Theatre About Us 2018-11-13T09:10:00+00:00

About the Department of Theatre & Dance

Northwestern State University is located in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Natchitoches (also known as the City Of Lights) is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase (1714), and home to the famous playwright Bobby Harling, author of the play/screenplay Steel Magnolias (the film was shot in Natchitoches). The community of approximately 25,000 is a one hour drive north of Alexandria, LA and an hour’s drive south of Shreveport, LA.  New Orleans, Dallas, Little Rock and Houston are all about a four hour’s drive.

Northwestern State University is a student-oriented institution of higher learning that serves more than 10,000 students on its main campus in Natchitoches and at satellite campuses in Shreveport, Alexandria, Leesville and Jonesville. The university is a pioneer in distance and electronic learning, offering on-line classes to students from several states and reaching overseas.

Northwestern’s main campus stands on property that was used as a convent and school until an act of the Louisiana Legislature in 1884 established the Louisiana State Normal School for the preparation of teachers. Prior to the Civil War, a portion of the campus was owned by the Bullard family of Natchitoches. Three of the four columns that once supported the Bullard mansion still stand and often serve as a symbol of the university.

From 1885-1915, the Normal School offered two-year programs for teacher training. Baccalaureate programs were inaugurated and in 1921, the school became Louisiana State Normal College. In 1944, the state Legislature recognized the school’s broader role in education and changed its name to Northwestern State College of Louisiana. In 1954, Northwestern offered the first master’s degree program in education and began offering the specialist in education degree in 1966.

On June 18, 1970, the legislative act was signed to change the school’s name to Northwestern State University of Louisiana. Ten years later, the old campus quadrangle was entered into the National Register for Historic Places under the title Normal Hill Historic District.

Today, Northwestern offers more than 100 student organizations, including Greek organizations, honor societies, clubs and service groups. NSU has a strong Division I athletic program whose student athletes score above the national average of the NCAA academic progress report.

Northwestern Theatre and Dance is one of the four programs within the Northwestern State University, Mrs. H.D. Dear, Sr. and Alice E. Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts. The Theatre/Dance program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre and has been designated a “Center of Excellence” by the University of Louisiana System. The program offers a Bachelor of Science in Theatre with concentrations in Musical Theatre, Performance and Directing, and Theatre Design and Technology. As of 2018, a BFA in Dance is offered by the department. A Theatre Minor and Dance Minor are also available.

The Theatre and Dance program has approximately 130 theatre/dance majors and minors taught by seventeen faculty members. Housed within the A.A. Fredericks Fine Arts Building, the program has a –

— 1400 seat proscenium stage (A.A. Fredericks Auditorium)

— 125 seat thrust stage (Theatre West)

— 60-75 seat black box theatre (The Wann Theatre)

— large dance studio with a sprung dance floor

— tap dance studio with a sprung tap dance floor

— large classroom for lecture classes

— large computer lab/design studio

— scene shop, costume shop, light shop, sound shop, and paint shop

— large storage area for costumes, set and props

The program also provides students with hands-on experience with state of the art theatre technology including –

— Three digital light boards (ETC Element, ETC Ion, and ETC Express 48/96)
— Four Varilite VL1000 TS Moving Lights
— Eight Altman LED Spectra cyc lights
— Costume Dye Lab
— Design lab containing seven computers and digitizer tablets, Photoshop and Adobe Suite, Lightwright 4, Vectorworks, AutoCAD, Sketch-up, and a 42” color plotter.

Northwestern Theatre and Dance produces four to six full stage productions each semester. The typical season includes one or two stage musicals, one or two “straight” shows, a dance concert, an outreach performance, and a classical theatre selection. All NSU or BPCC@NSU students are allowed to audition for the productions. Theatre/Dance students not cast in productions are asked to involve themselves in the productions in other capacities such as backstage assignments, box office, front of house, etc. The program also produces two or three performances during the summer to provide those students staying in town during the summer performance/production opportunities. Theatre/Dance students are required to maintain a 2.5 grade point average to participate in productions. A detailed description of the Northwestern Theatre/Dance casting policy can be found by clicking here.

