Follow your passion and learn the art of theatrical storytelling through the visual arts of theatre design and production.
In the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production program, you will follow your passion and learn the art of theatrical storytelling. Through a diverse curriculum, you will be challenged to find your inner artist and develop skills and hands-on experience that will enable you to start your professional career.
The B.F.A. degree prepares you to work professionally in both design and technical positions in many different areas in the industry as well as related fields. You will discover what it means to be a proficient, working member of a production team in the entertainment industry.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production allows students to specialize in one of five emphases:
I transferred to Shenandoah because I wanted to prove that I could be a good theatre practitioner if given the chance, and SU’s theatre program gave me every opportunity to do just that. I was trusted, challenged, and inspired to give my best on any project I was working on, and now I’m always complimented on my work ethic, my attention to detail, and how knowledgeable I am in the overall process of production . . . I have to attribute that to my time at Shenandoah, and I hope I’ve made you proud!
Ariana “Ari” Michel ’14 | B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production in Stage Management, is currently completing her master’s in arts administration at the University of New Orleans. She has toured with a children’s theatre production and worked in the film and theatre industry in Baton Rouge, LA, and in New Orleans, LA.
Photo from Cabaret
Minor in This Program
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre, and Dance for all Shenandoah University students. Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
Declaring a Minor
Shenandoah students work with their Academic Advisor to declare a minor. Academic Advisors will continue to work with students to ensure that they fulfill all of the requirements to complete the minor.
Incoming students should not indicate their intended minor on their Shenandoah application. Applications are for intended majors only.
The Career Services staff helps Shenandoah students search and apply for internships related to their major and career goals. Internships differentiate you as an applicant in your future job searches, provide hands on experience in your field, allow you to sample different career paths for your major, and help you find a specific position that fits your passion before graduation.
Career and Salary Possibilities
Shenandoah’s Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production is a pre-professional training program that prepares you for entry into the industry or to pursue a graduate degree. The degree prepares you to work professionally in both design and technical positions in professional and educational theatre, cruise ships, theme parks, sales and production companies, creative display design, historical renovation, museum installation, mural and faux finishers, and industrial design and production.
The Career Services Office provides a comprehensive range of services and resources to assist Shenandoah students in their career search. Services offered include resume and cover letter building, mock interviews, and professional dining etiquette workshops.
In addition to enabling students to become arts advocates in a global society, this degree hones practical skills found in daily applications outside of the discipline. These skills translate to a wide range of non-arts related industries. The collaborative and problem-solving nature of the degree is what makes it highly transferable outside of the discipline.
Our small class sizes allow for one-on-one, hands-on mentoring. Over the course of your four years in the program, you will gain actual experience in every type of major production responsibility within your emphasis, including multiple chances to work with professional artists in seeing productions through from start to finish.
Shenandoah’s pre-professional training program allows you to choose from five emphases, but you’ll learn about each, which will make you both versatile and specialized as you pursue a professional career in theatre design and production.
You Will Learn:
- How to create and develop a resume and a website portfolio to showcase your individual design and production work
- Analysis and problem solving skills
- The historical and cultural context needed to analyze dramatic literature and its performance and production
- The technical savvy and skills needed to communicate artistically, including theatrical rendering, construction techniques, computer skills, how to manage a budget, and craft and collaboration skills
Learning support services are available to all students in every course at Shenandoah. Free peer tutoring with a student who has previously succeeded in the course is available for any course across the university. The Writing Center is available for every stage of the writing process from thesis development to proofreading and bibliography assistance. The Math Enrichment Center is available for math and science assistance. Professors and Academic Advisors across the university also have office hours and open door policies to ensure Shenandoah students succeed academically.
Meet the Graduates
In my four years as a student at Shenandoah, I received an invaluable education and relevant work experience that prepared me to enter the workforce on par with individuals twice my age. What I hold much dearer to my heart is the lasting relationships that I formed while at Shenandoah, and I’m privileged to be able to call my former professors not only colleagues but friends. Shenandoah University has been and continues to be a tremendous part of my life, and I’m proud to call myself a son of the stars.
James Davis ’06 (B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production, Scenic & Lighting Design) is the Production Manager for Riverside Center for the Performing Arts in Fredericksburg, VA, which produces six mainstage productions, plus children’s theatre productions and several concerts, each year.
My time at SU taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I learned valuable, transferrable skills that have allowed me to be successful in each position I have held. My connections from Shenandoah have brought me back to the production side on the weekends as a technical director for a local high school working alongside my fellow classmate and college roommate, Danielle!
