Performance and Communication Arts

What is Performance and Communication Arts?

The curricular and extra-curricular activities of the department of performance and communication arts (PCA) are guided by a number of fundamental assumptions:

  • all performances are acts of communication, and all acts of communication are performances; • all humans communicate, and all humans perform;
  • performance entails not merely the disingenuous act of faking but more important the creative and constructive act of making;
  • communication entails not merely the transmission and reception of messages but more important the community-inducing communion among humans that the transmission and reception of messages makes possible;
  • performance and communication are not just acts in which humans sometimes engage but rather the fundamentally humanizing acts that shape who we are and how we negotiate our relationships with others and with the material world in which we live; and
  • examination of the basic components of performance and communication theory, when coupled with repeated practice in the art of shaping performances and engaging in communicative acts, enables students to become more effective and ethical producers and more discriminating and critical consumers of performances and other communicative behaviors.

Theater studies engage students in critical inquiry into previous performances and previous performance texts, as well as artistic engagement with the craft of producing original texts and performances. Performance studies, a broader term, includes theater studies, but also encompasses a broader array of performance behaviors, including (among others) the performance of gender, the performance of self in everyday life, the performance of texts other than plays, ritual performances and political performances, both mainstream and activist.

Rhetorical studies focuses on the use of symbols to alter attitudes and induce others to act in a particular manner, and students engaged in rhetorical studies are challenged to critically examine previous attempts at persuasion, as well as to enter creatively into the production of original persuasive messages. Communication studies, a broader term, includes rhetorical studies, but also encompasses a broader array of communication behaviors in a broader variety of contexts, including among others interpersonal communication, small groupcommunication and intercultural communication.

Working in Performance and Communication Arts
Characteristics and Skills Necessary for Success

  • Interest in achieving clear and interesting communication
  • Ability to project a friendly attitude
  • Easily accessible to others
  • Creative and independent in thought and action
  • Tactful
  • Ability to think clearly and decisively in unexpected circumstances
  • Ability to work with deadlines

Click HERE (communications) or HERE (theater) for tables on Career Areas, Employers, and Strategies for Employment

Sample Job Titles

Advertising Executive
Marketing Director
Entertainment Agent
Sales Representative
Campaign Director
Customer Relations
Public Relations Manager
Production Manager
Technical Director
Costume Designer
Events Coordinator


Learning More About Performance and Communication Arts
Visit the Career Services office and check out our Career Resource Library

  • Visit the SLU Performance and Communication Arts Department website
  • Check out Performance and Communication Arts course descriptions in the Catalog
  • Talk with a professor in Performance and Communication Arts about the major. Click here for a list of possible questions to ask.
  • Perform an informational interview with a professional in the field. Click here for information on how to find a professional, contacting them, and a list of possible questions.
  • Get connected with SLU alum in the field through SAINTSLink, participate in Shadow-a-Saint or complete an Internship.

Additional Resources



Related Majors and Minors at SLU
Fine Arts