Program Description

The Cottey College theatre program provides young women with an exciting initial two years of foundational theatrical study, training, and on-stage, hands-on personal experience necessary for pursuing a liberal arts degree in theatre.

From their first day of classes young women are cast in main stage acting roles and in major technical positions, such as assistant director, stage manager, light board operator, and sound board operator.

Cottey students make up all technical crews, including set construction, stage crew, painting, costumes, make-up, props, and much of the publicity for departmental mainstage plays. Students also provide technical assistance for professional guest performers appearing on the Haidee and Allen Wild Center For the Arts Auditorium stage.

The theatre program, provides young women with experiences beyond those typical for underclassmen at four year or coeducational institutions.

As Cottey College students prepare for successful transfer into theatre and speech programs at senior institutions they take classes in acting, theatre history, theory, technology, and design.

Cottey College students participate in a variety of main stage productions that are chosen to provide opportunities specifically to young women such as the Cottey College production of the acapella play Decision Height by Meredith Dayna Levy.

Classical production such as Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream , Euripede’s Women of Troy, and farces by Moliere can be seen on the Cottey College stage, when they offer opportunities for our women to expand their knowledge and their skills.

Contemporary plays centering around women’s experience and issues such as The Moors  by Jen Silverman and Belfast Girls by Jaki McCarrick are also produced.

Our directors read new scripts by new playwrights in search of new or little known scripts with great female characters. This has resulted in regional and world premieres of productions of KEEPERS, THE MOTHERS, and the historical play CHATANOOGA, and performances of COMMUNION, a play by a playwright presently residing in Joplin.

The Theatre department participates in The American College Theater Festival (ACTF) each year. ACTF is a national festival with 8 regions. Each year a regional festival is held in January in which students are able to audition for the Irene Ryan acting scholarships and designers can participate in an design expo.

The Cottey theatre department was selected to advance to the regional festival in 2017 with their production of The Moors and won the “Golden Hand Truck” award.

Access the Schedule of events here.

Sample Schedule for AFA in Theatre

Year 1FallSpring
ENG 101 College Writing I3ENG 102 College Writing II3
MAT 110 College Algebra3History course3
THE 110 Stagecraft3THE 122 Performance of Lit3
THE 101 Introduction to Theatre3THE 177 Event Technology2
THE 181 Theatre Production1THE 181 Theatre Production1
Elective3MUS 120 Voice1
DAN 145 Improvisation1
Year 2FallSpring
ENG 310 Shakespeare3The 251 Children’s Theatre3
THE 131 Dramatic Literature3THE 255 Scene Design3
THE 181 Theatre Production1THE 181 Theatre Production1
MUS 120 Voice1THE 294 Stage Management3
DAN 136 Musical Theatre Dance1Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies3
Lab Science4Elective3

Students should also consider courses that will provide knowledge and experience pertinent to areas in which they intend to seek employment. Related course work might be chosen from:

  • Film
  • Theater
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Art or Photography
  • Computer
  • Leadership
  • Speech
  • Psychology
  • Business
Laura Chaney
Associate Professor of Theatre
ext. 2265

Peter Carver
Assistant Professor of Speech and Theatre


Sophomores may choose between a variety of international trips. The major European City trip provided by the college to all graduating sophomores includes theatre modules and other related modules. Students, during their costuming module in London, got to try on costumes in the theatrical costuming gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Others went backstage at Britain’s National Theatre. Other modules have included historical walking theatre tours, costume modules in London, Paris, and Bath, trips to the sites of the Rose theatre, the Globe and the New Globe, trips to the Coloseum in Rome. European trips have included attending professional productions such as Les Miserables, Moulin Rouge, and the Paris Opera, the Paris Ballet, Flamenco Performances in Madrid and Barcelona. Students have attended theatrical performances in major historical sights, been allowed to sit in on rehearsals of the British National Theatre and at the historical Rose theatre.

Full time Cottey College students may take music and voice lessons as well as dance classes without paying additional lab, accompanist, or course fees. Students majoring in theatre at Cottey College are advised by faculty members who are themselves well trained and experienced in theatre, and who remain current in the discipline.

The theatre honor societies, Delta Psi Omega and Alpha Psi Omega, produce two mainstage productions each year. In addition to those two productions, in the fall semester, a script-in-hand reading of “First Fruits”, the play which depicts how Virginia Alice Cottey founded Cottey is presented for parents weekend. In the spring, ” The Rocky Horror Picture Show” sing-a-long is directed and acted by club officers and members.

Members of the Fine Arts Division including the Art Department, Music Department and Theatre Department came together for the western Hemisphere’s premiere of the African opera, AFIWA. Cooperative productions combine the talents of the theatre program and music or dance in performances.

Performance and technical classes take place in Cottey’s well-equipped theater, the Haidee and Allen Wild Center for the Arts , giving students access to modern equipment in the course of their studies.

The Haidee and Allen Wild Center For the Arts Auditorium theater seats 495 with a stage measuring 40×40 feet. Ample wing space is available on both sides and a modern counterweight fly system is offstage right.

Adjoining the stage is a spacious, well-equipped scene shop. The scene shop adjoins a backstage storage for hand props above and stage props below. Note the buffalo head, made by a student for the premiere production of KEEPERS by Missouri playwright Carol Wright Krouse who workshopped the production with our students.

The back stage costume shop has seven sewing machines including a serger and a commercial machine capable of heavy duty sewing, a professional steamer and equipment useful in building and maintaining costumes.

A handy laundry room is adjacent to the costume construction space.

A large costume storage area is located just up stairs from costume construction shop containing four aisles of clothing.

There are also 3 handy areas for Hats. It’s estimated that we have 500 hats in our costume collection.

There’s a handy area for shoes in costume storage as well.

One of the most unique aspects of the theatre department is our holding of vintage clothing dating as far back as 1880 and kept in locked storage. While these clothes are too fragile for productions, they have been used as models and for patterns.

They have also been featured in Cottey College PEO Gallery shows and worn in Cottey College fashion shows. Two additional PEO Gallery shows have featured photographs of Cottey women wearing clothing from the Cottey Collection and photographed by former art professor Bruce Holman and former theatre professor Michael Denison

There are two modern dressing rooms available for use in Cottey productions or by our professional visitors.

Stage lighting is controlled by a new computerized lighting control board with many advanced features.

The sound system includes a Midas 24-channel mixer, a professional CD player, and mini-disc and cassette players, as well as the usual various types of microphone.

All of the important backstage areas are connected through a Clear-Com type intercom system, and there is also an on-demand hearing-impaired assistance system.

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