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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs about Undergraduate Degrees in the UCSC Theater Arts Department

Why should I choose UC Santa Cruz for undergraduate theater studies?


Performance/Directing/Design Opportunities:

In addition to our mainstage theater season, we are one of the only universities that have an entirely student-run performance space. We offer superb opportunities for production in the curriculum and excellent facilities to support these opportunities. The Barn Theater and "Barnstorm" class means more directing, acting, and design projects open to students.

Strong focus on undergraduate students:

Undergraduate education is a priority in our department. Students get more time and attention than at programs where MFA and Ph.D. students receive most of the professors' face time. We employ a strong faculty with a wide range of academic and professional experience, with multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural interests.

Ties to the professional world, with a global reach:

Our professors work as actors, designers, curators, directors, and scholars throughout the world. Coming here means that students are plugged into artistic opportunities throughout the world. Faculty ties to professional theater companies local, national, and even global have paved the way for students to secure internships and professional work both before and after graduation.

Our students leave the program with a much longer resume of actual production work (both onstage and technical) than in almost any other program in the country. While academic classes fill out their knowledge, our students forge themselves in the crucible of performance and as a result, many are ready to move into professional work at graduation.

How big is the Theater Arts program?

There are 12 permanent faculty members, a rotating roster of lecturers, and generally, about 10-12 graduate Masters students in a given year. There are usually about 150-200 undergraduate students going through the program at any given time. The department is generally able to offer 16-18 lecture and studio courses in a single quarter, in addition to the 2-3 department productions produced quarterly, and the THEA 50 practical lab class. The department also sponsors Barnstorm, a student-run theater company that produces 2-3 student-directed productions a quarter, as well as numerous one-night shows, showcases, workshops, stand-up, improv, and more.

How many theaters are there?

There are 4 main theater spaces used by the department. They are the Mainstage Theater (500 seats), a combination thrust-proscenium theater, the Second Stage Theater (200 seats), a traditional proscenium theater, the Experimental Theater (up to 200 seats), a black box theater, and the Barn Theater (150 seats). Please see the Theater Arts Production site or contact the Theater Arts Department for more details.

Additional production spaces exist around the UCSC campus, not affiliated with the Theater Arts Department. Most residential colleges have at least one stage or performance venue. You may contact the college offices for specific information on utilizing those spaces. For use and details on the university's Quarry Amphitheater, please click here

How many shows per year?

Each year there are approximately 4 faculty-directed productions in dance or drama and 2-3 student-directed productions. Additionally, the Theater Arts Department co-produces Shakes-to-Go with a touring 50-minute version of one of Shakespeare's play directed by a faculty member and performed by UCSC students. Yearly there is Random: With a Purpose, a student-run dance production, and the student play festival, Chautauqua. The student-run theater company Barnstorm also produces a number of student-directed one-nighters and full productions on a quarterly basis.

Do you do musicals?

We do not produce Broadway-style musicals on a regular basis. However, we do occasionally produce musicals.

Can you tell me about Dance opportunities in the department?

Dance classes on technique, theory, and history are part of the Theater Arts major and minor. The department also offers a Dance Minor, which may be taken in conjunction with the Theater Arts major, or any other major on campus. All of our classes are available to any student on campus regardless of department affiliation. We offer beginning and advanced modern dance classes, the annual student-directed dance concert Random: With a Purpose, and one faculty-directed dance production approximately every other year. Many of our drama productions incorporate dance. Students may also participate in a variety of non-credit dance classes through the Office of Physical Education, Recreation & Sports (OPERS).

When can I audition for shows?

All UCSC students are eligible to audition — majors, minors, non-majors, graduate students. Please check the deparment's Auditions page for or details. 

I am interested in Theatrical Design - what are my opportunities to learn and practice?

We offer a wide variety of scenic, lighting, and costume design classes and studios, as well as the opportunity to gain practical experience and training by working in our shops and technical crews through THEA 50. Additionally, you can apply to design in these areas in our faculty and student-directed shows. Application to design for specific shows is normally submitted during the Tech Interest Meeting held during the last week of Spring Quarter, before finals. If you are coming to UCSC after the meeting or missed the meeting, you can talk to the Department Chair directly about applying to design or assistant design for a department show. Additionally, Barnstorm and the student play festival Chautauqua utilize student designers. You can talk to the Barnstorm or Chautauqua Production Managers for those opportunities. Many of our design students have gained sufficient experience here at UCSC to go on to jobs in the Bay Area and beyond right after graduation.

