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Department of Drama (1914-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Department of Drama (1914-)
Fuller Form: Drama Department

Historical Note:

Since San Diego State’s inception as the San Diego Normal School, the dramatic arts have always been an important part of the curriculum.  Prior to the Second World War, the English Department administered all dramatic arts courses.  After the war, however, with rapidly increasing enrollment, San Diego State created an independent Speech Arts Department.  This new department offered a major and minor in Speech Arts, with a focus on the dramatic arts and speech communication.  The comprehensive curriculum prepared students for careers in teaching as well as for careers in professional and community theater.  The department offered courses and associate bachelor’s degrees in dramatic production and stage design as well.  In 1965, construction began on the new Speech Arts building, which included facilities capable of staging complete operatic and dramatic performances.  By the late 1960s, radio and television courses became a part of the curriculum as well.

In 1970, dramatic arts separated from speech communication to become the Drama Department under the College of Professional Studies.  Students could now obtain bachelor and master’s degrees in drama with specializations in theater, television, and film.  The department also became a member of the National Association of Schools of Theatre.  During the 1998-1999 academic year, the department was renamed the Theatre Department and television and film courses became part of the Communications Department.  Five years later theatre, television, and film were once again reunited under the School of Theatre, Television and Film.

Today, the School provides education on the undergraduate and graduate levels for students seeking careers in all areas of live theatre and the moving arts, and fosters academic and creative interaction between established and emerging artists on campus and off.  It provides its students with an understanding of the great legacy of dramatic literature, technical skills as they relate to public performance, training in critical thinking and the means to express themselves with clarity and grace.  Each year, the School produces numerous dramatic productions, ranging from five to eight a year, to showcase SDSU talent and provide practical experience for its students.

Well known alumni include Gregory Peck, Art Linkletter, Cleavon Little, Marion Ross, and Carl Weathers.

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