THEATRE | Acting out

At Baker, it’s not uncommon to see a freshman playing a lead role in a Shakespearean tragedy or a senior slinging nursery rhymes in a children’s play. Our award-winning theatre students thrive and learn by presenting multiple productions each semester and working closely with faculty who have professional experience in the fields they teach. By graduation, each student has had the opportunity to design, manage, and direct productions—and see their name displayed proudly in the bold print of each program.


Baker theatre students bring home awards in acting and technical theatre skills in highly competitive categories at events such as the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.


An improv comedy group started by Baker students, Loud Noises gives majors and nonmajors the opportunity to practice their theatrical skills in a less-structured, light-hearted environment.


Students get hands-on experience directing, producing, designing, and acting in dozens of productions during their time at Baker, meaning they’ll have the knowledge they need to pursue careers in the dramatic arts and theatre education, among others.


Our theatre students have interned at Disney World, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, and dozens of other venues across the nation.

Award-Winning Technical Theatre

Students interested in technical theatre have many opportunities to practice their craft and perhaps win awards. Student designers and constructors create professional-quality productions. Possibilities in technical theatre include set design and construction, lighting, costuming, makeup, sound and props.

For the past two years, Baker University theatre students have brought home the Stagecraft Spirit Trophy from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Region 5 competition and reached the final four in the Stagecraft Showdown, having won the showdown in 2015.

Competing against schools of all sizes, Baker’s technical theater team competed in stage weight/furniture and prop placement, border tie and hang, costume quick-change, light hang/focus, and knot tying.

ALYSSA | Theatre Major, Class of 2018

“Coming in as a freshman, I was able to be on the Rice Auditorium stage for the first show of the year — that just doesn’t happen at big schools. I get a closer relationship and guidance from my professors, who are really invested in their students. I also get to be involved in everything from backstage to lighting to learning sound, so that I’m going to be more marketable when I leave Baker. Being able to learn every aspect of theatre really makes me appreciate my passion more.”

CHEYENNE | Theatre Major, Class of 2015

Cheyenne coached the regional champion Stagecraft team and spent two summers at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center. After succeeding again and again as an undergraduate, Cheyenne is still striving for the best because of what she learned. “From the moment you start working on one of Baker’s productions you are held to a high standard. Baker’s Theatre Department strives to resemble a professional theater company and it expects a great deal from its students. This created a drive for me to learn more and push myself to go further. After graduating, I felt confident enough in my craft to move halfway across the country and work for two different theatre companies in Hartford and Waterford, Connecticut. Baker taught me to believe in myself, and now I am living my dream.”


Our theatre majors prepare for careers in stage management, acting, design, lighting programming, and costume management. Our graduates regularly work in these venues:

  • Theatre in the Park
  • American Heartland Theatre
  • New Theatre Restaurant
  • Brownville Summer Theatre
  • Starlight Theatre
  • Unicorn Theatre
  • Topeka Civic Theatre


of Baker graduates are employed full time or enrolled in graduate school within six months of receiving their diploma.

Course Descriptions

R: course can be repeated for credit; P/NC: course graded on a pass/no credit basis

Courses required for these programs are listed in the current catalog.

TH 111 – The Theatre Experience 3 hrs.

This introductory course treats the theatre experience from an audience point of view. The course concentrates on theatre as an art form and its subsequent historical development. Plays from representative time periods and dramatic genres will be examined.

TH 120 – Performance of Literature 3 hrs.

This course provides training in the art of communicating dramatic literature to an audience from the printed script. Examination of plays—serious and comic, classical and modern—as well as vocal production are covered.

TH 123 – Stage Performance 1 hr.

Students perform in a major University Theatre production during the semester. This course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition only; permission of the instructor. R; P/NC

TH 130 – Acting I 3 hrs.

This class focuses on the training of the body and voice as an acting instrument. Emphasis is placed on improvisation and technique.

TH 140 – Acting II 3 hrs.

This course is a continuation of the work begun in TH 130. Emphasis is placed on character development through textual analysis and scene study. Prerequisite: TH 130 or permission of the instructor.

TH 145 – Stagecraft 3 hrs.

This course will provide the student with basic skills needed for safe and efficient construction of scenery as well as techniques used in lighting, painting, and sound for the stage. A lab experience of 4 hours a week is required.

TH 155 – Introduction to Theatrical Design 3 hrs.

This course will provide the student with the basic understanding of design as it applies to stage design. Elements and principles of design as well as exploration of various media will be applied to various projects. Projects will include scenery, costumes, lighting, and sound. Art supplies are required.

TH 200 – Voice and Movement 3 hrs.

Students will learn the mechanics of speech with emphasis on breath, sound, tone, diction, and projection. They will also analyze how to create a character using various elements of speech including rate, pitch, inflection, shading, and emphasis. Several accents will be explored such as Standard American, Standard British, and American Southern. Stage movement and creating the physicality of a character will also be explored. Exercises, monologues, or scenes will be incorporated into most class sessions.

TH 220 – Stage Management 3 hrs.

This course will introduce the concepts, principles, and practices of the technical and organizational aspects of stage management in the contemporary theatre. The focus of the course is the stage manager’s role, which includes preparing for and running the rehearsal and performance processes as well as a familiarity with basic conflict resolution concepts. Students will explore through classroom instruction the theory and practice of stage management, and will participate in workshops to practice stage management techniques. Students will also participate in program productions as well as develop a stage manager’s portfolio.

