Theater Design + Technology at UArts

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)

Apply your creativity and problem-solving skills to the world of theater production—lighting, costumes, scenery, projection, sound design and technical direction—through the Theater Design and Technology program in University of the Arts’ Ira Brind School of Theater Arts.

Roles like lighting, set, sound, projection and costume designers are crucial to an audience’s ability to be transported by a live production. And from day one, UArts’ Theater Design and Technology students get a real-world, hands-on education from working professionals and through the wide range of productions that happen on campus each year.

In 2021, UArts was named one of the top performing arts colleges in the U.S. by the College Gazette.

You will have opportunities to work as both a designer and a technician on a wide range of Brind School productions each semester through the Theater Design and Technology program. You can choose, and change, your design or technical focus to explore your interests within theater and hone your expertise. Hands-on experiences are supported through classroom mentorship and complementary coursework.

“Coming into UArts and the Brind School, you’re joining a community of likewise makers. We’re all working to create theater and art that we’re proud of, and we’re always keeping the conversation of our work and its impact open and healthy.”
— Allison Freels '23 Theater Design & Technology (BFA)

Spotlight: I Want A Country

Shifting the theater experience for actors and audiences and setting the stage for future technologically forward endeavors

Students have the opportunity to work as both designers and technicians on a wide range of Brind School productions each semester. You can choose, and change, your design or technical focus to explore your interests and hone your expertise. Hands-on experiences are supported through classroom mentorship and complementary coursework.

UArts Theater Design & Technology on Instagram

Check out UArts’ BFA in Theater Design & Technology program on Instagram.

Explore Theater Design & Technology

Ira Brind School of Theater Arts 2021–2022

Check out the Brind School's seasons of theater production.

Explore the 2021-2022 productions

UArts Brind School of Theater Arts on Instagram

Follow UArts' Brind School of Theater Arts on Instagram.

Explore the Brind School

Polyphone festival on Instagram

Follow Polyphone on Instagram for insights into the festival and its programming.

Explore Polyphone on Instagram

Polyphone Festival Website

The Polyphone Festival of New Musicals is an internationally recognized festival for the development of new musical theater.

Discover Polyphone Festival

Curriculum

The Theater Design and Technology Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) at University of the Arts in Philadelphia will train you in a range of theatrical design and technical areas. Building on a strong base of theater history, collaboration and script analysis, you’ll be able to select from each of the core areas: set, costume, lighting, sound, projection design or technical direction, and then choose two or more of those areas as your focus. You’ll gain valuable practical experience, classroom mentorship and coursework that strengthens your skill set.

The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Design and Technology provides education and broad training in the full range of theatrical design and technical areas, followed by more concentrated study and practice-oriented work in a chosen area of focus.

You will begin with the school-wide foundation of theater history and script analysis and will then be immersed in courses of collaborative, conceptual study with directors and playwrights. The program combines a wide scope of design courses with specific crafts classes taught by professionals in their fields. To advance in your studies, you will choose studio training from a wider selection of the six core areas before committing to one of more areas as your continuing study focus. Initially, you may choose to take courses in set design, costume design, lighting design, sound design, projection design and technical theater.

Studio work is complemented by extensive practical experience on a variety of productions in the Brind School season. Upper-level studies include

  • realized design or technical work;
  • two significant professional-theater internships; and
  • the development of a professional-grade display and interview portfolio.

Students design for all Brind School productions and frequently work alongside faculty and guest professional artists on productions. Graduates who complete this program are prepared to enter the theater industry or pursue further studies at the graduate level. Alumni have gone on to work professionally in Philadelphia and New York, as well as regionally and internationally.

About the Curriculum

Theater Design and Technology graduates will

  • effectively analyze scripts and source material, apply research, and make specific choices about world building that serve both the needs of the script and the artist’s imaginative impulse.
  • be able to develop their ideas into realized theater projects through collaboration, exploration and communication, while demonstrating the skills to effectively convey their vision to their collaborators.
  • demonstrate practical skills, exhibit stagecraft and possess the technical experience to support their own design decisions.
  • demonstrate an awareness of how their creative voices relate to current and historical design paradigms and practices.

