Mar 21, 2019  
2013-2014 University Catalogue 
2013-2014 University Catalogue [Archived Catalogue]

Ira Brind School of Theater Arts

Colleges & Divisions  > College of Performing Arts 
Credit-hour Ratio     Mission Statement     Overview     Absences     Attendance at Performances     Crew Assignments     Extracurricular Activities     Evaluations     Facilities     Physical Demands of the Program     Productions & Auditions     Professional Standards & Behavior


   Bachelor of Fine Arts
   Directing, Playwriting & Prod 
   Musical Theater 
   Theater Design & Tech 






David Howey \ \ 215.717.6570
Interim Director

Darin Dunston \ \ 215.717.6447
Assistant to the Director

School of Theater Office
Terra Building Room 611 | 215-717-6450 | School of Theater Website

Credit-hour Ratio

Technique, production, and studio courses offered by the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts typically award one credit hour per 22.5 or 30 hours of instruction. For example, during a traditional 15-week semester a 3 credit studio course will meet 4.5 or 6 hours per week. The catalogue includes specific credit and contact hour totals for each course .  The University lecture and seminar credit-hour ratio is located on the calendar  page.

Mission Statement

The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts is committed to developing the skills and professionalism of its students to prepare them for careers in the theater and related fields, or for advanced study in graduate and conservatory programs.


The goal of the Brind school is to cultivate practitioners for the live theater entertainment media, communications, and production. This is achieved by developing a practical knowledge and competence that include sensitivity to technique, artistry, and style, as well as an insight into the role of the theater arts in society.

The curriculum is conservatory-based, acknowledging that the focal point of training in both Acting and Musical Theater programs is the acting instruction, and that vocal and physical training are the principal support areas for this instruction. In the Theater Design and Technology and Directing, Playwriting, and Production programs, the focus upon technique holds true, supported by extended collaborative learning opportunities in production. The School of Theater Arts is home to one of the nation’s most renowned stage combat programs, serving as host to the annual Philadelphia Stage Combat Workshop. Opportunities for master classes, guest speakers, internships, and apprenticeships with many professional companies in the city and region are among the experiences open to all Brind School students .

All of the School’s degree programs employ a professional approach to training and highly rigorous standards for evaluation and retention. As with any theater program, production work may serve as an important means of gauging a student’s growth in his/her respective program. It is in the studio, however, where the primary efforts of both student and faculty are concentrated. The highly focused and demanding training is enhanced by courses in the Division of Liberal Arts. These are of particular importance to the theater artist, who is charged with commenting on the human condition. The effectiveness of that commentary is dependent upon a sincere commitment to excellence in Liberal Arts.

Each program has its own unique program goals, but the Brind School also recognizes goals shared by each of its four programs. Graduates of the Brind School:

  • Will be passionate, pro-active and resourceful in pursuit of their chosen career and professional and adaptable in the execution of that career, with an appreciation of the demands it will make on them and their collaborators and an appropriate discipline to meet those demands.
  • will have an informed historical perspective about the Theater and the Entertainment Industry and a keen sense of their place and potential in those spheres.
  • Will demonstrate literacy in their ability to read, understand, conduct research and formulate critical views of dramatic literature and source material.
  • Will have an informed sense of the world around them and the place of their chosen profession in that world. They will understand and embrace the responsibilities of the citizen-artist.


Students in the Brind School are expected to attend all classes, studios, workshops, rehearsals, and crews for which they are registered or otherwise committed. The general policy of the Brind School is that any number of absences that result in the student missing more than the equivalent of two weeks’ work will result in failure or require withdrawal from the course in question. This standard may be somewhat more restrictive for acting studios. Students should consult the individual course syllabi to see how this policy applies to the course’s number of weekly meetings and contact hours.

Attendance at Performances

It is a requirement that all Brind School students either attend or participate in every Mainstage production during the academic year. Attendance will be officially viewed as required assignments for all Primary Studio/Core Courses. Students should consult individual course syllabi for specific information on this requirement.

It is a requirement that all students enrolled in Survey of Theater Arts or Script Analysis attend or participate in every Studio and Platform Series production during the academic year. Students should consult individual course syllabi for specific information on this requirement.

Crew Assignments

All students are required to serve on production crews in their second through fifth semesters. Crew assignments and calls are scheduled and monitored by the Production Manager. 

All crew members are expected to be prompt for crew calls. Attendance at all crew calls is mandatory. Absences or lateness are not permitted without prior permission from the Production Manager.

Crew Courses:  

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Extracurricular Activities

Students in the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts may participate in approved theater projects outside the University. Approval must be granted in advance of auditioning or interviewing for such work. The approval process will include consideration of student academic standing, program head and school director advisement.


In the School of Theater Arts, progress from one semester to the next is based not only on successful completion of coursework but also on the faculty’s positive assessment of the student’s potential for a career in the professional theater.

