Students on stage of a theater performance

About Theater

Buffalo State’s Theater Department strives to introduce aspiring performing artists to all aspects of the theater and entertainment industries. Students learn a variety of skills related to all aspects of theater, from acting to set-building, from directing to costume design. The rigorous training our students receive prepares them for the professional standards they will encounter in theaters, studios, and TV stations once they graduate. In addition, students will develop skills in teamwork, time management, self-advocacy, creating budgets, creativity, verbal and written communications, leadership, research, civic engagement, peer mentoring, diplomacy, and critical thinking. 
 
Theater, B.A.

Theater, Minor

Dance, Minor

Degree Information

Our theater program prepares students for a wide variety of careers both on and off the stage. Students who want to work in theater usually find a job within six months:  

  • Actor 
  • Agent 
  • Arts Reviewer 
  • Choreographer 
  • Costume Designer 
  • Dance Teacher 
  • Dancer 
  • Director
  • Front-of-House Manager 
  • Lighting Technician 
  • Makeup Artist 
  • Producer 
  • Props Manager 
  • Pyrotechnic Engineer 
  • Script Writer (Film, TV) 
  • Set Designer 
  • Set Manager 
  • Sound Engineer 
  • Special Effects Producer 
  • Stage Manager 
  • Vocal Coach 
  • Wardrobe Assistant 

Our graduates have been hired by a range of local and national theaters, organizations, and companies including:

  • Disney
  • HBO
  • Roswell Park Cancer Institute
  • Princess Cruises
  • Fringe festivals in Buffalo and Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Second City Comedy (Chicago)
  • Riverside Theater (Verdo Beach, Florida)
  • Glimmerglass Opera Company (Cooperstown, New York)

Some students use the skills they developed in the theater major in professions seemingly unrelated to theater. Graduates have told us that they’re better business leaders, educators, communication professionals, and attorneys because they’ve studied the human condition through our theater program. They’ve learned how to articulate clearly, how to empathize with others, and how to deliver a message with panache.   
 

At Buffalo State, we believe that the best way to learn is by doing. Our theater program is designed to give students multiple experiences and opportunities both in and outside of the classroom. Applied learning experiences include professional internships, community outreach projects, involvement with arts-related organizations, teaching at local elementary and high schools, and on-the-job experiences. Below are just a few ways theater majors can get involved:  

Casting Hall Productions: Buffalo State's student-operated and funded theater production company serves as co-producer for the season. It allows students to get practical experience in all aspects of the production, including publicity, costume and set construction, technical staffing, production management, and budget management.  

Learn About Casting Hall Productions

Buffalo State Dance Association: This student chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance hosts fundraisers for dance-themed events, travels to dance-themed symposiums, and offers master classes coached by professional dancers.   

The Anne Frank Project: This annual campus-wide social festival, begun in 2008 by a theater professor, uses storytelling as a vehicle for community building, conflict-resolution, and identity exploration. Students can participate in AFP by leading workshops and performances as well as volunteering for the logistical needs of this growing festival.  

Join the Anne Frank Project 

Scholarships:

  • Donald Savage Scholarship for College Actors of Promise
  • McCarthy-Eskew Scholarship for Theater Production
  • Horace Mann Theater Arts Student Scholarship
  • Jerry McGuire Theater Scholarship in Acting
  • Fay Northrop Theater Scholarship in Set Design
  • Lucille and Jack Yellin Scholarship in Dance 

Awards: Three awards are available to theater majors of good academic standing:

  • Mina S. Goossen Award for Excellence in Theater
  • Michael Dominico Performing Arts Award
  • Donald J. Savage Theater Arts Award

Students have the chance to do summer research fellowships and work with faculty in such areas as design and costuming. Some projects have included interdisciplinary work and capstone writing and performance projects. Many students participate in Buffalo State’s Student Research and Creativity Conference each year.  

Students are also encouraged to pursue internships with local, regional and national theaters

  • Road Less Traveled Productions  
  • Shea's Performing Arts Center 
  • Irish Classical Theater Company
  • Theater of Youth
  • Shakespeare in Delaware Park,
  • Alliance Theater (Atlanta, Georgia)

Accreditation

Our theater program is one of only two programs accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theater (NAST) in Western New York.

Four Concentrations

Student can choose to focus on one of four areas that enables them to discover and develop their unique gifts in a specific area:

  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Theater technology
  • Design

Accomplished Faculty

All the theater faculty have earned terminal degrees from well-known and respected graduate schools and continue to engage in professional development.  Many continue to work in professional theaters and present at conferences across the globe.

Two Minor Options

We offer two minors — theater and dance — which help students focus on the fundamentals of theater production, performance, and history.

Production Options

Theater majors can immediate audition for roles and sign up for crew positions with numerous campus dramas, musicals, and dance performances throughout the academic year that are open to the public. 

Five Performance Centers

The campus offers spaces for student performances:

  • Performing Arts Center
  • Warren Enters Theatre
  • Flexible Theatre
  • Ciminelli Recital Hall
  • Dance Studio

One-on-One Attention

Classes for theater majors typically have no more than 16 students allowing for individualized attention.

Drew Kahn addressing an audience at the Anne Frank Project

“When people share their stories through music or science or writing, the world becomes a better place.”

Drew Kahn
- Professor, Theater; 
Founder and director of the  Anne Frank Project (AFP)