 

Sample Curriculum


Duration: Four years, full time
Credits: 121
Discipline history: 6 credits
Critical Studies: 12 credits
Free electives: 6 credits

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First Year

Fall:
Art History Survey I (3 cr)
Theater Sketching & Rendering (2 cr)
Survey of Theater Arts (3 cr)
Stagecraft (1 cr)
Intro to Design (3 r)
Writing I Placement (3 cr)
15 credits

Spring:
Theater Design course (your choice)** (3 cr)
Stage Management I (3 cr)
Intro to Design II (3 cr)
Script Analysis (3 cr)
Theater Design & Technology crafts course (your choice)* (2 cr)
Writing II Placement (3 cr)
17 credits

Second Year

Fall:
Choice of Practicum (Mentored Production Assignment) (1 cr)
History of Costume & Decor (3 cr)
Theater Design course (your choice)** (3 cr)
Theater History I (3 cr)
Science course (3 cr)
Free elective (your choice) (3 cr)
16 credits

Spring:
Theater Design & Technology crafts course (your choice)* (2 cr)
Theater Design course (your choice)** (3 cr)
Practicum (Mentored Production Assignment) (1 cr)
Dramaturgy (2 cr)
Playreading (1 cr)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3 cr)
Theater History II (3 cr)
15 credits

Third Year

Fall:
Advanced Theater Design course (your choice)*** (3 cr)
Theater Design & Technology crafts course (your choice)* (1 cr)
Theater Photography (1 cr)
Practicum (Mentored Production Assignment) (1 cr)
Director Designer Collaboration (3 cr)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3 cr)
Critical Studies elective (3 cr)
Critical Studies elective (3 cr)
16 credits

Spring:
Advanced Theater Design course (your choice)*** (3 cr)
Practicum (Mentored Production Assignment) (1 cr)
Critical Studies (your choice) (3 cr)
Free elective (your choice) (3 cr)
Design Technology Seminar (2 cr)
15 credits

Fourth Year

Fall:
Practicum (Mentored Production Assignment) (1 cr)
Theater Design & Technology crafts course (your choice)* (1 cr)
Internship (3 cr)
Senior Capstone Project (3 cr)
Critical Studies elective (3 cr)
Free elective (your choice) (3 cr)
14 credits

Spring
Practicum (Mentored Production Assignment) (1 cr)
Theater Design & Technology crafts course (your choice)* (1 cr)
Business of Theater (1 cr)
Design Tech Master Class (2 cr)
Internship (3 cr)
Critical Studies elective (3 cr)
12 credits

Explore the full curriculum

Student Spotlight

UArts Theater Design and Technology students are dedicated, focused and trained for long-term success. They gain professional experience before they graduate through faculty- and student-led theatrical productions. Experience the passion and creativity of UArts theater artists on the threshold of professional success.

A headshot of Allison Freels '23 (Theater Design & Technology)
Allison Freels

'23

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Noelani Montas '22 (Theater Design & Technology)
Noelani Montas

'22

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
headshot of Anna Ryabova against a background of a white wall with postcards of natural imagery. her hair is black with two strands of orange hair on both sides of their face.
Anna Ryabova

'25

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)

Student Awards

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Collaboration in Design Award

The Collaboration in Design Award is given to students who exemplify generosity, grace, empathy and rigor in their collaborations. They unselfishly push those around them to strive harder and produce stronger, more exciting work.

2018 - Edward Smith
2019 - Amanda Hanna
2020 - Cole Supsic
2021 - Julie Padovan

Creativity in Design Award

The Creativity in Design Award is given to students who approach each production with a fresh vision, a fine-tuned artistic eye, and imaginative and innovative problem-solving. Awardees put forth ingenious and resourceful new ideas for the future of theatrical design.

2019 - Gina Colacci
2020 - Corrine Meehan
2021 - Sunflower Watkins

Technical Artistry in Design Award

The Technical Artistry in Design Award is given to students who lead with innovative problem-solving and out-of-the-box thinking. They are inventive and unafraid, embracing new technologies and exploring new paths forward for the field.

