The Asian-inspired set from Long Christmas Ride Home
 Exterior of the CPA, facing the lobby of the Gates Abegglen Theatre
A student works backstage at Gates Abegglen Theatre
Looking toward the illuminated stage, a student operates a lighting board in Gates Abegglen Theatre
 A student sits at a mirror and applies makeup by referring to a design
Performance Spaces | Production Spaces | Classrooms

Center for Performing Arts

The Center for Performing Arts is the home of the Department of Theatre. It houses all our faculty and staff offices and most of the production facilities, including the Gates-Abegglen Theatre, W. Paul Zimmerman Experimental Theatre (Studio 88), scene shop, costume shop, and prop shop.

Opened in the fall of 1969, the CPA is situated on the Fine Arts Plaza, adjacent to Hiestand Hall (home to our classrooms) and the Art Building (home to the Art Department). Maple Street Commons (one of the many dining options on campus) is right next door.

Across the plaza from the CPA is the Shriver Center which houses the University Welcome Center, Bookstore, and Starbucks.

Performance Spaces

Gates-Abegglen Theatre

  • A traditional proscenium theatre seating 385.
  • Equipped with a 35 line fly system, spiral-drive pit lift and modest wing space.
  • Hosts two or three fully-mounted theatre productions per academic year, directed by faculty members or guest artists.
  • Managed by the Department of Theatre.

W. Paul Zimmerman Experimental Theatre (Studio 88)

  • A flexible space seating about 90, depending on configuration.
  • Hosts two or three fully-mounted theatre productions directed by faculty members, guest directors, or qualified students.
  • The first venue in which student designers are given design assignments in scenery, costumes, lighting or sound.
  • Used for department classes, workshops, and special events.
  • Can be signed out by theatre majors and minors for student projects.

Production Spaces

The Scene Studio

  • Most of the scenery used for our productions is built and painted in-house.
  • Equipped with contractor grade construction tools, students build with wood and with steel.
  • Integrated a metal working area, props construction area, and a dedicated paint area. 
  • Lab students and student staff build scenery under the guidance of a staff Shop Supervisor.
  • Any student can earn practicum credit in the shop (THE 200) as well.

The Costume Studio

  • Most of the costumes used for our productions are built or modified in-house.
  • Equipped with industrial sergers, professional-grade sewing machines, and a dedicated dye area.
  • Laundry facilities on-site.
  • Lab students and student staff build under the guidance of a staff Shop Supervisor.
  • Any student can earn practicum credit in the shop (THE 200) as well.


Acting Studio

The acting studio in 207 Hiestand Hall was designed to meet the needs of performance classes and rehearsals. The dance floor makes the space comfortable to move in, and a dedicated set of rehearsal blocks and props make for effective scene study. Students can sign the space out to rehearse scenes for class.

Design Studio

Located in 203 Hiestand Hall, the design studio is open 24/7 for students to work on projects for design and technology classes. Its equipped with drafting tables, a stock of drafting equipment, a sink, and plenty of bulletin board space. A small video computer area and large format printer are integrated into the room.

Playwriting and Lighting Lab

Hiestand 100 is a great combination of classroom, lab and small performance site. It is the primary venue of our Independent Artist Series. The space is open and flexible, and seats are easily set up to accommodate play readings. The basic lighting system is used not only to light shows, but also to complete projects for lighting classes.