TH 240 – Improvisation/Mask 3 hrs.

This course introduces exploration of characterization through improvisation and use of the neutral mask. This class will develop awareness of how improvisation can deepen subtext and character, and how the neutral mask can be used as a tool in creating character.

TH 255 – Costuming and Makeup 3 hrs.

This course will train the student in the theory and practice of developing a total look for a character, both in makeup and dress. Projects will include standard and special effects makeup as well as standard practices in costume design and presentation techniques. Makeup kits and art supplies are required. Prerequisites: AS 120 or permission of the instructor.

TH 280 – Technical Production Practicum 1 hr.

This course is a supervised lab in some aspect of theatrical production such as scene shop, public relations, costume, or prop crew. R; P/NC

TH 300 – Auditioning 3 hrs.

Auditioning provides experience in the theories and practice of techniques used for production casting in the performing arts. Monologues, cold readings, and scene preparation both on-camera and onstage as well as interview and resume preparation will be focused on during this course. Prerequisite: TH 130.

TH 320 – Theatre History I 3 hrs.

This course focuses on the development of the theatre and its corresponding dramatic forms from its primitive origins to 1870. Special emphasis is placed on theories of acting, directing, and theatre architecture and design. Representative plays from each time period are read and examined.

TH 330 – Theatre History II 3 hrs.

This course focuses on the development of the theatre and its corresponding dramatic forms from 1870 to the present. Special emphasis is placed on theories of acting, directing, and theatre architecture and design. Representative plays from each time period are read and examined.

TH 354 – Scene Painting 3 hrs.

This studio class will use a systematic approach to painting theatrical scenery, covering traditional scene painting techniques and the tools and paints that have been developed to support those techniques. Each student will paint a series of drops throughout the semester. Prerequisites: TH 155 or AS 110, or permission of the instructor.

TH 357 – Stage and Studio Lighting 3 hrs.

This course studies the basic theories and techniques for live, video, and film performances. Topics covered include optics, electricity, color theory, and aesthetics as they pertain to the lighting craft. Laboratory work will give the student the opportunity to experiment using actual situations. Prerequisite: TH 145 or permission of instructor.

TH 360 – Period Acting Styles 3 hrs.

This course is an overview/introduction to the basics of research, preparation, and execution of specific acting styles and techniques from differing historical time periods. It will concentrate on the connectedness of historical context, movement, and vocal techniques as they pertain to stage performances. Prerequisites: TH 130 and 140.

TH 423 – Advanced Stage Performance 1 hr.

Students perform in a major production during one semester’s enrollment. Prerequisite: Enrollment by audition only; permission of the instructor. R; P/NC

TH 450 – Theatre Management 3 hrs.

This course will address issues involved in the operation and management of a performing arts center, including a review of basic management theory as it related to arts management, strategic planning and decision making, fundamentals of organizational design, fundamentals of leadership and group dynamics, budgeting, grant writing, board development, and financial management. The course includes a ground-up development and practical application of concepts. Pre-requisites: Junior status or permission of instructor.

TH 465 – Scene Design 3 hrs.

This course is an exploration of the art and craft of the scenic designer. Text analysis, research, and conceptualization are coupled with graphic skills. Thumbnail sketching, design evaluations, and presentation rendering as well as scale models will be developed. Art materials required. Prerequisites: TH 145, AS 120, or permission of the instructor.

TH 476 – Directing 3 hrs.

This course studies the theories, techniques, and approaches of directing for the stage, culminating in the preparation, rehearsal, and presentation of directing scenes. Prerequisites: TH 130, 140, or permission of the instructor.

TH 480 – Advanced Technical Production Practicum 1 hr.

This course provides credit for a major role in the production process. Supervised assignments may include stage management, crew head, or design assignments. Prerequisite: TH 280 and permission of the instructor. R

TH 493 – The Production Process 1 hr.

In this capstone project, the student implements the understanding of artistic and production principles in the direction and/or design of a play and its subsequent production. A detailed promptbook, including a written student evaluation of the production, will be required. Prerequisites: TH 130, 140, 357, 465, and 476.


Out of Order


The Department of Music and Theatre gives these awards with financial prizes to be applied to the following year’s tuition:

  • Mildred Hunt Riddle Departmental Recognition Scholarship for Theatre
  • Mark Harrison Morris Memorial Scholarship

Music & Theatre Events


TAG is a group of active theatre participants who bring theatre appreciation and theatre activities to the student body.


Tom Heiman


Tom Heiman

Associate Professor of Theatre |
B.A. Northwestern College, M.F.A. Florida State University

Expertise: design, technical theatre

Office: Rice Auditorium | 785.594.4513

Emily Kasprzak

Emily Kasprzak

Assistant Professor of Theatre |
“My philosophy of theatre education is that it is an ever-evolving process, where open exploration is encouraged and constant feedback from the instructor or director provides an active environment for students to learn and develop their skills. I believe that having theatrical experiences as part of undergraduate education not only builds a student’s confidence, but also allows them to approach all subjects with new insights. I love working with students has they hone their craft and discover who they are as artists.”
B.F.A. Emporia State University, M.F.A. Michigan State University
Expertise: acting, direction, costume design, and dance
Office: Rice Auditorium | 785.594.7859


Trilla Lyerla, Chair
Department of Music and Theatre
Department Office: Owens Musical Arts Building 201

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