A Scene from CRESCENDO

About Us

The University of Iowa Department of Theatre Arts is one of the oldest and most respected theatre programs in the country. We offer students the opportunity to earn an undergraduate BA degree, or an MFA degree with an emphasis in acting, directing, design, playwriting, dramaturgy, or stage management.

New work and collaboration are the hallmarks of our department. For more than 90 years we have supported the development of new plays by students, faculty, and distinguished guests. We recognize that every play, whether new or old, is brought to life through the complex collaborative effort of a writer, director, dramaturg, designers, actors, stage managers, and technicians. In order to support this process, we seek to create an atmosphere of passion for the art and generosity of spirit.

The Department of Theatre Arts is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre. Along with its professional wing, the Iowa Summer Rep, it is a member of the University/Resident Theatre Association (U/RTA).

News from the Theatre Building
Current Students across the US
History of Theatre at Iowa
Undergraduate Program in Theatre Arts
Graduate Programs in Theatre Arts
Our Current Season
Past Shows at Iowa
Downtown Iowa City

Commitment to New Work

Since its founding, the Department of Theatre Arts has been committed to new work.  Early in our history many plays transferred directly to Broadway, and in recent years numerous plays have gone on to be produced in New York and in regional theatres.

We are deeply engaged in play development. Each year at least 15 new works by graduate and undergraduate students are produced and another 25 new plays are presented as readings. The MFA Playwrights Workshop provides an intensive three-year study, and the undergraduate program offers four playwriting courses and many opportunities to present ten-minute and full length productions.  Link to a video about the creation of our mainstage production of THE IMAGINARY INVALID.

MFA Playwrights Workshop
Partnership in the Arts
Iowa New Play Festival

Hundreds of writers have had their start at Iowa, as have 1000s of actors, directors, and other artists who still work in new play development.

Among the best known writers are:

  • Tennessee Williams
  • Lee Blessing
  • Naomi Wallace
  • Rebecca Gilman
  • Keith Huff
  • Sherry Kramer
  • David Hancock
  • David Adjmi
  • Kirsten Greenidge
  • Robert Alexander

Hollywood writer-producers include:

  • Rick Cleveland (West Wing, Six Feet Under)
  • Mark Johnson (Rainman, Chronicles of Narnia)
  • Barry Kemp (Coach, The Newhart Show)
  • Norman Felton (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)


Alice in Wonderland

Partnership in the Arts

Each year we bring together a team of America’s finest experimental writers and directors to create a new work that is presented on the mainstage season. The artists are in residence for 6-8 weeks and work with students on an ambitious project that may well go on to professional productions elsewhere.

Among the artists who have led projects are:

  • The Q Brothers
  • Paola Coletto & Matteo Destro
  • Darrah Cloud, Kim Sherman & Nick Demos
  • The Moving Company (Dominique Serrand, Steven Epp & Nathan Keepers)
  • Martha Clarke
  • Rinde Eckert
  • John Cameron
  • David Schweitzer
  • David Hancock
  • Anton Juan
  • Steven Sapp
  • James Hatch
  • The Gertrude Stein Repertory Theatre
  • Belgrad’s Dah Theatre
  • Erik Ehn
  • Karin Coonrod
  • Migdalia Cruz
  • Maria Irene Fornes
  • Theodora Skipitares
  • Anne Bogart

Go to past Partnership in the Arts Productions

Shadow Puppet from ONDINE, New Play Festival '12

News from the Theatre Building

Assistant Professor Tlaloc Rivas Selected as NALAC Leadership Fellow

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) has announced that Assistant Professor Tlaloc Rivas of the Department of Theatre Arts at the University of Iowa has been selected to participate in the 14th Annual NALAC Leadership Institute July 14-19, 2014, in San Antonio, Texas. Read the complete article here.

Faculty Appointments in the Field of Playwriting

The Department of Theatre Arts is very pleased to announce two faculty appointments in the field of playwriting.

