The Notre Dame Theatre Chronology provides details from 1845 of faculty-directed, student-driven, co-curricular theatre productions at Notre Dame beginning with the Thespians and St. Cecilia Philomatheans and continuing to the contemporary Department of Film, Television, and Theatre. Begun by student Martin Sprunck in 1994 and continued under Washington Hall building manager Tom Barkes until 2004, the Theatre Chronology was co-edited by Mark C. Pilkinton (Film, Television, and Theatre) and Elizabeth Hogan (Archives) and maintained by Kevin Cawley (Archives) from 2004 to 2016.  It is now edited and maintained by Stacey Stewart (Film, Television, and Theatre). Also see Mark C. Pilkinton's Washington Hall at Notre Dame: Crossroads of the University, 1864-2004 (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011). FTT is indebted to Dr. Pilkinton for his contributions to the timeline below.

Since 1990, the Notre Dame Student Film Festival has screened films made by Notre Dame undergraduates during the past year as class projects. The ND Student Film Festival Archive currently provides details about these featured films from 1996 to the present. The Archive is edited and maintained by Tre Goodhue and festival founder Ted Mandell.


  • Music Production Sound Design Lab


    FTT outfits a new high-tech music production and sound design lab.

  • Stupid Humans 600


    FTT produces the first student-written musical workshopped as part of Matt Hawkins' new course, the Musical Theatre Lab. Stupid Humans, with book, music, and lyrics by Jorge "Jay" Rivera-Herrans '20, sold out all ten performances in the Philbin Studio Theatre and went on for subsequent workshops with Apples and Oranges Studios and Chicago's Tony Award-winning Goodman Theatre.

  • 2018-2019

    FTT establishes the interdisciplinary Minor in Musical Theatre in partnership with the Department of Music.

  • 2012-2013

    FTT presents the first production of ND Theatre NOW, a soon-to-be annual slot in the mainstage theatre season devoted to student-driven work. The initial offering featured two student-written one-act plays, She by Renée Roden '14 and The Sinopean by Daniel García de Paredes '13. 

  • DeBartolo Performing Arts Center


    The Department moves into the brand new DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

  • 1997-1998

    The New Playwrights Workshop is founded by Professor Mark C. Pilkinton.

  • 1998-1999

    The Department of Film, Television, and Theatre is created to reflect more accurately the academic and creative interests of the Department.

  • Student Film Festival First Poster


    The first Notre Dame Student Film Festival takes place, founded by faculty member Ted Mandell.

  • 1989-1990

    The cooperative theatre program with Saint Mary's College ends.

  • 1980-1981

    Communication & Theatre Department is created with the continuing cooperative arrangement with Saint Mary's College.

  • 1968-1969

    Speech & Drama Department is created from split with Communication Arts (which later becomes American Studies).

  • 1967-1968

    Communication Arts Department creates a separate and cooperative Notre Dame/Saint Mary's College theatre program.

  • 1957-1958

    Communication Arts Department (Journalism, Speech, Radio/Television, and Theatre) is created.

  • 1925-1926

    Professor Frank Kelly teaches Play Production class.

  • 1924-1925

    Speech & Drama Department is created with general university departmentalization.

  • 1920-1921

    Public Speaking area is described.

  • 1871-1899

    Elocution and Oratory academic area is described.

  • 1867-1868

    For the spring semester, Professor A.A. Griffith arrived to teach elocution.

  • 1858

    Theatre societies such as the Thespians and St. Cecilia Philomatheans are created.

  • 1855-1856

    The Rev. R. A. Shortis is Professor of Elocution and Belles Lettres.

  • Fr Sorin Arriving At Notre Dame Drawing

    December 26, 1842

    The University of Notre Dame began late on the bitterly cold afternoon of November 26, 1842, when a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and seven companions, all of them members of the recently established Congregation of Holy Cross, took possession of 524 snow-covered acres that the Bishop of Vincennes had given them in the Indiana mission fields.