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Training Dramatic Artists for the 21st Century

USC Dramatic Arts

Training Dramatic Artists for the 21st Century


The mission of the USC School of Dramatic Arts is to educate and train the artists and creators who will imagine and manifest stories, in every medium. While core principles rooted in tradition remain invaluable; ever newer applications of dramatic arts disciplines, on ever more original platforms, are the ways of the present and the future. As a school we must recognize, embrace, and explore these new methodologies. With an evolving curriculum and culture, the School seeks to train artist-creators who can connect, catalyze and collide the traditional arts of theatre and story-telling; with the digital and entrepreneurial age and evolving social and political conversations. By developing students who can navigate and influence multiple dramatic arts platforms, from the traditional to the cutting edge, the School seeks to be a standard bearer in redefining what it means to train a dramatic artist for the 21st century.


The School is at a critical period of growth and development, and is on a pathway towards offering the most cutting edge and contemporary approach to theatre training across the country.  In the past year we have seen tremendous growth, characterized by a series of new initiatives, such as LiveRead@SDA, New Media Summit and more that will only broaden and expand the opportunities available to our students and alumni. 

Students work with co-creator Laura Harrison and director Blake Silver on “Emojiland”, the first LiveRead@SDA workshop for the USC School of Dramatic Arts. Book, music and lyrics by Keith Harrison and Laura Harrison. The staged workshop performance took place on November 18, 2016.  (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)

We hosted SDA’s first-ever career month, inaugurated our Alumni Week, created a weekly podcast series, and hired our first-ever Industry Liaison Officer to help students and young alumni with career transition. Our school has welcomed an array of industry leaders as part of our ongoing Spotlight@SDA series including Simon Helberg, Suzan-Lori Parks, Jay Duplass, and Lisa Kudrow. 

Lisa Kudrow visits campus for the first Spotlight@SDA of the school year August 29, 2017.  Spotlight@SDA, a professional development series that brings some of the industry’s most influential leaders to discuss their careers and experiences in the entertainment industry and to offer workshops and masterclasses for students and alumni.  (Photo/Gus Ruelas)
SDA Alumni Leadership Council member Adrienne Visnic, BFA, Acting, 14, Kelley Ridder, BFA, Stage Management, ’12 and Madigan Stehly, BFA Technical Direction, ’14. 

Additionally, this fall, the School re-launched the BFA in Acting as the BFA in Acting for Stage, Screen, and New Media.  We also announced the creation of a new professional degree in contemporary musical theatre through a collaboration with the USC Thornton School of Music and the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.

Evita, March 30-April 9, 2017, in the Bing Theatre © 2017 Photo by Craig Schwartz for the USC School of Dramatic Arts

The School continues to embrace the potency of the dramatic arts as an agent of change and a force for good: we have created a new role, an associate dean of equity, diversity and inclusion at the School. Our season of plays explores many facets of diversity and is gearing up to launch our forthcoming Institute for Theatre and Social Change; which will unify and promote all of our efforts in the application of drama to societal issues, from Theatre of the Oppressed to Medical Clowning and more.


Our progress this past year is because of your commitment to the School, faculty, and most importantly our students.  This continued dedication of our alumni, parents, and friends will be vital in setting the stage for our ongoing success. Your gift of any size makes a lasting impact and is crucial for making the USC School of Dramatic Arts an extraordinary place to learn and thrive.

The USC School of Dramatic Arts New Student Welcome on August 17, 2017. (Photo by Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging)