The Department of Drama at The Catholic University of America is a nationally recognized program that offers training and preparation for professional careers in theatre. Renowned since its founding in 1937 by the famous “show-biz priest,” Reverend Gilbert Hartke, the drama department has grown over many decades to produce some of the leading theatre artists of our time.
Many stage, film and television stars got their start at CUA Drama. Philip Bosco, Ed McMahon, Susan and Christopher Sarandon, John Slattery and Jon Voight all trod the boards here. Outstanding directors trained here, such as the Tony Award winning Walter Bobbie, and the Artistic Director of Arena Stage, Molly Smith. Several Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights started here, including Michael Cristofer (The Shadow Box), Jason Miller (That Championship Season), Paula Vogel (How I Learned To Drive), in addition to the groundbreaking Matt Crowley (The Boys in the Band), John Pielmeier (Agnes of God) and Jerome Ragni (Hair). Walter Kerr, the Pulitzer-prize winning critic and playwright, was also one of our distinguished alumni.
Today, CUA Drama has a professionally-oriented faculty that trains students how to collaborate and create new and classical work that easily competes with the best theatres in the region. The theatre-rich community of Baltimore/D.C., which includes some of the country’s leading professional houses (Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, Folger Theatre, Signature Theatre, Ford’s Theatre, Center Stage), provides opportunities for CUA students through residencies, auditions, and internships.
Season productions at CUA – staged in the newly renovated showplace known as Hartke Theatre, as well as the smaller, flexible Callan Theatre – consist of classic works for M.F.A. actors and undergraduates, and thesis productions created by the M.F.A. directors and playwrights. Directors and designers from the D.C. theatre community are hired to helm these projects and contribute to the professional training of the CUA drama students.
CUA Drama is dedicated to its mission to educate and train some of tomorrow’s best, most exciting theatre artists.
The Hartke Theatre complex houses 3 performance spaces: the Hartke Theatre, or Main Stage, the Callan Theatre, and the Lower Lab Theatre. Additionally, the Hartke complex holds the costume shop, three chorus style dressing rooms, and the scene shop and lighting department.
Recently the Hartke Theatre was updated with new paint, refurbished seats, and new carpet.
The Hartke Theatre has a proscenium stage and 590 seats, plus
- a single purchase fly system with 49 line sets
- a hydraulic orchestra pit
- 3 trap doors
The Hartke Studio is configured on the Main Stage, creating an intimate experience for up to 200 patrons who are seated on the Hartke stage.
The Callan Theatre is a black box performance space with flexible seating for up to 140 patrons.
The Lower Lab Theatre is another black box performance space with flexible seating, lighting equipment, and booth. It is used as a class room, rehearsal space, and the staging of student projects, cabarets, and independent projects.