Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama 

Tom Huston Orr, James Garner Chair and Director
Kae Koger, Graduate Liaison
121 Beatrice Carr Wallace Old Science Hall
Norman, OK 73019-3091
(405) 325-4021
FAX: (405) 325-0400

general information

Faculty Roster

Professors Orr, Pender; Associate Professors Ellis, Koger, Sadler, Shaughnessy, Young; Assistant Professors Alberti, Cracknell, Mortimer, Sarmiento, Sprecker; Professor Emeritus Buchwald.

Degrees Offered 

  • Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama
  • Master of Arts

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Oklahoma Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama is to educate theatre artists, scholars and teachers, preparing them to enter their professions with a knowledge of evolving industry standards; to perpetuate theatrical art by encouraging and nurturing the development of new artistic endeavors; and to provide a variety of theatrical productions and programs of excellence to Oklahoma audiences.

General Information 

The Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama strives to prepare students for professional careers in theatre and the greater entertainment industry. As a vital artistic training unit within a major university, the school believes the student’s experience should include all aspects of theatre production along with a strong academic component of theatre history and general education. The school seeks to train and educate theatrical artists, craftsmen and educators of the future. 

Our 11:1 student/faculty ratio in the School of Drama assures the student extensive individual attention and guidance during each step of the program. Visiting artists supplement our resident faculty and staff in providing a wide range of experience for students as part of their growth and training as artists.


  • Drama Student Senate 
  • Alphi Psi Omega 
  • Spacechangers
  • Student Theatre Initiative 

Programs for Excellence 

OU’s Helmerich School of Drama is the second oldest dramatic training institution in the nation, and has a long, distinctive history and a reputation for excellence. This performance-based degree is supported by diverse production options performed in our five spaces and the Helmerich Camera Action Studio. On the main-stages, an average of three plays, two musicals, three dance productions and two operas comprise the University Theatre season (nine-month academic year). In the Lab Theatre in Beatrice Carr Wallace Old Science Hall and the Gilson Studio Theatre another four to five plays are mounted, including two senior directed productions. Throughout the year, students hone their skills in a professional and challenging production season. 

The Helmerich School of Drama has been the birthplace of several world and regional premieres. The school’s commitment to new works adds to the exciting atmosphere that permeates the student’s academic career. The Faith Broome Playwright in Residence Program and the Faith Broome Young Playwrights’ Festival are pivotal in our effort to expose our community to new works. Students are encouraged to attend a number of professional auditions each year and our local patrons group, the Theatre Guild, provides significant travel grants to assist in this endeavor. The School of Drama is active in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, having been invited to compete on the national platform for seven out of the last ten years. 

Performance majors must audition each semester for upcoming productions. Auditions are held twice a year, in August for the fall semester, and November for the spring semester. Additional auditions are held as needed for added productions which may include children’s theatre shows, directing scenes, student productions and film projects. Design and stage management assignments are made at the beginning of each semester. In addition, students have opportunities to work as dramaturgs, assistant stage managers, audience development assistants, and technicians in scenery, costume, lighting, properties, and sound. 

Special Facilities and Programs 

The Helmerich School of Drama administrative offices are located at 121 Wallace Old Science Hall, on the North Oval. The University Theatre building - the Fine Arts Center - is at 563 Elm on the northwest corner of the Norman campus. Completed in 1965, the Fine Arts Center contains faculty offices, classrooms, dance studios, construction shops and storage spaces for scenery, costumes, lights, and properties, a computer-aided design lab, the highly flexible 600-seat Elsie C. Brackett Theatre, and the more intimate, 250-seat Weitzenhoffer Theatre. The close proximity to the other schools in the OU Arts District gives students easy access to the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Library and the Reynolds Performing Arts Center. In addition to the facilities in the Fine Arts Center, Wallace Old Science Hall houses the 75-seat Lab Theatre, the 65-seat Gilson Studio Theatre, faculty and administrative offices, a design lab, and the Drama Library. 

The season auditions are open to all students in the University. Classes in many aspects of theatre are offered to non-majors for elective credit.

