Why choose a liberal arts college like The College of Wooster for theatre and dance?

Theatre and Dance as studied at The College of Wooster emphasizes the relationship between scholarship and artistry, investigating both the range and depth of the human experience. The Theatre and Dance major and minor curriculums offer a broad range of knowledge designed to examine acting, directing, dance, design and technology, history literature, playwriting, and theory, focusing in each area on the importance of analyzing texts in their various modes: the written text, the visual text, and the physical text. While the Theatre and Dance student may choose to specialize in one of these particular areas of the discipline for their Senior Independent Study, the departmental philosophy remains dedicated to the liberal arts belief in developing the artist/scholar.

The Department encourages original and creative thinking grounded in its interdisciplinary curricular structure. At the same time, the Department emphasizes a combination of historical and critical analyses relevant to the study of various texts, all of which inform the creation of a wide range of performance genres. The artist/scholar model also informs the departmental production season and contributes to the diversity of traditional and non-canonical performance and course offerings.

Who can audition for theatre and dance productions?

Auditions are open to all College of Wooster students regardless of major or year of study. Actors and dancers are selected based on their talent/ability and appropriateness for the specific role or dance piece. It is not uncommon for first-year and sophomore students to be cast in major roles or selected for concert pieces alongside upper class students since juniors and seniors are immersed in their Independent Study projects.

Are there other opportunities for performance and production in addition to those offered by the Department of Theatre and Dance?

The College of Wooster has three student organizations that offer additional opportunities for those interested in Theatre. Effie’s Players primarily focuses on contemporary dramatic works; Shakespeariments explores the rich heritage of the works of Shakespeare and the newly formed, Woosicals, presents offerings from musical theatre.  All are student directed and produced, utilizing a variety of venues around campus.


Emily Baird

Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance


Shirley Huston-Findley

Shirley Huston-Findley

Professor of Theatre and Dance


Jimmy Noriega

Jimmy Noriega

Associate Professor and Department Chair of Theatre and Dance; Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies


Suwatana Rockland

Suwatana Rockland

Costume Designer/Costume Shop Supervisor – Theatre and Dance


Michael Schafer

Technical Director/Designer and Scene Shop Manager - Theatre and Dance


Naoko Skala

Naoko Skala

Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance; Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


Patrice Smith

Patrice Smith

Administrative Coordinator - Theatre & Dance, Communication Studies, Communication Sciences & Disorders


Latest News

posters for Far Away and The Day The Music Came Back at The College of Wooster

Theatre productions return to Freedlander Theatre Oct. 4-6 with The Day the Music Came Back and Far Away

The Department of Theatre and Dance is offering two productions next week as live theatre returns to Freedlander Theatre at The College of Wooster. […]

group migration workshop

Uniting Different Worlds Through Dance and Independent Study

Every August, students come to The College of Wooster from various locations – down the street, out of state, or even overseas – to […]

The cast of Under the Sycamores (Ray Caspio, Treva Offutt, Robin Pease and Leilani Barrett) with director Jimmy Noriega and playwright Les Hunter at Radio on the Lake Theatre's recording studio.

Jimmy Noriega directs Under the Sycamores by Les Hunter for Cleveland Festival

Audio play about downtown Cleveland’s historic Erie Street Cemetery runs July 22-Sept. 30

Members of Teatro Travieso/Troublemaker Theatre on a previous tour of the play

Jimmy Noriega’s Women of Ciudad Juárez to be staged in Mexico

Theatre professor’s production will tour to three cities for play’s anniversary


The Theatre and Dance major consists of a minimum of 12 course credits: three 100-level foundational courses focusing on the understanding of text from a variety of perspectives, three 200-level history/literature/theory/criticism courses, and three 300-level courses. Junior Independent Study and Senior Independent Study allow students to establish an area of emphasis in Theatre and Dance, including directing, design, technology, acting, choreography, playwriting, history and theory.

The Department of Theatre and Dance strives to develop our students as artistic scholars by providing them with a knowledge base that establishes strong research, creative and critical thinking, and verbal and written communication skills.

The 100-level introductory courses serve as an introduction to the artistic and intellectual foundation necessary to analyze, interpret, and create theatre and dance.

The 200-level courses introduce students to historical, theoretical, and critical perspective to the three texts.

The 300-level courses emphasize practical application of theoretical concepts and methodology, as well as application.

View Courses


A minor in Theatre & Dance consists of six courses from a list that includes classes focused on acting, directing, dance, design and technology, history, literature, playwriting, theory, and artistic activism and social justice. Within each area, students analyze texts in their various modes: written, visual, and physical.

