Theater & Performance Studies | Major & Minor
Bachelor of Arts (BA)
Within the Theater and Performance Studies curriculum, we understand performance to be a mode of critical inquiry and research, a means of creative expression, and a vehicle for public engagement. The theater events that take place within the department are the means by which students engage with theater performance on the physical, intellectual, and aesthetic levels. It is our hope that you will not only grow as performers but also as artists, thinkers, makers, viewers, and participants in the whole of the artistic event.
The practical focus of the major is to create theater of all kinds using all its art forms. Whether new to theater or seasoned with years of training and skill, all students receive an education that engages them fully. Your focus may be on acting, dance, technical theater/design, performance studies, or some combination of these. Equally important to us is the study of theater and dance performance theory, history, culture, and literature, thereby balancing the practical with the theoretical. Students engage in other upper division electives in stage management, playwriting, directing, choreography, sound design, scenic design, costume design, or lighting design, as well as a myriad of performance opportunities.
The theater training and academic courses offered by our department are geared toward the student who is interested in learning about theater and performance from multiple perspectives. As either a major or minor in Theater and Performance Studies, you will study with nationally and internationally known faculty, respected for their scholarly research and for their creative work. Our graduates have gone on to professional careers in all theatrical fields and graduate schools all over the world. Our alumni include professional actors on stage and screen, arts journalists, stunt actors, directors, producers, playwrights, and more.
Further departmental opportunities include student-directed theater performances and projects, honors projects, internships in local Bay Area theaters, teaching courses in the department, and invitations to diverse and exciting lectures and performances. Students also have access to world-renowned visiting guest artists through our close relationship with Cal Performances and our extensive network in the field.
Declaring the Major
Students may declare the major in Theater and Performance Studies after passing two of the four lower division required courses. Choose one course from the practice courses and one course from the performance studies courses, so you will have experienced both parts of your Theater and Performance Studies Major before declaring. Students will then be required to complete the two remaining lower division courses after declaring.
Contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor to declare the major.
Requirements for the Major
- Academic Guide: Major Requirements for Theater and Performance Studies
- Major Requirements Checklist: Theater and Performance Studies (PDF)
- TDPS Undergraduate Handbook (PDF)
Electives & Focus Areas
- Enhancing Your TDPS Elective Experience (PDF)
- The Acting Sequence (PDF)
- Advanced Study Opportunities (Capstone Courses)
Transfer Credit for the Major
- A maximum of 8 units of equivalent coursework from EAP or other 4-year colleges transfer into the major as electives, upon departmental approval.
- Equivalent courses to Theater 10 transfer into the major.
- All L&S-approved credits from other colleges transfer into your degree, but rarely into the major.
- Transfer students should bring a copy of previous transcripts/course descriptions to the Undergraduate Academic Advisor for evaluation.
Guidelines for the Major
- All courses taken to fulfill the major requirements below must be taken for letter-graded credit, other than courses listed which are offered on a Pass/No Pass basis only.
- No more than 1 upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs, with the exception of minors offered outside of the College of Letters & Science.
- A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 must be maintained in both upper and lower division courses used to fulfill the major requirements.
By the end of their time in Theater and Performance Studies, students should possess:
- The ability to synthesize a well-organized argument from textual or other evidence and to express it in formal, written form
- Proficiency in research methods (i.e. utilization of public and private archives, libraries, electronic databases, oral histories; textual and performance analysis)
- Collaborative skills
- Foundational stagecraft and production skills and knowledge (design, craft and technology, stage management, new media)
- Literacy in foundational dramatic texts and fundamental concepts of performance theory
- Basic knowledge of the history of Euro-American theater practice, including issues of race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism in the performing arts.
- Basic acting technique
Through upper-division course work, electives, and capstone experiences students should also possess advanced training in at least one of the following:
- Acting (Check out our Acting Sequence)
- Stage Management
- New Media
Path to Achieving Goals
Path to Achieving Goals
The path to achieving the aforementioned Learning Goals includes building Foundational Skills, developing Advanced Abilities and undertaking Capstone Experiences.
- Introduction to Acting (Theater 10)
- Introduction to Performance Studies (Theater 26)
- Introduction to Technical Theater (Theater 60)
- EITHER Drama of American Cultures (Theater 25AC) OR Reflections of Gender, Culture and Ethnicity in Dance (Theater 52AC)
- Advanced Production or Design: participation in Studio or Playhouse productions
- Performance Studies: Three courses from areas of Performance Theory, Performance History, Performance Literatures, or Performance and Culture
- Four upper-division electives in student’s choice of area (directing, acting, design, etc.).
- Productions (from Workshops to advanced participation in Playhouse productions)
- Professional workshops and classes with Artists-in-Residence
- Honors Theses (both written and production projects)
- Independent Studies
- Internships with professional companies, studios, agencies
- Student-created performance projects
- Leading/teaching DeCal courses
Methods of Evaluation and Feedback
Methods of Evaluation and Feedback
In addition to traditional methods of assessment such as analytical papers, research projects, and examinations (which are used primarily in the Performance Studies courses), the TDPS faculty and lecturers use a variety of qualitative and competitive feedback methods. Among these are:
Graded, Written, and Oral Assessment
Competitive Evaluation and Selection
- Students compete with one another for limited spaces in classes and productions.
- Those who work hard, perform well, and show promise in classes are provided increasing challenges and opportunities.
Distribution of prizes
- Every year, the faculty distributes endowed awards to our students. These awards are given to students whom the faculty have known in both classes and productions, and who have been seen to excel in all areas of the curriculum. While production work is often the immediate anchor of these awards, academic achievement and good collaborative skills are also required of students who receive awards. Students lacking in either of these arenas can be disqualified from receiving awards.
- These awards are the culmination of long-term assessment over the student’s time in TDPS. In other words, it is highly unlikely that a student will receive an award without having received extensive feedback leading up to that award.
One-on-one mentorship and supervision
- Students in choreography, dance technique, design, acting, directing, and stagecraft classes are encouraged (and often required) to solicit detailed assessment on particular projects from their faculty
- For classes that require group projects, faculty give feedback to individual groups within a course, rather than one-on-one. However, these groups are generally small (4-6 students)
- Students may ask for more detailed feedback on auditions from relevant directors or faculty
- Guidance on written thesis
- Supervision of internship or apprenticeship projects
- Guidance through the major tailored to student’s long-term goals
- Professional career feedback
Confirming the Minor
Students can confirm their intention to minor in Theater and Performance Studies after enrolling in one course in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. Contact the Undergraduate Academic Advisor to confirm your intention.
Requirements for the Minor
- Academic Guide: Minor Requirements for Theater and Performance Studies
- Minor Requirements Checklist: Theater and Performance Studies (PDF)
Guidelines for the Minor:
- All courses in the minor must be taken for a letter-grade.
- You must keep a GPA of 2.0 or better in the upper division minor units.
- A course with the identical course number may only be counted twice toward the minor, and only 2 courses may be repeated in this way.
- See the Undergraduate Handbook for further information.
Transfer Credit for the Minor
- The Theater and Performance Studies Minor requires five upper division courses; at least three of these courses must be taken in the Department.
- A transferred course from another college or another department must be advisor-approved. Transfer students can determine transfer-ability of coursework into the minor by bringing a copy of previous transcripts/course descriptions to Michael Mansfield for evaluation.
- Equivalent courses to Theater 10 transfer into the minor from other institutions.
- Except for Theater 10, it is rare that a course from a Junior College will transfer into the minor because equivalent coursework is seldom found.
- Since your minor will be from the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, it is likely you will do most of your minor coursework here.