In the early 1960s Erdahl-Cloyd Union decided to improve the university’s cultural offerings. The union hired novelist and playwright Romulus Linney to serve as writer-in-residence and to conduct small theatre workshops in Pullen Hall. The union deemed Pullen Hall inadequate for a theatre, but Thompson Gymnasium had been vacant since 1961. Thompson Theatre’s first season, in which local actors and students produced the shows, opened in 1964. In 1972, Talley Student Center opened, and its administration decided it was time for a more stable student theatre program. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, theater participation and enrollment in new theater classes soared. In 1998, staff at Thompson and Stewart Theatres combined to form University Theatre, which opened its first season with performances in both spaces. A more in-depth look at University Theatre’s history is located on UT’s History page.
- 16 professional staff
- 40 student technical and house crew, and five student assistants
University Theatre operates Frank Thompson Hall and Stewart Theatres. With 800 seats, Stewart Theatre is the largest theatrical space on campus, and it is booked for over 200 days each year. The Frank Thompson building closed in 2007 for extensive renovation and in 2009, reopened as Frank Thompson Hall with two completely updated theatre spaces, Titmus Theatre and the Kennedy-McIlwee Studio Theartre. In addition to two theaters, Thompson Hall spaces include production shops, a rehearsal hall, classrooms, and storage.
- Productions – Eight shows each season, under the direction of full-time professional staff: four main stage shows, a summer TheatreFEST repertory season of two plays, and two productions in the Open Door Series. These are volunteer productions open to all university students.
- Due to COVID-19 Univeristy Theatre offers eight new virtual and hybrid Series to ensure safe participation for all.
- Academics – Students may take theatre courses focusing on stagecraft, design, acting and directing. A fifteen credit-hour minor in theatre is available.
- Events – University Theatre operates all three of the campus performance venues, providing production and logistical support to student, campus and public renters.
- Students – University Theatre engages hundreds of students a year through onstage, backstage, production shops, classes and other activities.