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Northwest Missouri State University

Theatre: Performance

Theatre: Performance

The Northwest Difference

Theatre performance majors learn a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to performance, technical elements and design. Faculty offer courses like electrics, make-up design, acting, state management and play writing to name a few. Faculty focus on teaching the fundamentals of performance through improvisation, script analysis and basic acting skills; acting techniques that provide knowledge through a variety of historical and physical styles including Greek, Elizabethan, restoration and 20th century “isms”; and techniques to increase vocal and physical awareness of the actor, fundamentals of writing for the stage through scene structure, dramatic tensions, theme, action and dialogue. 

Minor in Theatre

A minor in theatre teaches students the fundamentals of directing, technical skills in scenery, costumes and electrics, theatre design and history of theatre. After taking the required courses, students can customize their minor from a list of approved electives. For a list of required courses, visit the academic catalog. This minor requires the completion of 24 credit hours.

Career Opportunities

placement rate

100% of students who graduate with a degree in theatre performance find employment or continue their education within six months of graduation. Jobs and professions related to this major include:

  • Actor
  • Teacher
  • Playwright
  • Director
  • Stage manager
  • Designers
  • Technician

*Based on self-reported data.

Profession-Based Learning Experiences

Theatre Performances

The theatre production program, Theatre Northwest, typically produces more than a dozen shows each year. These productions include four full-scale mainstage productions such as freshman mainstage production, an original touring children's show and up to eight second stage and studio shows. Students get the opportunity to perform, design and direct early and often. Recent productions include Legally Blonde The Musical, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Secret Garden, Alice in Wonderland and Reckless.

As part of the Freshmen-Transfer Showcase, all first-year students at Northwest Missouri State University have a unique opportunity to participate in a mainstage production in their first trimester on campus. First-time students are mentored by faculty and students through this experience. Some recent performances include The World of Carl Sandburg, New Beginnings-Redux and Wiley and the Hairy Man.

Lab Series Productions serves to both supplement and complement the existing academic and extracurricular theatre program. It provides mentored directing, design, technical and performance experiences for emerging professionals. The Lab Series also provides students with opportunities to fulfill course and program requirements. The intent is that technical aspects (i.e. lighting, sound, costumes, scenery) will be kept minimal, emphasizing the script itself above all other elements.

Learning Resources

Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts

The Ron Houston Center for Performing Arts is home to three performance venues: the Mary Linn Auditorium, Black Box Theatre and the Studio Theatre.

The Mary Linn Auditorium seats 1,022, includes two sound booths, a large scene shop, several dressing rooms, a green room, costume shop, prop rooms and wardrobe areas.

Black Box Theatre

The Black Box Theatre is located directly below the Mary Linn Auditorium and is used for innovative and experimental productions, classroom activities and lab series performances.

The Studio Theatre is a 5,500-square-foot performance drama laboratory that contains state-of-the-art technology.

Student Organizations

University Players

Open to any student interested in theatre, University Players produces up to eight plays per year that are performed, designed and directed by Northwest students. The organization also offers workshops about topics such as monologues, dialects, musical theatre, voiceover, puppetry and other acting-related skills, and gives students a chance during weekly meetings to discuss different methods and styles, practice techniques learned in class and “play” through improvisation. Students in University Players also travel to local cities to see professional theatre and KCACTF’s Devised Theatre events. 

Comedy Inc. specializes in improvisation, sketch comedy, comedic performance and stand-up comedy. Students learn skills in improv acting and various forms of comedic writing. Members perform several shows per year like holiday-themed shows, a Lip Sync tournament, culminating show at the end of the semester. Comedy Inc. teaches members to think on their feet, build confidence, work as a team and develop a welcoming atmosphere for all who wish to join. Membership is open to the University community.

Alpha Psi Omega is the national theatre honor society. Activities for the Kappa Sigma cast include providing meals to cast and crew for Mainstage productions, producing a children’s show that tours to local elementary schools and producing and organizing the yearly departmental awards banquet. Membership is by invitation.

For a full list of student organizations with in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts »


Although internships are not required, they are highly encouraged to gain hands-on and ensure students are career-ready at graduation.

QuoteMadison StinemetzThis summer, I worked as the painting intern for the Des Moines Metro Opera. This was my first time working in both repertory theatre and opera. It was a very time consuming, exhausting process, but one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had in theatre. I got to work and learn from theatre professionals and add to my resume and portfolio. I feel like this summer really helped me transition from a student Scenic Artist to an early career Studio Artist.Quote

Madison Stinemetz
Omaha, Nebraska

Study Abroad

Study Abroad

Study Abroad is an opportunity for students to apply hands-on international experience to their own academic development. Faculty members supervise short-term study abroad programs that prepare students before, during and after the program. Two types of study abroad programs are available – faculty-led and traditional study abroad.

The traditional program can be a semester, summer or year-long program and is taught by Northwest’s international partner institutions.

For more information about study abroad opportunities »