Here at OnStage Blog, we spend months compiling, researching and comparing college theatre programs to come up with what we feel are the very best colleges in the country. While names like Tisch, Juilliard, Emerson and Baldwin Wallace get plenty of attention, there are a ton of schools out there with incredible programs that deserve more.
So we wanted to highlight some of these underrated programs. Whether they are programs that have amazing facilities and curriculum or have a ton of value when it comes to their cost, these are schools that are doing tremendous things in theatre that might not be known on a national level.
Remember, we're talking about schools we feel are underrated. If you don't see certain programs here, it's more than likely that they're already getting a ton of credit.
Because this list is so massive, we're going to break it down region by region using this map.
10. Harding University - Searcy, AR
Fast Fact: The Pied Pipers are a children’s theatre troupe from Harding University. The Pipers are selected university students who share a love of theatre and a love for children. Auditions for the troupe are held at the beginning of the fall semester. The Pipers are improvisational, with every performance being a different and delightful blend of familiar fairy and folk tales, nursery rhymes, poems, games and songs. Every performance is designed for the age and number of children.
9. Winthrop University - Rock Hill, SC
Fast Fact: The Department of Theatre and Dance is housed in Johnson Hall, and shares the building with the Department of Mass Communication. Johnson Hall was built in 1920 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. In 1993, a $6.5 million renovation and addition to Johnson was completed, greatly enhancing the quality and quantity of space for both departments.
8. Georgia College - Milledgeville, GA
Fast Fact: Students from the GC Theatre department traveled across the Czech Republic this summer to perform the world premier of “The Vision of Čapek”. GC students were the only university performers alongside professional theatre companies around the world. Students donned robot costumes and played real people from the life of Čapek.
7. Tulane University - New Orleans, LA
Fast Fact: In an average academic year, Tulane University Theatre produces three to four mainstage productions and two dance concerts directed and choreographed by faculty or professional guest artists. Student produced works are encouraged and supported, and are typically produced in our experimental black box space, McWilliams Lab. From late May through mid-August, the Department of Theatre and Dance hosts the repertory season of The New Orleans Shakespeare Festival at Tulane, an Actor's Equity Company, with an intern program offering college students from around the country the opportunity to work and perform with seasoned professional actors, directors, and designers.
6. UNC - Wilmington - Wilmington, NC
Fast Fact: Program offers a "customized" option within the theatre major. This option allows students to develop individualized plans of study tailored to their specific academic and professional interests as well as career goals. It may prove the best approach for students who wish to combine multiple subject areas, for example, playwriting, criticism, theory, history, production design, performance, directing, stage management, arts administration, etc.
5. Emory University - Atlanta, GA
Fast Fact: Theater Emory, as a resident professional company, serves as a laboratory for faculty artistic research as well as for Theater Studies courses (students can be involved in many capacities and auditions are open to any student). This unusual partnering of undergraduates with adventurous professional artists in residence creates distinctive opportunities: to link theory and practice; to let mature artists and gifted students inspire each other; and to make theater in which young artists and seasoned professionals bring their unique perspectives to the questions posed in the plays.
4. Jacksonville State University - Jacksonville, AL
Fast Fact: The JSU Drama department offers a Bachelor of Arts in Drama with one of two concentrations, Performance or Production. Both concentrations combine a strong core of dramatic study with electives that will enhance and improve student's natural abilities and strengths. In addition, the department offers minors in drama or Film/Entertainment Technology.
3. Sewanee: The University of the South - Sewanee, TN
Fast Fact: Sewanee offers exceptional opportunities for the apprentice writer thanks to the bequest of Tennessee Williams. Each year, the Sewanee Writers Conference brings a distinguished playwright to the campus to serve as a Tennessee Williams Fellow in Residence for the academic year. The Department of Theatre Arts also sponsors guest writers and solo performers for shorter residencies.
2. Middle Tennessee State University - Murfreesboro, TN
Fast Fact: MTSU Theatre prides itself on providing students with an abundance of opportunities outside the traditional classroom. Through international study, students visit and study in locations across the globe. The department leads an annual London Winter trip and provides regular trips to locations such as Ireland, Russia, Latvia, and Finland, as well as Honduras. On these trips, students gain additional training as they tour original productions, participate in workshops, or work with youth as they apply skills learned on campus. The London trip also includes stops at historic theaters.
1. Florida Atlantic University - Boca Raton, FL
Fast Fact: In 2015, FAU established Theatre Lab, a resident professional company, which brings professional theatre to campus along with lots of opportunities for students to continue to gain professional experience. Dedicated to the development of new plays in American theatre, Theatre Lab has already brought to campus many of America’s best playwrights including Marsha Norman, Israel Horovitz, Steven Dietz, John Guare, Michael Hollinger, Deborah Zoe Laufer, and Carter Lewis to name just a few.