Senn Arts » Senn Arts Theatre

Senn Arts Theatre

Senn Arts Theatre offers a distinct variety of theatre arts courses including four years of performance-based acting classes, foundational courses on the history of theatre arts and theatre fundamentals, survey literature-based courses exploring the works of American, European, and other global playwrights, as well as experience with directing, playwriting, and theatre production. Every Senn Arts Theatre student participates in performance classes and departmental productions and also has the opportunity to explore and pursue all disciplines and aspects of theatre arts. Our robust partnerships with members of the Chicago theatre community allow students the opportunity to work firsthand with theatre professionals to gain practical insight into the inside workings of the theatre world.


The foundational acting courses will focus on the actor's toolbox of body, voice, and mind and will explore the basic principles of acting techniques. Our beginning years will define our individual artistic voice and identity, while also building an ensemble and collaborating with our fellow theatre practitioners. The advanced acting courses will introduce the various methods, styles, and approaches to acting.


The Senn Arts Theatre Department is an educational partner with some of Chicago's finest theatrical institutions such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, The Goodman, Victory Gardens, Raven Theatre, Bailiwick Chicago, and American Theatre Company. Students will travel to see the professional theatre productions from these respective companies, as well as collaborate with the professional directors, actors, designers, and teaching artists from these theatre companies to create and produce theatrical events at Senn Arts.



Curriculum Overview

First Year Theatre            
Foundation: Who am I? Who are we?
The first year program involves a process of self reflection while providing a foundation based on comprehensive technical, theoretical, and historical studies. Senn Arts students will adopt the Aesthetic Education and Studio Thinking pedagogies that will provide them with a framework on how to experience, interact, and create art.

Sophomore Theatre
Artistic Language: How do I get there? Where do we come from?
The second year program involves the development of artistic language by increasing exposure to a wider and increasingly sophisticated system of reflection and transformation. Year Two will involve in depth explorations of methodology, tools and techniques, and the beginning of a honing of skills and narrowing of a specific interest or focus.

Junior Theatre
Artistic Voice: What am I trying to say?
The third year program begins with the emergence of a personal artistic voice.  Senn Arts students will be nurtured through this first year of advanced study. The ability to understand artistic intent as well as the concepts of purpose and meaning will develop the structure and approach of this year of advanced artistic study.

Senior Theatre
Artistic Identity: Where are we going?
The fourth year program involves a thoroughly advanced study involving the convergence of advancing techniques and artistic identity with the continuing process of artistic emergence. Senn Arts students will have a developed sense of their artistic craft and how they as artists can contribute to the global community.


The Senn Arts Theatre Department is an educational partner with some of Chicago's finest theatrical institutions such as Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre Company, The Goodman, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Victory Gardens, Raven Theatre, American Theatre Company, and Bailiwick Chicago. Senn Arts students have the opportunity to view professional productions, which is essential to their development as theatre artists, but also engage in a variety of workshops, discussions, collaborations, and artistic activities. These theatres provide our students with resources such as teaching artists and show-specific curriculum. Led by our Senn Arts Theatre teachers, these teaching artists come into the classroom to facilitate activities and exercises that expose students to the artistic foundations of the respective theaters. In pre-show workshops, students study original source material, read and analyze scripts of the play, explore various production and technical elements, and research historical events related to the production that will deepen their understanding of each production they attend and the entire creative process behind executing the work of art itself. In post-show workshops students reflect and analyze topics and themes present in each production and engage in a series of art-making activities that further enrich their experience and understanding of each production. In addition to collaborating with the teaching artists to create this original work, Senn Arts students participate in post-show talkbacks where they can discuss the artistic process and the production with the cast, director, and designers from each production.

The Steppenwolf Immersion Residency Program is an extensive and in-depth partnership that provides a rigorous curriculum with Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ productions as the central focus. The Immersion Residency Program integrates professional development with a year-long in-classroom residency. We accomplish this by immersing Steppenwolf teaching artists in the Senn Arts Theatre Department, targeting both classroom teachers and students through a combination of:

  • curriculum development that is inquiry based and uses Steppenwolf for Young Adults’ productions as the centerpiece
  • professional development that brings classroom teachers and our teaching artists together for intensive work sessions throughout the year
  • classroom support through extended classroom residencies that are co-taught by a Steppenwolf teaching artist and the classroom teacher
  • student engagement in exploring the play as a work of art and cultural expression; guiding students though an artistic process in how theatre artists approach the creation of work for the stage

The Lookingglass Residency Program brings the world of the theatre straight to the Senn Arts classroom. In collaboration with the theatre department, Lookingglass teaching artists focus on teaching the “Lookingglass method”, which emphasizes invention, transformation, and collaboration, providing disciplined instruction as well as arts integration programming. Senn Arts theatre students have the opportunity to collaborate with Lookingglass teaching artists in creating an original, devised, and self-written production centered on a student-centered theme.