Madeline Woods Demmerth ’10 (B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production, Scenic & Lighting Design) is currently the Development Assistant at Baltimore Center Stage, where she in the process of becoming their Tessitura Database Coordinator.
My SU experience was something I look back on as being crucial to where I am now. Being able to hop on productions right away as a freshman was a big selling point for me in choosing SU. It got my hands dirty, gave me experience right off the bat, and I didn’t have to wait a few years due to a graduate program. I think it is important for everyone to do theatre, dance, opera, and concerts because it allows you to see just what you like to do.
Greg Iannarilli ’15 (B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production, Lighting Design) is currently working as a lighting technician on the underwater production of Le Rêve (The Dream) in Las Vegas.
Shenandoah University was the perfect place for my education and my creative growth. I started as a theatre student, but emerged a professional with marketable skills. From the classes, to the performance opportunities, to the exceptional professors . . . I learned so much in such a relatively short period of time! The lessons I learned in the classroom, as well as backstage, have guided and served me well in my professional career, and I am extremely grateful for the time I spent at Shenandoah.
Elspeth Ridout McCormick ’06 (B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production, Scenic & Lighting Design) is a Project Coordinator and Systems Integrator at Artistic Concepts Group in Virginia. Prior to joining the ACG team, she was the Assistant Technical Director with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center.
Emily VanDervort Heilig ’99 (B.F.A. in Musical Theatre) is currently a Lecturer of Costume Technology and Costume Crafts Supervisor for The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has worked for Virginia Repertory Company, Kings Dominion, and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, as well as the Broadway premiere of Shrek the Musical and Cirque du Soleil special events.
Performance Opportunities and Ensembles
Shenandoah Conservatory produces more than 400 performances each year. Enroll in a dynamic curriculum and start preparing for a meaningful career in the arts. You will practice your craft in front of audiences and develop a plan for your professional launch into the industry that focuses on your personal desires and aspirations.
Embrace extensive performance opportunities with top-tier facilities from theatres, concert halls and dance studios. Unite with fellow artists and join an alumni family that takes center stage from Broadway to the concert halls of Europe.
Shenandoah Conservatory is home to more than 20 instrumental, vocal, and dance ensembles that present numerous performances every year. These performances take place throughout Shenandoah University’s vibrant campus on its various stages, including a concert hall, recital hall, proscenium stage, black box studio, outdoor amphitheater and more, to venues and performance spaces in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and around the world. Ensembles constantly engage with Shenandoah’s dynamic faculty and an array of distinguished guest artists through residencies, workshops and unique performance opportunities.
Experience the world-renowned Shenandoah Conservatory. Study with master teachers – more than 100 professionals in music, theatre, dance and arts management.
Shenandoah Conservatory’s prestigious faculty is dynamic, creative, and passionately committed to the highest levels of artistic excellence. A deeply caring community, they mentor students with a wealth of professional expertise, balancing rigorous expectations with compassion and wisdom. At Shenandoah, you will study with, and perform for, award-winning composers, Metropolitan Opera singers, Grammy Award winning conductors and international competition winners. You will learn from leading scholars in music and premiere works created by accomplished dance artists and cutting-edge directors. Shenandoah Conservatory’s faculty embodies the highest levels of professional accomplishment and the deepest commitment to furthering the artistic growth and creative aspirations of students in every discipline.
Technical Director; Chair, Theatre Division; Associate Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Jennifer Flitton Adams
Costume Designer; Associate Professor, Costume DesignFull Biography
Scenic and Lighting Director; Associate Professor, Theatre, Scenic and Lighting DesignFull Biography
Costume Designer; Associate Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Assistant Professor, Theatre - Lighting DesignFull Biography
Application and Audition Information
Shenandoah University works on rolling admissions. Applications are reviewed individually and holistically.
Submit your application, review required admissions materials, and find our admissions standards.
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory is highly competitive. Not only must students be academically admissible, they must also complete and pass the mandatory audition/portfolio review and interview process. Audition dates are limited and may fill and close well in advance of the audition date.
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks, you will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Fast-Track to Arts Management
Accelerated PALM Program
The Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is designed to provide future performing arts executives and artistic leaders with the industry skills required in the 21st century. The accelerated program in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is available for current Shenandoah Conservatory undergraduates who, upon completion of their undergraduate degree, wish to obtain a Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management in just one year. Students who are accepted into the accelerated program will begin to take arts leadership and management courses during their undergraduate studies and register for internship during the summer between senior year and their final year of graduate study.