Photo by Isabel Le
Photo by Isabel Le

The University of Washington School of Drama develops innovative and courageous artists and scholars poised to be the creative leaders of tomorrow.



In 2019, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded the University of Washington a three year, $600,000 grant to build upon previous insights about process-based creative inquiry through our 2016 – 2018 Mellon Creative Fellowships initiative. The grant supports the UW’s Arts and Creativity Initiative, and aims to build durable interdisciplinary relationships among faculty in the University’s performing arts units, develop new introductory arts curricula, cultivate the next generation of faculty arts leaders, and continue to support the creative research of Meany Center visiting artists.

In 2020, the School of Drama launched new programs to provide additional mentorship to our graduate and undergraduate students who identify as Black, Indigenous, or as a Person of Color. These programs are intended to connect our BIPOC students with working professionals who can provide guidance and advice to help them thrive within historically white institutions.

Reflecting our commitment to collaboration and community building, the School of Drama partnered with Seattle University and Cornish College of the Arts to co-produce Uncharted Waters, which included two productions and a public seminar focused on the Seattle theater-making community.  During the height of the quarantine these unique online events brought together students from all three campuses.


Undergraduate majors


Bachelor of Arts: With classes in theatre history, theory and criticism, performance, design, and production, we offer a range of educational opportunities that teach critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and artistic excellence based on a thorough and rigorous study of theatre arts. Bachelor of Arts degree options include Drama, Drama Performance, and Drama Design.

Master of Fine Arts: We offer three-year intensive, conservatory programs in acting, directing, and design that prepare artists for successful professional careers. Our MFA programs produce creative leaders — skilled, rigorous, and entrepreneurial — who have learned how to foster their own creativity and chart their own course in today’s ever-changing performing arts landscape. Master of Fine Arts options include Acting (Professional Actor Training Program), Costume Design, Directing, Lighting Design, and Scenic Design.

Doctor of Philosophy: Our four-year PhD program trains scholars of performance and theatre history for the academy. We provide comprehensive training in theatre and performance scholarship, encompassing a wide definition of performance while maintaining rigorous training within a discipline core.

Actors in production


Autumn 2022

  • 59 Undergraduate majors
  • 21 Master of Fine Arts students
  • 12 PhD students

Degrees Awarded

Autumn 2021- Summer 2022

  • 30 Bachelor of Arts degrees
  • 6 Master of Fine Arts degrees
  • 1 Doctoral degree


  • 5 Professors
  • 4 Associate Professors
  • 5 Assistant Professors
  • 1 Lecturer
  • 2 Affiliate Faculty

School of Drama faculty are dedicated scholars and working theatre professionals. Their pursuits outside of the University keep their teaching highly relevant and ensure that the school remains deeply imbedded in the national theatre community. Our students benefit tremendously from our faculty’s strong professional connections and real-world expertise. Additionally, the School of Drama attracts distinguished guest faculty who are working at the highest levels of the industry.

Recent faculty awards include the Peterson Endowed Fellowship and the Distinguished Teaching Legacy Award, both from UW, and the Artist Trust Innovator Award. Recent faculty publications include Teaching the Alexander Technique: Active Pathways to Integrative Practice by Cathy Madden, Theatre in the Theatre of War by Odai Johnson, and Performing Flight: From the Barnstormers to Space Tourism by Scott Magelssen.

New faculty include:

  • An-Lin Dauber, assistant professor in costume design. An-Lin is a visual storyteller — a set, costume, and production designer who has staged plays across the country.  
  • Sara Walsh, assistant professor in scenic design. Sara is a an artist, designer and teacher whose work investigates boundaries and rules, transformation and surprise, and the shifting expectations of audience and performer. Her designs have been presented in Germany, Ireland, Scotland and France.


  • Chris Brown, scenic designer nominated for 5 Emmy awards for his work as Art Director on the TV series Mad Men.
  • Ken Cerniligia, Dramaturg and Literary Manager for Disney Theatrical Group and recently appointed president of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas.
  • Desdemona Chaing, Seattle and San Francisco Bay area director whose work has been seen at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Guthrie Theater, South Coast Repertory, ACT Theatre, Baltimore Center Stage and many others.  She is also a co-founder of Azeotrope in Seattle.
  • Allison Leach, Emmy Award-winning costume designer known for The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Mad Men, and Glee.
  • Andrew Leiberman, opera and theater designer, based in Paris, whose designs have been seen throughout the world at English National Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Festival d’Aix en Provence, New York City Opera and many other renowned companies.
  • Kyle MacLachlan, actor known for Twin Peaks (2 Emmy nominations), Dune, Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, and Portlandia.
  • Joel McHale, actor, comedian, writer, producer and television host known for his role as Jeff Winter on the sitcom Community and for hosting The Soup (Emmy nomination).
  • Lynn Shelton (d. 2020), filmmaker known for HumpdayYour Sister’s Sister, Touchy Feely, and Laggies, as well as episodes of Glow, Mad Men, Fresh Off the Boat, and New Girl.
  • Ron Simons, four-time Tony Award-winning producer known for Broadway productions of Porgy and Bess, Jitney, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.
  • Jean Smart, actor known for her roles in Hacks (2021 Emmy Award), Samantha Who? (2008 Emmy Award), Designing Women, and Frasier (2000, 2001 Emmy Awards).  Smart was also nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play for her portrayal of Lorraine Sheldon in the 2000 Broadway revival of The Man Who Came to Dinner.
  • Lois Smith, actor known for The Inheritance (Tony winner for Best Actress in a Play), East of Eden, Grapes of Wrath (Steppenwolf Theatre to Broadway, Tony nomination), Buried Child (Steppenwolf Theatre to Broadway, Tony nomination), and The Trip to Bountiful (off-Broadway), for which she received Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Obie, and Lucille Lortel awards.


Student Performance
Photo by Logan Guerrero

The School of Drama’s mainstage season features six shows fully-produced in three state-of-the-art spaces on campus, and featuring the work of our exceptional MFA acting, design, and directing students, as well as our undergraduate majors. Students execute these rigorous productions with the guidance of our faculty and the support of a full staff of theatre technicians and artisans. Over 8,000 patrons attend these performances annually. Our UW Drama Labs projects provide additional opportunities for experimentation and exploration, often alongside prominent, internationally known artists.

Our Undergraduate Theatre Society (UTS) produces a five-play season of undergraduate work in our Cabaret Theatre as well as regular cabarets, a new works play reading festival, and quarterly workshops with guest artists.

Performance Venues

  • The Floyd and Delores Jones Playhouse (210 seat thrust stage)
  • The Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre (160 seat arena stage)
  • Meany Studio Theatre (250 seat end stage)
  • The Cabaret (60 seat black box)
  • Hutchinson Hall (The School’s main building contains 3 black box performance spaces, 4 acting/movement studios, 4 classrooms, 2 design studios, light lab, drama library, and costume shop. A scene shop is located across campus.)


School of Drama
Box 353950
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-5140


last update: January 2023