Studying Theatre at North Park
North Park University’s theatre major and production company are developed around a storefront model of creating productions for intimate or unique settings. Our holistic approach to theatre studies gives students the opportunity to learn the full spectrum of practical skills that production members need to be successful, while collaborations with prestigious theatre companies throughout Chicago prepare students for real-world careers in theatre and performance.
Earn your Bachelor of Art in Theatre and build a foundation of knowledge and experience in the dramatic arts. You’ll receive hands-on training from professional theatre artists while developing practical skills in acting, directing, writing, and production.
North Park’s theatre company is made up of dedicated students, both theatre majors and non-majors, who love to put on a show. Students are the stage managers, marketers, actors, props masters, designers, writers, producers, directors, and technicians. With faculty guidance, the company stages at least three shows each year.
A well-loved and highly caffeinated tradition, students write, design, direct, and perform original short plays in only 24 hours. The results are exhilarating!
One Act Festival
Each one-act play is the work of a student director/producer who in true store-front fashion has orchestrated their set, design, and cast to create a one-of-a-kind experience. The culminating showcase is their chance to share their work with the world.
At least one show is produced off-campus every other year at a professional theatre space in Chicago. Professionally written and directed, these full-length plays give students the chance to stretch their performance and production skills to their highest potential.
Faculty Spotlight: Jessica Wardell
Our team of faculty and production associates is made up of talented working professionals who each bring a unique expertise and knowledge of the professional theatre scene. Assistant Professor and Director of Design and Production for North Park’s theatre company, Jessica Wardell is also an independent scenic and costume designer, an ensemble member of Adventure Stage Chicago, and the former Director of Design at the University of Chicago.
Storefront Theatre Model
With over 200 producing theatre companies, Chicago is world renowned for its contribution to the storefront movement. Those who work in storefront theatres in Chicago recognize that in order to produce successful shows, everyone must perform multiple jobs. For example, someone who designs lights might also write grants. Or someone who acts may also be responsible for set construction. This is called cross training in the business world—in the Chicago theatre scene, this is called smart. Read more in New York Times article, “How Chicago is Changing Theater, One Storefront at a Time.”
Promising theatre majors and non-theatre majors alike are eligible for a limited number of theatre scholarships, offered in addition to other financial aid and are renewable for up to four years.
Theatre majors take the first step into their careers by completing an internship at a professional theatre company. Chicago provides outstanding internship opportunities at theatres such as The Goodman, MPAACT, Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, Chicago Shakespeare, The Hypocrites, The Neo-Futurists, Steep, The Ruffians, and Barrel of Monkeys.
Where Our Alumni Work
North Park’s theatre alumni are active in both stage and film productions all over the country, including at Chicago’s Barrel of Monkeys and Akvavit Theatre, at Basher Films/Prehistoric Digital in Los Angeles, and in various theatre roles in St. Louis, Mo., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Europe. Read about one alum’s career and recent work in this interview with playwright Joe Giovannetti.