Department of Drama announces new BFA in Production degree

New degree grants specializations in theatre design, technical production and stage management.

Erik Einsiedel - 15 November 2019

A new Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Production degree allows students to specialize in one of three theatrical focuses-Design, Technical Production or Stage Management-with opportunities to work on professional productions for course credit.

The new degree streamlines three longstanding BFA programs (Theatre Design, Technical Production and Stage Management) and offers students a number of advantages, including more hands-on experience, an improved first year foundation, a healthier school-life balance and other professional benefits.

Timms Centre stage
Students train in state-of-the-art facilities including the Timms Centre for the Arts.

Four year program includes professional training in the community

All BFA in Production students begin with a common first year, receiving a strong foundation in management, technical production and design.

"Within this first year, we're aiming to create some great collaborators who will graduate with a broader skillset, and be able to work better together," says program coordinator, Professor John Raymond.

In their second and third years, students will have opportunities to work on a number of varied productions, including projects off campus.

The fourth year of the program is a pre-professional year with less classroom-based training and more practical work on productions. This change is designed to facilitate the transition for undergraduate students into the job market. Students can receive course credit for work with companies in the community, such as Edmonton Opera or one of the many small theatre companies in Edmonton. This work may include project management, arts administration, or any number of new and interesting professional opportunities.

"We're very excited about the possibilities this work experience offers not only to our students, but also to the theatre community," says Raymond.

Improved scheduling, improved mental health

In designing the new program, the Drama Department took students' mental health into serious consideration.

"Our students have been known to work from the crack of dawn 'til midnight, with no time to relax, sleep, or do things to maintain a healthy work-life balance," explains Department Chair, Melanie Dreyer-Lude. "We've gone to great lengths to shift classes to ensure the students have a reasonable schedule so they can be fully present for their classes."

Fewer students means greater hands-on opportunities

Class size of the first year of the BFA in Production will be restricted to 20 students, allowing them access to more sophisticated hands-on training. As Raymond explains, this is critical not just to create industry professionals, but industry leaders.

"With small class sizes, we're able to deliver a level of training and education to develop future leaders in the fine arts, theatre and project management," says Raymond. "When you have a class of 40 or 60 students, you can't offer leadership opportunities to everyone."

Timms Centre props shop
BFA student Brianna Kolybaba (centre) received hands-on experience with Properties Master Jane Kline (left),
creating props for MFA student Sofia Lukie's (right) Studio Theatre production.

Transferable skills to increase employability

Dreyer-Lude explains that theatre teaches skills employers are looking for right now, like leadership, teamwork, interpersonal skills, conflict management and organization; a whole collection of life skills that are an automatic component of a theatre education. "So if our graduates decide to shift careers, they have the skill set to do so in the future," says Dreyer-Lude.

Raymond agrees. "As we've seen of our alumni, once they begin their careers, employers quickly recognize the value of their skill sets, and our graduates move quickly up the ladder. Those are the kinds of tools we're giving all our students in a holistic package."

Cutting edge training facilities

Home to the annual Studio Theatre season, the Timms Centre for the Arts is a modern, state-of-the-art training facility, designed to grant BFA in Production students a regional theatre equivalent experience.

Timms Centre booth
Students have access to cutting edge technology, as seen here in the Timms Centre for the Arts.

Additionally, the Second Playing Space theatre, Corner Stage and Bleviss Laboratory Theatre are all designed to model the real-world conditions students will experience when they enter professional theatre.

World class instruction from industry professionals

"We have some of the best faculty in the country, made up of industry veterans who have been working professionally and doing extraordinary things," says Dreyer-Lude. "They're not necessarily teaching from a book, they're teaching from life experience. They know what the job market is like and they bring an incredible level of intelligence to the classroom and the experience."

For more information about the BFA in Production, visit the Department of Drama website, or contact John Raymond at or (780) 492-8719.