Lisa Schlesinger will join the department as Associate Professor of Theatre Arts. She  is currently a tenured Associate Professor of Fiction Writing and Theatre and Director of the Playwriting Program at Columbia College in Chicago.  She was the recipient of Columbia’s 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award. She received an MFA in Fiction from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop and an MFA  in Playwriting from the Iowa Playwrights Workshop.  Her plays have been produced and given staged readings at LaMama ETC, Portland Stage, Guthrie Theatre, Pushpush Theatre in Atlanta; at theatres in Ramalla, Jerusalem, Budapest, and Edinburgh; and on such radio networks as the BBC, CBC, and NPR.  They have also been published by NoPassport Press.  Her teaching, playwriting, presentations, and essays frequently engage global and multicultural issues, especially as they relate to the role of theatre in social activism.

Megan Gogerty, who has taught in the department as an adjunct and visiting assistant professor since 2008, has been appointed as a full time lecturer in Theatre Arts.  She received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin and her BA from the University of Iowa. Her plays have been produced and given workshops and readings at the Iron Crow Theatre Company in Baltimore, Studio 42 in New York, Riverside Theatre, WordBRIDGE Playwrights Lab, the New York Musical Theatre Festival, the Nanluogu Xiang Theater Festival in Beijing, Actors Express and in colleges around the country. Megan is also an accomplished solo performer, frequently appearing in her own plays.

Presidential Lecture

Alan MacVey to deliver the University of Iowa Presidential Lecture, Sunday, February 23, 2014
Selection as a Presidential Lecturer ranks among the highest honors that the University of Iowa can bestow upon a faculty member. Candidates are nominated by their faculty peers and deans, selected, and introduced by the president. They must have attained national and international recognition for distinguished records of research, scholarship, and artistic achievement. They must also excel at public presentation of their work. The university established this annual series in 1984 to encourage intellectual communication among academic disciplines and between the university community and the general public. In the thirty-year history of the event, Alan MacVey is the first Presidential Lecturer from Theatre Arts. Link to Alan's page.

Link to an IowaNow interview with Alan.

Link to a highlights video of Alan's lecture.

Public Theater Emerging Writer

Kevin Artigue (MFA, 2011) was recently named as a Public Theater Emerging Writer.  The Public Theater announced the 10 new playwrights for the 2014-15 Emerging Writers Group. Now in its fifth cycle, the Emerging Writers Group is an ongoing initiative that targets playwrights at the earliest stages in their career, creating an artistic home, and offering support and resources for a diverse group of up-and-coming playwrights.

Writers are selected bi-annually and receive a two-year fellowship at The Public which includes a stipend. Staged readings of works by Emerging Writers Group members are presented in the Spotlight Series at The Public. The playwrights also participate in a bi-weekly writers group led by The Public's literary department and master classes led by established playwrights.

Link to an article about the Emerging Writers.

Teaching Excellence

Meredith Alexander has been named a recipient of a President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence, sponsored by The Council on Teaching at the University of Iowa. Link to Meredith's page.

Outstanding Article

An article written by Kim Marra entitled "Riding, Scarring, Knowing: A Queerly Embodied Performance Historiography," has been awarded the 2013 Outstanding Article Award by ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education). Link to Kim's page.

Summer Jobs/Internships
Held by Current Theatre Arts Students

Our students’ train in Iowa through the school year, some stay in Iowa City for the summer, working for Iowa Summer Rep, Iowa Summer Opera, Riverside Theatre, or the Englert Theatre. Many more of our current students spread out from coast-to-coast for additional experiences. For the summer of 2011, our students worked with the following companies:

  • About Face Theatre
  • Ariesworks Entertainment
  • Children’s Theatre Company
  • Clinton Area Showboat Theater
  • Colorado Renaissance Festival
  • Curious Theatre Company
  • Des Moines Playhouse
  • Des Moines Social Club
  • Disney World
  • Englert Theatre
  • English Valleys Summer Youth Theatre
  • ETC
  • Grrl Action
  • Groundlings Theatre & School
  • Hancher Auditorium
  • Hope Summer Repertory Theatre
  • Independent Lake Summer Camp
  • Iowa Summer Opera
  • Iowa Summer Rep
  • Last Light Theatre Company
  • Osage Summer Theatre Program
  • Paskal Rudnicke Casting
  • Penobscot Theatre
  • Quad City Music Guild
  • Rising Star Theater Company
  • Riverside Theatre
  • San Francisco Shakespeare Festival
  • Sanctuary Playwrights Theater
  • Tallgrass Theatre Company