Catalogue: Traditional Program: Theatre

Theatre (THE)

Associate Professor Sartwell, Chair
Associate Professor Frost
Associate Professor Sollish
Specialty Instructor Bert

The study of Theatre at Belhaven focuses on story and service. Students will gain a working knowledge of dramatic structure, the function and application of story, and the history and contemporary field of theatre. Students will be given the opportunity to explore and apply that knowledge, stretching their God-given abilities in practical experiences while working in collaboration with each other, as well as faculty and guest artists, all in the spirit of service to their collaborators, their community and their Creator. Culminating projects in theatre include supervised internships, individualized senior projects or recitals, THE 441, 498 and 499.

All majors in Theatre, regardless of degree or emphasis, are required to complete the following courses:

  • THE 120, 140, 151, 211, 250, 305, 473, 474, 475, and 6 semesters of Theatre Lab (6 hours) and enrollment in THE 100 Theatre Seminar (0). (Total: 33 hours)

For students interested in a generalist approach to theatre, the department offers opportunities for participation in course work and production for majors leading to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre. The department also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre degree with an emphasis in Theatre Ministry and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre degree with an emphasis in Dramatic Writing.

For students interested in concentrated study in acting or musical theatre, the department offers opportunities in course work and production leading to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting degree or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre degree. Students must complete a satisfactory audition prior to admission to either of the department’s B.F.A. programs.

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (no emphasis)
The B.A. in Theatre is a liberal arts degree designed to give students a wide range of training in different facets of the art of theatre, both off stage and on. The Bachelor of Arts program allows students the flexibility to pursue a diversity of interests both within the department and outside of their major. Students who graduate with a B.A. in Theatre may choose to continue their study at the graduate level, teach theatre at the secondary level, and/or pursue careers as actors, designers or technicians in professional or non-professional venues.

The minimum number of hours in theatre courses required for a B.A. is 46. In addition to the core classes listed above, the course requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre include: THE 110, THE 205, 3 hours of a Performance or Technical elective, and 4 hours of additional Technical electives.

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Theatre Ministry emphasis)
The B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Theatre Ministry is a liberal-arts degree intended to provide students skills and training in both theatre arts and in ministry. Students who graduate with a B.A. in Theatre (Theatre Ministry) will be prepared to utilize the art and craft of theatre to serve within a variety of ministry organizations.

The minimum number of hours in theatre courses required for a B.A. with a Theatre Ministry emphasis is 53. In addition to the core classes listed above, the course requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Theatre Ministry) include: THE 110, 200, 300, 3 hours in Scriptwriting or a Technical elective, 6 hours of Ministry and Worship electives, and two hours of Technical Electives.

Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Dramatic Writing emphasis)
The B.A. in Theatre with an emphasis in Dramatic Writing is a liberal-arts degree intended to provide students a solid foundation in theatre studies in general and specifically in the creation and development of new plays. This degree is designed for students who wish to pursue additional professional and/or graduate study in playwriting.

The minimum number of hours in theatre courses required for a B.A. with a Dramatic Writing emphasis is 54. In addition to the core classes listed above, the course requirements for the Bachelor of Arts in Theatre (Dramatic Writing) include: THE 110, 210, 410, 412, 472 or 493, CWR 211 and a 3 hour Creative Writing elective.

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting
The B.F.A. in Acting is a professional degree that provides an intensive study in acting supported by general studies. Students in this program are required to audition and be available to perform in all departmental productions. B.F.A. in Acting students are required to participate in Audition Day Juries each semester, presenting a growing list of potential audition material. To graduate, B.F.A. in Acting students must perform a Senior Showcase, demonstrating command of the material learned in coursework. Students who graduate with a B.F.A. in Acting will be prepared to pursue acting as a career. Students who graduate with a B.F.A. in Acting may choose to continue their study at the graduate level. The minimum number of hours in theatre courses required for a B.F.A. in Acting is 78. In addition to the core classes listed above, the course requirements for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting Theatre (Acting) include: THE 251, 261, 265, 293, 295, 351, 361, 365, 451, THE 257 or 281, THE 280 or 493, MUS 110 and 111, 16 hours of Theatre electives, and 2 hours of Senior Showcase (THE 498).

