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Love to act? Want a career in the performing arts? Learn performance skills as well as the business of the arts.

Performance Studies: Baltimore is a specialization in the B.A. in Integrated Arts program. Study acting theory, voice and movement with artist professors—some of whom are professional resident company members of Everyman Theatre —and experience guest workshops with nationally known artists who perform at the Hippodrome Theatre .

A unique performance studies partnership.

Only UB has a partnership with two professional local theaters and offers mentorship and workshops by local actors and guest artists.



Why this specialization is for you:

No other acting program in the city of Baltimore:

  • has an experiential partnership with professional theaters
  • has courses taught by professional actors
  • has a focus on the business side of the arts
  • is located close enough for Baltimore residents to reach via public transportation.

What you'll study:

To enhance your performance skills, you'll take courses in audition, scene study, text analysis, vocal training and movement. You'll learn the theories of acting and modes of vocal and body work. You can take electives in directing, playwriting and dramaturgy. And you'll do it all while pursuing your own artistic endeavors.

As part of the Integrated Arts program, you'll:

  • take courses in entrepreneurship, arts management, and self-promotion and marketing
  • develop the knowledge and skills to work with arts organizations, as a community arts advocate or as a creative professional
  • gain a broad understanding of the role of the arts in society.

How the specialization works:

    • Incoming freshmen can enroll in a fall learning community taught by Donald Hicken, former head of the drama department of the Baltimore School for the Arts.
    • Freshmen and transfer students audition in the spring for the next ensemble.
    • Each year's ensemble of approximately 15 students takes courses together and rehearses for a final spring performance.

Life after college:

You'll be prepared to launch a career such as:

  • actor/actress
  • arts administrator/manager
  • arts entrepreneur
  • community affairs liaison
  • event planner
  • grants specialist
  • nonprofit artistic director
  • nonprofit arts manager
  • playwright
  • screenwriter
  • spoken word artist
  • theatre manager
  • theatre-maker.

Fall 2017 Course Descriptions

  • ARTS 297-001 Introduction to Theater History

    Tuesdays and Thursdays,9:30-10:50 a.m.

    Director, performer and dramaturg Susan Stroupe teaches this introduction to the wide history of theater. In this course, students will focus on the beginnings of performance all over the world, traveling through different ancient cultures in order to connect contemporary theater practices in the United States to the many influences in the theatrical family tree. 

  • ARTS 297-002 (4258) Vocal Training

    Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

    Arts and Theater Manager Kimberley Lynne teaches this introductory intensive in vocal work, using world-renowned master teacher Kristin Linklater’s methodology of image-based breath expansion to strengthen voice. The course is three credits, culminates in a performance at the end of the semester, and is appropriate for performers as well as business students. The course will explore a range of vocal training systems, although Lynne has trained with Linklater and teaches via Linklater’s book, Freeing the Natural Voice.

  • ARTS 297-LC2 (4260) Rehearsal Process and Preparation

    Mondays and Wednesdays, 11 a.m.-12:20 p.m.

    Arts and Theater Manager Kimberley Lynne teaches this freshman learning community as an introduction to performance. Local director and drama teacher, Donald Hicken, will direct the students to a November production of Lynne’s devised play, One Particular Saturday, about the Baltimore riots of 1968. The course is paired with Nicole Hudgins’ history conflict course in this learning community, Understanding Riots Through Performance and World History. 

  • ENGL 385-001 (4384) Creative Writing Workshop: Playwriting

    Wednesdays, 2-4:30 p.m.

    Arts and Theater Manager Kimberley Lynne teaches this introduction to the craft of playwriting. In this workshop, undergraduate students will develop and write an original short play, using techniques of brainstorming, improvisation and performance. Over 40 of Lynne’s plays have been produced, and she has taught playwriting at the University of Baltimore and in Northern Ireland.

Performance studies at UB


Davon Pender in Baltimore Snapshots


Shelby Sullivan in But I Said No

Bruce improv

improvisation exercise with Bruce Nelson, guest lecturer, in a dedicated practice space in the Recreation Center

In a Jan. 28, 2017 interview in Playbill, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the megahit musical Hamilton, was asked what advice he had for people pursuing theatre in college: 

"Study all the things that you don’t want to go into in theatre. Study lighting. Do all the things. For my theatre major, I did makeup, I ran lights, I did sound design, I sewed costumes, and that stuff comes in incredibly handy when you work with other people. Theatre is all about collaboration, so you have to actually understand a bit of the job your collaborators are doing, so that you can speak to them fluently. And then the other thing is take, like, whatever you’re interested in—I promise it will come in handy. Tommy Kail was an American History major; it came in pretty handy when we had this idea. So that’s my advice. Do what you’re passionate about."