2019 - Dalton Whiting
2020 - Colin Sass
2021 - Rachael Gran

Storytelling in Design Award

The Storytelling in Design Award is given to students who hold stories at the center of their work, prioritize heart and emotional arcs, and are generous toward both the characters and their collaborators. They are fearless in their approaches to narratives and unafraid to move beyond their respective disciplines to deepen the work at hand.

2019 - Abby Schlackman
2021 - Bless Rudisill

Faculty Spotlight

UArts Theater Design and Technology faculty are experienced working artists dedicated to working closely with students, honing their craft and building long-term mentoring relationships with Brind School students. As you complete your Theater Design and Technology degree, UArts faculty will connect you with the broader theater community, building inroads through Philadelphia and beyond.

A headshot of Natalie Robin
Natalie Robin

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Program director; lighting designer; production manager, Applied Mechanics; associate producer and founding member, Polybe + Seats; associate artist, Target Margin Theater
Nick Embree faculty theater design and technology
Nick Embree

Designed sets for more than 100 productions, three-time finalist for the F. Otto Haas Award
A headshot of Larry D. Fowler, Jr.
Larry D. Fowler, Jr.

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Theater sound designer, ready imaging producer and music producer; imaging producer, voice over artist and content editor, HealthcareNOW Radio
A headshot of Katherine Fritz
Katherine Fritz

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Costume designer, theatre artist and educator; managing director, Pennsylvania Theatre Institute
A headshot of LeVonne Lindsay
LeVonne Lindsay

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Costume Shop manager, costume designer and Barrymore Award-winner
A headshot of Barbora Prihodova
Barbora Prihodova

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Theater historian with specialization in performance design and scenography; recent writer and editor, thINKing DANCE
portrait of Katherine Freer wearing a black leather jacket, with red hair, against a brick background in sunset light
Katherine Freer

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Projection Design teacher; member of Wingspace Theatrical Design Executive Committee; All My Relations Collective collaborator

Alumni Spotlight

Alumni of the Brind School are successful and established theater professionals who have tapped into UArts’ experienced faculty of working artists, connections to the theater industry and extensive creative opportunities to build their careers. Successful Theater Design and Technology BFA graduates include

Brad Pouliot head shot
Brad Pouliot

BFA '16

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Professional work includes Wilma Theatre Co, Arden Theatre Company and FringeArts
Jillian Keys Photo
Jillian Keys

BFA '11

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Nominated for a Barrymore Award for Best Costume Design
headshot of michael lambui. he is standing in a narrow tree-lined street of brick houses. Michael is wearing a white short-sleeved collared shirt with dark blue paint streaks. he has a short mustache and horn-rimmed glasses.
Michael Lambui

BFA '16

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Freelance set and lighting designer
Headshot of Julie Padovan. She is smiling at the camera and is wearing a black turtle neck against a blank beige background. her long hair is a gradient from brown to hot pink at the tips.
Julie Padovan

BFA '21

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Wardrobe supervising for Drexel's dance program's production
headshot of Bless Rudisill. he is wearing a beige baseball cap on his curly hair. On his face are brown gold-horn-rimmed glasses and a large golden septum ring.
Bless Anthony Rudisill

BFA '21

Theater Design & Technology (BFA)
Lighting designer

Careers

The Brind School is dedicated to setting its alumni up for successful careers in the theater industry, both by helping students develop deep expertise in technical skills and by connecting them with industry professionals and career development opportunities in theater production.

Theater Design and Technology graduates have access to internships, career prospects and networking opportunities through the Brind School’s extensive connections in Philadelphia’s theater industry and through its extraordinary staff of experienced working artists.

Brind School graduates with a BFA in Theater Design and Technology can find themselves working in a variety of roles. Some career options for those with a Theater Design and Technology degree include

  • Lighting Designer
  • Costume Designer
  • Sound Designer
  • Set Designer
  • Wardrobe Supervisor
  • Production Electrician
  • Audio Engineer / A1
  • Projection or Media Designer
  • Technical Director
  • Lighting Supervisor
  • Props Supervisor

All of the faculty in the program are currently working professionals in Philadelphia, New York, Washington, DC and beyond. As a student, you will make professional connections in the classroom as well as through working with guest artists on productions.

