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.
- 12 professional staff
- 40 student technical and house crew, and five student assistants
University Theatre productions appear in 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. In addition to two theatres, Thompson Hall spaces include production shops, a rehearsal hall and classrooms
- Productions – Eight to ten shows each season, under the direction of a full-time professional staff: five main season shows, a summer TheatreFest repertory season of three plays, and a student studio production. These are a blend of student volunteer productions and academic theatre training, and are open to all university students.
- Academics – Eight courses in the Arts Application and Communications programs taught by University Theatre staff, focusing on stagecraft, lighting, scenic and costume design, acting and directing..