Theatre and Dance scholarships are available to theatre and dance majors and minors.  Scholarships are given based on an audition and/or portfolio review and interview. Students are required to reapply for their scholarship at the end of each school year. Those students showing improvement in their college careers may be given scholarship increases. Those students dropping below a 2.5 GPA and/or showing little improvement may have scholarships reduced or taken away. Out of State Tuition Waivers can be offered to out of state students receiving theatre/dance scholarships. Students interested in setting up a scholarship audition, should refer to the Scholarship Audition section of the Theatre and Dance homepage.

Northwestern State University Mission:
Northwestern State University is a responsive, student-oriented institution that is committed to the creation, dissemination, and acquisition of knowledge through teaching, research, and service. The University maintains as its highest priority excellence in teaching in graduate and undergraduate programs. Northwestern State University prepares its students to become productive members of society and promotes economic development and improvements in the quality of life of the citizens in its region.

Northwestern State University Theatre/Dance Unit Mission:
Consistent with the Northwestern State University mission, the Theatre/Dance program of the Northwestern Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts seeks to assist students with the acquisition of skills and knowledge in theatrical arts necessary to meet their professional, social and personal needs. Through interaction of the arts, Northwestern Theatre/Dance desires to broaden the possibilities of self-development for all students and extend its influence in the region served by the University, thus culturally enriching the area.

The Theatre/Dance Unit is one of four departments in the Dear School of Creative and Performing Arts, the others being art, new media and communication, and music, and desires through its baccalaureate program to achieve the following goals.

  • Prepare students for careers in theatre and dance.
  • Encourage development of creative and performance capabilities of students and faculty.
  • Provide for the cultural enrichment of the individual, University and community.
  • Provide services to the University and the community.

The Theatre/Dance program seeks to attain these goals through the following objectives:

  1. Prepare students for careers in theatre and dance.
    1. Provide a comprehensive theatre/dance curriculum that prepares the student for the demands of professional theatre and dance.
    2. Help students understand the literature, structures, theories and artistic contexts of theatre and dance throughout history and into the present time, to enhance their appreciation and performance of diverse theatrical/dance styles, forms and genres.
    3. Provide students with the necessary theatre/dance skills to become artist-teachers.
    4. Prepare students who desire further study with the skills to pursue advanced degrees.
    5. Engage students in theatre and dance through training and experiences that expand their theatrical/dance skills and professional opportunities.
  2. Encourage development of creativity and performance capabilities of students and faculty.
    1. Train students in the fine arts of theatrical performance, design and technology, and dance through applied study with opportunities for practical application of acquired skills
    2. Allow students opportunities to practice their skills in theatrical performance, design and technology, and dance through major dramatic and musical productions, smaller laboratory productions and student performed/directed experimental works.
    3. Provide an outlet for students who are not theatre majors to participate in theatre/dance training and activities.
    4. Offer a theatrically dynamic environment where students can hear, see and experience theatre/dance events performed by their peers, faculty and guest artists.
    5. Create an environment where faculty members are encouraged to participate in creative projects that will enhance their professional development and provide a model for students.
  3. Provide cultural enrichment of the individual, University and community.
    1. Help theatre/dance and non-theatre/dance students learn to appreciate the value of arts in their lives.
    2. Promote and encourage faculty development in artistic and scholarly endeavors.
    3. Provide a substantial artistic and cultural outlet to the general student, as well as the University, community and regional populations through the performing arts.
  4. Provide services to the University and community.
    1. Serve as a regional resource center for the promotion and production of the performing arts.
    2. Serve as a regional resource center for colleagues, other colleges and universities; elementary and secondary education programs and educators through course offerings, outreach performances, and performances of significant dramatic literature.
    3. Offer the services and scholarship of the theatre and dance faculty, staff and students to the populations served by the University.
    4. Help students through caring and personalized guidance and academic advising to develop skills in self-discipline, problem-solving, and interpersonal communication.