Ripon College offers a major and minor in theatre with education accreditation also available. We strive to develop theatre artists and scholars who have an understanding of all the areas of the theatre from onstage to backstage, from drama and history to technology and artistry. While our students are able to specialize in their areas of interest in the theatre, they also understand the process of theatre and learn how to collaborate with other artists in the theatre.
The Department of Theatre is invested in nurturing artists and teachers for the theatre, but we are open to the whole student community. Auditions and crew calls are open to the entire college, and we expect and plan on students with majors other than theatre to take part in our productions.
Requirements for a major in theatre: THE 101, 131, 231, 232, 255,, 512; two courses selected from THE 200, 260,248, 268, 300, 301, 352, 362, 363; English 360 (one elective must be at a 300 level); a minimum of four credit hours in THE 202 and/or 210 and/or 212.
Requirements for a teaching major or minor in theatre: Electives must include THE 301
Requirements for a minor in theatre: THE 101, 131, 255; two courses selected from: THE 202, 248, 260, 268, 300, 301, 352, 362, 363, 512; minimum of four credit hours in THE 200 and/or 210 and/or 212.
Requirements for a teaching minor in theatre: Electives must include THE 301
Ripon College faculty and professional staff are dedicated to helping you reach your goals, whatever they may be and however often they may change along the way. It’s part of our value statement to you.
As a student at Ripon, you will be assigned a faculty adviser based on your area(s) of interest. You will meet with your faculty adviser throughout your time as a student to discuss your current aspirations, plan your course schedule and plot a future trajectory. Staff in the Office of Constituent Engagement and Career Services help to match your interests to concrete goals and construct a plan for success, offering support through three stages of career development – planning, exploration and search. Student Support Services provides tutoring and additional academic and skill development, as well as tools to help with note-taking, exam preparation, goal-setting and time management. Mentors in the Collaborative Learning Center provide in-depth, one-on-one or group mentoring for students about class projects and college-level writing, and can share problem-solving strategies to overcome academic obstacles.
Alumni of the department include stage and movie actors Spencer Tracy ’24, Harrison Ford ’64 and Frances Lee McCain ’66. More recent graduates have earned master’s of fine arts degrees in acting, children’s theatre and design. Positions obtained by our graduates include education, associate production manager, musical tour stage manager, various roles in regional theatre companies, playwright, actor, costume designer and sound engineer.
Whether you choose a program that is international or domestic, it is an experience bound to change your view of the world. Click to learn more about Off-Campus Study and Liberal Arts In Focus at Ripon College.
Financial aid continues for students who choose to participate in an approved study-abroad program, minimizing additional expenses.
All majors and most production minors publicly stage a short, one-act play as their capstone experience, bringing together their knowledge and experience into a realized production. Design and technical students can work closely with a play’s director while serving as costume, lighting, scenery or properties designer or assistant designer. Our acting students have opportunities only dreamed of at larger institutions where graduate students obtain the largest roles. At Ripon, an accomplished student will have the opportunity to play several leads in a wide variety of acting styles by graduation.
- Through the Department of Educational Studies, certification in theatre is available in early childhood/adolescence (birth-grade 12).
- Students take active roles on stage and in production in several shows offered by the department throughout the year.
- Students are helped to find summer internships. Recent internships have include Peninsula Players, Northern Sky Theatre, First Stage, Children’s Theatre of Madison and Walt Disney World.
- At the annual Region III Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, Ripon enters associate productions and sends talented students to compete in various theatre arts. Amanda Finn ’14 won the national competition for theatre journalism and advocacy in Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2013. James Balistreri ’19 was an Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship competition semi-finalist and a Design and Technical Management finalist in 2018.
Benstead Theatre Shines
Benstead Theatre is located in the C.J. Rodman Center for the Arts, home to music, fine arts and theatre. The theatre is an innovative flexible-space “black-box.” It includes a proscenium opening, stage deck and a fly gallery, allowing plays to be staged in arena, thrust, environmental or proscenium depending upon the director and designers’ creative vision. The facility is dedicated to the theatre department so rehearsals and construction occur right in the space. First-year students who have experienced only proscenium staging in high school find Benstead Theatre a new and exciting place to perform and work.
The theatre is supported by lighting and sound control boards that are replaced with the latest equipment on a regular rotation; fully equipped scene and costume shops; a design studio; an acting studio; and a makeup room large enough to double as a rehearsal space.
