Theater Program

From our theater to the world stage

Advancing the University of Portland’s conviction that education develops the whole person, our Theater Program prepares students for productive participation in local, national, and global society. Through intentional production practices and reflective course work we are striving to make identity-conscious and ethnoculturally competent theatre. Toward this goal, we provide a comprehensive foundation of theater coursework with the ability to focus training in performance, design, management, directing, playwriting and dramaturgy. Students acquire vital skills that span every discipline such as collaboration, project management, critical analysis, and public presentation, providing direct access to performing arts careers and any other profession.


2022-2023 Season

(season is subject to change)

Headshot of Playwright Claire Willett

New Works/New Voices

How Can I Keep From Singing by Claire Willett

Workshop Reading 

October 5-8 at 7:30pm, October 9 at 2:00pm 

Following the death of their parents, the four O’Connor siblings are struggling through their grief. When Aidan, the baby of the family, is publicly outed as a “Queer Catholic” in the local newspaper, the family unit splinters. Each one of them is trying to balance their identity, faith, family, and chosen community in their quest to find wholeness. Aidan, bolstered by the members of his campus LGBTQ+ group, struggles to discover his voice as he bridges the worlds of his faith, his family, and who he truly is. This vital new play is UP Theater’s first commissioned piece: written by queer playwright Claire Willett, who is a Portland native, former Catholic youth minister, and active member of the parish of St. Andrew’s. This production is sponsored through generous support from the Kunal Nayyar fund.

Headshot of Playwright Branden Jacobs Jenkins

Everybody by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

Directed by Andy Christensen

November 10-12 and 17-19 at 7:30, November 13 and 20 at 2:00pm 

The play follows Everybody as they journey from life into death to confront life’s greatest mysteries: who are we? How do you create community? What makes a good life? Award-winning playwright Brandon Jacobs Jenkins brings us on the ride in this irreverent and surprising riff on the 15th century morality play, Everyman. Underscoring the shared hopes, fears, and randomness of the human experience, the cast for this production will be chosen by lottery during each performance. This is a play you will want to see more than once: no two performances will be the same! Join us for this comedic, thought provoking, and immersive theatrical experiment.

Headshot of Playwright Carla Ching

TBA by Carla Ching

Directed by Barbie Wu, Artistic Associate at Actors Repertory Theatre

February 22-25 at 7:30pm, February 26 at 2:00pm 

When Silas Park’s girlfriend leaves him, he becomes a shut-in, writing intense autobiographical stories in his Brooklyn apartment. When literary agent Darren offers Silas a book deal, he finds himself on the verge of being the next big thing in Asian American literature. But the appearance of Silas’ adoptive brother Finn changes the story. This stunning new play from Carla Ching asks us to consider the line between identity and storytelling. When is a story truly autobiographical? When is a story yours to tell?

University of Portland highlight image

Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Directed by Dr. Lezlie C. Cross

April 19-22 at 7:30pm, April 23 at 2:00pm 

Our scene opens in Illyria, where the Duke Orsino and Countess Olivia are in a romantic stalemate: he’s in to her, but she is not in to him. Their lives change when twins Viola and Sebastian are shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria, alone and fending for themselves.  Viola, disguised as a young man, starts working for the Count Orsino and is sent to woo Olivia. Sebastian, rescued by sea captain Antonio, also sets off for Orsino’s court. As the two twins try find their way in this new world, they become embroiled in mistaken (and true) love triangles in this celebratory journey of discovering who you truly are.

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Land Acknowledgement

The University of Portland Theater acknowledges that our space rests on the traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other Tribes who made their homes along the Columbia (Wimahl) and Willamette (Whilamut) rivers. The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde currently represent many of these tribes.
We give thanks to them; that we are here on their unceded lands and commit to treating their space as a living breathing entity that needs care and stewardship. We give thanks to this land as we continue to speak up for justice, a place in history, and a place in a future that demands to be better.