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10 Reasons to study Theatre at York University

The CIBC Lobby of the Faire-Fecan Theatre

1. Our Tradition…


Since 1970, The Department of Theatre has been developing theatre artists, critics and scholars at the highest level for the profession of theatre.

2. Our Unique Programs

York offers undergraduate degrees in Theatre Studies (BA), Acting (BFA), and Design/Production (BFA). We start with 140 of the most passionate theatre students we can find from our exhaustive search each year. These students then spend a challenging first year learning as much as possible, through academic inquiry and hands-on practice, about all aspects of live performance, including history, theory, acting, design, production, and management. With this exposure to the rich and varied possibilities for a career in the theatre, students are able to make choices and pursue specialized courses of study in upper years. Acting, Devised Theatre, Playwriting and Design/Production require a separate application for students wishing to pursue those specialties after first year.

We also offer graduate degrees in Acting (MFA), Directing (MFA), Design (MFA) and diploma programs in the teaching of Voice, Movement and Acting for the theatre. With the only Graduate Acting program in the country, and with remarkable opportunities for grad directors to work with seasoned graduate actors, York offers a unique training sequence to serious artists.

Graduate degrees in Theatre Studies (MA and PhD) are also offered, focusing on theatre, performance and cultural politics, with internationally recognized faculty leading explorations into topics such as Canadian Theatre, Postcolonialism & Globalization, Cultural Policy & Theatrical Economies, Gender & Sexuality, Embodiment & Cultural Memory, Environment & Cultural Geography, Critical Pedagogy & Community Engagement, and Intermediality & Technology.

By limiting enrolment in both our undergraduate and graduate programs, we ensure that our students are among the most creative, professional and dedicated in Canada. Student work is of the highest calibre and often goes on to be produced, screened or published outside the university, both before and after graduation.

Students and faculty at the Prague Quadrennial 2011 Students and faculty at the Prague Quadrennial 2011

3. Our People…

Collectively, our faculty & staff have written, produced, directed, developed, dramaturged, designed, built, staged, performed, coached, stage managed and otherwise created, hundreds of plays and films; their work has appeared on stages and been screened at festivals around the world, from NYC to Vancouver, London to Boston, China to Poland, Cuba to South Africa. We’ve written and edited articles, books, encyclopedias, and plays in print and online, and presented at hundreds of conferences around the world. We bring the world of theory and practise together on a daily basis, in classrooms and studios, on stages and rehearsal halls, in seminar rooms and on location.

4. Our Alumni …

Our former students have gone on to become successful actors, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, producers, carpenters, designers, scenic painters, costume technicians, props makers, technical directors, professors and creators for theatre, film and television in Canada, the U.S. and abroad.

5. Our Local Theatre Scene …

Toronto is the theatre capital of Canada, and an important player in North American theatre and film. Toronto is the third-largest centre for English theatre in the world, and a fantastic city for all varieties of theatre, film, dance, art and music. Important theatres include: Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Canadian Stage Company, Crow's Theatre, Factory Theatre, Native Earth Performing Arts, Necessary Angel Theatre, Nightwood Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, Red Sky Performance, Soulpepper Theatre Company, Tarragon Theatre, The Theatre Centre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Theatre Smith-Gilmour, and Volcano Theatre.

There are also many opportunities to see and create work through the Toronto Fringe Theatre Festival, SummerWorks Theatre Festival, and Rhubarb Theatre Festival, to name just a few. And of course, there is also the Toronto International Film Festival, and many many more film festivals throughout the year..  

6. Our Facilities & Resources…

The Keele Campus at York University has a large complex dedicated to Fine Arts, something that downtown campuses can’t compete with. Our large, dedicated seminar rooms, classrooms and studios give students the opportunity to explore in safety and comfort. The Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre in the Accolade East Building offers students an opportunity to work on a full-scale proscenium stage. With the black-box Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre, the Atkinson studio theatre and the Robert & Julia Foster Acting Studio, crews, designers, technicians, stage managers, directors and actors experience the full variety of environments they are likely to encounter in the profession. Seven studio spaces house our class work and unmounted productions. Our full-scale lighting lab and our scale LightBox lighting environment allows for exploration of lighting technique outside of the theatre. With access to great carpentry, paint, dye, costume and prop shops, crews have the tools and space they need to work and learn. And with one of the largest collections of films, videos and DVDs in the country, York’s Sound & Moving Images Library (SMIL) is an invaluable resource for all theatre students.

7. Our Support for Students…   

The Department of Theatre is strongly committed to providing the necessary support for our students. On the undergraduate level, our faculty and staff are here to support and advise you through the process of financial aid and course selection. For graduate students, we have range of generous admission scholarships, and continuing student awards and assistance. Our Graduate Assistants and Teaching Assistants are the best paid in the country. In addition, York University's Counselling & Disability Services provide a professional and supportive environment in which all York students have equitable access to a range of services that assist in facilitating their academic success.

8. Our Great City...

With Toronto's diversity, its vibrant neighbourhoods, its effective transit system, there's a lot to be said about the city:

  • Toronto is home to more than 100 cultures
  • Toronto is Canada's largest city, with a population of 4.7 million
  • Toronto is the 5th-largest city in North America, after Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago
  • One-quarter of Canada's population is located within 160 km (100 mi.) of Toronto
Set detail of Ti-Jean and his Brothers (Fall 2010) Set detail of Ti-Jean and his Brothers (Fall 2010)

9. Our Theatre@York Season... 

Each year we present productions showcasing the talents of students in our undergraduate and graduate programs. Along with our annual student-run One Act Play festival playGround, recent productions include: The Provok’d Wife, Hippolytos, Restoration, Ti-Jean and His Brothers, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, The Witch of Edmonton, CoEd, Marat/Sade, The Bewitched, Fire Raisers, The Bundle, Metamorphoses, The Clown Show, Rhinoceros, The Great Gatsby, Les Belles Soeurs, The Grapes of Wrath, Not Wanted on the Voyage, Love’s Labours Lost, Three Birds Alighting on a Field, Galileo, The Comedy of Vanity, The Master and Margarita, Uncle Vanya, The Idiots Karamatsov, The Three Sisters, Shakuntala, Big Love, and The Comedy of Errors.

10. Most Importantly, Our Students…

Undergraduate students: The 140 students we start with are the most passionate theatre makers we can find from our exhaustive search each year. These students then spend first year being exposed to all apsects of theatre before going through the arduous process of selecting which area(s) of specialization that they want to focus on. From there, they study both practice and theory, going deep in all aspects of the theatre. We draw some of the most exciting people in the country together, and through the team work and hard work that the program demands, many find professional partners to work with for the rest of their lives.

Graduate students: By limiting enrolment to a select few each year, we ensure that our students are among the most creative, professional and dedicated in Canada. Student work is of the highest calibre and often goes on to be produced, screened or published outside the university, both before and after graduation.