Students performing theatre on stage.

Theatre

Explore acting, design, technology, musical theatre and more on your journey to the bright lights of the stage.

Why Study Theatre?

As a theatre major at USD, you will learn to think creatively and collaborate effectively so you can develop your artistic skills. Here, you will find a variety of real-life learning opportunities, ranging from live events and musicals to plays and the NYC Showcase. Our program provides you with rich experiences in and beyond the classroom so you can pursue your career on stage or behind the scenes.

Become a leader on set and cultivate your artistic skills to create life-changing performances as a theatre major.


Degrees & Offerings

Theatre (BFA)

Major
  Vermillion Main Campus
With a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), you will have the foundation you need to become a professional performer, designer, technician or choreographer. You'll design your education around your unique interests and career goals by choosing a specialization in acting, design/technology, musical theatre or theatre studies.

Theatre: Acting (BFA)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Theatre: Design Theatre/Technology (BFA)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Theatre: Musical Theatre (BFA)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Theatre: Theatre Studies (BFA)

Major with Specialization
  Vermillion Main Campus

Theatre

Minor
  Vermillion Main Campus

A minor in theatre will help you develop teamwork and leadership skills that will serve you in any career. This program is a great complement to a variety of majors.

Program Details

Undergraduate

College

Department

Contact

Admissions

Known For Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Student Opportunities

As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

The New York Senior Showcase is a culminating experience for senior musical theatre and acting majors at USD. At the showcase, students perform before industry professionals during an exciting and intense week of auditions and workshops. Through the connections we've made over the years, we've been able to bring several top New York artists to campus for workshops with our students.

Many of our graduates have used the showcase as a springboard to jumpstart their careers, including:

  • Cody Strand (B.F.A. Acting, '12) secured an agent at the showcase and within 18 months was playing Elder Cunningham in "The Book of Mormon" on Broadway
  • Kendra Bolan (B.F.A. Musical Theatre, '13) received multiple offers for representation after her showcase performance and recently toured nationally with Theatreworks USA's Freedom Train
  • Liz Wright (B.F.A. Musical Theatre '11) is working successfully in New York City with national commercial credits and an appearance on HBO's Boardwalk Empire

Do you have your sights set on Washington, D.C.? Italy? Turkey? New Zealand? Russia? The USD Department of Theatre can help you get there. Our students have participated in musicals, plays and faculty-led courses around the world.

Explore Opportunities

Real Accomplishments through Hands-On Experience

You'll find the mentorship and facilities at USD that you need to develop your artistic talents. Take advantage of all we have to offer in the College of Fine Arts from a newly renovated theatre to a fully equipped dance studio. 

  • The Wayne S. Knutson Theatre is a 400-seat theatre that houses 30 line sets, full-length side tabs and state-of-the-art equipment.
  • The Arena Theatre is a flexible configuration space capable of seating up to 70 patrons and serves as our studio performance space, as well as our primary room for acting, directing and voice classes.
  • Fully equipped dance studio featuring a wall of curtained mirrors and a sprung, wooden dance floor. The space is home to our dance, movement dynamics, stage combat and mask classes and can accommodate up to 50 patrons for performances. 
  • Our theatre department also has a fully equipped scenic shop and costume studio for the design, construction, dyeing and cleaning of costumes and crafts. 
View 3-D Tour

Black Hills Playhouse

Professional Theatre in Custer State Park

The Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) is a non-profit, professional summer stock theatre located in Custer State Park near Center Lake. Each summer, theatre professionals, professors and students from across the nation gather to create theatre in this unique environment. The playhouse produces four to five shows each season, including musicals, comedies, dramas and classics, in a 327-seat theater. The BHP was founded in 1946 by Warren M. Lee, a former professor of theatre and dean of fine arts at the University of South Dakota.

South Dakota Shakespeare Festival

The South Dakota Shakespeare Festival (SDSF) brings to life high-quality, professional Shakespeare performance and arts education events across the state. Our students can apply to and audition for the SDSF for employment or internship opportunities.

Apply to the South Dakota Shakespeare Festival

Additional Employment Opportunities

National and Regional

Many students audition or interview for employment or internship opportunities at regional conferences, including:

USD offers a range of scholarships for students, including scholarships specifically for theatre majors. The Department of Theatre strives to recognize and reward outstanding students for their accomplishments and potential through scholarships and travel funding.

Learn More

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education.
USD Theatre Production

Theatre

Whether you are interested in a career in acting, musical theatre, design technology or a related field, the real-world experiences and connections you find in the Department of Theatre will help you get there.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Theatre. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and fostering student engagement and leadership.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Raimondo Genna

Raimondo Genna

Chair, Theatre
Bio Image for Faculty Member Sabrina Egeland

Sabrina Egeland

Costume Shop Manager
Bio Image for Faculty Member Chaya Gordon-Bland

Chaya Gordon-Bland

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Scott Mollman

Scott Mollman

Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Matthew Nesmith

Matthew Nesmith

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Joe Stollenwerk

Joe Stollenwerk

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Victor Shonk

Victor Shonk

Associate Professor
Students performing theatre on stage.

Gain Real-World Experience

The Student Theatre Cooperative is an independent organization that produces original and cutting-edge theatre that typically would not get produced in our main stage season. STC provides opportunities for students to develop leadership and management skills, while also refining their craft through theatre production. At weekly meetings, students will:


  • Select a season of plays and musicals
  • Assign production teams and plan productions
  • Participate in a Spontaneous Combustion event, where student playwrights, directors and actors write and produce original 10-minute plays in a 24-hour period

STC also engages in service activities with a variety of local organizations like the food pantry, the senior citizens' center and SESDAC, a center providing support for persons with disabilities. STC also hosts an annual awards party and dinner each spring.


Students Building Theatre Set Pieces in a Shop

Chase Your Dream Career

Leading artists, artisans and technicians serve as guest artists for USD’s Department of Theatre. From Tony Award-winning choreographers to master puppeteers to cutting-edge automation, we celebrate the amazing wealth of knowledge our fellow artists from across the country and around the world bring to Vermillion and our students.

Tuition & Costs

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.
SD Residents, SD Advantage* & Child of Alumni
MN Residents
Out-of-State
Tuition (30 cr.)
7773
8718.9
11283
Fees (30 cr.)
1659
1659
1659
Books (estimate)
1200
1200
1200
Housing
4454
4454
4454
Food Service
3770
3770
3770
Total

* SD Advantage: The in-state rate is available to residents of South Dakota, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and children of alumni of USD.

More About Tuition & Costs

This is an estimated annual cost. Other factors may change the cost of tuition.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities.

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.

Scholarships

USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.


Alum Success Story

Success story Janet Brown speaking into a microphone at a podium.
The theatre department became my family away from home.  It was thrilling and exciting to work on productions all year, either as a castmember of a technical person. I spent summers at the Black Hills Playhouse (BHP) where I started as an actress and eventually, after five years, became business manager. I have been supported by that faculty and those friends my entire career.

Janet Louise Brown

M.P.A. Public Administration '04
B.F.A. Theatre '73

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