Open Forum

College Tech/Production Programs

  • 1.  College Tech/Production Programs

    Posted 18 days ago
    I've got a senior who is interested in studying tech theatre in college. She has stage managed several shows and has some experience running spot, light board, and sound mixing, but doesn't have enough of a background to know that she wants to specialize in a specific area or to produce a large portfolio of work. Does anyone have recommendations on college theatre programs (BFA or BA) where she could get a good survey of experience in different production areas (esp. lights and scenic design) before focusing in on one area?

    Lindsay Hearn Brustein
    St. Stephen's Episcopal School
    Austin TX

  • 2.  RE: College Tech/Production Programs

    Posted 17 days ago
    I love my alma mater, Columbia College in Chicago. All the professors also work in their fields and a lot of the tech majors are working on professional productions by their 2nd and 3rd years in Chicago, helping them to make connections in their respective fields well before graduation.

    Erin Philyaw
    Von Stueben H.S.

    "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up the man to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea." -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  • 3.  RE: College Tech/Production Programs

    Posted 15 days ago
    Hi Erin

    Please ask her to take a look at Northern Illinois University near Chicago.  Low cost professional training program with great results.


    Tracy Nunnally
    NIU - Professor/TD/Area Head (
    Vertigo - Owner/System Designer (
    ETCP Certified Rigger/Trainer/Employer
    DeKalb, Illinois

  • 4.  RE: College Tech/Production Programs

    Posted 17 days ago
    I highly recommend University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. I have had several former students go through the program and all are working (well, before Covid) in the professional theatre. I even have a SM on Broadway. They all raved about the program. Check it out.

    Garry Tiller
    Theatre Arts Teaching Artist
    Sidwell Friends
    Washington, DC

  • 5.  RE: College Tech/Production Programs

    Posted 16 days ago

    Hi, Lindsay.
    PCPA Pacific Conservatory Theatre's Technical Theatre Conservatory sounds like it could be perfect for your student. The students train as apprentices with a professional theatre company, and they are taught by industry professionals who have a passion to teach. The students are trained in all aspects of technical theatre, and this training can be part of a four year path to a bachelors. It is also very inexpensive.
    I've pasted some information below. Please feel free to share it with your students, friends, colleagues,... anyone.
    You can also read more at and here is a link to a video about the program.
    All the best, Erik

    PCPA's 2 year Technical Conservatory

    PCPA Pacific Conservatory Theatre's two year Technical Theatre Conservatory is a dynamic technical theatre training program located in Santa Maria on the Central Coast of California. The students train as members of PCPA's year round professional company mentored by professional artists with a passion to teach.  Our tuition is approximately $750 (seven hundred fifty dollars) a semester for California residents. Out of state tuition is approximately $5,000 per semester; however, students can establish residency during their first year of training and pay California resident tuition during their second year. Our hope is to create a situation where our graduates can immediately go to work as professional Technicians without being burdened by student loan debt.


    The Conservatory is rigorous.  The students are in the shops, labs, and classes mentored by professional technicians, managers, and designers from 8:00am to 5:00pm, and then they often return for main stage production work  from 6:00pm to 11:00pm  five to six days a week.  It's all theatre all the time.  We offer no general education classes. 


    We accept no more than 12 tech. students a year, and they range from serious theatre students who just finished strong high school programs to students with some college and students with a bachelor's degree.  The students train with PCPA's resident professional company in lights, sound, props, costumes, stage management, set construction, paints, and much more.


    PCPA has wonderful relationships with Disney, Cirque du Sole, ZFX, The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and more. Plus, over the last 5 years 100% of our technical theatre graduates have been paid as  theatre technicians within a year of graduation.


    The students earn approximately 60 units of theatre credits in their two years with us, and these units are transferable.  Many students complete our program and enter colleges and universities as sophomores or juniors, however, our goal is to make sure our students are ready to enter the professional world after two years of training with us.  Again, I'd like to highlight that 100% of our last 5 graduating classes were paid as theatre technicians within a year of graduation. 


    Our website has a lot of information about our application process  We also have wonderful videos about the tech program that you can watch by following the links below. 


    If you would prefer to avoid clicking on links in an email, you can access these videos by visiting and clicking on 'Conservatory'.


    Technical Theatre Conservatory (overview)


    Technicians behind the scenes


    Technicians are admitted based on an application and interview.  

    Once we have a complete application file we will contact you to set up an interview.  Interviews can be conducted in person or by telephone.  A complete application file consists of an application (this can be submitted through our website, a resume of previous theatrical experience, two letter of recommendation, your most recent transcripts (does not need to be an official copy), and a two page mission statement that talks about what attracted you to PCPA, what you hope to achieve while you are with PCPA, and where you see yourself after PCPA. 


    PCPA does not provide housing, however, we do have a housing coordinator who will work to help you find housing in your price range.


    Financial Aid is available through Allan Hancock College for those that qualify.


    If you would like to visit PCPA, tour our facilities, and observe a few classes please contact Sara at


    I hope to talk with you.


    All the best,



    Sara Ice

    Technical Theatre Conservatory Coordinator

    (805)928-7731 ext. 3151

    Erik Stein
    Casting Director/Recruitment Coordinator
    PCPA Pacific Conservatory Theatre

    Author of No Caution! A step-by-step guide to preparing auditions for Universities, Colleges, Conservatories, and Beyond!

    Available on and other online booksellers