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre
The B.F.A. in Musical Theatre is a professional degree that provides an intensive study in musical theatre, including singing, dancing, and acting. This rigorous study of musical theatre is supported by general studies. B.F.A. in Musical Theatre students are required to audition and be available to perform in all departmental productions. Students in this program are required to participate in Audition Day Juries each semester, presenting a growing list of potential audition material. Students are required to pass a piano proficiency test. To graduate, B.F.A. in Musical Theatre students must perform a Senior Showcase, demonstrating command of the material learned in coursework. Students who graduate with a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre will be prepared to pursue careers in musical theatre.

The minimum number of hours in theatre courses required for a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre is 84. In addition to the core classes listed above, the course requirements for the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre include: THE 251, 257 and 258, 265, 276, 281 and 282, 293, 295, 333, 365, 376, DAN 115, 116 and 117, MUS 121 and 122, MUS 123/124, 223, 224, MUS 393, 8 semesters of voice lessons (8 hours), 3 semesters of choral ensemble (3 hours) and 2 hours of Senior Showcase (THE 498).

Honors Program: The theatre department offers opportunities for students to enroll in honors courses from its department. The following are general education, elective, and major courses that may be taken as honors courses: THE 200, 210, 250, 300, 340, 472, and 475. For students majoring in this department, one must pass a minimum of nine hours of honors courses within the discipline and a minimum of nine hours from the honors courses of other departments. Each course must be passed with a B or better. No more than 18 hours are required for the honors degree. For other honor’s program policies, see “Honors Program” under the “Administration of the Curriculum” section of the catalogue.