Scholarship Information 

A number of scholarships and awards are available to qualified students. Students should go to to apply for scholarships. Financial Aid is also available through OU Financial Aid Services.The following drama scholarships are available to qualified students: 

  • Ben Barnett Scholarships 
  • Theatre Guild Scholarships 
  • A. Max Weitzenhoffer Scholarship in Scene Design 
  • Mary Clarke Miley Scholarships 
  • Tuition Waiver Scholarships 
  • Non-Resident Tuition Waiver Scholarships 
  • The E. Franklin Gilson Professional Development Grant 
  • The Nicole Poole Scholarship 
  • Lindsay Stewart Stage Management Scholarship
  • Amy Elizabeth Boe Character Acting Scholarship
  • Through a very generous endowment from Walter and Peggy Helmerich, the School of Drama is now able to offer an additional scholarship to our students. The Peggy Dow Helmerich Drama Scholarships are awarded based on financial need and demonstrated talent.

At the close of each academic year the School of Drama recognizes individual achievement in an awards ceremony. Many of the awards carry cash prizes. These awards are: 

  • The Van Heflin Award
  • The Weitzenhoffer Award 
  • The Buffalo Mask Awards 
  • Rupel J. Jones Directing Award 
  • Ida Z. Kirk Acting Awards 
  • Charles C. Suggs Stage Management Award 
  • A. L. Mortensen Award for Technical Excellence 
  • Helen F. Lauterer Costuming Award 
  • Raymond D. Larson Scene Design Award 
  • Oscar G. Brockett Dramaturgy Award 
  • Amy Elizabeth Boe Character Acting Awards

undergraduate study

Undergraduate Study 

The Helmerich School of Drama offers the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama degree. The degree is designed to provide the student with a solid foundation in each basic area of the theatre, with an opportunity to begin specialization in the sophomore year. The concentrations are in the following areas: 

  • Acting—for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career as a performer in professional theatre, television or film; 
  • Design—for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in scenic, costume, lighting or sound design; 
  • Dramaturgy—for undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers and/or graduate study in dramaturgy, theatre history, directing or playwriting; 
  • Stage Management—for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a career in stage management; 
  • Technical Production—for undergraduate students interested in pursuing careers in related technical fields. 

Coursework at the undergraduate level includes acting, directing, voice and speech, stage movement and combat, graphics, stagecraft, costume construction and design, basic lighting fundamentals and design, scene design, sound techniques and design, theatre history, costume history, play structure and analysis, and theatre and stage management. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of coursework offered by the School of Dance and the A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre.


The Helmerich School of Drama, follows the basic admission requirements of the University of Oklahoma and the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts. Please refer to those sections in this catalog for specific details. In addition, admission to the OU School of Drama is by audition and/or interview only and requires an on-campus audition (for acting emphasis) or portfolio review (for design or technology emphasis), and/or interview (for dramaturgy or stage management emphasis). Students must be officially accepted into the School of Drama by audition and/or interview before being allowed to enroll for classes. 


The undergraduate degree consists of a minimum of 126-136 credit hours, of which approximately 86 hours come from within the school, a minimum overall grade point average of 2.50 and a minimum 2.50 GPA in OU work. The University’s general education requirements and electives make up the remaining hours. Drama majors at the undergraduate level must meet and maintain college admission requirements as outlined above. At least 40 hours must be taken at the upper-division level (3000 and 4000-level courses). Students are advised each semester by the school faculty concerning enrollments, admission, advancement toward degree, and career options. 

Students considering a major in drama should contact the School of Drama Office 121 Wallace Old Science Hall for curriculum plans outlining the above program and information covering auditions, admission policies and guidelines, awards and scholarships, and additional regulations, policies and practices. 

graduate study

Graduate Study 


In addition to meeting the general requirements of the Graduate College, the student should have completed the following undergraduate coursework or its professional equivalent: six hours in acting, six hours in directing, three hours in stagecraft, three hours in costume construction, three hours in costume history, three hours each in scene, costume and lighting design, three hours in dramatic structure and analysis, and six hours in theatre history. 

Students with deficiencies in any of these areas may be required to take coursework judged necessary to correct the deficiencies, without receiving graduate credit for the coursework. Once full graduate standing is achieved, the student must maintain a 3.00 grade point average and make satisfactory progress toward the degree to maintain full graduate standing. 


The M.A. is a scholarly degree with emphasis on theatre history, dramatic literature and criticism, and dramaturgy. The program is structured with the student’s particular needs and interests in mind. It requires 30 hours of coursework and contains 13 hours of core requirements and 17 hours of electives. It requires a thesis. Contact the School of Drama Office for further details.