Gannon University’s School of Communications and the Arts are offering two new programs: Performance for Media and Stage and Theater Technologies and Design. Theater professor Rev. Shawn Clerkin said that the professors in the theater department looked at the best practices in other theater schools and The National Association of Schools of Theater (NAST) regarding how theater programs are designed and promoted. This led to the two new theater majors.

For a while, the theater program has considered giving the students a clearer career direction path. “It benefits the program because it helps to communicate to students a more carefully identified career path; it helps recruit students as they have a more clear academic pathway for their chosen theater career,” Clerkin said.

In the Performance for Media and Stage major, students have the opportunity to develop on-stage skills in voice, stage combat, acting for film, directing and improvisation. This program is for students who want to develop a career as a performance artist.


Theater Technologies and Design is for theater students who want to focus on behind-the-scenes work. This program focuses on costume design, scenic design, puppetry, sound design, audio production, film production and lighting design. According to the Gannon website, students “may also create their own course combinations to satisfy their personal interests.” In the Theater Technologies and Design major, there will be two classes worked into the theater major: “Puppetry and Theater” and “Stage Management.”




Both theater majors will keep the communications core which is part of the previous theater major that was offered at Gannon.

“We conceive of theatre and performing arts as communicative in nature, and our affiliation with the School of Communication and the Arts is intentional and essential to our understanding of theatre,” said Clerkin. “There are many connections to be made with courses in communications, for example, TV and Radio Performance, Digital Audio Design, Digital Graphics and Integrated Marketing Campaigns are all courses in the school which would help support theatre majors as they continue in graduate studies or professional placements.”

Clerkin also said that there will not be many changes in the available opportunities for Gannon students.

“We still have multiple mainstage and student productions, with more than 50 distinct performances on campus each year to help hone student performance and design skills,” he said. In addition to theatrical productions on campus, there will be some opportunities off campus.

“We have numerous organizations where students can apply their learning in practical expressions, including the Erie Playhouse, the Erie Bayfront Convention Center, the Erie Philharmonic, Erie Arts and Culture, and the Warner Theatre,” said Clerkin.

The Performance for Media and Stage and Theater Technologies and Design degrees are still being planned and new information will be released soon.