10 Reasons to study Theatre at York University

1. Our Tradition

Since 1970, the Department of Theatre in York’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design (AMPD) has been developing theatre artists, critics and scholars at the highest level for the profession of theatre.

2. Our Unique Programs

AMPD Theatre offers undergraduate degrees in Performance Creation Research (BA), Acting (BFA), and Production/Design/Production (BFA). We start with 135 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 offer an MFA in Theatre, with specializations in Acting , Performance Creation, Directing  and Design. With the only Graduate Acting program in the country, and with remarkable opportunities for grad directors to work with seasoned graduate actors and BFA acting and design students, York offers a unique training sequence to serious artists. As well, we have the MFA in collaboration with Canadian Stage (Toronto) offering a highly specialized, advanced training in theatrical directing. Two chosen directors working with York’s graduate faculty and Canadian Stage Artists will integrate their academic studies and studio work at York with an internship in artistic directing projects at one of Canada’s premier theatres.

Graduate degrees in Theatre & Performance Studies (MA and PhD) are also offered, focusing on theatre, performance and cultural politics. Students are encouraged to develop a rigorous interdisciplinary understanding of theatre and performance by taking courses, and working closely with, supervisory faculty who come from diverse backgrounds in a range of disciplines including Theatre Studies, Performance Studies, Anthropology, Business, Cinema & Media Studies, Dance Studies, English, Environmental Studies, Humanities, Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies, Nursing, Sociology, and Visual Arts (to name but a few). Critical interdisciplinary recognizes the importance of thinking across multiple disciplines to come to grips with the complexities of performance, while also recognizing the political, institutional, and conceptual challenges posed by intersectional models of analysis.

3. Our People

Collectively, our faculty has 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 practice 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, theatre managers, producers, carpenters, designers, scenic painters, costume technicians, props makers, technical directors, professors and creators for theatre, film and television as well as lawyers, business people, architects, environmental and political activists, and journalists 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, 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 the 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 professionally rigged proscenium stage. With the black-box Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre and the Robert & Julia Foster Acting Studio, crews, designers, technicians, stage managers, directors and actors experience a wide variety of theatrical environments. . Six studio spaces house our acting class work and unmounted productions. Our lighting lab allows for hands-on exploration of theatrical techniques outside of the theatre and two design studios are home to set and costume study. 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 in collaboration with AMPD OAISS is strongly committed to providing the necessary support for our students. On the undergraduate level, the OAISS staff is here to support and advise you through the process of financial aid and course selection. The Faculty is entrusted with a group of first year students and mentor and advise them on a one to one basis. For graduate students, we have range of generous admission scholarships, and continuing student awards and assistance. 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 and 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

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 series of festivals, including playGround, Devised Theatre Festival, Ashley Plays, Telling Tales Out Of School and Scenes By Design, productions include: A Dream Play, The Three Sisters, The Yellow Wallpaper, A Party for Boris, Brébeuf’s Ghost, The Birds, Cloud 9, Hamletmachine, Oh What a Lovely War, Venus, Wounds to the Face, Knight of the Burning Pestle, Midsummer Night’s Dream,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 135 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 aspects 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.