100 Theatre Seminar (0).
A gathering of all theatre majors at Belhaven University. Students are required to attend Theatre Seminar weekly and present an audition and/or portfolio at least once per semester. Students receive a S/U on their transcript for each semester of participation. Students may be exempted from attending the course due to other obligations with the approval of the theatre department chair. Performance exemptions are rare and may only be obtained with the approval of the theatre department chair. Students must enroll in THE 100 for each semester in which they are declared theatre majors. (Fall and spring)
101-102 Theatre Lab (1).
A practicum course requiring participation in the Belhaven University Theatre Season. Students receive credit for their practical crew and cast positions for the semester. Must be taken 6 semesters. Transfer students with fewer than 6 semesters at Belhaven can substitute additional production or performance electives as approved by the theatre department chair. (101 Fall only; 102 Spring only)
110 Art of Story (3)
In this course we examine the structure and pieces of storytelling through multiple mediums and varying art disciplines, through which we gain a greater understanding of how stories work, and why they are important to the arts in communicating an idea. (Spring only)
120 Perspectives in Theatre (3)
An introduction to what it means to be a Christian theatre artist. Particular emphasis is placed on an examination of the variety of career and ministry opportunities available in the field of theatre. (Spring only)
140 Stagecraft I and Stagecraft Lab (2-1).
Study of the basic principles and techniques of the technical elements of theatre. The student will be introduced to stagecraft and set construction techniques, technical drawings, safety with and the proper usage of the power tools, and an overview of theatrical production organization and administration. Much of the lab time will emphasize the practical application of the material taught in class. Required of all theatre majors. Concurrent enrollment in THE 140 and stagecraft lab is required. (Fall only)
151 Acting I: Fundamentals of Acting (3).
An introduction to the basic principles of acting using modern scene study and improvisations. Required for all theatre majors. (Fall only)
200 Theatre Ministry I (3).
Students investigate the historical, theological, and aesthetic relationships of theatre and religion, studying available Christian dramatic literature. Examples will be cited on the potential and limitations of how theatre arts ministry can be used as a discipleship, education, and evangelism tool. In addition to classroom examples, opportunities will be provided for site-based ministry observations. The course will give specific career directions for theatre arts-related ministries, and survey successful ministry organizations using the theatre arts. (Fall, odd years)
201-202 Theatre Lab (1).
A practicum course requiring participation in the Belhaven University Theatre Season. Students receive credit for their practical crew and cast positions for the semester. Must be taken 6 semesters. Transfer students with fewer than 6 semesters at Belhaven can substitute additional production or performance electives as approved by the theatre department chair. (201 Fall only; 202 Spring only)
205 Introduction to Theatre Design (3).
An introduction to the principles and execution of design for the theatre. (Fall, odd years)
210 Scriptwriting (3).
This course is designed as an introduction to the principles of storytelling as a dramatic art. Students will develop rough ideas through treatments and scripting exercises (including free form writing and dialogue construction) that will prepare them from writing short scripts for stage and screen. (Fall only)
211 Script Analysis (3).
An investigation of dramatic structure and analysis. Specific emphasis is placed on analysis from the perspective of the director, the actor, and the designer. This course is also designed to introduce students to several major plays in the history of dramatic literature. Required for all theatre majors. (Spring only)
240 Stagecraft II (3). Prereq: THE 140.
Students will explore and apply principles of technical theatre within the areas of costumes, props, lighting, and sound production. (Spring, even years)
250 Makeup for the Stage (3).
Through lectures, practical assignments, and evaluations, students will receive a solid foundation in the application of stage makeup. They will also explore how an actor can use makeup as a tool to express character on stage. Required for all theatre majors. (Fall only)
251 Acting II: Intermediate Acting (3). Prereq: THE 151
A continuation of the study of acting with emphasis on action-based technique and character development. (Fall only)
255 Stage Combat I (2).
This beginning course teaches how to create the illusion of violence for stage and screen including basic instruction in Unarmed (feet, fists, slaps, punches, kicks, falls, and rolls) and Rapier and Dagger (Parries, cuts, thrusts and more!). The emphasis is on safe and realistic violence for the stage. (On Demand)
257 Jazz for Musical Theatre I (1).
Beginning Jazz Technique for Musical Theatre Performance (Fall, Odd years)
258 Jazz for Musical Theatre II (1). Prereq: THE 257
Intermediate Jazz Technique for Musical Theatre Performance (Spring, Even years)
261 Acting Studio I (2).
Intensive scene study using contemporary scripts. (Spring only)
265 Voice and Movement for the Actor (3). Prereq: THE 151
This course introduces the student to the body and the voice as created and as creative instruments of expression. Each student will participate in presenting materials individually and in ensemble. It is an applied study of the foundations of human expression as it relates to stage performance. Applying movement to meaning through gesture. Applying sounds to make words and amplifying the text. This course requires additional out-of-class time for rehearsal of material. (Spring, Even years)
