University of Washington School of Drama

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University of Washington School of Drama
University of Washington Hutchinson Hall.jpg
Established 1940
Director Todd London
Academic staff
Students 222
Location Seattle, Washington,  United States
UW School of Drama

The University of Washington School of Drama is a degree-granting institution founded in 1940 as a division of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington located in Seattle, Washington, USA.

It offers a Bachelor's degree and MFA degrees in directing, design, and acting. A Ph.D. in history theory and criticism is also offered. The MFA programs have outstanding reputations as top programs in the country. Each year, the MFA programs admit 6 actors, up to 6 design students, (2 each for costume, scenic design, and lighting), 3 for the Ph.D. program and every other year, 2 students are chosen in directing. The School of Drama presents a full subscription season of six productions every academic year, which primarily feature MFA students from all disciplines, and also includes undergraduates. The Undergraduate Theater Society (UTS) founded by alumni James Newman in 1992, self-produces a season of its own. Every year, the School presents members of its graduating MFA acting students in professional showcases in Seattle, New York City and Los Angeles.


The University of Washington School of Drama traces its origins to 1919 when Glenn Hughes, a recent graduate of Stanford University, joined the faculty of the Department of Dramatic Art, a part of the English Department. Though he came to the University of Washington as a poetry fellow, Hughes soon became determined to create a first-rate drama school. From 1930 to 1961 Hughes led the Department, which became the School of Drama (SoD) in 1941. He wrote more than 60 plays; wrote and edited various literary and scholarly publications; launched one of the West Coast’s first foreign film series; and established the drama program as the center of theatrical life in Seattle. Under Hughes’ leadership, the drama program became a center of Seattle’s theatrical life and a respected part of its cultural milieu. In 1961, Hughes retired and was succeeded by Gregory A. Falls. Falls created the Professional Actor Training Program (PATP), a prestigious BFA (now MFA) program that placed the School among the nation’s top professional acting conservatories and initiated the Ph.D. program in theatre history, theory and criticism. It was during this time that the stream of UW drama graduates began pooling in Seattle. Graduates and former faculty stayed in the city, founding their own theatres and forming the genesis of what is today one of the country’s most active and diverse theatre communities.

The School’s role in establishing Seattle’s vibrant theatre life was seminal. Founders and artistic directors of many of Seattle’s leading theatres were first students or faculty at the School of Drama. Greg Falls founded ACT Theatre. Duncan Ross became artistic director of the Seattle Repertory Theatre for over a decade. Alumus M. Burke Walker founded The Empty Space Theatre, which remained in the artistic forefront for over 35 years and former faculty member Arne Zaslove was artistic director for nearly twenty years at the Bathhouse Theatre. Alum Jenny McLauchlan Carlson was co-founder of Seattle Children’s Theatre. Alumae Linda Hartzell is current artistic director of SCT, which is considered one of the leading children’s theatres in the country. The late Ruben Sierra, alumus and former faculty member, created one of the country’s first ethnic theatre companies, The Group Theatre (formerly the Ethnic Cultural Center), which was later led by Tim Bond, a directing graduate of the UW who served as associate artistic director at Oregon Shakespeare Festival for 11 years and is now producing artistic director at Syracuse Stage. Even the enormously successful Oregon Shakespeare Festival was founded by alum Angus Bowmer.

More recently, the enormously successful, Washington Ensemble Theatre (W.E.T.), was founded in 2004 by 9 alums representing every one of the school’s programs. Two years later, Washington Ensemble Theatre was awarded “Best of the Fringe” by Seattle’s alternative newspaper, The Stranger.


Undergraduate Education (BA)[edit]

The Bachelor of Arts in Drama provides a general knowledge of the art of theatre and a foundation for further study or training. The major consists of a program of required courses which introduce students to the core of the art and a selection of elective courses.

Graduate Education[edit]

Graduate Education at the School of Drama consists of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in theatre history, theory and criticism and the professional Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degrees in Acting, Directing and Design. Time after time, these degree programs are nationally recognized as top in their field. Graduate students are taught and advised by an energetic faculty, all of whom regularly work in the professional arena.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)[edit]

The Ph.D. program provides comprehensive training in theatre scholarship with a dual emphasis on theatre history and dramatic criticism. The three-year plan of study addresses a full range of Western and Non-Western literature and practice. Through their work with Drama 101 and 201 (the SoD’s general humanities courses), Ph.D. candidates gain valuable teaching experience while playing an essential role in the education of majors from every degree program offered by the University.