Donald Hicken

Donald Hicken
stage director and theatre educator

Donald Hicken is an award-winning director and Tony-nominated theatre educator with over 40 years of experience in professional theatre and conservatory actor-training. His professional directing credits include productions at Everyman Theatre, The Annapolis Shakespeare Company (where he is a resident director), Center Stage, The Round House Theatre, The Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, The Kenyon Festival Theatre, Pennsylvania Stage Company and The Berkshire Theatre Festival. Hicken was head of the theatre department at The Baltimore School for the Arts (BSA) from its founding in 1979 to his retirement in 2016. At BSA he directed over 50 productions and developed local, regional and international touring and outreach programs. Notable collaborations include work with The Baltimore City Life Museums, The American Red Cross, The National Park Service and annual co-productions with Showdown Theatre Arts performed each spring in the UK. He founded The Center Stage Conservatory and served as director of training at Center Stage for four years. He then helped to found The Actors’ Conservatory where he taught for three years. Hicken was a founder of The Baltimore Theatre Alliance and served on its Board of Directors and later on its Advisory Board. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Hippodrome Foundation and as an advisor to the Board of The Annapolis Shakespeare Company. Hicken was artistic director of The Columbia Festival of the Arts from its founding in 1989 through the 1998 Festival. At the Festival he initiated many commissions and collaborations including Free At Last with Bill T. Jones and Max Roach, Mark O’Connor with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the international premier of Real Time by Tmu-Na Theatre of Tel Aviv. Hicken holds a B.A. in Theatre from MacMurray College and an M.F.A. in Acting and Directing from The Catholic University of America. As an event director he has staged galas featuring Tony Bennet, Ben Vereen and George Burns.

Hicken received the 2000 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Director of a Resident Play for The Glass Menagerie (a co-production of Everyman and Round House Theatres). The production was also honored that year as Outstanding Resident Play. In 2009 he was named “Best Director” by The Baltimore City Paper for his production of I Am My Own Wife at Everyman Theatre. That same year he received the League Educator Apple Award given to two teachers nationally by The Broadway League. In 2015 his production of Outside Mullingar was named as one of the top five productions of the year by The Baltimore Sun. He was recognized by the US Department of Education as a mentor and educator for Shalita Grant as a Presidential Scholar in the Arts. In 2015 Hicken was honored as one of two national finalists (out of a field of over four thousand nominees) for the inaugural Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education.

"Mentoring is a respected tradition in education and nowhere is this more important than in the arts," Hicken said. "Our program will unite young, gifted performing artists with experienced, respected practicing professionals whose artistic tap root is in Maryland." 

Bruce Nelson

Bruce Nelson
professional actor and teacher

Bruce Nelson has been a professional actor and teacher in the Baltimore-DC area for 30 years. He is a member of the acting company at Everyman Theatre where he has been seen in over 20 productions.  At Rep Stage in Columbia he was a favorite there for 10 years, seen in The Violet Hour (2006 Helen Hayes Award) and The Dazzle (2004 Helen Hayes Award) among others. Bruce is an alumni member of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in Washington, DC where he was recognized as an Outstanding Emerging Artist in 2000 and seen in over 10 productions.  Bruce has also enjoyed work at the Folger Theatre, Olney Theatre Center, Centerstage, Signature Theatre, Washington Shakespeare Company, The Shakespeare Theatre and Baltimore Shakespeare Festival.  For three years Bruce toured with Olney Theatre Center’s touring branch The National Players and from 1997-2000 Bruce was a professional book narrator for the Library of Congress, where in 2002 he received the Torgi Literary Award for his recording of As Nature Made Him by John Colapinto.  Bruce has taught Basic Acting and Comedy/Improvisation at Howard Community College (2001 Outstanding Adjunct Faculty), Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Everyman Theatre, University of Baltimore and Stevenson University among others.  In the corporate arena Bruce has offered teambuilding, facilitation and presentation skills workshops for Cho Benn Holbeck Architects and IMRE Financial Services among others and he offers private acting preparation sessions out of his home.  Bruce is a 1988 graduate of the Theatre Program at Towson University where he received the Theatre Humanitarian Award and in 2001 was recognized as an Honored Theatre Alumnus. In 2006 and 2011 he was recognized as Baltimore’s Best Actor by the City Paper and in 2014 Baltimore Magazine awarded him Best Actor for his long-time body of work.

Nelson will be teaching ARTS 297 Rehearsal Preparation/Improvisation during the spring 2017 semester.

To learn more about the Performance Studies: Baltimore specialization, contact Kimberley Lynnearts and theater manager, 410.837.4053.