About the Department

UC Riverside’s first theatre performance was held in 1954, the same year the university welcomed its first students. Ten years later, during the 1963-64 school year, the Department of Theatre — also noted as the Drama Department in written records — was formally established with 78 students and eight faculty members. The 2023-2024 academic year will mark the department’s 60th anniversary as well as another important milestone — the 10th anniversary of the addition of film and digital production specialties in what is now known as the Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production (TFDP).

Today, the department comprises more than 420 students, 14 faculty members, a rotation of around 10 lecturers, a crew of seven production staff, and a handful of guest artist collaborators. Students are exposed to every aspect of theater and film in a range of classes including acting, theory, design, filmmaking, and writing led by a faculty active in the industry, balancing careers as actors, designers, directors, screenwriters, and playwrights as well as conducting scholarly research. 

Majoring in the Department leads to a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre, Film, and Digital Production. Students begin their studies by examining all the elements of drama, production, and performance and then gradually focusing attention on a particular area of interest by selecting one of six tracks: Literature, History, Criticism, and Dramaturgy; Writing for the Performing Arts; Film Making; Acting and Directing; Production and Design; and General Theatre, Film, and Digital Production

Each year, TFDP produces a season of new and classic shows directed and designed by faculty and guest artists. Playworks and the New Works Festival, produced in the spring quarter of each year, showcase the work of graduate and undergraduate writers through staged readings of new plays and screenplays. TFDP also produces department films and web-series, led by students with faculty mentorship and oversight, with the work forming the cornerstone of the annual TFDP Film Festival each spring.

Financial support is available to TFDP majors through a number and variety of scholarships, grants, and stipends. Students may also apply for paid positions to work in the production shops.

TFDP also offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts. This unique two-year program, offered in conjunction with the Department of Creative Writing, admits students in a primary genre but offers the opportunity to also write in fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and playwriting. Fellowships, teaching assistantships, and fee support are available.