The Department of Theatre Arts came into existence as a result of the initiative taken by the famous stage actor Sri Ballari Raghava. He proposed that Theatre Arts should be taught in the University as a subject. A committee was constituted by the University with Dr. Toleti Kanaka Raju, the then Member of the Executive Council of Andhra University and Rao Bahadur Sambadan Modaliar, who was considered as the father of modern Tamil theatre. As a result of their recommendations, the Department of Theatre Arts was established in the year 1961 which was the first department of its kind in any University in India. Dr. K.V.Gopala Swamy was the founder Head of the Department, who later became the Registrar of Andhra University. The succession list of the Head of the Department includes such luminaries as Sri. Mantri Srinivasa Rao (Fellow of British Drama League), Sri Chatla Sriramulu, Sri Attili Krishna Rao, Dr. Abburi Gopalakrishna and Dr. Ramavarapu Sarat Babu. The efforts put in by Sri K.Venkateswara Rao, Stage Director of the Department of Theatre Arts has resulted in bringing out many artists, directors and screen play writers. They include Devadas Kanakala, Potti Prasad, Sakshi Ranga Rao, S.K.Misro, Krishna Chaitanya and Vankayala Satyanarayana Murty etc. At present Prof. G.Subrahmanyam, Principal, Colleges of Arts and Commerce is looking after the Department as In-charge Head of the Department.
Several Internationally know personalities like Sri Sambhu Mitra, Director, Asian Institute of Drama, Sri N.C.Jain, Director, National School of Drama, Sri B.V.Karant, Director of Films, National Academy of Drama, Padmabhushan A.R.Krishna, Secretary, International Theatre Institute, (UNESCO) and Abburi Ramakrishna Rao, Chairman, Bharatiya Natya Sangh and Director, Natya Vidyalaya etc., have been associated with the department as members of the Board of Studies.
In 1957 with assistance from the Government of India an Open-Air Theatre was established in the University Campus. Famous Cine Artists like Sashi Kapoor of Hindi Cinema, Relangi Venkataramayya, Sri Dhuliala, Dr. Raj Rao, Sri Sthanam Narasimha Rao etc., used to participate in Stage Dramas along with students of the Department. Sri A.Ramachandra Rao Director of Telugu Cinema worked for some time as Make-up Artist in the Department.
Dr. Attili Krishna Rao has introduced 'Street Play' in Theatre Arts. The Department of Theatre Arts in Collaboration with the National School of Drama, New Delhi has conducted a ten-week Workshop in Andhra University.
Dr. B.S.Murty, Professor of Law and Dr. Korlapati Srirama Murty, Professor of Telugu were associated with the Department as Guest Faculty in the formative period.
Dr. Akkineni Nageswara Rao and Dr. Dasari Narayana Rao of the Telugu Cinema have instituted Gold Medals in Acting and Direction for the Best Student Artists of the Department of Theatre Arts.
The Department is offering part-time Diploma Courses in Acting and Direction during evening times. Apart from that the department has taken up research programmes leading to Ph.D. on Full-time and Part-time basis.