No matter if your dream lies behind the scenes or at center stage, our theatre program is vibrant, active, and will help you prepare for the career of your dreams.

Our graduates work on Broadway, in LA and Chicago as actors, teachers, stage managers, and costume designers; for Davenport Junior Theatre, Goodman Theatre, and St. Croix Festival Theatre.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Learn From Acting and Tech Professionals
  • You Choose: Stage, Tech, or Both!
  • Award-Winning Theatre Program

scene from Lapine Agile

Scene from View from a Bridge

Cast of Honk Junior

Gaining real experience is at the core of studying theatre at St. Ambrose. Our award-winning faculty provide our students with a deep understanding of every working part that goes into a production, both on and off stage. A close-knit relationship with your peers and teachers is something you just won't get at larger universities, and our productions are a great example of that.

Discover Theatre at SAU

On Stage or Behind the Scenes
At SAU, you can seriously do it all

We have an award-winning program, faculty committed to your success, and opportunities galore.

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More Information on Our Theatre Program

What Will I learn?

While Theatre is not an option as a major, St. Ambrose offers robust performance opportunities! You will grow in your acting skills and self-confidence, learn to develop characters, and hone the art of stagecraft and directing techniques.

Courses include script analysis, costume design, stage lighting, scenic design, music theatre, and theatre history. Theatre students read an impressive variety of plays as part of the coursework. Take a look at the suggested reading list (pdf).

Then, take what you learned in the classroom and apply it through a variety of productions throughout the year, ranging from musical theatre and directing to various showcases and intimate black box theatre shows.

Theatre students can also study abroad with our popular "Theatre in London" course. It culminates in a two-week trip to London where students see up to 14 plays, visit Shakespeare's hometown, and study with British theatre professionals. Other locations include Greece and Ireland, but the world really is your oyster! St. Ambrose has many Study Abroad opportunities for all students.

Our Facilities

The Theatre Department is located inside the Galvin Fine Arts Center with a 600-seat proscenium stage that can expand seating to 1,200. The stage also hosts the annual Performing Arts Series, which allows you to attend professional touring shows right here on campus (and students get in free!).

We also have the Studio Theatre, a 50-seat black box theatre which hosts most of our student-directed plays. Our students love this intimate space because it provides a variety of directing, acting, and design opportunities.

We have great connections and encourage all students to complete an internship in whatever area of theatre they wish to focus. Our theatre students have learned from professionals and peers on-site at The Goodman, The Guthrie, Festival Theatre, Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, QC Workshop, Davenport Junior Theatre, Children's Theatre Company, and The Curtainbox Theatre. The SAU Career Center will help you find the internship right for you.

To make your education even more affordable, our Theatre Department offers numerous scholarships for current, transfer, and first-year students. Find out more by clicking here.

What are some potential career outcomes?

Theatre students can establish careers as directors, costume designers, technical directors, tour managers, lighting designers, actors, drama teachers (college, community, and high school), musical directors, artistic directors, and stage managers.

You could also work in fashion design, event coordinating, arts administration, civic leadership, graphic design, or managerial positions.

Read about Emmy Award-winning costume designer Brian Hemesath '94, and the many ways he supports SAU Theatre students. His commitment to his profession and the university was recently recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

What have alumni of this program done?
  • Tony Stratton '12 is a professional actor in Chicago.
  • Aaron Randolph III '02, '10 is a strong presence in the Quad Cities theatre scene. He is founder of the Quad City Theatre Workshop and was the 2016 recipient of the Quad City Arts Lloyd Schoeneman Community Impact Award for Outstanding Artist in performing arts.
  • Hannah Donovan '18 works in Chicago in stage management.
  • Daniel Sheridan '05 is the Performing Arts Supervisor for Davenport Parks and Recreation and the Artistic Director of Davenport Junior Theatre. He was a founding member of the QC Theatre Workshop.
  • Eric Behnke '04 tours the country as an Automation Carpenter for the North American tour of "Dreamgirls."
  • Abby Van Gerpen '10 earned a master's degree in Christian Ministry and Discipleship, works a day job for Enterprise Holdings, and performs professionally in the Quad Cities.
Faculty and Staff

Dan Rairdin-Hale, MFA, Chair and Professor
Aaron Hook, Technical Director

Degree Requirements

Minor in Theater (17 credits)

View theatre courses and descriptions in the online course catalog

+THTR 105 Beginning Acting: Voice and Body, 3 credits
+THTR 202 Survey of Theatre, 3 credits
+THTR 209 Stagecraft, 3 credits
+WI-THTR 218 Introduction to Script Analysis, 3 credits
+THTR 304 Theatre History I: to 1642, 3 credits
THTR 380 Junior Seminar, 1 credit

3 credits of theatre electives

Sam Jones Mobile Cutout Image Sam Jones Cutout Image

Sam Jones

Triple Major: Theatre, History & Art History,Class of 2018

At SAU, you can learn about the world and experience the world. Sam did. As an undergraduate, he took two short-term study abroad trips, then spent a semester taking classes in London. Sam graduated on time, with three majors, and so many great stories to tell. Yes, you can do it all. We'll help.

See My Story

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Daniel Rairdin-Hale, Chair

Galvin Fine Arts Center 43
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.