News & Events

Theatre Department Recognized

Students sit in the stadium-style seating of an auditorium while an instructor speaks to them.
Waubonsee Community College Professor of Communications/Theatre Dr. Maria Bakalis (far right) addresses the cast and crew of the spring play earlier this month. Bakalis and the theatre department are being honored as part the college’s “Placing Learning First” faculty and program recognition.

Theatre is an art form that is both ancient and contemporary, and Waubonsee Community College’s theatre program is no different. From its modest beginnings in the 1968 college catalog to its well-rounded offerings today, the program has helped thousands of students explore the universal human experience, and for that, Waubonsee is proud to recognize the theatre faculty and department as part of its “Placing Learning First” program.

Explaining the magic of the art form, Waubonsee’s Professor of Communications/Theatre Dr. Maria Bakalis said, “Theatre transports us into an imagined world, which remarkably explains the real world in which we live.”

And as the real world of its students has changed over the years, so too has the theatre program. In 1968 two theatre courses were offered — “Introduction to Drama” and “Elements of Oral Interpretation.” By the time an area of concentration in theatre was introducted in 1983, the discipline’s nine courses had grown to include more experiential courses such as Acting I and II, Stagecraft and Scene Design, and Stage Movement.

Today’s course offerings offer a mixture of theater history and performance courses, along with a few more unique courses such as “Diversity in American Theatre” and “Creative Learning Applications,” which focuses on helping develop the imagination in all types of educational environments.

The opportunities students have to perform have also grown over the years. Each year, the theatre department stages both a fall and spring production. Whether or not they’re enrolled in a theatre course, students can join the Stage Performers, Etc. club, which presents performances at local social service organizations and nursing homes. Students in the theatre practicum course not only perform but also write a 40-minute play about a particular topic or theme relevant to children ages 5 to 12.

At the helm of these productions for the past 22 years has been Dr. Maria Bakalis. After teaching as an adjunct at Waubonsee for 10 years, Bakalis was hired as a full-time instructor in 1989. She holds a bachelor’s degree in speech/theatre from DePaul University, a master’s degree in communications/theatre from Northeastern Illinois University and a doctoral degree in adult education from Northern Illinois University.

An experienced performer, Bakalis also earned certificates in acting from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England, and the Athens Centre in Greece. She’s also written several shows, including “La Maria: The Life and Loves of Maria Callas,” “Once Upon a Dream,” “A Christmas Carol: The Sequel” and “The Wizdom of Oz.” Bakalis will perform her original one-woman show, “Mary Todd Lincoln: Reflections on a Life of Shattered Dreams,” at Waubonsee’s Sugar Grove Campus on April 30. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at