weekly Thursday afternoon


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News from A&A

Penn State Centre Stage Virtual presents 'The Living Room Project,' episode two

Penn State Centre Stage Virtual will present The Living Room Project, the second of a series of online episodes to benefit for the School of Theatre Future Fund, at 8 p.m. EDT, on

The Living Room Project, originally conceived by M.F.A. directors Wes Drummond and Rob Schneider, is a collaboration with the School of Theatre and the SOT Affiliate Program Group. Allison Lee,


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Penn State Centre Stage Virtual and People's Light present '20/20 Vision'

Penn State Centre Stage Virtual is proud to announce its co-production with People's Light of a new play by Steve H. Broadnax III, "20/20 Vision."
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Higgins edits book on performance theory

Jeanmarie Higgins, associate professor of theatre, is the editor of "Teaching Critical Performance Theory in Today's Theatre Classroom, Studio and Communities."
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