David Mays and Harry Smith, Directors of the FTU Theatre, felt confident that their professional training had prepared them for any theatrical emergency, but sandstorms in the dimmers and a resident snake backstage was a little outside their experience. These were only two obstacles to be faced when one is committed to produce plays in a 124-foot, yellow-and-blue tent (pictured at right) that sounded and acted distressingly like a clipper ship whenever the wind picked up.
Despite this, such obstacles were either overcome or conveniently ignored, and the FTU Theatre was ready for its first production. Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus," in November of 1969. Obligingly, the Central Florida weather dropped into the thirties for the opening night, and the pentameters of Shakespeare were punctuated by the staccato of teeth, chattering in the cold.
In 1972, The tent was packed away for good as productions were moved indoors into the Science Auditorium (pictured at left). The occasion was celebrated with a well-received production of "The Cherry Orchard."
With the formation of the College of Arts and Sciences in 1981/82, Theatre became a separate program with its own director and, in 1983, following major renovations, the old Science building was renamed the University Theatre.
Since its early origins, the Department has offered the BA degree. The Theatre curriculum and programs were extensively revised in 1992 and beginning with the fall term of 1993, in addition to the BA degree, a professional BFA degree was offered with specializations in performance and technical theatre/design. In addition, the season of plays for 1993/94 was expanded to six main-stage productions and six student directed one-act, studio productions.
During the summer of 1994, Theatre UCF initiated its first summer theatre program with a summer season of four productions. Summer productions are produced by a company of theatre students, faculty, staff, and visiting guest artists.
A BFA track in Musical Theatre was implemented during the Fall term of 1998 and a Certificate Program in Arts Administration was implemented in the Spring of 2001.
During the 2000/2001 academic year, the Department entered into a partnership with the Civic Theatre. This partnership resulted in the creation of The Orlando Repertory Theatre, housed in the theatre facilities located in Loch Haven Park. This enabled the Department of Theatre to become involved in youth programming.
The MA degree in General Theatre and the MFA degree in Acting and in Design were approved by the Board of Regents in the Spring of 2001 and implemented in the Fall of 2001. A partnership with the News-Journal Lively Arts Center and Seaside Music Theatre enabled us to start an MFA in Musical Theatre in 2002. We added our MFA in Theatre for Young Audiences in 2004.