276 Musical Theatre Studio I (2).
Applied study of musical theatre repertoire. This class works toward a public performance at the end of the semester. (Spring only)
280 Improvisation (3).
This course offers students a chance to gain experience in techniques of theatrical improvisation, and its application to rehearsal processes, as well as an opportunity to perform Improv Comedy in a live audience setting. A study of different improv companies, approaches, techniques and perspectives will enhance the practical experiences. (Spring, odd years)
281 Tap for Musical Theatre I (1).
Beginning Tap Technique for Musical Theatre performance (Fall, Even years)
282 Tap for Musical Theatre II (1). Prereq: THE 281
Intermediate Tap Technique for Musical Theatre performance (Spring, Odd years)
285 Costume Construction (3).
Students will encounter an introduction to the principles and techniques of costume construction; including shop organization, management, cutting, sewing techniques, and wardrobe maintenance. (Fall, even years)
293 Audition Techniques (2). Prereq: THE 151
Emphasis on development and maintenance of an audition repertoire. Additional focus placed on headshots, resumes
295 Social Dance for the Stage (1).
An introduction to a variety of social dances typically encountered in theatre, including waltz, tango, English country dance, foxtrot, Renaissance dance, and others. (Spring only)
300 Theatre Ministry II (3). Prereq: THE 200
The focus of this course deals with the requirements involved in the management and operation of theatre arts as a ministry. Specific techniques will be provided for the operation of theatre arts ministry programs. Methods for designing activities will be given to foster efficient, effective and cooperative programs. Two different areas will be presented, including full-time theatre arts ministry and the arts ministry within a church. (Spring, even years)
301, 302 Theatre Lab (1).
A practicum course requiring participation in the Belhaven University Theatre Season. Students receive credit for their practical crew and cast positions for the semester. Must be taken 6 semesters. Transfer students with fewer than 6 semesters at Belhaven can substitute additional production or performance electives as approved by the theatre department chair. (301 Fall only; 302 Spring only)
305 Production Management (3).
Principles for stage management and production management for the theatre. (Fall only)
326 Sound Engineering (2)
This course presents creative application of digital sound editing for media. Students will learn to design, create and edit sound using standard audio equipment and computer software. Editing pre-recorded music, creating realistic sound environments and representing visual art with sound will be some of the specific techniques investigated. (On Demand)
333 Acting for the Musical (3) Pre-req: THE 151
This course cultivates the skills of analyzing, interpreting, and performing the two primary texts of the musical theatre song: lyrics and music. By learning the performer's mind/body connection through researching musical theatre repertoire, students ultimately are prepared for an effective musical theatre singing audition. (Fall, odd years)
340 Theatre Management (3). Prereq: THE 220
A study of the business of theatre, budgeting, feasibility studies, funding, publicity/promotion, master scheduling, and event handling. Internship with a theatre or performance organization. (Spring, even years)
347 Props (2). Prereq: THE 140.
An introduction to the principles and techniques of set design and props in relation to a unified stage production. Proper drawing, labeling, and use of scale plans and models as well as the design and accumulation of performance props to accurately convey the playwright's intents and director's vision are required. (Spring, odd years)
351 Acting III: Period Acting Styles (3). Prereq: THE 151 and THE 251
Study and practice of acting styles from Ancient Greece through the Victorian Era. (Fall, Odd years)
358 Costume Crafts (2). Prereq: THE 285
An introduction to the art and craft of costuming. Including but not limited to areas of cobbling, milllinery, and wig making. (Spring, even years)
361 Acting Studio II (2). Prereq: THE 261
Intensive scene study using contemporary scripts. (Spring only)
365 Dialects (2). Prereq: THE 129
A study in the techniques of vocal adjustments to take on dialects from different regions, nationalities, and backgrounds for the use in theatrical performance. Advanced vocal technique and preparation. (Spring, odd years)
376 Musical Theatre Studio II (2). Prereq: THE 276
Applied study of musical theatre repertoire. This class works toward a public performance at the end of the semester. (Spring only)
390 Theatre for Young Audiences (2).
A study of the theory and practice of performance for children and young audiences. (On Demand)
401, 402 Theatre Lab (1).
A practicum course requiring participation in the Belhaven University Theatre Season. Students receive credit for their practical crew and cast positions for the semester. Must be taken 6 semesters. Transfer students with fewer than 6 semesters at Belhaven can substitute additional production or performance electives as approved by the theatre department chair. (401 Fall only; 402 Spring only)
405 Advanced Topics in Theatre Design (3). Prereq: THE 205
An advanced exploration of an area of theatre design. Topics vary from semester to semester. Topics may include scenic design, costume design, rendering, drafting, etc. May be repeated for credit provided the topic is different. (Fall, Even years; Spring, Even years)
