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West Chester University Department of Theatre and Dance Collection

Identifier: 075
STATEMENT ON HARMFUL AND/OR SENSITIVE CONTENT IN WCU SPECIAL COLLECTIONS HOLDINGS: Due to the nature of the historical materials, there may be occurrences of language, images, positions, and values that do not align with the current values of and practices at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Please be advised that there is harmful content and language that may be offensive, harmful, or difficult to encounter.

The West Chester University (WCU) Department of Theatre and Dance collection is comprised of three series, Promotional Materials, Costumes and Props, and Photographs.

Series 1 Promotional Materials includes programs, posters, and brochures and mailers from theatre and dance performances.

Series 2 Costumes and Props contains a costume and prop inventory and a costume request form. Please be aware that the costume and prop inventory contains harmful content.

Series 3 Photographs includes images from previous theatre and dance performance at West Chester University. Please be aware that some photographs include harmful imagery.


  • 1927 - 2018
  • Majority of material found within 1950 - 1980

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.


2 Boxes (1 document box and 1 oversize flat box)

1.83 Linear Feet


The West Chester University (WCU) Department of Theatre and Dance collection consists of promotional materials, documentation about stage costumes and props, and photographs related to theatre and dance programs at the university. Materials date from 1927 to 2018, with the bulk of items ranging in date from 1950 to 1980.

Biographical / Historical

The West Chester University (WCU) Department of Theatre and Dance was officially established in the 1960s and has since grown into a prospering department. Prior to its founding, however, the university had theatre and dance classes and performances through the curriculum and student organizations.

The department’s origins begin with student organizations like the Aryan Literary Society, which was a multi-faceted club that formed in 1879 at West Chester State Normal School. The organization put on theatrical performances under the instruction of various professors. In the 1900s, larger scale theatre programs were brought to life by Professor Cora Everett in collaboration with the Aryan Literary Society. Hired in 1896, Everett served as the Head of the Department of Reading, but she had a specialty in debate and dramatics. Plays put on sporadically included a 200 student Elizabethan pageant in 1906 to a Civil War play called Hostage to Washington and Midsummer Night’s Dream. Other theater related groups on campus included the Little Theater Players program, which began in the 1920s and was directed by Fern Barrer. Through this program’s evolution, the school’s theatre room “Theatre 208” in Recitation Hall was established in 1963.

Prior to the founding of WCU’s Department of Dance and Theatre, various departments had theatre related courses. These departments included Speech and Literature, Liberal Arts, English, and eventually, Speech and Theatre, which was founded in fall 1968. This was eventually renamed to Speech Communication and Theatre, which existed until 1992, offering various degrees in theatre and speech. Between 1992-2004, the department was known as Theatre Arts, finally becoming the Department of Theatre and Dance in 2004.

The Department of Theatre and Dance offers students choices, training, and opportunities that help launch them into careers of theatre and dance. To allow for specialization, the department offers a Bachelor of Arts program in Theatre, which has three concentrations in Musical Theatre, Performance, and Design and Production, as well as minors in theatre and dance. From courses such focusing on Jazz Dance (DAN 133) to Acting for the Camera (THA 106) to Scene Painting (THA 204), the department’s course catalog is enriched with a variety of essential and unique courses.

Various student organizations on campus allow student to participate in the performing arts. This includes the official University Dance Company (UDC) and University Theatre (UT) to clubs like D.R.E.A.M Dance Club and Improv Club. Students also can take part in semesterly plays, musicals, and dance concerts. The chosen plays range from semester to semester, with a diversity of classics and contemporary works.

In addition to these shows, students going through the Playwrighting Class (THA 313) get to produce their own completely student written and run short play festival every spring. For students looking for even more opportunities, the department also offers apprenticeships after at least 12 department-related credit requirements are earned. Outside of WCU students, the Department of Theatre and Dance runs the “Pennsylvania Theatre Institute,” founded by Charlie DelMarcelle in 2018. This company provides the two-week Young Company camp and one week Pre-College Intensive, which extends training outwards to the community and youth.


This collection is arranged into series and within series, items are arranged chronologically.
West Chester University Department of Theatre and Dance Collection
Jenna (Bossert) Falkenberg; Elijah Turner; Grace Citro
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the West Chester University Archives Repository