The Department of Theatre and Media Studies (formerly Department of Theatre Arts) started in 1976 as a pioneer department of the University of Calabar and graduated her first batch of students in 1980. The Department enjoyed a solid pioneering vision and effort from very widely selected staff of American, British, Indian, and African origin led by Dexter K. W Lyndersay, a Trinidadian, himself a seasoned, gifted and committed theatre scholar and professional, versed in all the arts of the theatre.
The Department which was founded as a darling child of the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Prof. E.A Ayandele, no sooner made a mark nationally and internationally in theatre studies and stage productions. That grandeur and excellent take-off fertilized the soil on which the Department is still harvesting and cropping today.
The Department of Theater and Media Studies, University of Calabar has one of the most versatile curriculums in Theatre Arts and Media Studies in the country. This is manifest, perhaps in the excellence shown in the caliber of students graduating from the department as well as the level of professionalism and talent projected by the famous University of Calabar Performing Company (UCPC); a teaching support unit of the Department which is made up of a Modern Musical Orchestra, Ethnomusicologists, Choreographers and Dancers.
There is also the play House for Children, a project directed at exposing the children, through series of improvisational theatre and media activities and designed to enhance self-realization, self-discovery and talent development. The Technical Theatre Unit is renowned in the creative application of production materials and elements - wood, glass, fibre, fabrics, light, sound, electronics, electrical, electro-mechanical and pyrotechnics in stage scenography. The academic unit is made up of more than thirty lecturers in nine broad specialized areas of Theatre and Media Studies for the Undergraduate, Master’s and Doctoral studies. The administrative unit handles the day to day administration of the department. These units, acting in concordance, project the academic and professional objectives of the Department of Theatre and Media Studies. Thus they pursue the Department’s philosophy of developing the theatre and mass media as potent communication tools for the education and entertainment of her immediate community and the projection of Theatre and Media Studies as an academic discipline.
The Department has as its workspace, the James Ene Henshaw Theatre Building, a new administrative block allocated to her in October 2002 by the University Administration. This block houses the Lecturers’ Offices, Administrative Offices, and some Lecture and Resource Rooms, the Film, Television, Radio Broadcast, Design and Puppetry Studios and the Experimental Pit Theatre. There are also the Dance Studio, the Scene-shop, the Scene-dock, and indeed, the Chinua Achebe Arts Theatre, which are the main laboratories of the Department for testing the arts of the theatre in performance.
The Department of the Theatre and Media Studies is credited as being the first in the country to teach Dance and Choreography courses as specialized integral units of Theatre and Media Studies. Many of the choreography graduates of the Department are considered the best in the country, today. Her theatre Design and Technology unit, perhaps, is matchless in theory and practice. The graduates of the department, found in Academics, Theatre Management, Communication, Media Broadcast houses, Print and Publishing companies; Film and Video industries; Public Relations, Information and Advertising offices, as well as Fashion Design and Modeling outfits are eloquent testimonials offices, as well as fashion design and modeling outfits, are eloquent testimonies of tangible rewards of the collective efforts of the Department.