Texas Tech University

Our History

Milestones in the History of the School of Theatre & Dance

Within a month after Texas Technical College began classes, the Sock and Buskin society began producing short plays, and by April 1926 Tech was the home of a chapter of the theatre honor society, Alpha Psi Omega.

Since its first major production, The Youngest, in May 1928, Texas Tech University Theatre has produced hundreds of plays for the Texas Tech and Lubbock communities. More than 1,000 informal and developmental productions have been presented by students, including many original scripts.

Established to serve as an educational resource for Texas Tech University and a cultural resource for the Lubbock community, Tech Theatre offered courses as early as 1930.

In April 1964, the University Theatre Building was inaugurated with a production of Romeo and Juliet in a state-of-the-art, 400-seat proscenium auditorium, and since that time the likes of Barry Corbin, G. W. Bailey, and countless others have trod across its boards. This building, now known as the Charles E. Maedgen, Jr. Theatre, has hosted over 170 University Theatre productions and many theatrical competitions.  

In 1966, the Department of Speech and Theatre Arts developed a theatre specialization; it began offering theatre Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in 1969. That year, Theatre enrolled 29 undergraduate majors and 4 Master of Arts students.

In 1972, Theatre participated in the creation of the one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Fine Arts degree and developed and offered courses for that program in 1973. Beginning with three students in 1973, the Fine Arts Doctoral program has since graduated 81 students.

Theatre Arts became an independent department in 1977 and implemented the Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degree programs in 1982. Texas Tech Theatre is one of only two theatre departments in the state to offer all the traditional degrees in Theatre Arts, the only one with an interdisciplinary Fine Arts Doctorate, and one of only three in the Southwest to offer the Ph.D.

In 1986, the University Theatre building was expanded to its present size with the addition of a suite of offices and a 100-seat, thrust-stage lab theatre. 

In 1992 the Dance Division, housed up through then within Health, Physical Education and Recreation, became part of the Department of Theatre, making us the Department of Theatre and Dance. Dance continues to have a strong tradition within the Department, University, and region.

In 1998, the main-stage theatre was updated by the installation of a state-of-the-art lighting system.

Through the generosity of Mrs. Louise Maedgen, in memory of her late husband, the Department was able to begin renovations on the lobby of the Mainstage in 1999; formally dedicated in 2002 as the Charles E. Maedgen, Jr. Theatre the new lobby provides an elegant and comfortable welcome to our students and patrons.

The summer of 2000 marked the 75th Anniversary of Theatre at Texas Tech University. The celebrations were highlighted by an all class reunion and the formation of the Department's first official alumni chapter.

2004 marked the Department's accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Theatre. As in its beginnings, the Department of Theatre and Dance continues to remain committed to the education of young theatre artists and the production of a wide range of productions that challenge, excite, and entertain our audiences.

A new home was needed for our Dance program, and in the fall of 2012 the Creative Movement Studio was dedicated.

In 2013, the Department of Theatre and Dance replaced the old summer rep model with WildWind Performance Laboratory, a lab which offers students in theatre and dance the opportunity to experiment with the process oftheatre making, giving them opportunities to study with professionals in all aspects of theatre from around the country. This signature program will continually provide students with one-on-one work with some of the best theatre and dance minds in the nation.

Ten years after NAST accreditation, in 2014, our Dance program earned accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Dance and less than one year later in the Spring of 2015 we hosted the South-Central region's American College Dance Association conference.

In August of 2015, the Department of Theatre and Dance became the School of Theatre and Dance.

August 11, 2017, the School of Theatre and Dance broke ground on the first phase of an expansion to the facilities, to include a Black Box theatre space, scene shop expansion, two new rehearsal rooms, three classrooms, a collaboration design lab, a CADD lab, faculty offices, a new main office suite and a grand lobby.