Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

Theatre BFA - Design/Technology Concentration

(HEGIS: 10.07 DRAMATIC ARTS, CIP: 50.0501 Drama and Dramatics/Theatre Arts, General)

Theatre & Dance

285 Alumni Arena
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-5030
Lynne Koscielniak
Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance
Dyan Burlingame
Director of Theatre BFA, Design/Technology Concentration
Karen Cleary
Assistant to the Chair
Katie Mallinson
Academic Manager

Why study Theatre BFA - Design/Technology Concentration at UB?

The Theatre BFA, Performance Concentration at UB integrates rigorous training, critical understanding, and impassioned creation supported by close faculty mentorship and developed collaboration with internationally recognized guest artists. Learning within conservatory style courses and grounded in the liberal arts, students acquire the essential skills for effective communication, collaborative problem-solving, and critical perspective in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. In addition to a comprehensive four-year sequence in performance styles, history, and literature, BFA Performance students are also an integral part of the department’s season of fully produced plays, musicals, and experimental performance work. Their research and creative activities involve on and off campus experiences, and hold to professional union theatre criterion, preparing them for professional careers in the field.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of all requirements, the student will have knowledge of:

Scenographic Practice

(Theatrical Design: Costumes, light, projection, sets, and sound)

  • Visual Imagination - Simultaneity of analytical and abstract thinking used to produce art in response to a text. Fearlessness in artistic expression based on ability to clearly articulate a design concept
  • Graphic Communication Clarity of design ideas expressed through visuals: drafts, renderings, and models, light plots, etc.
  • Research Methods - Period Styles; Use of resources (print & digital) effectively to support a design idea

Theatrical Production

(Fabrication and Engineering of Elements and Systems for the Stage)

  • Materiality
  • Craftsmanship
  • Ability to move the theoretical to reality multiple solutions to a technical problem are explored
  • Identifying high and low tech solutions to design problems, and knowing the value of one over the other
  • Understandings the role of aesthetics in the engineering of clothes and scenery, appreciating the importance of function (as in physical requirements) and appearance (as to appropriately communicate a design idea to an audience)

Organization and Time Management

  • Ability to bring thought to action
  • Interpersonal dynamics: ability to listen and be heard
  • Situation assessment and ability to formulate questions
  • Supporting an ensemble and honoring the importance of the individual (essential cog in the production engine)
  • Ability to create a prompt book, show bible, working drawings, and signal paths


Establishing good working relationships such as:

  • Between director/choreographer and design team in the creation of an original staged work
  • Between the performer, space, sound and light in order to convey theme/story/idea
  • Between designer and technician (a shop)
  • Working outside your comfort zone; ability to dovetail your thinking to someone else's point of view
  • Visual storytelling

Production Theory & Protocol

  • Industry standards as set forth by: Actors' Equity Association, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, League of Resident Theatres, United Scenic Artists, the United States Institute for Theatre Technologies, Broadway and National Tours
  • Observation learning as industry professionals cross-pollinate with students in lab environments

The Learning Environment

The Department of Theatre & Dance offers a comprehensive catalog of courses including seminar-based instruction, studio training, and hands-on mentoring through experiential learning opportunities. All modes seek to integrate theoretical and practical instruction. Seminar and lecture courses, ranging from 20 to 100 seats, engage students in discussion on historical trends, contemporary practice, philosophical and aesthetic principles, criticism and analysis, and technical skills. Studio courses apply theory to technique in small, practice-based classes ranging from 16 to 28. Coursework often includes attendance at live performances as well participation in live production and contributes to the development of professional portfolios, performance reels, and academic resumes. Practicums, tutorials, and independent studies supplement classwork with focused, in-depth exploration of the discipline through close mentorship with faculty and guest artists.

About Our Facilities

UB’s Department of Theatre & Dance boasts an array of resources for both instruction and practical preparation for productions, including performance and classroom space in the Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus. Within the CFA students directly benefit from the use of:

  • The Drama Theatre: a 388-seat theatre 
  • The Black Box Theatre: a flexible space with seating of 100-120
  • Rehearsal Workshop: a mirror image of the Black Box Theater used for acting classes and rehearsals
  • Dance Studios: 2 spacious studios with full-length mirrors, Marley floors, and specially designed sound systems
  • Scene Shop
  • Costume Shop
  • Craft Studio

Students also utilize:

  • Katharine Cornell Theatre: a flexible performance space that functions as a rehearsal room, acting classroom, and performance venue 
Alumni Arena: includes the Design Suite with drafting studio, lighting lab and 10-seat computer lab; an acting classroom and rehearsal space; dance studio; a seminar room; and departmental offices.

About Our Faculty

In Theatre & Dance you will study with active practitioners and internationally recognized scholars who are dedicated to the development of the next generation of theatre and dance artists, teachers, and supporters. UB’s Theatre & Dance Faculty are members of professional networks including Actor’s Equity Association, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, American Society for Theatre Research, Dance Masters of America, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, National Dance Education Organization, Stage Actors Guild, and United Scenic Artists. They have extensive professional experience in directing, designing, dramaturgy, and performance on and off Broadway, on regional stages, in major dance festivals, in documentaries, and in film and television work. Twenty-two full time faculty members are support by an average of eight adjunct professors, six professional production staff, and four Teaching Assistants from our PhD Theatre & Performance program.

Faculty List Directory

Please visit our department website for additional information about our faculty.

Career Outlook

The skills required for success in the performing arts are broadly applicable across a range of professional careers. UB Theatre & Dance Alumni work on international and national stages, at private and public sector institutions, and lead major production companies as well as their own Internet start-ups. Our graduates work in film, television, and a wide array of live events. Many of our students have received national recognition for their design work and have been awarded full scholarships at prestigious graduate schools in design, technology and management programs.

Career Paths Include:

  • College Professor/Academia
  • Company Director/Artistic Director
  • Costume Designer
  • Director: Stage, Film, Media Entertainment
  • Lighting Designer
  • Presentation Consultant
  • Producer
  • Production Manager
  • Set Designer
  • Sound Designer
  • Stage Manager
  • Technical Director

See more alumni achievements .

Academic Advising

First semester students are required to meet with their academic advisor. All students are expected to meet with their departmental major advisor each semester to ensure progress toward your degree. In addition to the major advisor, students meet with an academic advisor through the College of Arts & Sciences regarding general education requirements. Area Directors also provide close mentorship and oversight of students’ schedules, academic and artistic progress, and professional development.

Prospective majors should also arrange for an interview with the department academic advisor to ensure they are taking courses in the proper sequence and to obtain the most benefit from departmental advisement.

Academic Advising Contact Information

Katie Mallinson
Academic Manager

Scholarships and Financial Support

Students in this program may qualify for scholarships and financial support from a number of sources, including:

  • The Perry Watkins scholarship is available to African American freshman students majoring in design/technology. Talent-based scholarships are also available to all students. Auditions, portfolios, and a personal interview are required for all scholarship students
  • UB Financial Aid, including Scholarships
  • Nationally Competitive Fellowships and Scholarships
  • UB College of Arts and Sciences Scholarships and Awards

Academic Opportunities

In addition to the comprehensive coursework and experiential learning opportunities provided by the Department of Theatre & Dance, students benefit from numerous extended learning and professionalization opportunities throughout the year. Professional guest artists are brought in regularly to teach workshops, direct and design and productions, and lead seminars on topics relevant to the field. Through these guest artists, UB students have been able to be part of several world premiere productions. Our Alumni Lecture Series brings in UB graduates to provide networking opportunities for current students. Through generous alumni funding, students are able to produce fully funded student productions each year under the mentorship of Theatre & Dance faculty. Students are also able to work alongside professional artists and technicians at the Center for the Arts, and gain experience in a large presenting venue.

Experiential Learning

Performance and production are essential parts of the Theatre & Dance curriculum, providing over 500 hands-on learning experiences for students in every discipline each year. Our students prepare for professional careers through various research and creative activities both on and off campus at nationally recognized theatres and organizations. The department produces 8 shows annually, including: 2 musicals, 2 theatrical productions, and 4 dance concerts. Students can begin performing as early as their second-semester freshman year, and Design & Technology students can begin working on productions their first semester at UB. Course credit is available for approved production and performance work in off-campus, professional productions. The Department has longstanding relationships with several professional theatres in Buffalo, where our students obtain internships in production, management, and marketing, as well regularly perform.

Study Abroad

The Department of Theatre & Dance offers an immersive, study abroad experience in London during the winter session. Over the course of three weeks, students are led on a guided discovery of London’s artistic and cultural world. Instruction takes place on site at some of the world’s most fascinating historic, cultural, and performing arts venues, as well as while attending an extensive line up of performances across a wide range of mediums, genres, and styles. Students also take on an independent artistic and cultural research project while in London, which provides them with the opportunity to conduct field research on a topic of their choice. Applications are welcome from undergraduate students enrolled at any accredited US college or institution who is in good academic standing with a minimum overall GPA of 2.5.

Extracurricular Activities

The Guild is a theatre-oriented group managed entirely by students. It hosts opening night receptions, organizes group attendance at local theatre and performance events, and supports original students work. The student representatives from this group also function as the liaison among department faculty, staff, and students.

Dancers Workshop, a student-run organization, also generates a production annually. Workshop advisors are members of the faculty. The Guild, a student theatre and dance organization, develops and supports student-directed workshop productions.

From the Wings is a student organization that offers non-credit performance opportunities for music theatre majors and others in the department with an interest in musical theatre performance. Music Theatre faculty serve as advisors and mentors for this group.

Paid technical assistant positions are available with the CFA Production Department. 

See the UB Student Association.

Honors and Awards

  • College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Departmental Award
  • College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior Award
  • Departmental Honors
  • Julia Pardee Prize [Awarded for excellence in writing in theatre, dance or music theatre]
  • Performing and Creative Arts Scholarships

Becoming a(n) Theatre BFA - Design/Technology Concentration Student

Acceptance into the University
Interview and portfolio review
Letter of Intent
Minimum GPA of 2.0 overall
Minimum grade of C+ in all required courses
Minimum GPA of 2.5 in prerequisite courses

Becoming a University at Buffalo Student

Admission to UB is highly competitive. For the 2016 incoming freshman class, UB reported an average ACT score of 24-30 and an average SAT (CR+M) score of 1100-1300. 90 percent of admitted students are in the top 50 percent of their class.

