Theatre Arts

Theater students act in a play.

The Theatre Arts program from Bakersfield College is designed to provide students with a comprehensive foundation in the field of theatre arts. The program offers courses in acting, directing, stagecraft, costume design, film studies, script analysis, Shakespeare, and technical theatre. Students are given numerous opportunities to participate in productions and gain hands-on experience in all aspects of theatre production. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue careers in the theatre industry or transfer to a four-year institution to further their studies in theatre arts.

Female on stage points behind her.

What is Theater Arts?

Theatre arts is a discipline that encompasses all aspects of theatrical performance and production, including acting, directing, stage design, costume design, lighting design, sound design, stage management, and technical theatre. Theatre arts involves the creation and production of live performances that explore the human experience, often through storytelling and performance techniques. Theatre arts can be used as a tool for entertainment, education, social commentary, and political activism, and it requires collaboration, creativity, and a deep understanding of the craft.

The program currently serves more than 100 students pursuing a degree in Theatre. You do not have to be a student to get involved.

Each year, we produce six full-fledged theatrical productions in our three performance spaces. The first two plays run in repertory during our annual Kern Shakespeare Festival, followed by a more contemporary play at the end of the fall semester. In the spring semester, we mount two additional productions. Recent plays include The House of Bernarda Alba, The Wolves, Our Town, 1984, The Hot L Baltimore, Suburbia, and Boys in the Band.

Every summer, we also work in tandem with the BC Choirs and Instrumental Music programs to produce a summer musical. The summer musical offers the rare opportunity for Bakersfield College students to perform alongside a live pit orchestra, in addition to learning from seasoned community actors, professors, and alumni. Recent musicals include Into the Woods, Parade, Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Seussical.

All productions include open auditions for any student able to enroll in the Theatre Acting Lab (B27). Students do not have to be theatre majors in order to audition for a play.

Under the mentorship of our Technical Director, Kevin Ganger, we also offer a wide range of opportunities for technical theatre, including training in sound, lighting, scenic design and construction, prop design and construction, and run of show.

For more information about the program, please contact Professor Kim Chin at or Professor Brian Sivesind at

Is Studying Theater Arts Right for Me?

A theatre arts associate degree can benefit individuals who have a passion for the performing arts and wish to pursue a career in the theatre industry. This degree is ideal for those who enjoy storytelling, creativity, and collaboration, as well as individuals who are interested in developing skills in acting, directing, stage design, or technical theatre. The program is also suited for those who wish to transfer to a four-year institution to continue their studies in theatre arts or related fields. Students who pursue a theatre arts associate degree will gain valuable experience in theatre production and performance, which can prepare them for a variety of careers in the entertainment industry, including theatre, film, television, and other media.

There are several key traits and skills that would make you a good fit for studying theatre arts, including:

  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Time management
  • Self-discipline
  • Critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence

Theater Arts Degrees

theater class; students watching instructor demonstrating a performance
This degree provides students with an understanding and an appreciation for the art of theatre and includes courses in acting, technical theatre, rehearsal and performance, as well as an introduction to the theatre and play analysis.
BC students walking and talking on campus
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Actor in bed while another holds his hand with blood on his shirt.

Theater Arts Careers

A theatre arts associate degree can prepare individuals for a variety of careers in the entertainment industry. Some potential career paths include:

  • Actor/Actress: Theatre arts degrees can prepare individuals for careers in acting, both on stage and in film and television.
  • Director: Theatre arts graduates can pursue careers as directors, overseeing productions and working with actors and designers to bring productions to life.
  • Stage Manager: Stage managers coordinate all aspects of production, including rehearsals, technical cues, and communication between the production team and performers.
  • Set Designer: Set designers create the physical environment for production, designing and overseeing the construction of sets, props, and other scenic elements.
  • Costume Designer: Costume designers create the costumes and accessories for production, collaborating with the director and other designers to bring their vision to life.
  • Lighting Designer: Lighting designers use light to create mood and atmosphere for production, working with the director and other designers to design and execute lighting plans.
  • Sound Designer: Sound designers create and mix sound effects and music for a production, collaborating with the director and other designers to create a cohesive audio experience for the audience.
  • Production Assistant: Production assistants provide support for the production team, handling administrative tasks, coordinating schedules, and assisting with rehearsals and performances.

Find benefits of studying performing arts and more career pathways at Why Study Performing Arts?

Kern Shakespeare Festival

Actress and actor in period costumes kneeling on stage.The Bakersfield College Theatre Program produces the Kern Shakespeare Festival, a regional tradition every fall, usually comprised of two plays by William Shakespeare. The plays are performed in repertory, with many actors appearing in both plays. Recent productions include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Measure for Measure, Hamlet, and Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.

2022 marks the 38th annual Kern Shakespeare Festival and will feature the plays Romeo and Juliet and Love's Labour's Lost. The festival includes a mix of experienced community actors and alumni alongside Bakersfield College students. The Kern Shakespeare Festival was founded in 1985 by former Bakersfield College theatre professor Randy Messick.

Bakersfield College also hosts the annual Peg Pauly High School Shakespeare Festival, another longstanding local tradition previously hosted by Foothill High School. Each year in the Fall, students from high schools compete with ensemble scenes, duo scenes, trio scenes, and monologues adjudicated by Bakersfield College theatre professors and seasoned community actors. Created in 1969 as the Foothill Shakespeare Festival by drama teacher Peg Pauly, the annual display of local talent was renamed in 2017 and then moved to BC the following year. 2022 will mark the 53rd anniversary of the festival.

Kern Shakespeare Festival

Theatre Club

The BC Theatre Club is back and better than ever! Join us every other Thursday at 2:30 PM in PAC 101 inside the lobby of the Edward Simonsen Performing Arts Center's Indoor Theatre. We'll get together to play games, plan activities, and discuss all things BC Theatre. Open to everyone, not just Theatre Arts majors!

Transfer Pathways

Graduates of this program at Bakersfield College may choose to continue their education at a university to earn a 4-year degree. As this is an Associate in Science for Transfer, students with this degree “are guaranteed admission with junior standing somewhere in the CSU system and given priority admission consideration to their local CSU campus or to a program that is deemed similar to their community major” (Bakersfield College Catalog, Educational Options).

See your Counselor and/or a Transfer Specialist for specific questions.

Academic Department: Performing Arts

Career & Learning Pathway: Arts, Communication, and Humanities

Courses: Theatre (THEA) courses

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