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Professor Celena Sky April, Chairperson
Professors: William Joseph Cunningham, James J. Fallon, David Allen George
Associate Professors: Kate Kohler Amory, Jane Hillier-Walkowiak, Peter M. Sampieri
Assistant Professors: Michael Harvey, Elizabeth Maciejewicz, Christopher Morris
Professors: Myrna Finn, Thomas J. Hallahan, Elizabeth Hart, Vera Shepard, Whitney L. White
Combined Bachelor of Arts Theatre Arts/Master of Education Secondary Education
Bachelor of Arts – Theatre Arts
Bachelor of Fine Arts – Theatre Arts
Design (Costume, Scenic or Lighting)
Mission of the Department
The Theatre and Speech Communication Department offers a transformative, liberal arts and professionally based curriculum. In our classrooms, students explore and engage with creative and ethical expression and apply what they learn in the laboratory of our theatre productions.
Salem State Theatre is committed to training the next generation of creative theatre artists. Through the rehearsal and production of timeless and immediate plays, we inspire challenging dialogue with our students and with larger communities, in the belief that theatre must be civically engaging. We celebrate the power of theatre as an active and collaborative art form with the purpose of illuminating our common humanity.
The Theatre and Speech Communication Department serves all of the students at the University through multiple course offerings in the General Education requirement of Oral Communication. These transformational courses offer students the opportunity to ethically express themselves in their personal, professional and civic lives.
Programs in Theatre
Theatre Arts at Salem State University
Two fully operational theatres exist on the North Campus, the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts (housing a proscenium theatre and a black box) and the Callan Studio Theatre. Four major productions are staged each year in addition to guest artists, studio appearances, staged readings and student workshops being offered. Recent Salem State University Theatre productions have earned regional and national recognition as well as acclaim for excellence in both the design, technical, playwriting, directing and performance areas.
The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) – Theatre Arts
The Bachelor of Arts degree is designed to provide students with a theatrical world view, a foreign language and a minor that is supportive of their major career aspirations. Students are expected to achieve competency in performance, dramaturgy and technical theatre/design through such courses as Acting, Directing, Theatre History, Stagecraft, and Stage Technology. Approximately one-third of the total undergraduate credits hours in the B.A. degree program are devoted to theatre courses (36 credits) and provide a theatre generalist’s body of course work and practical theatre experiences conducive to further study at graduate school, conservatory or regional theatre.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) – Theatre Arts
The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree is designed to provide a specialized program for students who show exceptional promise in the performance or production aspects of theatre. The curriculum involves intensive study in acting, design, stage management, or stage technology. The objective of the program is to provide the Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate with a high level of competency, specialized knowledge and extensive experience in preparation for a professional career in theatre. Approximately one-half of the total undergraduate credits hours in the B.F.A. degree program are devoted to theatre courses (66-69 credits) and provide a pre-professional’s body of course work, practical theatre experiences and production responsibilities.
Students must apply to enter the Bachelor of Fine Arts – Theatre Program. All students planning to earn a B.F.A. degree must audition or have a portfolio review. Students who successfully complete the audition/interview process will be considered B.F.A. applicants. Students must meet the following criteria in order to advance to B.F.A. Candidate status:
- Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in Theatre courses.
- Students must accumulate the necessary Theatre Production Hours (TPH – see below).
- Students must audition/interview midterm before the Theatre faculty and demonstrate their capacity to continue in the B.F.A. program.
Should the audition/interview not be acceptable, the B.F.A. student will be put on probational status and will have one semester in which to reconcile the situation. However, should the audition/interview not be acceptable for a second semester, the B.F.A. student will be invited to complete their Salem State University education in the B.A. degree program.
Combined Bachelor of Arts Theatre Arts/Master of Education Secondary Education
This combined 4+1 program allows theatre majors interested in teaching theatre to earn both a BA with a minor in Teacher Education and an MEd with endorsed PK-12 Theatre Licensure for Massachusetts. This integrated program between the Theatre Department and the School of Education includes, among other key features, a full year of Teaching Methods in Theatre course work as well as a full year working in an educational setting (student teaching & internship).
Students are eligible for the program when they have completed between 30 and 90 credits; for most students this means they would apply in the Spring of their sophomore year and begin the program in the Fall of their junior year. Successful completion of prior course work and passing certain state licensure tests are necessary. Thus students are encouraged to meet with the Theatre Education 4+1 Program Coordinator as soon as possible in their university career.
Eligibility requirements to the 4+1 program include, but are not limited to:
- Completion of between 30-90 credits with a 3.0 minimum overall GPA
- A passing score on the Communication and Literacy portions of the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL)
- Completion of EDC 115 with a grade of C or higher
- Work habits faculty recommendation form
- Completed application
If initial requirements are met students are then invited to:
- Complete a 250-300 word essay
- Participate in an interview
Upon successful completion of the eligibility requirements students begin with a cohort of students during the fall of their junior year and stay with that cohort until the end of their 5th year and successful completion of the program. Retention in the program is based on satisfactory academic progress (maintenance of a 3.0 overall and Theatre major GPA), the passing of specific MTEL tests required for licensure in the chosen field and periodic end of semester assessments. Students who do not meet these retention guidelines must exit the program and complete a degree without licensure.
Theatre Production Hours and Courses
All Theatre Arts Majors must actively participate in Theatre Department productions at Salem State University. Theatre Participation Hours (TPH) are earned by working on the department productions each semester in house management, stage management, box office, costume shop, stage crew, run crew, properties, publicity and performance. Refer to the Theatre Handbook and Theatre Participation course syllabus for a list of performance and crew positions. Full-time students are required to accumulate a minimum of 25 TPH per semester with a total of 200 TPH over a four year program for graduation. Please note: the awarding of TPH is based on the quality of the job done; i.e., a job well done earns full TPH possible for that responsibility, a poorly done job will merit less. The Theatre Faculty meets post-production to award TPH to the students involved in that production.
New students will earn their first TPH by being involved in the First Year Lab, a fun, creative experience involving a 4 week rehearsal period and a performance for the Department and the campus.
Please see additional details in the “Theatre Handbook” and Theatre Participation course syllabus in the Theatre and Speech Communication Department.
Theatre Arts Minor
Eighteen (18) hours in Theatre Arts courses are required for a Minor in Theatre Arts. THE 101 Introduction to Theatre Arts is required for a Minor in Theatre Arts. Students then have a choice of taking five theatre courses. For additional information, see Theatre Arts Minor .
Speech Communication Minor
The study of oral communication benefits students majoring in all fields, particularly those students interested in pursuing careers in business, law, media, politics, education and service professions. The minor consists of 15 credits (5 courses). For additional information, see Speech Communication Minor .