George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University

Theater, BA

Program Overview

Entrance into the BA program is by interview and audition or portfolio review. Theater majors earning a BA in Theater may select one of the following concentrations: Design for Stage and Screen; Performance for Stage and Screen (Acting and Directing); or Writing and Dramaturgy for Stage and Screen; or may choose from among the different concentrations. Majors are expected to participate in Theater at Mason productions and will be required to demonstrate growing proficiency in their chosen concentration prior to the confirmation of the BFA degree. The Theater BA requires a student to minor in another subject. Nine credits of foreign language may be substituted for the minor.

The Theater Program at George Mason University stresses the ideal that serious practical training and experience, combined with the breadth and vigor of liberal arts study, offers its graduates the best preparation for a life in the theater. Its mission is to use theater as a means of preparing students for a complex and challenging future, regardless of where their interests and training may lead them.

The School of Theater prepares its vocational graduates for entry into the professional world and/or graduate study with rigorous, concentrated, and individualized training. Theater students develop the ability to solve problems creatively, think critically, write clearly, and express themselves comfortably through speech and movement. In addition, students establish a personal work ethic and take responsibility for personal and group efforts.

Highlights

Please see the University Catalog for complete program requirements and policies, and discuss all program plans with an academic advisor. Certain courses may fulfill multiple requirements across the Mason Core general education program, the college or school, and/or the specific program. 

Entrance into all Theater programs is by interview and audition or portfolio review. Information about the audition, portfolio review and interview process, including dates, can be found on the College of Visual and Performing Arts web page. Please note that these are two separate processes.

The BA degree stresses the breadth of a liberal arts education in the belief that such study, combined with serious practical training and experience, offers the best preparation for a life in theater and screen.

The Bachelor of Arts in Theater presents the study of theater within a liberal arts degree framework, allowing greater freedom to explore other academic interests than is feasible through the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater.    

Degree Requirements (120 credits total)

Mason Core General education program required for all undergraduate students.

College Requirement(s) BA students complete one of the following: a minor, double major or double degree outside their primary field of study (15-20 credits), or demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language (0-9 credits).

Major Requirements (64-80 credits)

Students complete a theater core. To organize their advanced work within the major, students may do either of the following:

  • Select 24 credits of 300-400-level courses, chosen from any area of emphasis in Theater, or 
  • Select a course of study from one of four concentrations: Performance (Acting and Directing); Design and Technical Theater; Playwriting and Dramaturgy; or Theater Education for Theater Arts PK-12.

Theater Core

Upper-Level Electives (21-24 credits)

Theater Concentrations (12-16 credits)

Concentration in Performance

Designed for the serious student of acting and directing with professional aspirations. Solid grounding in the fundamentals of performance analysis and basic training of the actor's instrument are complemented by a rigorous, sequential instruction in the various facets of the actor's craft.

At its core, the Performance Concentration is a blend of Modern and Classical actor training using a Stanislavski-grounded approach balanced with techniques for understanding texts written two hundred years before "motivation" and "characterization" entered the critical vocabulary. Rounding out the curriculum is specialized study in vocal production and movement technique. Matriculation in this program expresses a profound commitment to a rigorous intellectual, physical and emotional investigation of the discipline of performance over a two-year period. Professional development is enhanced with ongoing student progress reviews, support and advising from Performance Concentration faculty.

Concentration in Playwriting and Dramaturgy

Acknowledges a creative and practical connection between the work of the playwright and dramaturg.  Students choosing this area of specialization will focus on the literary aspects of theater, such as playwriting, dramaturgy, screenwriting, translation, adaptation, season planning, and theater criticism.  Students seeking specialized experience as a playwright or dramaturg will choose from a selection of required and recommended courses designed to expose students to a broad range of contemporary and classical texts, deepen their understanding of dramatic structure, encourage collaboration, and foster opportunities for new play development.  Students are encouraged to consult their advisors on complementary courses of interest outside the major, such as in the visual and performing arts, Film and Video Studies, English and Foreign Language.  This concentration gives students access to a variety of hands-on opportunities within the School of Theater and the professional world.

Concentration in Theater Education for Theater Arts PK-12 

Designed for students interested in pursuing theater education. In addition to transcript review and the submission of an essay detailing goals for the concentration, students must:

  • Have earned 45 to 60 credits.
  • Submit scores for the Praxis Core (Reading, Writing, and Mathematics) tests to the committee.
  • Maintain an overall GPA of 2.80 in all course work completed at Mason and in course work at all institutions of higher learning combined.
  • Earn no grade lower than a C in theater and professional education courses needed for graduation.

Upon fulfilling THR 448, THR 449, THR 450, EDRD 300, EDUC 301, and EDUC 302 students must complete 15 weeks of a full-time student teaching internship (THR 455).  Applications for placement, subject to approval of the unit, are submitted to the Field Placement Specialist in the College of Education and Human Development at the beginning of the previous semester.  In addition, students must pass the VCLA before student teaching.

Upon fulfilling THR 448, THR 449, THR 450, EDRD 300, EDUC 301, and EDUC 302 students must complete 15 weeks of a full-time student teaching internship (THR 455). Applications for placement, subject to approval of the unit, are submitted to the Field Placement Specialist in the College of Education and Human Development at the beginning of the previous semester. In addition, students must pass the VCLA before student teaching.

Opportunities

The School offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage & Screen. There are approximately one hundred thirty students in the program, and enrollment continues to grow. Students begin the major by taking the university's general education courses that are required of all majors. Students are then required to take courses in the history of the theater, acting, directing, dramaturgy, script analysis, technical theater, as well as theatrical literature and criticism. Through play production practicum courses, students earn credit for working on shows. Click here for more details.

Theater students are expected to be self-directed and are encouraged to develop a resume of personal experience that includes class work, theater productions, internships, and summer field experiences. Individual opportunities are limited only by the student's desire to create them.

The Mason Players, a dynamic faculty-directed student organization, produces six productions each season. These include Mainstage Productions, which are directed by faculty or guest artists, and Studio Productions which are selected and directed by students. Auditions are open to all full-time Mason students. They may also work as stage managers or designers, on construction and lighting crews, and as crew supervisors. The Mason Players perform in TheaterSpace, a 150-seat flexible venue; the Harris Theater,a 460-seat traditional proscenium stage with a counterweight fly system, and the 1900-seat Center for the Arts Concert Hall. The School of Theater offers additional performance venue opportunities by touring our productions to the Hylton Performing Arts Center on Mason’s nearby Science and Technology campus.

The Performing Artist Residency in Theater (PART) initiative engages theater professionals in our faculty, our productions, and special events. Mason's Theater Program provides professional interaction among our students and the working professionals of the vibrant Washington, D.C. theater community and beyond

Alumni from Mason's Theater Program are working professionally in Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Their training at the university has helped them land positions in acting, directing, stage management, technical work, design, and literary management.

The School of Theater main office is located on the 4th floor of the Performing Arts Building at the Fairfax, Virginia campus. The building is equipped with two black box theaters, a scene shop, a costume shop, and a design studio, with additional rehearsal space currently under construction. For a brochure or more information, email the department at: theater@gmu.edu or call the School of Theater Office at: (703) 993-1120.

Optional concentrations within the Theater, BA include:

Design for Stage and Screen

Performance for Stage and Screen (Acting and Directing)

Writing and Dramaturgy for Stage and Screen

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