Welcome to the largest, fastest developing, undergraduate theatre program in the United States.
The mission of the Theatre Department is to provide you with a fully professional education and training in the thinking and practice of making theatre. We accomplish this through a process that combines the dynamic of ensemble practice with exposure to interdisciplinary and international performance styles, in order to empower you to create theatre that not only reflects the times we live in, but also shapes the future of our culture.
Our goal is to create a learning environment that enables you to explore what it means to be a creative individual, develop an artistic voice, and acquire a body of practical knowledge with which to express your ideas. At any given point in time, we understand theater to be whatever theater artists are creating at that moment. Ultimately the very definition of the art is informed by and through the work you are going to create with us. We therefore encourage a climate of critical thinking and self-reflection, so that you can clearly communicate your ideas and practical processes to a wide range of audiences.
At the heart of your learning experience lies the body of work you will create, whether as a performer, designer, writer, dramaturge, director, stage manager, singer, dancer, comedian, make-up artist, technician, producer, or any combination of these skills. We stage as many as 40 productions a year, including fully produced faculty and student directed productions, staged readings of original plays, solo performances, sketch comedy, improv, musicals, freshman projects, works-in-process, gallery installations, faculty projects, and an annual senior showcase for artistic directors and talent agents in Chicago. The majority of our productions are staged in our three theaters: the 400-seat Emma and Oscar Getz Theater, the 60-seat New Theater, and the 60-seat Classic Studio. In addition, we actively encourage you to participate in the creation of feature films and TV productions in collaboration with the departments of Film & Video and Television.
As the largest undergraduate theatre program in the country, we are able to offer you training and experience in aspects of the profession not available elsewhere: a full semester for juniors and seniors of Comedy Studies taught at and by Chicago’s famous Second City Training Center, a comprehensive program in all aspects of Stage Combat, a course for actors taught in Los Angeles that provides you with professional contacts as well as information about how to find work in the film and television industry. With 200 producing theaters in the city of Chicago, we are also able to facilitate a broad range of professional internships, together with opportunities for work in community outreach programs.
Columbia also offers the only program in Comedy Writing & Performance in the country. This interdisciplinary program provides the cross training necessary for our graduates to build successful careers in professional comedy as performers, writers, directors and producers. The world of professional comedy requires the ability to shift easily between these roles. Our writers learn to perform and pitch their own work and to understand how to write for performers.
Your career in theatre will inevitably find you working with international artists, either here or abroad. To prepare you for this, the department has developed a series of exciting international opportunities, including exchange programs with colleges and universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and intensive training workshops with international artists at Columbia during the January J-Term and summer school.
Whichever aspect of theatre you choose to focus on, you can be assured that the faculty and staff teaching and advising you are all working professionals, many of whom have won awards for both artistic and teaching excellence. They are prominent members of Chicago’s dynamic theatre community, and their work can also be seen on and off Broadway, in many regional theaters across the country, and at international theatre festivals around the world.
As a theatre professional, educator, and academic leader, I have been involved with a number of theatre programs in the UK, US, and around the world. In my experience, Columbia College Chicago is unique in both the range of arts programs it offers, the quality of instruction it provides, and the hands on approach to the creative process that enables students to become skilled and confident professional working artists and informed advocates of the arts.
Imagine yourself here. Imagine how you will create the theatre culture of your time.