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The faculty of UMKC Theatre work actively in professional theatre and mentor our students toward their own goals of working professionally as actors, designers, technicians and dramaturgs.

Our program offers intensive hands-on experience while at the same time fostering the analytical and contextual skills of a liberal arts education. You'll gain practical experience in UMKC venues, on campus with Kansas City Repertory Theatre and on professional stages in the metropolitan area. The whole of Greater Kansas City is our campus. Theatre is a passion. We seek it, train for it and embody it.

Proud member of the University Resident Theatre Association (URTA), the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST), and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).

students perform onstage

7
Number of productions in the 2019-20 season

Degree programs

UMKC Theatre is a team of creative experts who actively work in professional theatre, and we want to help you on your journey to become a creative professional. We'll train you in the many arts, crafts and traditions of theatre to give you a solid foundation for your future career in the creative industry. We specialize in the development of actors, designers, technicians and historians. You'll be exposed to a wide range of theatrical influences and traditions with the guidance of experienced mentors. 

In Conservatory tradition, you'll recieve intensive hands-on training while simultaneously gaining analytical skills offered by a liberal arts education. We make theatre not only in UMKC's performing venues, but in many of Greater Kansas City's professional theatres. We emphasize theatre's role in civic dialogue, as well as giving you professional exposure and contacts. 

Theatre is a passion and Kansas City is our stage.

Goals and objectives

  • Provide you with the skills necessary to establish a rewarding career in an expanding profession.
  • Strengthen and develop relationships with professional theatres, artists and communities in Greater Kansas City and devise major projects and initiatives that can make an impact on the national stage.
  • Expand working spaces for our productions, rehearsals and craft shops.
  • Enhance the network of UMKC Theatre alumni who will maintain participation by supporting current students and new theatre-making initiatives in Kansas City.
  • Further strengthen our national reputation as a major American theatre training institution.

There’s no better place to begin a theatre education and career in Missouri than at UMKC. While the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts is broad in scope, it allows you to develop specific areas of interest, such as acting or design. The general degree requirements, combined with the core major requirements, provide a well-rounded educational experience. Production experience and internship opportunities give undergraduate Theatre majors the chance to apply classroom theory to practical situations. Taking part as a crew member or performer in one of the departmental productions or interning at a professional theatre are integral aspects of this degree.

The centerpiece of the UMKC Department of Theatre is the Master of Fine Arts professional training program. The program is routinely recognized as one of the best in the nation. As an undergraduate, you’ll have the advantage of working closely with our graduate faculty and students, encouraging you to reach for higher standards in your work while preparing you for the profession or for graduate school.

Bachelor of Arts: Theater

The Master of Arts in Theater is a research-oriented degree that prepares you for admission into the top doctorate programs in theatre nationwide. It also serves as excellent enhancement in humanistic studies for secondary-school teachers. Master’s students may serve as dramaturgs or audition for roles in departmental productions, and there are occasional opportunities to work with Kansas City Repertory Theatre and other professional theatres in Kansas City.

The master’s degree in theatre allows a great deal of choice from a variety of courses in theatre history, dramatic literature, text analysis, playwriting, dramaturgy, directing and related courses in the departments of English, communications studies and history.

Master of Arts: Theatre

The UMKC Master of Fine Arts program in Acting and Directing is a rigorous conservatory experience that provides advanced training for the young professional actor. Over the course of three years, the program challenges actors to develop the varied skills necessary to achieve success. Fundamental to the training is an exposure to a diverse set of performance methods from contemporary to epic, from devised work to Shakespeare, from the Greeks to new plays commissioned and premiered by us. This unique program seeks individuals who will bring their full heart, mind, conscience and artistic soul to the discovery of a personal, foundational and daring acting technique. Our nationally and internationally recognized faculty are committed to partnering with such an individual talent with the goal of guiding them to their fullest creative potential.

Considered by many as Kansas City’s best-kept secret, UMKC Theatre will present a diverse range of theatre this season. Productions will be staged at various theatres, including the Helen F. Spencer Theatre and the Studio 116 Black Box Theatre in the Performing Arts Center on the UMKC campus. Additionally, a dynamic list of co-productions are scheduled with the Coterie Theatre, the Kansas City Actors Theatre and the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City.

Master of Fine Arts: Acting and Directing

If you love theater and have a knack for visual arts, scenic design is for you. Our Master of Fine Arts in Scenic Design treats dramatic ideas and techniques of fine art with equal emphasis. We want to increase your capabilities for design and develop your concepts.

Unlike other programs, our individualized instruction emphasizes the interaction between individual students and professional stage directors. You’ll be offered the opportunity to work in a wide range of  approaches under the guidance of practicing, professional artists.

Major Components
  • Scenography that is organized around a substantial body of theory relating to American theatrical forms and directed to the development of expressive rendering techniques through the systematic practice of drawing and painting.
  • History, Dramatic Literature and Text Analysis that are directed toward research of the distinctive character of American playwriting and design, their European and Asian antecedents, and professional ethics.
  • Professional practice in which students design productions under the supervision of an impressive roster of professional stage directors and artists.

Our faculty will be recruiting at the URTA Audition and Interviews in Chicago. For more information go to urta.com

Apply for M.F.A. Scenic Design

UMKC offers a single comprehensive Master of Fine Arts degree in costume design and technology. Your creative career aspirations will be met with personalized training from a faculty of established working professionals.

In choosing an M.F.A. in costume design, you'll be prepared for elite positions within the field, i.e. professional costume designer, costume shop manager and more. If you are equally confident in your graphic and technical skills, you are an ideal candidate for the M.F.A. in costume design.

Our faculty will be recruiting at the URTA Audition and Interviews in Chicago. For more information go to urta.com

Master of Fine Arts: Costume Design

When you graduate with a master’s degree in lighting design from UMKC, you’ll enter the profession prepared to work at the highest level. Training consists of a dynamic blend of academic course work and a demanding design and production schedule.

The UMKC lighting program has been honored in two successive years with the Annual Hemsley Internship Program, the most prestigious award available for a recent lighting graduate. The highly competitive internship supports one recent lighting graduate for a year to work in New York City with the New York City Opera, the New York City Ballet and the Lincoln Center Festival. Since 2000, nine UMKC lighting alumni were finalists. Of those seven, Kazuko Oguma and James Primm were awarded the coveted Hemsley.

Master of Fine Arts: Lighting Design

If you love theater and have a knack for visual arts, scenic design is for you. Our Master of Fine Arts in Scenic Design treats dramatic ideas and techniques of fine art with equal emphasis. We want to increase your capabilities for design and develop your concepts.

Unlike other programs, our individualized instruction emphasizes the interaction between individual students and professional stage directors. You’ll be offered the opportunity to work in a wide range of  approaches under the guidance of practicing, professional artists.

Major Components
  • Scenography that is organized around a substantial body of theory relating to American theatrical forms and directed to the development of expressive rendering techniques through the systematic practice of drawing and painting.
  • History, Dramatic Literature and Text Analysis that are directed toward research of the distinctive character of American playwriting and design, their European and Asian antecedents, and professional ethics.
  • Professional practice in which students design productions under the supervision of an impressive roster of professional stage directors and artists.

Our faculty will be recruiting at the URTA Audition and Interviews in Chicago. For more information go to urta.com

Master of Fine Arts: Scenic Design

The Master of Fine Arts in Sound Design at UMKC emphasizes training in dramatic interpretation paired with a mastery of recording studio and audio production skills. When you graduate from the M.F.A. in Sound Design program, you'll be prepared to design for professional theatres, broadcast productions, film compositions and more. 

Major Components
  • Design: involving interpretation, collaboration, idea development, design concepts
  • Technical Skills: involving the mastery of the tools of production: Digital Audio Workstations, Virtual Instruments, MIDI, QLab, SSL recording console, Yamaha digital consoles
  • History: involving research, text analysis, dramatic history, design styles, philosophy of sound
  • Production: involving the artistic merging of design and technical skills through the experiences of numerous and varied productions.
  • Entrepreneurship: involving the study of the business of the profession and career growth

Our faculty will be recruiting at the URTA Audition and Interviews in Chicago. For more information go to urta.com

Master of Fine Arts: Sound Design

While working on your Master of Fine Arts in Stage Management, you’ll be trained to excel in the highest levels of production in the American theatre as a stage manager or production manager. You may also be able to earn credit toward membership in Actors’ Equity through its production assignments with the professional Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre and Coterie Theatre.

All Department of Theatre productions are run on a model of the Equity Rule Book and additional experience in actual Equity rehearsals with The KC Rep provide the student with an active, hands-on knowledge of professional practice and rules.

Alumni of our program are currently working at Lincoln Center, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre (NYC), LA Opera, Seattle Children’s Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Kansas City Ballet and the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

Our faculty will be recruiting at the URTA Audition and Interviews.  For more information go to urta.com

Master of Fine Arts: Stage Management

If you love working with the technical aspects of scenery, production and management and aim to be an expert in your field, then a Master of Fine Arts in Technical Direction may be right for you. When you graduate from the technology area, you’ll be prepared to compete for positions such as technical director or assistant technical director in regional, community or academic theatres. You’ll also be qualified to compete for other supervisory technical positions in the entertainment business.

Our faculty will be recruiting at the URTA Audition and Interviews in Chicago. For more information go to urta.com

Master of Fine Arts: Technical Direction

Theatre Faculty:

Division Chair:

Acting:

      Adjunct Instructors

Costume Design

Lighting Design

Scenic Design

      Adjunct Instructors

Sound Design

Stage Management

      Adjunct Instructor

Technology

      Adjunct Instructor

Theatre History and Dramaturgy

      Adjunct Instructors