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OU Named Top Fine Arts School

Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama at OU named one of Top 10 Theatre Design and Technology Programs nationwide.

NORMAN – The Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama at the University of Oklahoma is one of the top 10 Bachelor of Fine Arts theatre design and technology programs in the nation, according to OnStage. Housed in the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts, the school is under the leadership of Tom Huston Orr, director and James Garner Chair.

Both private and public colleges and universities are included in the list. In addition to OU, this year’s honorees include the University of Michigan, the California Institute of the Arts and Carnegie Mellon University.

OU is the only school in Oklahoma and the only school in the Big 12 to be selected.

“We are thrilled that OU’s Peggy Helmerich School of Drama has been ranked in the top 10 nationally out of the approximately 3,000 schools of drama in the United States,” said OU President David L. Boren. “Having this center of excellence on our campus enriches the life of the entire university community,” he said. “Director Tom Orr and his faculty and staff colleagues have done an outstanding job of unlocking the great potential of our students.” 

In its review, OnStage wrote: “Here at OnStage, we take months to research the best B.F.A. programs to come up with our own lists. We base it off tuition, curriculum, faculty, career support, basically everything you yourself would consider before making a college choice. We even have gone as far to call admission offices to ask them questions.”

In explaining the merits of the Helmerich School of Drama, OnStage noted its facilities include four fully-equipped performance spaces: the Elsie C. Brackett Theatre, a 600-seat proscenium house; the A. Max Weitzenhoffer Theatre, a 225-seat state-of-the-art flexible house; The Lab Theatre, an 80-seat proscenium house; and, the Gilson Studio Theatre, an intimate blackbox. OnStage noted the school’s design degree serves undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in scenic, costume or lighting design and that stage management students should expect to assistant stage manage and/or stage manage at least one production per semester, with opportunities in all performance genres: straight plays, ballet, modern dance, opera, and musical theatre. OnStage also listed numerous places students and alumni have held internships or have been employed after graduation.

OU has one of the oldest comprehensive colleges of fine arts in the Great Plains states, with highly regarded schools of Music, Musical Theatre, Drama, Art and Dance, and programs in opera and sculpture. For the seven consecutive years during 2008-2015, OU students from the Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama earned national honors at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival held in Washington, D.C. The A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at OU is one of the very few university programs in the nation that provides students an opportunity to be in the same cast with professional Broadway actors in brand-new productions. In addition, Dance Magazine has placed the OU School of Dance in the top three of all dance programs in the country.

The complete list of the nation’s top 10 B.F.A. theatre design and technology programs can be found at www.onstageblog.com/columns/2016/8/27/the-top-10-bfa-theatre-design-tech-programs-in-the-country-for-2016-17.