BA in Theatre Arts - Option in Performance 


The Performance Major Option in the Theatre Arts Department at California State University Long Beach provides a demanding, detailed and sequential actor training regimen housed under the auspices of a Bachelor of Arts degree, one that allows students to graduate adequately prepared to enter the professional world of acting or pursue other areas of interest where performance skills are necessary. The objective of the program is to provide a serious, active and investigative survey of a variety of performance techniques and philosophies as part of a broader liberal arts degree. 

The Performance Major trains, nurtures and develops lifelong performing artists, actors who possess the power of fearless transformation, who are self-generating and self-sustaining in their work, whose work is deeply truthful, physically and imaginatively engaged, vocally strong and articulate; the aim is to develop durable and competitive creative possibilities in the artist and their human artistic impulses. Longevity starts with foundation. For actors, that foundation is best laid in demanding sequential training where the student is also given a plethora of performance opportunities in mainstage productions but also to create their own student-generated work. 

All students begin as a General Major. The, entrance into the Performance Major is determined by an adjudicated audition that takes place after the student’s successful completion of Five (5) prerequisite courses. Those courses include:

  • Theatre Arts 112 – Introduction to Voice & Speech
  • Theatre Arts 114A – Introduction to Acting
  • Theatre Arts 114B – Introduction to Acting
  • Theatre Arts 262 – Introduction to Movement
  • Theatre Arts 214 – Intermediate Acting

If admitted into the Performance Major, Students agree to:

  • Earn a “B” or better in all Theatre Arts courses
  • Audition for the mainstage season each semester through graduation
  • Play as cast in any mainstage production
  • Serve as a role model to other aspiring Performance Majors by being respectful, on time and well prepared to all classes, rehearsals and meetings with faculty, directors, designers, TAs and fellow students
  • Consider carefully the responsibilities of Performance Major before committing to any additional projects

The Performance Faculty is comprised of vastly experienced, professional actors who have worked at the top of their profession on Broadway, National Tours, Off-Broadway, top Regional Theatres, Shakespeare Festivals, Primetime and Daytime Television, Feature Film, Cabarets and International Arts Festivals. The team of teaching artists includes Golden Globe Award winning actors and Screen Actors Guild Award nominees.

The Performance Faculty believes that every artist, no matter their medium of expression, reveals some aspect of their individuality – even unintentionally - through the conscious manipulation of form. Creating a work of art is therefore an act of autobiographical will, revelation, imagination and vulnerability.

Therefore, it follows that art is, at its most base, the willful expression of the individual via a chosen form. Consequently, we, as teachers of artists, can fruitfully work on one of two areas:

  • The artist’s “Instrument” and experience of the world – what they want to say about it. = Self.
  • The “How” - the form, the means, the craft - they will go about doing that = Skill.

Our philosophy of actor training embraces and parallels our global view of art. We specifically, thoughtfully and systematically work on two primary aspects of the actor:

  • Work on “Self”- Freeing the actor’s instrument. Creating an open free channel through which to express, then building technique upon it. Developing, enhancing and encouraging the individual’s imagination.
  • Work on the “Role” – the acquiring a specific “Skill” or craft, be it Psychological Verisimilitude, Anton Chekhov, film, episodic television, Shakespeare, etc. Art is not sloppy; it is precise, demands skill, ability and expert demonstration of craft to succeed.

We work under the assumption that all acting, no matter the form, medium, style or genre is some sort of imaginative communication. Once a common acceptance of this principal is reached we present the syllogism that there are three areas of human communication that the actor can train:

  • What we say = text = the head.
  • What we feel = emotions = the heart.
  • What we do = behavior = the will.

These are the three areas that we focus on, both in the classroom and rehearsal. Within each of these three areas there are two aspects that all exercises and or techniques are aimed at dealing with:

  • The actor’s Impulse
  • The actor’s Expression

From here we work moment to moment with each individual actor to discover what stirs his or her creative subconscious. Once we have divined this element, we begin to find ways – through established and proven methodologies - to open them up and push them out of “comfort zones”. Once this has been done, usually over the course of their first semester of study, we then begin to layer on more genre-specific techniques.

Our department offers many opportunities for performance. Information about auditions and how to get involved in other ways is available.

Theatre Arts faculty and staff are highly successful in placing our students in discipline specific professional internships in the LA area, nationally and internationally. Due to our location we are in the hub of the Southern California entertainment business.

Local internships have taken place at institutions including Disney, LA Opera, South Coast Repertory, International City Theatre, Long Beach Playhouse, The Chance Theatre, LA Fringe Festival, The Elephant Theatre, The Antaeus Theatre Company, Four Clowns, The Garage Theatre, LA’s Center Theatre Group, Pasadena Playhouse, Casting Companies, Artist Agencies and many more.

Our students have worked nationally and internationally with our faculty members in locations including NYC, Colorado, Utah, St. Petersburg Russia, Tokyo, Tanzania, Costa Rica and Norway.

Our department also supports our students continued training opportunities through active connections with nationally recognized training institutions including The Actors Center, Steppenwolf Classes West, CSU Summer Arts, Fitzmaurice Voicework, Michael Chekhov Association (MICHA), AcroYoga Research Institute and Knight Thompson Speechwork.

Theatre Arts Department is proud to host Steppenwolf West Summer Intensive and Michael Chekhov Association training workshops.

Lower Division Core

Take all of the following courses

  • THEA 101 Fundamentals of Dramaturgy (3) Prerequisites: None
  • THEA 111 Theatre Arts Showcase (1) Prerequisites: None
  • THEA 114A Fundamentals of Acting (3) Prerequisites: None *"C" or better required
  • THEA 116 Fundamentals of Collaboration (3) Prerequisites: 3 units of Theatre Arts or consent of instructor 
  • THEA 141A Orientation to Production Crafts (3) Corequisites: THEA 140 or THEA 340
  • THEA 141B Orientation to Production Crafts (3) Corequisites: THEA 140 or THEA 340.
  • THEA 221 History of Theatre and Drama to 1660 (3) Prerequisite: THEA 101 or concurrent enrollment or consent of instructor
  • THEA 222 History of Theatre & Drama Since 1660 (3) Prerequisite: THEA 221 or consent of instructor

Upper Division Core

Take all of the following courses

  • THEA 324 Theatre Today (3) Prerequisites: GE Foundation requirements, one or more Explorations courses, and upper-division standing
  • THEA 327 Theatre, Protest and Social Change (3)  
    Prerequisite: G.E. foundation and upper-division status. Students must have scored an 11 or higher on the GWAR Placement Examination 
    or completed the necessary portfolio course that is a prerequisite for a GWAR Writing Intensive Capstone
  • THEA 374 Fundamentals of Directing (3) Prerequisites: THEA 101 and 114A or consent of instructor
  • THEA 418 Theatre of Community Engagement (3) Prerequisite: Consent of Instructor
  • THEA 426 Dramatic Theory and Criticism (3) Prerequisites: None

Take all of the following courses:

  • THEA 112 Beginning Voice and Speech for Actor (3) Prerequisites: None
  • THEA 114B Fundamentals of Acting (3) Prerequisite: THEA 114A or equivalent
  • THEA 214 Intermediate Acting (3) Prerequisites: THEA 112, 114A and B. Should be taken directly following THEA 114B
  • THEA 262 Beginning Movement for the Actor (3) Prerequisites: None

Take four units from the following courses:

  • THEA 140, THEA 240, THEA 340, THEA 440

Take six units from the following courses:

  • THEA 215, THEA 290, THEA 312, THEA 316, THEA 318A, THEA 318B, THEA 375, THEA 413, THEA 414, THEA 415, THEA 462, THEA 476, THEA 490, THEA 498.

No more than eight units of Theatre Arts activity (cast and/or crew) will apply toward degree requirements. Crew requirements for all majors: One major running crew assignment in residence for each of the areas of costume, stagecraft and lighting to be satisfactorily completed. Students with transfer credit in those related courses must fulfill the same running crew requirements within the first three semesters of matriculation into the University.

At the beginning of the semester, all incoming students, including transfer students (including those who have been inactive for a year in our department), are required to audition or interview. Auditions and interviews are conducted by appropriate faculty/ student groups. These auditions are required for admittance to certain upper division classes and are therefore used for appropriate placement of students at their level of competency as determined by the faculty.

All performance majors will also fulfill four performance requirements to graduate. This requirement is met through acting, understudying, directing or assistant directing for a Mainstage or Second Stage production; acting or directing for a Showcase production; or by a special assignment approved by the performance faculty.

Information on applying is available.