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BFA in Interarts Performance

The BFA in Interarts Performance is a program for adventuresome students who have interests in both the visual arts and theater as well as a desire to create original performance pieces. In this degree program, students will be introduced to a diverse range of art forms and creative practices from new media to traditional acting skills, with the aim of generating work that blurs boundaries between the visual arts and performance.

Created in response to the emergence in the latter half of the 20th century of a new kind of performance domain, combining both creative and interpretive approaches to expression in time and space, this highly interdisciplinary program is the first of its kind in the nation.  The School of Art & Design will contribute a broad visual language vocabulary, a culture of experimentation, and expertise with new and emerging media technologies.  The School of Music, Theatre & Dance will contribute training in movement, voice, action, and narrative as well as expertise in the design and construction of sets, costumes and lighting. 

One of the many objectives is to produce graduates capable of creating new, personal works which transcend aesthetic, discipline, and genre boundaries.

This is an interdisciplinary degree jointly offered by the School of Art & Design and the Department of Theatre & Drama in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.


What is the Interarts Performance program?

The BFA in Interarts Performance includes a balanced combination of selected courses from the School of Art & Design (A&D) and the Department of Theatre & Drama, a component of academic elective courses in both schools, and academic requirements and electives from across the University.  Students are immersed in the cultures of both schools and have the advantage of the academic resources of a major research University. Interarts Performance also includes comprehensive reviews at the end of the second and fourth years and a recommended semester of international study during the third year.  Intensive faculty mentoring guides each student through an individualized program of study.

Check out examples of previous work from the Interarts program.

Studio Courses

Two types of A&D and Theatre courses comprise the studio component of the program:

Introductory studio courses provide the conceptual and physical foundation required to communicate ideas physically and visually.  Students learn that techniques and materials are somewhat neutral tools used to express subjective notions about the world.  They can be used in any context to create work.  By being introduced to a wide variety of tools, students gain the advantage of many possible options.

Advanced studio courses build upon the introductory experiences, challenging students to work more independently and with greater focus.  As a capstone advanced studio, students undertake a two-semester Integrative Project course during their final year.  This course is designed to accomplish a number of objectives:

  • the development of an ambitious student-initiated project
  • the synthesis of academic and studio work
  • a public presentation of the project

In this capstone educational experience, the student works with both A&D and Theatre faculty.  The final presentation engages a public context and is documented in both written and visual portfolios.

Academic Courses

Academic Courses in A&D and Theatre provide students with visual culture and performance histories and current practices that cover a wide variety of media and artistic tendencies, and provide the opportunity to experience the potential of contemporary live art and artists.

Academic courses in liberal arts provide students with a combination of required and elective courses designed to develop basic familiarity with the three traditional components of a liberal arts education - humanities, social sciences and natural sciences; an introduction to analytical reasoning; an awareness of other cultures; and familiarity with contemporary environmental issues.


U-M Theatre faculty and School of Art & Design faculty are all working professionals within their various disciplines: actors, artists, directors, designers, technicians and published scholars.

Both U-M Theatre and Art & Design classes are held in the fall (September-December) and winter (January-April) terms.  During the summer months, many students hone their talents working in summer stock or theatre festivals.


Degree Requirements for Interarts Performance

Theatre Course List / Art & Design Course List

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Who can I talk to about the BFA in Interarts Performance?

Call the U-M Theatre Department at 734-764-5350 to speak with Professor Malcolm Tulip or send email to

Call the School of Art & Design at 734-764-0397 to speak with Professor Andy Kirshner or send email to

Professors Tulip and Kirshner are award-winning artists and the faculty mentors for the Interarts Performance program. They are the mentors that help our Interarts students carve out a truly unique path of study.

What performance opportunities are available for majors?

University Productions:

The U-M Theatre Department presents five mainstage productions each year in three different theatres. The casts are comprised primarily of acting majors, but occasionally include faculty. Shows are directed by faculty and guests, such as Hal Cooper, Michele Shay and Robert Woodruff. Recent productions have featured the works of Harper Lee, Arthur Miller, Molière, Shakespeare, Wilder and Shepard, as well as many contemporary ethnic works by such playwrights as Brian Friel, Wole Soyinka and U-M Theatres own professional playwright, OyamO.

Basement Arts:

The student-run Basement Arts company presents 25 or 30 studio productions each year. Students produce the plays. Performances are presented on weekends, generally in Studio One.

Other University of Michigan Productions:

Majors also design various plays produced by such university groups as the Gilbert & Sullivan Society, MUSKET, the Rude Mechanicals,and others.

Local theatre groups:

A  number of our faculty and students work with two local Equity theatres, the Performance Network and the Purple Rose Theater, founded by actor Jeff Daniels, Arbor Opera Theatre, Burns Park Players, Ann Arbor Civic Theatre, as well as a number of traditional and non-traditional theatre companies in the area. In addition students often work with high school theatres in the area. The Michigan Shakespeare Festival, located in Jackson, MI, runs mid-July through August.

School of Art & Design Off the Wall Cabaret

Performances occur in various venues in conjunction with exhibitions.  Check the web for announcements about performances at Sh/aut gallery, Braun Court; Work•State Street; and the John P. Slusser Gallery.

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How do I apply to the BFA in Interarts Performance degree program?

Please submit to the U-M Undergraduate Admissions Office: a completed application form, SAT or ACT scores, transcripts and the academic teacher and counselor recommendation.  The application review is a three-step process:

  • The Admissions Office will screen your application for academic eligibility.
  • If you are academically eligible for consideration, you'll be contacted by the Theatre Department with a confirmation of your audition and interview with the Theatre Interarts Performance faculty. You'll also hear from Art & Design regarding your portfolio review.
  • After your audition, interview, and portfolio review, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance Admissions Office and the School of Art & Design will collaboratively make the admission decision. An email notice is sent as soon as that decision has been made.
  • Please go to the Auditions & Interviews page for more detailed information.



Paige Rutkowski walks us through her first two years as a student in the Interarts program. All Interarts students are required to do a Sophomore Review where the faculty review their work from their first two years in the program.

Exchange student Neha Bhat talks about her experience in the Interarts program, creating work in the space in between theater and art.

Interarts student Carisa Bledsoe's video portrait of her first years at A&D as an Interarts student.

A very very serious interview!! Actually, not so serious. This mock interview/performance features Holly Hughes and Malcolm Tulip, the lead faculty mentors for the Interarts program at the University of Michigan.

More Interarts videos

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower