USC Upstate Theatre has 450 seats for main stage productions

Theatre Program

Collaborate. Create. Contribute

The mission of the Department of Fine Arts and Communication Studies is to enhance the intellectual, ethical, cultural and professional development of fine arts and communications students. The faculty is committed to preparing students to become competent professionals in music, art, theatre, communication studies, journalism and mass communications. The Department of Fine Arts and Communication Studies offers Bachelor of Arts degree in theatre with concentrations in performance and production as well as a minor.  

Opportunities and Experiences Await

Recognized both nationally and internationally, an assortment of opportunities and experiences are made available in the USC Upstate theatre program. Practice and learn theatre arts first hand by playing a role in a campus production, designing scenery for a play, directing, playwriting, or studying the history and literature of modern and classic theatre. Bodies, voices and the actor’s technique are developed to the maximum potential through a variety of performance classes, which train students in classical, traditional, and experimental styles of theatre. Theatre students learn production and performance skills that enrich their lives and prepare them for careers in professional, educational or community theatre.

  • Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

    1. The Student will communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.

    1.1 The student will be able to clearly express ideas and prove an effective thesis in well organized and well documented formal writings.

    1.2 The student will be able to articulate ideas, clearly explain artistic goals and choices using proper vocal production, correct grammar, and effective delivery in oral presentations.

     2. The student will comprehend the dynamics of effective creative collaboration and will be an effective team member.

    2.1 The student will be able to successfully contribute to a performance ensemble or a production team during main stage theatre productions through effective listening, professional decorum, and clear commitment to a collective goal.

    2.2 The student will be able to successfully execute a major project as part of a team displaying commitment to a collective goal, the ability to share responsibility, and the capacity to exchange ideas coherently, respecting the views of other team members.


    3. The student will utilize research and analysis as a fundamental and necessary part of the artistic process in order to unlock the text for performance or production design.

    3.1 The student will be able to appraise, select, examine, and effectively utilize research sources in preparation for a major performance or production project.

    3.2 The student will be able to execute and organize a thorough analysis of dramatic text in preparation for a major performance or production project.

    4. The student will be prepared to enter the theatre profession through the development of aesthetics, techniques, and skills in the areas of performance or production design.

    4.1 Students in the performance track will demonstrate an understanding of the aesthetics for effective performance, and comprehension of techniques used in the creative process, and the skills required to effectively compose a dramatic performance.

    4.2 Students in the production track will demonstrate an understanding of the aesthetics for effective production elements, a comprehension of techniques used in the creative process, and the skills required to effectively compose the production elements of a dramatic performance.

  • The Shoestring Players, the theatrical producing entity on the USC Upstate campus, began in 1975 as a student group with grand ambitions. Performing in a variety of venues, none of which could be called theatres, the Players worked tirelessly to expand the horizons of the newly-formed campus. As those horizons expanded, so did the Players, the support of campus and the community. Today the Shoestring Players, an organization with 30-plus years “on-the-boards” experience, reside in the Department of Fine Arts and Communication Studies with three full time faculty members, a technical director, a box office manager and several adjunct instructors. Future developments are underway for the theatre program, so, not only have we come a long way, but we are also still growing! Our performance facilities include the 450-seat Proscenium Theatre, and the Studio Theatre for more intimate productions.

  • The theatre course of study includes classes in history, theory, writing and literature; technical and production; and performance. For more details, view the course catalog.

  • Financial Assistance

    • $25,000 in acting scholarships and technical assistantships awarded annually  

    Study Abroad

    • Foreign Study in London (Kingston University)

    Professional Affiliations

    • SCSTA (South Carolina Speech and Theatre Association
    • KCACTF (Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival)
    • SETC (Southeastern Theatre Conference)
    • SCTA (South Carolina Theatre Association)
    • USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology)
    • Alpha Psi Omega


    • In 2010, a special agreement was signed allowing for students to intern at The Rose Theatre in Kingston Upon Thames, London during a five-week summer term. The current Rose Theater is based on the Elizabethan-era Rose Theatre in London, where the plays of Christopher Marlowe and early plays by Shakespeare were staged. 

    Master Classes

    • Taught by Stephen Unwin, world renowned director, thespian and author
  • 2017 - 2018 Prospective Student Scholarship Auditions

    The Shoestring Players have many ways to supplement your study financially at USC Upstate. In order to be considered for acting scholarships or technical assistantships, students and their families are encouraged to attend a scholarship audition day.

    Audition Dates

    • Nov. 18, 2017
    • March 3, 2018

    What to expect

    Each day will include:

    • Meetings for parents and students with financial aid, admissions, and housing
    • A theatre facilities tour
    • A private audition/interview
    • Free tickets to an Upstate theatre production

    Audition information and requirements

    • Two contrasting monologues or one song and one monologue
    • CD Player will be provided 
    • Three three minutes maximum length

    For more information, please contact:

    Lee Neibert