• Students performing onstage
Department of Theatre

BFA in Theatre Performance

» BFA in Theatre Performance

Prepare for a career as an actor in the heart of Southern California’s vibrant theatre community.

Chapman's BFA in Theatre Performance focuses on acting technique, movement, voice and speech, and text analysis to prepare you to launch your acting career after graduation.


Actor Showcase | Faculty | Performances | Spaces & Venues | Study AbroadStudent Clubs | Careers | Admission & Tours | Related Programs

Program Overview

Chapman's Theatre Performance program helps you build a solid foundation of classical training for the contemporary actor that incorporates global perspectives and a variety of cultural traditions. And because our program is for undergraduates only, you’ll have many opportunities, even as a first-year student. Plus, you’ll have a well-rounded, broad-based education that will enhance your acting toolkit.

Program coursework is advanced in acting technique and related skills and explores all areas of theatre, with a focus on helping you develop your talent through various creative techniques, different approaches to acting, and a wide-range of applied performance opportunities.

Chapman BFA in Theatre Performance graduates exit the program prepared to begin their professional acting careers or to apply to graduate programs in theatre. This preparation includes a business of acting course and a showcase opportunity with industry professionals at the end of the senior year.

BFA in Theatre Performance graduates will be able to demonstrate:

  • competent skills in acting, voice and movement to support a performance.
  • research, analytical and writing skills relating to dramatic texts, performance evaluation and character development.
  • an understanding of how theatrical productions are created and produced through theatrical collaboration.
  • accountability, collaboration and professionalism in various theatrical endeavors.
  • skills and knowledge of the business of acting required to succeed in a theatrical career.

BFA Actor Showcase

Theatre Performance and Screen Acting coursework includes a senior-year business of acting course in which you'll learn to prepare a professional resume, website, and actor reel, with a capstone BFA Actor Showcase at the end of the academic year. At this event, you will perform for industry professionals such as casting directors, managers, agents, artistic directors, freelance directors and producers. At this event, you will perform for industry professionals such as casting directors, managers, agents, artistic directors, freelance directors and producers. 

Following each performance, industry professionals may reach out to you for a meeting. These meetings often lead to fruitful partnerships, auditions, dynamic collaborations and even long-term mentorship.

Leah McKendrick
While a student, Leah was encouraged to write her own scenes for her acting class. This experience kindled her creativity and she’s now writing and directing her own work.

Expert Faculty

Our faculty aren’t just theatre professionals with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. They are also masters at the craft of teaching. 

With a low faculty-to-student ratio, you will get to know your teachers and receive personalized guidance and career planning from professionals who know your name.

BFA Theatre Performance Opportunities

At Chapman, first-year students can audition for and perform in any production, including lead roles in:

  • Four or five main season productions a year, usually including a musical. These shows include professional directors and production designers.
  • Student-led theatrical productions across campus.
  • Film and television student productions at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
In addition, you will have opportunities to perform in local theatres and productions across Southern California. There is a vibrant theatre scene in Orange County, and Los Angeles is a short drive or train ride away.

We hope you can see a production for yourself! Visit our event calendar to view and get tickets to upcoming theatre productions.

Learn and Perform in Professional-Grade Spaces

You’ll have the opportunity to perform in front of large and intimate audiences in our on-campus venues. 

  • Musco Center for the Arts: This 88,000-square-foot center is a state-of-the-art venue to help foster your education in the arts. Musco Center boasts 1,044 seats on three levels and has been named one of the finest performance venues on the west coast. 
  • Waltmar Theatre: A 244-seat performance and classroom space for students to hone their skills as professional artists.
  • O.L. Halsell Foundation Studio Theatre: This black box theatre is a flexible space used for both classes and performances and can seat up to 50 patrons.

Study Abroad

We encourage you to study abroad in one of our many study-abroad programs. Our Theatre Academy London program (TAL) is especially popular for Theatre Performance majors. You will study with some of London's leading theatre artists and earn academic major credit towards your degree.

Our London Theatre Tour is a popular interterm course. You will attend British theatrical productions in London and Stratford, England, while developing visual literacy and critical analysis skills.

There are several other options, and we will work with you to find the right program to match your interests and goals.

Student Clubs and Organizations

Chapman has hundreds of student clubs and organizations. These range from academic to spiritual to cultural to just having fun. Some clubs that are popular Theatre Performance majors include:

  • C.A.S.T.: Coalition of Artistic Students of Theatre: C.A.S.T. is committed to igniting professionalism, unity and collaboration within the theatre community.
  • Chapman on Broadway: Provides performance opportunities in fully staged musicals, plays, revue shows and cabaret nights. Chapman on Broadway provides these opportunities to all majors, especially those who have a lifelong passion for theatre but chose another path as their official major.
  • Guerilla Shakespeare: Members produce a full production of a Shakespeare play every fall and a selection of scenes for a scene review every spring. Members also participate in monthly play readings and events focused on expanding our knowledge of Shakespeare’s works and classical acting.
  • Improv Incorporated: Chapman University's longest-running improvised comedy troupe, Improv Incorporated typically performs two live shows a month.

Where This Degree Will Take You

Most graduates pursue acting careers in theatrical productions or film and television.

In addition to acting, you can use the skills you develop in the program (including collaboration, time management and creative thinking) to go on to a variety of meaningful careers such as:

  • Casting director
  • Theatre director
  • Screenwriter
  • Artistic management
  • Artistic director
  • Literary agent and manager
  • Lawyer
  • Business leader
  • Designer (lighting, scenic, costume, sound, makeup/hair)

Admission and Tours

With a cohort size of about 14 students, admission to the Theatre Performance program is very competitive. You can find more details on our page about applying to the Theatre Performance program or check out the curriculum on our catalog page.

Want to learn more about Chapman? We are always available for tours and information sessions. We’d love to meet you!

Related Programs

BFA in Screen Acting

B.A. in Theatre

You can explore all of Chapman’s undergraduate majors and minors with our program finder.

Contact Us

Program Questions

Admission Questions

College of Performing Arts News


Get the latest info on the people and productions that make our school shine.

Theatre Productions

Students dancing onstage

Learn more about our current season and past seasons of student productions.