This assessment is recorded through a process of in-person and written evaluation. Students whose grades in core classes (see Minimum Grade Requirements ) are less than C- may not be permitted to move on to the next level of training in that area. Because the curriculum is frequently integrated (i.e., what is being taught in speech or dance may directly parallel what is being taught in acting studio) the student may be prevented from moving forward in those disciplines as well.

In all degree programs, both the student and the Director’s Office will be provided with copies of the written summary of the student’s evaluation.

BFA in Acting

In the BFA Acting program, in-depth evaluations will be conducted in semesters two through five. These in-person evaluations will be held with the student’s acting, movement and speech teacher present and will focus specifically on the student’s work and progress through the program. Ideally, these sessions should recap the ongoing input the student has received throughout the term in studio.

As a follow-up to these sessions, the student will receive a written evaluation reviewing the points covered in person and including a statement on the student’s status in the program (i.e., re-invitation assured, contingent upon further improvement, or in jeopardy).

By semester six, as an outgrowth of Audition Technique class, Acting majors will be required to prepare up to six monologues of predetermined styles, two of which they will be asked to present at a Junior year, Spring semester jury. A professional headshot and resume must be presented at the beginning of that semester in order to qualify for this jury. Both in-person and written feedback will follow and the student’s success in this jury will have a major impact on their final grade in the Audition Techniques class.

BFA in Musical Theater

The BFA in Musical Theater employs a jury system by which students are evaluated. Musical Theater jury exams are held at the end of semesters one to seven to evaluate students’ progress. Each student is required to prepare a minimum of five songs (three for first-year students) to be presented before a panel of Musical Theater faculty. It is expected that these songs be fully developed musically and dramatically. After completion of the jury, the student receives a written evaluation from each member of the panel.

Junior musical theater majors must be approved at midyear to proceed to advanced acting technique. Not being approved for such study, however, will not impede the student’s progress toward graduation.

BFA in Directing, Playwriting and Production

Initial evaluations in the BFA for Directing, Playwriting and Production are conducted at the conclusion of the first year and throughout the second year. The student will convene with her/his advisor and head of program. During these first evaluations, the primary issues dealt with will be the student’s satisfactory performance in production lab assignments and aptitude in the areas of stage management and dramaturgy. The first evaluation in a student’s third year will focus on the student’s progress and a statement submitted by the student discussing the areas of emphasis that have drawn his/her primary interest. Evaluators will consider how effectively the student has demonstrated skills in those areas. By the end of the third year, evaluations will focus on the student’s declared area of emphasis.

BFA in Theater Design and Technology

Mid-semester evaluations and individual advisement appointments for Design and Technology Program students will take place in each semester. Each student will meet with his or her advisor and/or Head of Program to discuss academic progress and overall artistic development. Each student is also required to present his or her accumulated body of work in display or portfolio format at a formal Portfolio Review at the conclusion of each semester. Finally, each student will meet with the gathered faculty at the end of every academic year for a formal review.

The purpose of the Design/Technology evaluations in the first year is to track, assess, and discuss a student’s academic progress and artistic development by reviewing a portfolio of assignments produced in first-year coursework. Beginning in the second year, the evaluations will also consider work produced in production assignments for Brind School Mainstage, Studio, or Platform series productions. Evaluations in the third and fourth years are informed by the student’s focus area (technical direction, lighting, sound, costume, or set design) and address student progress towards professional standards, measures, and practices.


The majority of facilities for the Brind School are located in the Terra Building at 211 South Broad Street. These include seminar and classroom spaces and studios for individual voice, speech, dance, movement, and acting instruction. The studios are well-lit and individually equipped with prop storage and audiovisual capabilities. Lockers and lounges are located adjacent to the studios.

  • The Brind School has versatile performance spaces with a wide range of capacities.
  • Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater - 60 seat
  • Caplan Studio Theater - 100 seat
  • Caplan Recital Hall - 200 seat
  • ArtsBank Theater - 230 seat
  • Levitt Auditorium - 700 seat
  • Merriam Theater - 1800 seat

Design and technical support are provided by a production shop, a costume shop, a design studio, a lighting lab, areas for both property and costume stock, and a fully-equipped video editing studio.

Physical Demands of the Program

The Theater Arts program is physically demanding. Good health and its maintenance are of paramount importance of all theater majors. The student should confer with his or her advisor and/or University Health Services as soon as a potential health problem arises. 

Productions and Auditions

The Brind School presents a Mainstage series, a Studio series, and a Platform series. These include comedies, dramas, and musicals. Selections are based on the educational and competitive needs of the current casting pool, the design, and project assignment needs of our production students. The program has also distinguished itself in fostering new work including Equinox, an annual festival of student-written plays. All students in performance majors are required to audition for all Brind School productions and to accept roles as cast.

Professional Standards and Behavior

Students are expected to maintain high standards of professionalism in studio, classroom, rehearsal, and performance commitments. Professionalism in rehearsal and production is a factor in all grading. Failure to follow directions and absence from or lateness to rehearsals, performances and related activities may result in Academic Censure including lowering of grade or course failure.