American Theatre Company and The Bridge and Mosaic Programs. Education is a fundamental component of the work at American Theater Company. In partnership with Senn Arts Theatre, ATC strives to explore and expand the concept of American identity by attempting to better understand and reflect the community we serve. This discovery feeds our work on stage and helps us to reflect a more diverse and inclusive presentation of American identity. Through the multiple ATC theatre education programs, our goal is to introduce and expose students to excellent theatre and engage them in theatre as active participants in a deep and meaningful way. We strive to expand the impact of theatre beyond the stage by building programs and long-term relationships with the youth and community we serve.

American Mosaic pairs professional teaching artists with theatre classes from four CPS high schools to study a play in American Theater Company’s (ATC) season. This play explores identity, culture, historical events, or social issues. Using specially designed curriculums for both the classroom teacher and the teaching artists, American Mosaic strives to strengthen literacy and comprehension levels through the study and performance of a dramatic text. Specially trained teaching artists and their classroom teachers will guide the students as they explore the relevant parallels between literature and their own lives, and engage in positive discussion around these parallels.

American Bridge provides students that excel at American Mosaic an opportunity to further explore theater after-school by forming a multi-cultural performance ensemble in their respective schools. A teaching-artist and a professional playwright work with each ensemble to create an original play that expresses their collaborative views on American identity. At the end of the school year, the ensembles perform their work together in an inter-scholastic festival at ATC.

Bailiwick Chicago Theatreworks In an intensive multi-week residency, freshmen Senn Arts Theatre students work with professional theatre artists from Bailiwick Chicago's Artist Collective, where they learn about, write, and perform an original monologue based on a historical event.  Monologues are then structured and staged into a full performance piece and presented for an audience on a professional stage.

Chicago Opera Theater strives to fulfill its mission of engaging curious audiences through adventurous opera experiences of new and rarely performed works, providing people of all ages opportunities to learn more about opera and its creators. Through during school, after school, college, and adult education offerings, COT proudly continues to ask its students to be creative, questioning individuals who desire to challenge the definition of opera in Chicago. 

Goodman Student Subscription Series The oldest component of the Goodman’s education and community programming, the Student Subscription Series (SSS), has served as a national model for arts education since its inception. Offered entirely FREE to participating schools, the SSS touches the lives of more than 2,500 Chicago high school students annually. During the series, Goodman education staff work with teachers throughout the year to design specific lesson plans and focused classroom integration, creating a series that not only gives students a rich theatergoing experience, but also aids in the development of critical thinking skills and sparks curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. Math, science and other non-humanities teachers are encouraged to work in teams with drama, English and history teachers on curriculum that integrates theater across all subject areas.

Raven Theatre’s Take Flight Partnership programs are residencies that place professional Teaching Artists in neighborhood schools, community organizations, and afterschool programs that create collaborative effort to bring theatre and theatre skills to people of all ages in Raven’s surrounding community.

Victory Gardens Theater deepens student learning and enhances teacher practice through integration of arts in core curricula. Students, teachers, and artists experience new and meaningful ways of learning through their involvement in arts education programs. Victory Gardens affirms its commitment to the living playwright with arts education programming focused on exploring and heightening the practitioner’s understanding of the processes and structures of modern storytelling in its varied forms.

The Education Department at Writers Theatre reflects its commitment to the written word and education programs are aimed at nurturing the creativity of young people. Writers offers in-school residencies, community-based initiatives, and on-site programs designed to emphasize collaboration, cultivate self-expression, encourage imaginative inquiry, and promote civic responsibility. 


2019-2020 Theatre Performance Dates


After School Matters Fall Musical Showcase

Friday, December 6th & Monday, December 9th


Raven Theatre & Senn Arts Theatre Present: Changing Room

Wednesday, December 18th


Senn Arts Theatre Presents: Senn Shorties III - Shortplay Festival

Wednesday, January 22nd & Thursday, January 23rd


August Wilson Monologue Festival

1st Years: Wednesday, February 12th Sophomores: Thursday, February 13th

Theatre Arts II: Tuesday, February 18th Juniors: Wednesday, February 19th 

Seniors: Thursday, February20th


After School Matters Spring Musical Showcase

Wednesday, May 6th, Thursday, May 7th & Friday, May 8th