Admission to UB is based on a holistic review. We consider high school average, class rank, SAT (critical reading and math) or ACT scores, and strength of the high school academic record. A personal essay, recommendations, documented creative talent, demonstrated leadership, community service and special circumstances are also considered.

The following is not required for admission, but is suggested as adequate preparation for university-level coursework:

  • Four years of English (with a substantial writing component)
  • Four years of social studies
  • Three years of college-preparatory science
  • Three years of a second language
  • Three years of college-preparatory mathematics

Visit Undergraduate Admissions to learn more.

Suggested Introductory Courses

TH 106 Introduction to Technical Theatre w/
TH 135 or TH 136 Practicum
TH 101 Introduction to Theatre

Completing the Theatre BFA - Design/Technology Concentration Program

Academic Requirements

Practical application of coursework is an integral part of the Theatre BFA, Design/Technology Concentration. At a minimum, BFA students must complete four practicums, which include various design and technical assignments for departmental productions. Students apply for design positions each semester; those who are assigned a production will support those practicum with mentored seminars and laboratory time. All BFA students must choose one supplemental field of study in which to complete their three additional electives, as noted in the requirements below.

Academic Advice

Theatre BFA students also maintain their place in the program through periodic evaluations and reviews by faculty members. Regularized mentorship prepares the student for graduate study or a professional career. The BFA Theatre, Design/Technology concentration is a high-credit degree that requires students to follow a specific sequence of coursework. Due to the nature of the program, students who do not follow advised sequencing or do not maintain the minimum C+ grade for major courses may delay their progress toward degree.

Transfer Credit Policy

Students wishing to transfer into the Department of Theatre & Dance should consult with the Program Director and Academic Manager in order to assess applicable coursework toward their degree. Transfer coursework is evaluated by our faculty, and requires the submission of a course syllabus as well as previous transcripts. Students will be placed in the appropriate level of technique courses based on this evaluation, which may not correspond directly to student’s academic year.

Prerequisite Courses

TH 101 Introduction to Theatre
TH 106 Introduction to Technical Theatre w/
TH 135 or TH 136 Practicum
TH 108 Basic Acting I
TH 203 Visual Imagination

Required Courses

TH 107 Costume Construction
TH 201 Script Analysis
TH 205 Drafting
TH 230 Theatre Crafts
TH 300 Stage Management
TH 301 World Theatre Before 1700
TH 302 Theatre in the Modern World, 1700-Present
TH 303 Scene Design
TH 306 Costume Design
TH 331 Problems in Tech Theatre
TH 332 Lighting Design
Four 200/300-level TH practicums

Two courses from the following: TH 403 Scene Design 2, TH 406 Costume Design 2, TH 433 Lighting Design 2, TH 440 Study in Design or Technology, TH 496 Arts Management Internship

Two Dramatic Literature Courses

Two of the following: TH 409 Mime/Movement for Actors, DAC 381 Social Dance, DAC 400 Creative Movement or TH 416 Mask

TH 401 Directing 1 or TH 485 Playwriting Workshop
TH 349 Technical Studio
TH 390 Design Resources
TH 439 Studies in Design or Technology

Three courses from the same department other than Theatre & Dance

*Please note that there is a course fee associated with introductory and advanced design courses.

Dramatic Literature Courses (choose two)

TH 220 Performing America (UB Curriculum requirement - Diversity Learning)
TH 314 Introduction to Dramaturgy
TH 315 Modern Theatre I
TH 316 Modern Theatre II
TH 325 Performance and the Critic
TH 370 Age of Shakespeare
TH 412 Devised Theatre Workshop
TH 415 Advanced Dramaturgy
TH 425 Media and Performance
TH 466 Women in Theatre
TH 468 Sources of Modern Theatre
TH 477 Production Dramaturgy
TH 482 - TH 489 Major Figures

UB Seminar courses cannot count towards major requirements.

Total Credit Hours Required

Credits Required for Major 77
Additional Credits Required for UB Curriculum   40
Additional Credits Required for Electives   5
Total Credits Required for Degree 125

Students should consult with an academic advisor to determine how any transfer or exam credit might be utilized in meeting general education, prerequisite, or major requirements.

See Baccalaureate Degree Requirements for general education and remaining university requirements.

Curricular Plan / Degree Map

View the Curricular Plan (PDF) for Theatre Design Technology BFA which is a recommended sequence of courses to finish this degree in four years.

Theatre & Dance

285 Alumni Arena
North Campus
Buffalo, NY 14260-5030
Lynne Koscielniak
Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance
Dyan Burlingame
Director of Theatre BFA, Design/Technology Concentration
Karen Cleary
Assistant to the Chair
Katie Mallinson
Academic Manager
Published: May 22, 2017 11:17:11 AM