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Articles on Theatre:

Major in Theatre

Article by Rachelle Wiggins

“God wants you to use your gifts for his glory…to benefit those around you and to bring him honor. He wants you to steward your gifts, not waste them.”  ~Stephen Altrogge

The word theater stems from the Greek root word theatron which means “a place for seeing.” People attend the theater in order to experience a real or imagined story or event “come alive” before their eyes. A collaborative dramatic performance has the ability to draw an audience in and to provide inspiration, humor, escape, reflection and healing to those who watch with engagement. Theater delights our senses, opens our mind, engages our emotions and influences our beliefs. As a theater major, you will develop practical skills in acting and performing. Whether learning on stage, backstage or in the classroom, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of theater and production. You will receive instruction in dramatic reading, acting, directing, technical work, and drama theory. You may build a set, design a costume or write an original script. You’ll learn about various acting methods and techniques and study famous playwrights such as Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Thornton Wilder.

Chances are, if you are considering a major in theater you have gained some amount of experience on the stage and possess a love for the performing arts. In addition to a passion for storytelling and the ability to express yourself dramatically with strong stage presence, there are other traits that are highly desirable for a theater major. One is creativity and the ability to authentically enter into character and engage an audience. Second is the ability to accept criticism which is one of the primary ways we grow as performers. Another necessary skill is attentiveness to detail which allows you to keenly observe and fine tune your work with precision so it moves from an amateur to professional level. Individuals who can easily memorize, thrive under pressure, work independently as well as in groups and possess resilience do well as theater majors.

As a theater major you will watch and critique live acting and film production. You may take voice or dance lessons, and participate in department performances, drama club or poetry readings. It’s possible you will complete a theater internship or senior project that is either research-based or an original creative work. You may take classes that focus on theater from a specific geographic location or historic time period. Types of classes you’ll take might include:

  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Survey of dramatic literature
  • Topics in musical theater
  • Oral interpretation
  • History of theater  
  • Modern Asian performance
  • Stage design and movement
  • Western theater traditions
  • Lighting design

Theater majors end up in a wide-range of fields including the arts, business, education, publishing and performance. If you dream of acting, directing or producing on Broadway or the silver screen you may be disappointed that the competition for such careers is fierce. However, you will never achieve what you never pursue! If you are willing to display dedicated persistence it’s possible to find a theater career that is fulfilling and meaningful. Those who make it in acting are those who are willing to take small and seemingly insignificant roles as “extras” or to do ads and voiceovers before landing bigger roles. Other theater-related careers include:

  • Community art worker
  • High school drama teacher
  • Screenwriter/playwright  
  • Dance teacher  
  • Stage manager
  • Costume designer  
  • Recreational or drama therapist

If you find pleasure in the creative process and desire to impact others through the aesthetic experience of quality theatrical performance, then allow God to use you by choosing a major in theater!

 

A future in Theatre

By Jennifer Bailey

Do you spell “theatre” with a “re,”not an “er?" If you are truly interested in this field, than the spelling with a "re" is important.

This is a program that focuses on the general study of dramatic works and performing. Your studies include instruction in important works of dramatic literature as well as dramatic styles and types, and the principles of organizing and producing full live or filmed productions.

As you know, theatre is an art.  In order to be successful in this major, you will need to have a love for drama, acting, and the production of theatre in general. You don’t necessarily need to be drawn toward acting specifically as there are many other aspects of theatre in which to specialize such as lighting, staging and writing. Regardless, you will learn about every aspect of the theatre industry as well as specific aspects of it such as what goes on behind the scenes, how actors become proficient in their craft and, generally speaking, about how all of it works together to make a quality theatrical production.

Besides the fact that you will learn how to "do" theatre, you will also learn a lot of highly valuable skills that will help you become a valuable employee for any job or career field you ultimately go into. It is important for you to recognize the special advantages as a theatre major you bring to future employers. You will find that there are more advantages you will gain by obtaining a theatre degree than almost all other liberal art degrees out there.

These advantageous qualities include discipline, dependability, loyalty, leadership, becoming a good team player as theatre students learn because they must to be effective members of a production team. You will also find that employers find theatre majors quite valuable because they are energetic, enthusiastic and able to work under pressure. They also generally have very good communications and human relations skills and have a can-do confidence based on their experience of successfully meeting difficult challenges.

The required and elective courses you would take as a theatre major will vary depending on the school. Some you are likely to take regardless of the institution would include; acting, art, choreography, dance, design, directing, history of the theater, management, oral interpretation, physical expression including voice and movement, speech, stagecraft, survey of dramatic literature, survey of film history and voice.

John Munschauer writes in Jobs for English Majors and Other Smart People that there are just two types of jobs: "professional work" that requires special training in law school, medical school, architecture school, and so forth, and "trait-oriented work," for which employers seek workers with special traits, such as communications skills, imagination, reasoning ability, and sound judgement.

That being said, theatre training can be valuable preparation for many of the innumerable careers that fall in the category of "trait-oriented work".

So, if your long range goal is to become a working actor, then this degree of course, would prepare you for just that; however, after what you have just read, you may love theatre or acting now, and may still choose to use this degree for a career in any number of fields with the skills you learn during your schooling. Keep in mind, far more than any other major, theatre is excellent training for virtually any job and it will be up to you to recognize the advantages you have and to then be sure that you educate any prospective employer regarding those!