Theater Education

STate education specialist in theater

Perpich Center’s Theater Education Specialist advances the work of theater education in Minnesota by supporting theater teachers and directors, English Language Arts teachers, elementary generalists, and others through dynamic face-to-face and online workshops, consultation, theater company partnerships, a mentorship program, and professional development customized to school or district needs.

Stephanie Lein Walseth, PhD, is Minnesota’s Theater Education Specialist. Currently, her work centers around the following topics:

  • Implementation of the 2018 Minnesota Academic Standards in Theater
  • Curriculum development and assessment
  • Building literacy across the curriculum using the tools of theater and dance
  • Culturally responsive teaching and culturally relevant pedagogy
  • Equity and anti-racism in theater education
  • Theater production support and professional development

The Theater Education Specialist also leads the Scholars of Distinction in Theater Arts program in partnership with Program Co-Director Gretchen Heath and the Minnesota Department of Education.

Stephanie Lein Walseth, PhD, Theater Education Specialist

Stephanie Lein Walseth  |  763-279-4181

Stephanie Lein Walseth, Ph.D. is a theater educator, artist, administrator, and scholar with over 15 years experience working with students and artists of all ages. She is a founding core artistic group member of Full Circle Theater Company, and she has served tenures with Penumbra Theatre Company, Mu Performing Arts, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Sod House Theater, among many other professional companies in Minnesota and across the country. Stephanie received her Ph.D. in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota, and her research focuses on theaters of color and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She serves as an affiliate faculty member at Augsburg University and the University of Minnesota. Her writing has appeared in HowlRound, Theatre Topics, e-misférica, The Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance, and the Palgrave Macmillan anthology Theater, Performance and Change.


The Scholars of Distinction in Theater Arts Award program recognizes Minnesota high school juniors and seniors
who demonstrate outstanding knowledge, skills, and creativity in theater. The program awards recognition to
students who demonstrate extraordinary accomplishment in one or more of the following areas of theater:
acting, playwriting, design and technical theater, or directing.

“Thank you for hosting Backstage Center Stage! What a wonderful day of learning, sharing, and meeting new colleagues. So often it feels like we work in isolation; what a great way to unite and share information and resources. I look forward to the next event.”

Ryan Julien, Fine Arts Center Supervisor, Spring Lake Park Schools

“You all rock. I so appreciate this opportunity and will commit to creating and delivering curriculum designed with an anti-racist and equitable lens.” (Commenting on Penumbra Theatre Company’s RACE Workshop and follow up conversations with Perpich Staff)

Mark Rehani, Incoming Middle School Theater Educator, St. Francis Area Schools

“I have encouraged others in my building to sign up for the next session [of “Using the Body, Voice and Movement to Unlock Texts” workshop]. There are some great ideas to literally get kids out of their seats and learn, whether in a classroom or learning online.”

Cheryl Neidt, Retired Theater Educator, Springfield Public Schools

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Why theater education matters?

Perpich Center believes in art education for all. We are here as a resource to ensure all children can participate in and benefit from the arts. Research demonstrates that students involved in drama coursework and activities:

  1. Achieve higher test scores than their peers.
  2. Improve their reading comprehension, verbal, and non-verbal communication skills.
  3. Have increased attendance rates and reduced high school drop-out rates.
  4. Build stronger self-esteem and self-confidence in other academic areas.
  5. Deepen their social awareness and empathy towards others.

Furthermore, arts education has broad support across the country. The vast majority of Americans (93%) believe that the arts are an essential component of a well-rounded education.

American Alliance for Theater & Education


Workshop Examples

  • Using the Body, Voice and Movement to Unlock Texts
  • Implementing the New K-12 Minnesota Standards in Theater
  • Cultural Representation in Educational Theater
  • Resources & Mentorship Opportunities for New Directors
  • Moment Workshop with Tectonic Theater Project
  • RACE Workshop with Penumbra Theatre Company
  • Backstage Center Stage Tech/Design Conference with the Guthrie Theater
  • Theater Educator and Director Conference with Hennepin Theatre Trust