Theatre & Performance Studies

Faculty & Staff


Paul A. Edwards, Ph.D. headshot
Lecturer in Communication Arts
Phone: 970.943.3042
Office Location: Taylor Hall 218
Steven Cole Hughes headshot
Director of Theatre and Lecturer in Communication Arts
Phone: 970-943-3029
Office Location: Taylor Hall 212 D
Spencer Musser headshot
Technical Director of Theatre and Lecturer in Communication Arts
Phone: 970.943.2191
Office Location: Taylor Hall 212 A


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 COM 121 - Introduction to Theatre (3 credits)

This course will include a general survey of Western theatre from Classical Greece to contemporary America. Students will learn the diverse practice of the art of theatre by studying theatre history, dramatic literature, and the practical components of acting, directing, design and production.

 COM 216 - Dramatic Literature and Script Analysis (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the diverse genre of dramatic literature in Western and Eastern theatre. Students study the origins of tragedy, comedy, melodrama, the rise of Realism and Anti-Realism, as well as the sub-genres within those general categories. Eastern traditions of text such as Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku are also studied. Students learn how to read a play on a deeper level for content, themes, historical and sociopolitical influences, as well as the emerging and changing aesthetics of each genre. Prerequisite: ENG 102.

 COM 231 - Technical Production I (4 credits)

A study of how things are done behind the scenes in theatre and film and why they are done that way, including the basic customs and traditions of production work and the philosophy, aesthetics, and process of production. Intensive hands-on development of skills in the construction of sets, costumes, lights, sound, and props; the operation of rolling units, lights, flies, and sound; and production assistant duties.

 COM 235 - Fundamentals of Acting (3 credits)

An introduction to the principles, processes, and techniques of acting. The study is designed to balance theory and performance; to explore in detail the psychological, perceptual, and conceptual linkages to the strategies, techniques, and skills of the actor; and to develop a significant sense of self-discipline on the part of the actor. Topics include warm-up and awareness skills, basic body and voice integration techniques, the theories of Stanislavski, character analysis, and performance process

 COM 306 - Scriptwriting (3 credits)

An introduction to the fundamental tools and skills required to craft a script for performance on stage or in film/video. Students are expected to produce play scripts and screenplays of varying lengths; they are also expected to read and respond to one another's writing. Some history of play writing and study of prevailing models of script writing are also included. Prerequisites: COM 205 or ENG 205, with a minimum grade of "C", or instructor permission.

 COM 310 - Introduction to Performance Studies (3 credits)

An interdisciplinary course exploring the human desire to perform in both aesthetic and everyday settings. It explores the links between the arts and literature, anthropology, communication, sociology, and philosophy. Critical reading, written analysis, and performance of literary texts are essential elements of the course.

 COM 317 - Studies in Theatre and Performance (3 credits)

An introduction to performance studies research and artistic practice through readings, discussion and creative work. Prerequisites: junior standing and instructor permission. Repeatable for a maximum of six credits among different topic areas.

 COM 323 - Media/ Arts Management (3 credits)

An introduction to the basic principles and structure of management as it applies to Communication Arts. Particular focus is given to management of small and mid-size nonprofit media and arts organizations, and to the interrelationship between those two areas. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor.

 COM 324 - Advanced Acting (3 credits)

An advanced-level course that focuses on specific areas of actor training, including methods of voice and movement training; the requirements and techniques of different styles of acting including classical, Elizabethan, Restoration/18th Century, Commedia, and Advanced Contemporary acting styles; and advanced textual analysis required of actors by specific theatrical works. Repeatable for a maximum of six credits among different topic areas. Prerequisite: COM 235 or instructor permission.

 COM 330 - Technical Production II (3 credits)

An intermediate-level study of lighting and sound production for theatre and film. Instruction is provided in the proper rigging of light and sound equipment, use of control consoles and software, optics, basic electrical theory, the nature of light, and acoustics. The design and aesthetic use of light and sound are also explored. Prerequisite: COM 231 or instructor permission.

 COM 423 - Directing (3 credits)

A comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of directing for the stage. Includes an exploration of play selection, character and script analysis, conceptualization of production, actor coaching approaches, staging techniques; as well as the actual direction and presentation of scenes and plays. Prerequisites COM 231, COM 235, COM 310 and junior standing; or instructor permission.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts
    • Emphasis
    • Minor

    Center stage!

    You’ll get right to work in all aspects of Theatre & Performance Studies—as an actor, designer, stage manager, part of an improvisational troupe or an assistant in the costume and scene shops. You might land a work-study position learning valuable skills that make theatre happen. Western's student-run theatre company, Western Theatre Company, produces at least four shows per year.

    What Will You Learn? What Skills Will You Acquire?

    Whether you are a Theatre major or minor, or simply involved in the annual production season, you will learn the basics of becoming an actor, director, designer, stage manager or playwright. Anyone can become involved, on many different levels, and help stage full-scale productions.

    Using original performance for social change—a unique element of our program—you’ll learn to advocate on issues affecting the campus and larger community. 

    You’ll not only learn artistic skills, but also develop responsibility, dedication, adaptability, creativity, initiative and compassion for your fellow students, your faculty and yourself.

    Beyond the Classroom

    As a student in Theatre & Performance Studies, you'll be exposed to myriad opportunities.

    The program sponsors four productions annually. Students make up a large part of the technical crews, the producing board and the artistic staff. Visiting guest artists provide workshops, direct and design shows, and teach. In addition, students can attend regional and national theatre conferences and participate in summer internships as actors and stage and production managers.

    After Graduation

    Graduates of the program often continue to graduate school in their particular area of interest (costume, lighting, sound design, acting, directing). Our graduates also are teaching artists and teachers, as well as professional actors, producers, directors and designers in Denver, New York and Los Angeles.