View Courses

Independent Study

Independent Study (IS) at The College of Wooster began over 60 years ago and remains the cornerstone of our curriculum today. Each senior and each discipline experiences IS somewhat differently, but the common elements include a year-long research project culminating in a significant piece of scholarship emerging out of a topic generated by the student and guided through one-on-one weekly meetings with an advisor. IS at Wooster has been recognized for its success as part of a liberal arts education.

In the Department of Theatre and Dance students develop a critical question in their Junior year, which goes through an approval process conducted by the faculty. In addition, some students request a production component that combines their research with a practical experience in choreography, acting, directing, playwriting, design, or devising theatre. The project might include choreographing for the Spring Dance Concert, performing an acting recital, directing a one-act play, conducting a staged-reading of their original drama, designing for a faculty-directed main stage production, or developing a devised performance piece.


Search the I.S. Database

Student Year I.S. Title Major 1 Major 2 Advisor
Please search to view results

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Wooster Theatre and Dance majors choose diverse career paths. Some pursue advanced study at schools such as Yale, Rutgers, Ball State, Columbia, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Purdue, Ohio State, Florida State, The University of Illinois, and New York University. Some work for professional theatre or dance companies, while others join arts organizations.

The broad liberal arts background offered at Wooster and the research skills gained through I.S. prepare students for a wide variety of careers.

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Prizes & Scholarships


Awarded to first-year students (transfers not eligible) on the basis of acting, directing, playwriting, design and technology, stage management, or dance. Students can receive $2,000 to $8,000 per year. Applicants should apply in the area in which they wish to focus their time and skills on while at Wooster. Scholarship recipients are not required to major or minor in Theatre and Dance at Wooster.

* Acting scholarship students are required to audition for the faculty-directed theatre productions each semester (though not required to be cast in the show).

2021-22 Audition Weekends
  • December 4, 2021 (available for November 15 deadline applicants only)
  • February 5, 2022

Learn more about Theatre & Dance Scholarships


The Edward McCreight Prize in Dramatics is awarded to the senior in the department who has contributed the most in dramatics.

The Cummings-Rumbaugh Speech and Dramatics Prize is an award shared with the Department of Communication which honors the senior with the highest academic standing.

The William C. Craig Theatre Prize is awarded to the graduating senior who has made the greatest contribution to all areas of the theatre program.

Earline F. Brown Scholarship in Performing Arts is awarded in the Fall to a black student who has contributed significantly to the performing arts at Wooster.

Allardice-Wise Scholarship for Seniors (auditions will be held during the Spring semester of the junior year)

The Gladene “Deanie” Collins Endowed Scholarship is awarded to a student for their senior year, with first preference given to a student with financial need who is involved in The College of Wooster dance program.

Unique Opportunities

The Theatre and Dance Department offers renewable scholarships to first-year students who show promise in acting, directing, playwriting, design and technology, or dance. The department employs students in the scene and costume shops, and the box office. Summer opportunities include the chance to audition for Wooster’s resident summer professional company, The Ohio Light Opera. Wooster also offers theatre and dance students off-campus opportunities with the Great Lakes Colleges Arts Program in New York, internships with professional theaters, and study-abroad at renowned schools of drama.

The American College Theatre Festival

The American College Theatre Festival is a 5-day long opportunity for students and faculty from colleges and universities who are interested in theatre to share ideas and view one another’s work. In addition to performances and competitions, there are a wide range of activities that, in past, have included workshops and seminars on such topics as play writing, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, scenic painting, set design, and so on.

There are a total of eight regional festivals sponsored by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which are held annually throughout the country during January and February. We are in Region III along with colleges and universities from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Wooster Students Excel at American College Theatre Festival Regional Competition
Before the 2016 spring semester had even started, Helen Rooker (’18), Maira Senoo (’18) and Charlene Gross converged on Milwaukee for the Kennedy Center American Theatre College Festival. Both students submitted work in Design, Technical & Management. All three participants kept busy during the conference attending workshops, performances and presenting work from The College of Wooster.

Charlene Gross presented a poster on the EL Wire designs from Kim Tritt’s dance piece, Luminescence on the design and technical aspects. She was also a respondent to the Regional Design Projects.

Helen Rooker was recognized as outstanding stage manager for her work as Production Stage Manager on Latins In La-La Land in Fall 2015. Because of her recognition, she was invited to submit her stage management book on the show for for the National KCACTF Stage Management Fellowship. She received excellent feedback from her judges during her presentation.

Maira Senoo presented her costume designs for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for the Regional Design Projects alongside of other undergraduate and graduate students from Region 3 (Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan & Ohio). The project was first designed for Charlene Gross’s Costume Design class in Fall 2015. Maira also was given excellent verbal responses and will receive additional written feedback from multiple designers within the region.

Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition

Two Irene Ryan Scholarship participants are chosen for each mainstage production by and ACTF respondent who adjudicates the show on one of the performance nights. To accept a nomination means that the participant will attend the Festival in January and will complete all the requirements put forth in the Irene Ryan Contract.

At the Festival, participants will be required to perform a monologue and a scene or song for a panel of judges (consisting of directors from other colleges or universities). Winners from that round compete in semi-finals in front of the entire Festival. Finals are held the last night of the Festival and $2500 scholarships are granted to the two winning participants from each region. These two winners will then go to the Kennedy Center National Festival where they will perform in an evening of scenes in front of top professional actors, directors, producers, and casting agents.

Off campus study

Many of our students pursue a semester of off-campus study during the fall semester of their junior year. As a result students receive a more expansive perspective on the practical and intellectual applications of theatre and dance.

If you are planning to study off-campus, please consult with your adviser and the Office of Off-Campus Study. Together, they can help you identify programs and courses that match your interests and needs. Some of the programs that our students have pursued in London include the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and The Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Our students also have attended the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland.

Students in theatre and dance may also consider immersing themselves in New York City for a semester by participating in the NewYorkArts Program. Students in the program live in a Chelsea brownstone and work in the NYC professional creative community by pursuing an internship with a professional theatre/dance company in their field of interest. Internships have included working with professional lighting designers, choreographers and dance companies, acting schools, and casting agencies to mention a few of the possible opportunities.



Theatre and dance is an art form which mirrors the human spirit through history, literature, criticism, theory, production, and performance.  The study of theatre and dance involves not only the development and practice of various expressive skills but also historical and theoretical issues. It can be studied in the classroom, the studio, on the stage, or behind the stage.

View upcoming events and learn more about The Arts at Wooster

Fall 2021

Far Away
October 4, 5 & 6 2021
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Jimmy A. Noriega

The Day the Music Came Back
by Alvaro Saar Rios
directed by Jimmy A. Noriega
Freedlander Theatre

Box Office opens September 27, 2021

I.S. Production
November 5 & 6, 2021
If Eve Left… by T. Tara Turk-Haynes
Directed by Jaz Nappier
Shoolroy Theatre

Box Office opens November 1, 2021

Fall Dance Concert
November 18, 19 & 20, 2021
Directed by Emily Baird

Box Office opens November 15, 2021

Spring 2022

I.S. Productions
February 4 & 5, 2022
I and You by Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Brian Luck
Staged Reading by Annie Sheneman
Playwriting by Gabby Sullivan
Shoolroy Theatre
Box Office opens January 31, 2022

Nell Gwynn
March 3, 4 & 5, 2022
By Jessica Swale
Directed by Shirley Huston-Findley
Freedlander Theatre
Box Office opens February 28 , 2022

Spring Dance Concert
April 21, 22 & 23, 2022
Directed by Emily Baird
Freedlander Theatre
Box Office opens April 18, 2022

Past Performances

Blind Date – Spring 2021
Spring Dance Concert- Spring 2021
Theatre of Urgency: Creative Responses to 2020 – Fall 2020
Fall Dance Concert – Fall 2020
Fall Dance Concert – Fall 2019
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Fall 2019
Spring Dance Concert – Spring 2019
The Normal Heart – Spring 2019
Senior I.S. Production – Spring 2019
Fall Dance Concert – Fall 2018
The Tempest – Fall 2018
Spring Dance Concert – Spring 2018
Eurydice – Spring 2018
Medea – Fall 2017
Fall Senior Weekend – Fall 2017
Spring Dance Concert – Spring 2017
Almost, Maine – Spring 2017
Senior I.S. Performance – Spring 2017
Fall Dance Concert – Fall 2016
The Crucible – Fall 2016
Sangreal: An Electronic Opera – Spring 2016
Festival of New Works – Spring 2016
Latins in La-La Land – Fall 2015
Spring Dance Concert – Spring 2015
Water by the Spoonful – Spring 2015
Senior I.S. Performance – Spring 2015
Fall Dance Concert – Fall 2014
Scapin – Fall 2014
Spring Dance Concert – Spring 2014
Senior I.S. Performances – Spring 2014
Fall Dance Concert – Fall 2013
The Golden Age – Fall 2013
Life is a Dream – Spring 2013
Equus – Fall 2012
Fall Dance Concert – 2012
Las Meninas – Spring 2012
Festival of New Plays – Spring 2012
The Glass Menagerie – Spring 2011
Spring Dance Concert – 2010
Songs for a New World – Spring 2010
Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off – Spring 2010
Comedy of Errors – Fall 2009
Fall Dance Concert– 2009
Fall Dance Concert – 2008
A Flea in Her Ear – Fall 2008
All My Sons – Spring 2006
Nocturne – Fall 2006
Getting Out – Spring 2005
Tartuffe – Fall 2004

Theatre Production Handbook