Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA) is a comprehensive university of performing arts, with the focus on theatre training and studies and a history of almost 70 years. Co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of China and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, and reporting to the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, STA is one of the best art institutions of higher education in China. After decades of development, STA has grown from a single discipline school into an outstanding comprehensive university of performing arts in China.
On December 1st, 1945, the predecessor of Shanghai Theatre Academy - Shanghai Municipal Experimental Theatre School - was founded by well-known educators Gu Yuxiu and famous dramatists Li Jianwu, Gu Zhongyi, Huang Zuolin, Wu Renzhi at 1844 Sichuan Road, with Xiong Foxi as the first president. In October 1949, the school was renamed as Shanghai Municipal Theatre School. In the structural reform of colleges and universities in China in 1952, the Theatre Division of Shandong University/Art Department and the Theatre Group of Shanghai Xingzhi Arts School joined the school, which became the East China Branch of the Central Academy of Drama under the Ministry of Culture of China. In 1956 the school was formally renamed as Shanghai Theatre Academy as an art university under the Ministry of Culture. In June 2002, the Performing Arts School of Shanghai Normal University, the Shanghai Chinese Opera School and the Shanghai Dance School were incorporated into Shanghai Theatre Academy. The teaching experience over six decades has formed the rich art atmosphere and inclusive cultural environment in the academy.
There are three STA campuses located on Huashan Road, Lianhua Road, and Hongqiao Road, respectively. In STA there are four departments (Department of Acting, Department of Stage Design, Department of Directing, and Department of Dramatic Literature), and four colleges (College of Chinese Opera, College of Dance, College of Television Arts, and College of Creativity Studies). Besides, there are two key national professional pre-college schools affiliated to STA: the Chinese Opera School and the Dance School. There are also College of Continuing Education, the Training Center, and an affiliated High School of Arts.
The Academy provides undergraduate programs in 37 specialties under three main categories of literature, management and education, covering 12 majors of Acting, Directing, Theatre/TV/Film Design, Art Design, Playwriting and Screenwriting, Broadcasting and TV Hosting, TV & Film Programming and Directing, Choreography, Public Administration, Arts Education, Media Creativity, and Composition and Theories. STA has six master’s degree programs in Theatre Studies, Broadcasting and TV Studies, Arts Studies, Dance Studies, Cinema Studies, and Painting Studies, one doctorate degree program in Theatre Studies with 8 research areas, and one post-doctoral research center in Arts Studies.
At STA, Theatre Studies is rated as a state-level key discipline, and Broadcasting and TV Studies as a key discipline in Shanghai. In recent years, the majors of Stage Design, Dramatic Literature and TV & Film Programming and Directing have grown into state-level majors, and many courses have been listed as municipal-level key courses. In addition, STA has set up several national experimental studios of creative training, laboratories co-funded by the central and local governments, and a key laboratory in Shanghai.
STA has about 2000 undergraduate students, 500 master and PhD students, and 1000 students in the two professional pre-college schools. On the campus there are tow professional theatres – the Academy Theatre and the Duanjun Theatre – for all kinds of educational practices and formal performances. The New Space and the two Black Box studios are used for the free experimental performances of modern drama. In addition, there are also two performing studios for comprehensive rehearsing, and two studios for the educational practices of film and TV, which can satisfy all kinds of needs for education, research and students’ performance. The three campuses all have their own specialized classroom buildings, multifunctional comprehensive classroom buildings, and information centers. The digital teaching and management platforms can connect different campus. Our students also enjoy the good living conditions offered by the students’ dormitory, the dining halls, the gymnasium and all kinds of sports facilities.
STA has cultivated thousands of artists in various professional fields for the country, and many of the graduates have become leading experts and artists with national and international reputation in the fields of drama, Chinese opera, film & TV, dance, literature and fine arts. Meanwhile, the academy has also cultivated a large number of talents for cultural management, who are now working in important posts in art institutions home and abroad, as well as in related government agencies. STA is also contributing to the art education for the minorities in China. It has trained five acting classes for Tibet students in turn, and the graduates formed the first modern drama troupe in Tibet. STA has trained one acting class for Inner Mongolia students, and the graduates formed the first modern drama troupe in Inner Mongolia. Besides, there is also one diploma program for minority scriptwriters in China, three stage art classes for Tibet students, and several classes on acting, directing and stage design for the minorities in the provinces of Guangxi, Yunnan, Qinghai and Xinjiang. In the process of development STA has extended its previous teaching model the integrating teaching, creation and performance into the chain of ideas, teaching, creation, performance, research and promotion for training acting talents, which responds to the process of artistic creation and production.
Meanwhile, STA has produced many great plays of profound influence, such as modern dramas “The Young Generation”, “Youth of the Fight”, “Black Steed”, Beijing opera “Women General of Yang Family”, dance theatre works “The White Hair Girl”, “Wild Zebra” and “Farewell My Concubine”. In the recent few years, many outstanding artistic works have been produced in the process of educational reform, such as multimedia stage drama “Prince Himalayas”, new media dance drama “Civilization - Totem”, new media recital drama “Red Motto”, multimedia musical “Monk Hongyi”, first exhibition drama in China “Year 1978”, musicals “Long River”, “A Moment of Eternity”, “Notre Dame”, dramas “Buddha Ridge”, “The War in 1948”, Beijing opera “Royal Concubine Yang of Tang Dynasty”, “The Legend of Deification”, “Ripples Across Stagnant Water”, ballet “Four Seasons”, dances “Spring Butterflies”, and “Shao Duoli”. These productions have been presented at Grand National Theatre, Shanghai International Art Festival, and Shanghai Grand Theatre. With the funding mainly from off-campus sources, these productions both serve as part of the professional education and satisfy the needs of people for cultural enjoyment.
In recent years, STA has participated in several important national projects. For example, in the core creation team for the opening and closing ceremonies of 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, four out of the seven chief designers are the teachers or graduates from Shanghai Theatre Academy, including the visual effect designer, modeling designer, lighting designer and stage designer. Besides, some postgraduate students worked as computer art designers and fireworks managers. They are highly commented by the media as “STA Creative Taskforce”. In the Expo 2010 Shanghai China, the Virtual Simulation Laboratory for Multimedia Performance of STA took the task to establish the evaluation center for exhibitions and shown in the Expo, and set up the joint laboratory with the ICT Department of Coordination Bureau of Shanghai World Expo to test and assess the planning and operation of the Expo. In addition, over 200 dance students performed at the opening ceremony of the Expo.
STA is devoted to promoting artistic and academic exchanges, playing an increasingly important role in the field of theatre education in Asia and the world. STA hosts the headquarters of the Asian-Pacific Bureau for Theatre Schools of UNESCO Chair - International Theatre Institute. It has held several international art, cultural and academic exchange programs, including the International Experimental Theatre Festival, Asia-Pacific Theatre School Expo, International Directors Masterclasses, and International Forum of Art School Directors. STA has entered into cooperation with art colleges and institutes from over twenty countries and regions.
Based on the demand for art talents in Shanghai and China, as well as for the academy’s sustainable development, STA will constantly optimize its academic programs and improve the teaching capacity to build a training system for high-quality creative talents, so as to develop into a top-level comprehensive performing arts university with international reputation.