How do I declare the major/minor?

If you are considering declaring the Theater Arts major or minor, you should schedule a meeting with the Theater Arts Undergraduate Advisor as soon as possible to go over requirements and which courses fulfill them as well as the declaration process. More information is available on our Advising page.

Can I double-major?

Completing two or more degrees (e.g., two majors or a major and a minor) can often be accomplished but requires careful planning with academic advisors from all relevant departments, as well as your college, to ensure that you can complete the requirements for all programs and your GEs on time. Start planning early in your first year so that you can map out all the requirements. If you are considering a double major involving Theater Arts, you should schedule to meet with the Theater Arts undergraduate advisor as soon as possible to go over the degree requirements and make an academic plan (or add to an existing plan started by another department).

Can I Study Abroad?

There are many options for students to study abroad, often with the possibility of fulfilling major or minor requirements. Careful planning, as early as possible, with your academic advisors is required to ensure that you can complete all graduation requirements on time. To learn about opportunities and to map out requirements and deadlines, please visit the Global Learning website (formerly the Study Abroad office / EAP) and then meet with the Theater Arts undergraduate advisor to see what classes might transfer. Theater Arts faculty may also have recommendations about which programs abroad might provide the most opportunity to further your theater studies. 

As a Transfer student, will I be able to complete the program in 2 years?

The courses required for the major can be fit into two years if you have completed most or all General Education requirements before entering UCSC. Getting advice and a study plan during your first quarter on campus is essential to map out your requirements and make sure that you will finish on time.

Which is the best residential college to be affiliated with as a Theater Arts student?

No one college is better suited to any particular major, and students from every college graduate as theater arts majors and minors. However, many students choose Porter College, because of its arts-themed focus and its proximity to the Theater Arts Center. Oakes College, Kresge College and Rachel Carson College are also nearby, on the same side of campus. But, again, all colleges are good colleges!

Is it safe to walk on campus at night after rehearsal?

Yes. Most campus paths are well lit, with blue emergency telephones located at regular intervals. The campus core bus runs until midnight, as do the campus loop buses. You can consult with TAPS for schedules and bus stops. You can also call the campus police or campus safety officers for an escort from the Theater Arts Department at night, if you wish, by calling (831) 459-2100.

What about Internships?

We post any information that we receive about internships or forward e-mails to our students. You can also use the UCSC Career Center as a resource. Our faculty and staff are very supportive of students pursuing internships with professional theater companies and are ideally situated to offer support and advice for internships pursued with local theater companies. While internships are encouraged, they cannot interfere with academic work, or department production work that a student commits themselves to during the regular academic year.

What is Chautauqua?

Chautauqua is a theater and film festival hosted by the department most spring quarters. It is entirely run, produced, written, directed, acted, designed, stage-managed, and promoted by students. It is an ideal venue for students just starting out in the department to start working with other students in the department and become known. It is also a great place to gain training and experience, as weekly discussion sections are held for stage managers, designers, directors, and board ops in order to guide and support students with less experience in these roles. Please check the Chautauqua page for information on how to get involved.

What is Barnstorm?

Barnstorm is a student-run theater company that was begun in 2004 by the department in order to provide more production opportunities to students. It is run each year by 2-3 Theater Arts graduate students, for 1-3 quarters of the academic year. All shows are produced in the Barn Theater at the base of the UCSC campus, including 2-3 full productions, several one-nighters, sketch, stand-up, improv comedy, cabaret, and more. For information on how to get involved with Barnstorm, please check the Theater Arts page on the Barnstorm page and or Barnstorm website.

Who is my initial contact person for Theater Arts?

The Academic Advisor can be found in the Theater Arts office, J106, Theater Arts Center. The advisor is usually there 9 am-noon, and 1 - 4 pm on weekdays during the regular academic year (summer hours differ). More information is available on our Advising page. You may also call (831) 429-2974, or e-mail We are here to welcome and help you! 

For inormation on graduate studies in theater, click here.