Internship Opportunities

Students in the Theater Design and Technology program will complete semester-long internships for credit. Under the guidance of program faculty, students receive individualized support as they seek out and apply to internships at professional theaters groups. A number of alumni have found mentors and permanent employment through their internship sponsors after graduation.

Theater Design and Technology students have recently interned with:

Events

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts brings together many talents and skills, and offers many lively, engaging opportunities for students, faculty, staff and the public to engage with theater arts and students’ work.

Portfolio Day

During their studies in the Theater Design & Technology program, students are required to develop a professional-grade display and interview portfolio. Portfolio Day is an opportunity to engage with students’ hard work and celebrate their achievements in the program.

The next Theater Design & Technology Portfolio Day will be announced. 

 

Capstone Presentations

Theater Design & Technology students will have the opportunity to publicly present their capstone projects semi-annually to share their achievements, ideas and progress at the Capstone presentations that take place in December and May. The next Theater Design & Technology capstone presentation date is:

May 22, 2022
7:30pm-9:00pm
Connelly Auditorium
Terra Hall, 8th Floor
211 S. Broad St.

 

Brind School Season

stage setting - man with mic in foreground with others in shadow in background

The Brind School presents an annual season of work, which includes projects led by students, faculty and celebrated guest artists from the national and local theater scenes.

Through its dozens of performances each year–including the annual Polyphone Festival of New and Emerging Musicals – the Brind School is both a school and a producing company.

Auditions are open to all Brind School students.

About the Brind School

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is primed to nourish the individual artistic voice of each student, encouraging the development of advanced skills and an expanded point of view. Graduates of the Brind School can count on their practical experience in a thoroughly equipped and well-connected theater ecosystem to pursue careers in theater as fearless, innovative and adaptable creators. The Brind School imbues students with strong identities as innovators and citizen artists.

The Brind School is tailored for those who want to achieve and excel in performance and stagecraft. The Brind School’s faculty includes 60 instructors, the majority of which are current theater professionals. Alumni regularly return to UArts as educators and hold central positions in Philadelphia’s theater culture, creating a powerful home base for extending students’ creative community far beyond campus.

Learn more about The Brind School

How to Apply 

UArts offers recommended priority deadlines; students who apply and submit all required materials by the priority deadline will receive first consideration for scholarship aid from UArts. Applications received after the priority deadline will be reviewed on a rolling, space-available basis. 

International students requiring an F-1 visa for study in the U.S. might be subject to earlier deadlines to provide time for completion of the visa process. Contact Admissions for guidance if you are an international student who wishes to apply after the priority deadline.

Fall 2022 priority deadline: Our fall 2022 priority deadline to apply has passed, but we will continue to accept applications as space remains available in each program.

We cannot accept fall 2022 applications after Aug. 12, 2022.

 

The following materials are required for your application.

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A completed application for admission

Start or resume your application. 

  • The application includes two required short-answer questions: What excites you about UArts? What inspires you?

A nonrefundable $60 application fee
  • If you qualify for a fee waiver from NACAC, CollegeBoard, UArts or another source, indicate that on your application. If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

Official high school transcript
  • Official transcripts must be sent directly from your school by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

  • International transcript requirements 

  • Transfer student transcript requirements

    • High school transcripts may be waived for transfer applicants who have completed a minimum of 24 credits of college-level coursework, including a minimum of 18 academic, non-studio credits.

    • Official college transcript(s)

      • Official transcripts must be sent directly from all the colleges you have attended by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

      • If you’ve attended college outside the U.S., you are required to have an official course-by-course evaluation of your college coursework sent to UArts. Additional guidelines for international transcripts are available

Your audition/interview
International applicants must submit proof of English proficiency
Optional letters of recommendation
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors are optional and may be submitted by the recommender via email to undergradcredentials@uarts.edu or by your high school through a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

Apply now

Scholarships & Financial Aid

UArts recognizes the extraordinary talent of our students through a range of merit-based scholarships. All applicants are automatically considered for such scholarships—no special application is necessary.

Nearly 98 percent of UArts’ undergraduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about financial aid
Learn more about tuition & fees

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