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Actors perform in The Winter's Tale 2024

Theater & Dance


Ignite your creativity.

Whitman College’s Theater and Dance program offers something for everyone. Whether your passion is performance, direction, choreography, theatrical design, technical production, or theater history, you can explore it here in our supportive, tight-knit community. The Theater major will ground you in the practical and critical skills you’ll need for a lifetime in the performing arts while the Dance minor will allow you to explore dance history, theory, composition and performance—all while making connections that will launch you into your life after Whitman.

3 Reasons to Study Theater & Dance at Whitman

Be Part of a Vibrant Community

If performance is your passion, you’ll find a second home at the Harper Joy Theatre. Collaborate with students and faculty on the department’s busy schedule of seasonal productions, including a dedicated dance concert. Or participate in student-led plays and musicals with the Drama Club or Whitman Musical Theater Project.

Discover the Full Range of Your Talents

As a student, you’ll be encouraged to try out skills you didn’t even know you had in the department’s seasonal productions and classes. Whether you want to be on stage acting or dancing or behind the scenes working on sets, lighting or costumes, you’ll have many opportunities for hands-on experience.

Network and Explore

At Whitman, you’ll learn from active theater and dance professionals through Whitman’s Guest Artist and Studio Series programs, which bring guest performers to campus. You can also explore summer internships with professional dance or theater companies or expand your global network by studying the performing arts abroad.

Interested in Theater & Dance?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Gillian B., Theater and Music major

“I want to pursue acting professionally after I graduate. However, professional actors and musicians rarely have only one job. Many are also trained in an area of design, work backstage or even have office jobs. Whitman majors are incredibly well-rounded, and I feel like I am going to have a really wide skill set once I enter the job market. I learned the basics of ballet, how to properly apply an 18th-century wig and how to use a table saw all in the same semester.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Theater & Dance

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

Theatre masks.
THDN 125

Beginning Acting I

This foundational course will help you discover your potential as an actor and find a systematic way to approach roles. You’ll do acting exercises, scene work and assigned reading as you learn principles of concentration, imagination, movement and responding to others.

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Dancer modern.
THDN 130

Beginning Modern Dance Practicum

This beginning dance course focuses on dance as an art form whose primary medium is the human body. Classes will begin with stretching, strengthening and engaging your center. Then you’ll progress to longer combinations that emphasize relationships to gravity, falling and movement of the spine.

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Theatre seats.
THDN 215

Stage Management

Learn the responsibilities a stage manager takes on when guiding a show through all the various phases of production. By the end of the course, you’ll know how to navigate the paperwork for productions, build and maintain a prompt book, manage schedules, run auditions and rehearsals, and more.

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2 Truths and a Lie Dance Show 2023
THDN 250

Hip Hop Culture

Explore the cultural origins and history of hip hop. From Animation to C-Walk, Krump to Popping, you’ll engage with contemporary expressions of a dance form that has made its mark on history. And you’ll experience the form firsthand in the accompanying practicum.

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Stage costumes.
THDN 277

Costume Construction Techniques

Get hands-on experience with the technical skills needed for creating costumes. Through projects tailored to your skill level, you’ll learn about hand-sewing, machine sewing from commercial patterns and costume design principles.

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Rest, Studio Series 2024
THDN 357

Theory and Performance

Join students from other majors (like Art, Art History, and Film and Media Studies) in this collaborative exploration of the theories that inspire contemporary theater, performance art, film and new media. Together you’ll explore the evolution of performance theory from the writings of Bertolt Brecht to the present through readings, in-class screenings, class discussions, short essays, and group and individual projects.

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Broadway lights.

Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Get hands-on production experience. The Harper Joy Theatre’s robust season means you’ll have the chance to try many different production roles on stage and behind the scenes. And if you work in the scene shop, the costume shop or the box office, you’ll get paid while gaining real-world experience. 

Connect with working theater and dance professionals. Through the Guest Artist Program, working theater professionals visit the Whitman campus and participate with students on seasonal productions. The Dance Program’s Studio Series brings in even more guest artists for workshops, performances and moderated discussions. 

Study theater in London. Many Whitman Theater majors take advantage of Whitman’s partnership with the British American Drama Academy (BADA) in London to learn in one of the world’s capitals for the dramatic arts. Studying at BADA strengthens your professional connections in the theater world before you’ve even graduated.

Your Questions Answered

Yes, you’ll absolutely learn how to become an actor. With courses like Beginning Acting, Acting Styles, Voice and Movement, and Contemporary Scene Study, you’ll gain critical performance skills and learn to make yourself an instrument on the stage. But since professional actors often take on many more roles than just acting, Theater majors also develop other skills—from scenery design to stage management to lighting and sound technology to costuming. With a Theater major, you’ll develop a well-rounded skill set for a career in the theater.

You might be surprised at the number of potential jobs for Theater majors out there. There are jobs you might expect, like being a performer, production assistant, producer or stage manager. But a Theater major can also help you develop many other marketable skills as well—like organizing complex events, managing personnel, and being a confident and skilled communicator. These skills open up a variety of other career opportunities—for example, in marketing, event coordination, brand ambassadorship, human resources and more.

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