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Theatre: Performance

Why Major in Theatre Performance?

Theatre performance majors engage in a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to performance. Students learn through improvisation and script analysis; acting techniques that include knowledge through a variety of historical and physical styles including Greek, Elizabethan, restoration and 20th century “isms”; as well as techniques to increase vocal and physical awareness of the actor. Students gain hands-on experiences through classroom work, work-shopping, internships and on-stage productions from seasoned professionals in performance theatre. 

Minor in Theatre

A minor in theatre provides students practical experience directing, technical skills in scenery, costumes and electrics, theatre design and history of theatre. In addition, 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.

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Northwest ensures students are career ready, day one, through internships, field experiences and networking opportunities. Read Shawn's story »

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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
  • Teaching artist
  • Playwright
  • Director
  • Stage manager
  • Performance coach

Based on self-reported data.

Profession-Based Learning Experiences

Theatre Performances

The theatre production program, Theatre Northwest, produces approximately 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 productions. 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 annual 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 month on campus. First-time students are closely mentored by faculty and students throughout 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. 

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 variable seating and flexible staging performance laboratory that contains state-of-the-art technology including electric laboratories.

Student Organizations

University Players

Open to any student interested in theatre, University Players 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 performance 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 participate in Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival events. 

Comedy Inc. specializes in improvisation, sketch comedy, comedic performance and stand-up comedy. Students learn skills in improvisational acting and various forms of comedic writing. Members perform several shows per year such as holiday-themed shows, a Lip Sync tournament, culminating show at the end of each 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. 

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 experience 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 »

The Northwest Difference

The Northwest Difference

Founded in 1905, Northwest is a traditional campus with more than 7,200 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in the middle of everywhere, Maryville is two hours from Omaha, Nebraska and Kansas City, Missouri and 2 ½ hours from Des Moines, Iowa.

Textbooks and Laptops Included

Save more than $7,200 over four years through our textbooks and laptop program.

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19 million money for you

More than $19 million in scholarships and grants awarded annually.

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Career Ready. Day One.

Students organizations, internships and profession-based learning experiences ensure students are Career Ready, Day One.

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Graduation Rate: 89th percentile

Graduation Rate: 89th percentile of Northwest's national peer group.