Study Theatre at NYU—Even If It’s Not Your Major

Students who want to study theatre but are majoring in another subject or subjects can find plenty of ways to expand their theatrical knowledge by taking classes at several of NYU’s schools and colleges

Student Adriana Virgili Alovisetti sits in an empty theatre looking upward and gesturing forward with a script in her hand.

At the renowned Tisch School of the Arts, Drama majors benefit from conservatory training and rigorous academics. However, nonmajors who want to study theatre can also hone their acting skills through Tisch’s Open Arts program. From basic acting classes to courses like Comic Relief, which helps budding comedians learn their craft, the program has much to offer those who love the stage.

Bard Out Loud, taught by Open Arts chair Mary Bitel, is one popular course for Drama nonmajors. The course offers a performance-based introduction to Shakespeare. “Students often seek out the arts because they’re looking for some kind of relief from their studies,” says Professor Bitel. “They look to the arts as a balm, but what they find when they come into an arts course is that it enhances and strengthens their work in other disciplines and can be an energizing tool.”

Art History and Philosophy major Adriana Virgili Alovisetti started acting in her junior year of high school, and she didn’t want to give it up when she started at NYU. Now a senior, Adriana has pursued her love of the stage as a nonmajor, and she has gotten a lot out of it. “I loved taking an Open Arts Shakespeare class at Tisch. The teacher encouraged us to love Shakespeare and not be scared of the difficulty of the text.”

Group of students on stage performing play.
Professor speaking to a group of students.
Academic courses that enhance acting ability.

Adriana also got to pursue her love of theatre through her classes at the College of Arts and Science (CAS). “My psychology classes have made me a better actor, since understanding your character’s psychology is essential. And in my German classes, we read great German playwrights like Bertolt Brecht and Frank Wedekind.” In addition to those courses, she also took a dramatic literature class. “I had an incredible teacher, Erin Mee, who introduced us to immersive theatre and required us to attend plays as part of the curriculum.”

Adriana feels that the more she gets to know herself as a person, the more she is able to put into her performances and thus explore the world through acting. “Every new person, culture, political issue, and intellectual stimulant I encounter affects and enriches my acting,” she says.

Student performing on stage while sitting at a table and speaking into a microphone.

In addition to its courses, CAS has a student-run club called CAST (College of Arts and Science Theater), which is open to all NYU undergraduates. Each year, CAST hosts Forbidden NYU, a show that parodies familiar Broadway songs, transforming them into reflections of life at NYU. Other opportunities for the musical theatre–inclined include Lamplighters, a cross-school initiative focused on theatre for young audiences, and the Gallatin Theatre Troupe, a club for those interested in directing, managing, and acting.