410 Playwriting (3). Prereq: THE 210
This course is designed as an advanced study in the art of dramatic writing for the stage. Students will develop story ideas from concept through development and scripting to produce a full-length script for stage. Several styles and genres of plays will be explored and will include treatments and scripting exercise, free form writing and dialogue construction; as well as an examination of the process of getting a play produced. (Spring, even years)
412 Screenwriting (3). Prereq: THE 210
An advanced study in the art of dramatic writing for the screen. Students develop story ideas from concept through development and scripting to produce a full-length screenplay; examining genre and its effect on structure, and studying techniques in scripting that enable clearer communication of story. (Spring, even years)
440 Scenic Painting (2)
An introduction to the art and craft of scenic painting. Learning faux texturing techniques, large scale painting skills, and practical application of color theory. (Spring, even years)
441 Internship (1-3).
Supervised practical experience in theatre. May combine work in residence with a theatre or ministry entity, site visitations to various facilities in pursuit of a particular pre-approved topic, or a combination of documented experiences in the field. Approval of the department chairman is required. Refer to "Student Intern Programs and Practicums" for further requirements. (Fall and Spring)
445 Mission Trip (1-3).
A travel seminar with significant hands-on ministry, usually in a cross-cultural setting. Should be taken for one (1) hour credit during the semester preceding the mission trip for the purposes of preparation. There will be an emphasis on understanding and relating appropriately to those of other backgrounds while carrying out a ministry project. May be taken for a maximum of three credits. Approval of the department chairman is required. (On Demand)
450 Advanced Makeup (2). Prereq: THE 250
Building upon the foundations of THE 250. Exploring appliances, prosthetics, bald caps, and other makeup applications. (Spring, even years)
451 Acting IV: Avant-Garde Acting Styles (3). Prereq: THE 151, THE 251 and THE 351
Study and practice of acting styles from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the Isms and physical-based acting approaches such as Viewpoints and Suzuki. (Spring, Even years)
472 Dramaturgy (3) Prereq: THE 211
This course provides an overview of the art and craft of dramaturgy in the contemporary theatre. Through individual and group projects, students examine the role the dramaturge plays in developing production concepts, conducting production research, choosing translations, and developing adaptations of literature for performance. (Spring, even years)
473 History and Literature of the Theatre I (3). Prereq: THE 211
An overview of theatrical practices, innovations, and literature from 2000 BC through the 18th century. Emphasis will be placed on an examination of dramatic scripts, primary sources, and received historical narratives as a means for exploring the cultural significance of theatre and performance. (Fall, Even years)
474 History and Literature of the Theatre II (3). Prereq: THE 211
An overview of theatrical practices, innovations, and literature from the 19th century through the present. Emphasis will be placed on an examination of dramatic scripts, primary sources, and received historical narratives as a means for exploring the cultural significance of theatre and performance. (Spring, Odd years)
475 Directing (3). Prereq: THE 140, THE 151 and THE 211
Students investigate and apply the stage director's art and craft; play selection, casting, mounting the play, rhythm, characterization, and actor-director relationships. (Fall only)
485 Advanced Costume Construction (2). Prereq: THE 285
A continuation and building upon the skills learned in THE 285 through production and project work. The goal is to introduce the students to more complex and detailed costume construction and wardrobe skills. (Fall, odd years)
493 Devised Theatre (2). Prereq: THE 151
This course is a practical study of the processes and perspectives in the group creation of performance material for live theatre. A study of a variety of companies and approaches will inform the culminating project of an original, devised work in performance. (Fall, even years)
494 21st-Century Theatre and Literature (3). Prereq: THE 211
A study of contemporary trends in the world of theatre. Recent productions and publications will be studied, as well as an examination of developments in the realm of both commercial and avant-garde theatre in America and around the world. (On Demand)
495 Directed Studies (1-3).
This course is designed to give students applied experience in special areas of theatre activity. (On Demand)
497 Special Topics in Theatre (1-3)
Advanced course for practical experiences in a specialty aspect of theatre study. (On Demand)
498 Senior Showcase (2).
Prepare and present a recital of 30-40 minutes, not including breaks. Recital may include a collaborative component. Required of all BFA Musical Theatre and BFA Theatre (Acting) majors. Must be taken in the last spring of the student’s program of study. All Senior Showcases are subject to the approval of the Theatre Chair and are evaluated by a faculty jury. (Spring only)
499 Senior Project (1-3).
A culminating project for advanced B.A. students. Projects must be coordinated with theatre faculty in advance of enrollment in the class. Example projects include directing a play for the university’s studio season; designing for a mainstage or studio production; writing a full-length play for production in the university’s studio season; writing an academic article on an approved topic; etc. (Fall and spring)