The Ripon College Theatre Department features collaboration. High-quality theatre demands close collaboration, and in the Ripon Theatre Department collaboration is a way of life. Students who are part of the production team as stage managers, assistant directors and designers are full members of the creative team at weekly production meetings, contributing to the discussion the director and the designers have in working out the details, designs and staging. Many of our Certificates of Merit from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre festival are related to the strength of the production ensemble and production unity.
Selected titles from the theatre department’s production history:
- "The Spitfire Grill" (Photos)
- "And People Will Say ..." (Photos)
- "Cabaret" (Photos)
- "Wonderful Town" (Photos)
- "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"
- Measure for Measure
- "The Tempest" (Photos)
- "Much Ado About Nothing" (Photos)
- "A Midsummer Night’s Dream"
- "As You Like It"
- "Twelfth Night"
17th & 18th Century
Modern and Contemporary
- She Kills Monsters
- Waiting for Godot
- "Rabbit Hole" (Photos)
- "The Liar" (Photos)
- "A Doll House"
- "Anatomy of Gray" (Photos)
- "Arcadia" (Photos)
- "A Plague of Angels" (Photos)
- "The Cripple of Inishmaan" (Photos)
- "Eurydice" (Photos)
- "Nickel and Dimed"
- "Top Girls"
- "Dancing at Lughnasa"
- "The Ash Girl" (Photos)
- "Picasso at the Lapin Agile"
- "The Importance of Being Earnest"
- "Story Theatre"
- "Iphigenia in Aulis"
- "All My Sons" (Photos)
- "Blood Wedding"
- "The Crucible"
- "The Bakkhai"
- "The Visit"
Lindsey Hoel-Neds, Class of 2003
Minor: Theatre, education
Graduate Degree: Master's of arts in theatre for youth, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (in process)
Employment: English teacher and drama director, Waukesha, Wisconsin, South High School; and Cambridge (Wisconsin) High School (through spring 2010)
"When I tell other theatre educators about my experiences at Ripon, they are amazed that I was able to work on every show and do everything from acting to directing to props to costumes. No one leaves Ripon without truly understanding that everyone in the theatre is valuable."
Adam Krueger, Class of 2007
Majors: Theatre, business administration
Graduate Degree: Master's degree in advertising, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts (in process)
Post-Graduate Theatre Experience: Associate production manager (12-show season) and later subscriptions coordinator (14,000 annual subscribers), Huntington Theatre Company, Boston, Massachusetts
Employment: Senior accounts analyst, Boston University
"My training at Ripon allowed me to jump in (to my first job at the Huntington) without hesitation, impress my peers and make strong connections to professionals in the industry."
Joe Lullo, Class of 2004
Graduate Degree: Master's of fine arts in acting, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin (in process)
Post-Graduate Theatre Experience:
- Apprentice company 2010, American Players Theatre, Spring Green, Wisconsin
- St. Croix Valley Summer Theatre, River Falls, Wisconsin
- St. Croix Off-Broadway Dinner Theatre, Hudson, Wisconsin
- CLIMB Theatre, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Missoula Children’s Theatre, Missoula, Montana
- Teatro Del Pueblo, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Employment: Teaching assistant, acting; University of Wisconsin Theatre Department, Madison, Wisconsin
"I have talked to many people in the professional theatre community who know of Ripon and regard it as a top-notch undergraduate theatre program. I am so fortunate to have been a part of such a dedicated and inspiring program."
Anne Negri, Class of 2003
Minors: French, K-12 teaching certification in theatre & French
Graduate Degree: Master's of fine arts in theatre for youth, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
Post Graduate Theatre Experience:
- St. Croix Summer Theatre, River Falls, Wisconsin
- First Stage Children’s Theatre, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Original children’s plays: The Dancing Dog & Fly/Lyf (KCACTF Theatre for Young Audiences Award)
Employment: Free-lance teaching artist, playwright, dramaturg, actress and puppeteer
"My professors (at Ripon) were concerned with mentoring the whole artist, someone who knows something about every aspect of the theatre. My theatre education was personal and meaningful, and the impact of those four years has deeply affected my life as a theatre artist."
Joe Truesdale, Class of 2007
Majors: Self-designed mass media management
Post-Graduate Theatre Experience:
- Radio on-air personality
- High school forensics coach
Employment: Radio air talent for Mountain Dog Media: News-Talk 1450 KFIZ and K107.1 WFON, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
"The small class sizes and individualized education really helped launch me into the career I possess today."