Professional Director Training Program (MFA)[edit]

The Directing Program is a three-year interdisciplinary program designed to equip its students to lead and innovate at the highest levels. The course of study provides students with a wide range of practical training, production experience, and intellectual development. Two candidates are admitted to the program every other year.

Design Program (MFA)[edit]

The Design Program is a three-year program preparing students for professional careers as scenic, costume and lighting designers. The program fosters individual artistic vision as students grapple with intellectual and aesthetic issues and learn to think critically and creatively. The Design Program requires fully realized production work, including experience in opera design unmatched nationwide.

Professional Actor Training Program (PATP) (MFA)[edit]

The PATP is a three-year conservatory MFA program that prepares students to become top-level professional actors equipped with sensibilities and skills that will serve them throughout their careers. The program promotes the integration of all aspects of performance training. The mission of the program is to develop artists grounded in theatrical tradition who can think for themselves, who are flexible and whose work is honest, powerful and present within the varying demands of theatre, film, and television.

Production Season[edit]

  • Each year the SoD produces a subscription season of six shows produced in one of three theatres.
  • The PATP is provided with a fully funded production and a workshop level production each quarter. Undergraduate students are cast as needed.
  • Students in the directing program are provided with two productions; a workshop in year two, and one fully funded thesis production in year three.
  • The Undergraduate Program is provided with one fully funded production per year in the subscription season.
  • The Undergraduate Theater Society produces its own season in The Cabaret every year.

Production History[edit]

UW School of Drama Production List

Notable alumni[edit]



  • Tim Bond, director
  • Rebecca Lynn Brown, director
  • Rita Giomi, director
  • Chuck Harper, director
  • Linda Hartzell, director
  • John Lovick, magician
  • Valerie Curtis-Newton, director
  • Tlaloc Rivas, director
  • Lee Shallat, director
  • Peggy Shannon, director
  • Stepan Simek, director
  • Christine Sumption, director
  • Leslie Swackhamer, director
  • M. Burke Walker, director


  • Matthew Smucker, scenic design
  • Evan Alexander, scenic design
  • Andrew Lieberman, scenic design
  • Allison Leach, costume design
  • Kim Gill, costume design
  • Laura Drawbaugh, costume design
  • Jennifer Zeyl, scenic design


  • Charlotte Canning, Director of Graduate Studies (University of Texas, Austin)
  • Ellen Donkin, professor and author (Hampshire College)
  • Alan Read, professor and author (Rotherheim University, London)
  • Tamara Underiner, Director of Ph.D. program in Interdisciplinary Studies (Arizona State University)
  • John Lutterbie, Director of Theatre (SUNY, Stoneybrook)
  • Katie Johnson, professor and author (Miami University)
  • Katrin Sieg, professor and author (Georgetown University)


Hutchinson Hall is home to the School. It houses six large studios, general classrooms, faculty, staff and graduate student offices, Ph.D. seminar room and computer space.

  • Costume Shop is located in Hutchinson Hall.
  • Drama Library is located in Hutchinson Hall.

Drama Scene Shop: Two former auto mechanic spaces offer accommodation for carpentry, metal work, paint, electric and prop shop activities. Also in the Scene Shop is a lighting lab, faculty and staff offices, a design computer lab, sound studio, and properties storage.

Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre is the first Theatre in the Round built in the United States and seats 161. It has been placed on the National Historic Register.

The Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse Theatre is a historic theatre with a thrust stage and seats 208. Its grand re-opening, since renovation began in 2007, was October 30, 2009.

Meany Studio Theatre is in Meany Hall, and is an end-stage theatre seating 253.

Meany Hall is a proscenium stage theatre seating 1200.

The Cabaret is a designated black-box theatre exclusively for undergraduate use and productions and is located in Hutchinson Hall.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 47°39′34″N 122°18′24″W / 47.65944°N 122.30667°W / 47.65944; -122.30667