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Handbook Appendices Forms Theatre Scholarships For Theatre Majors, Minors, and Intendeds University Theatre Handbook Table of Contents Theatre Home

C.1.c  Expectations for Majors, Minors and Intendeds. 

By granting you major or minor status the Theatre Faculty expresses its judgment that you possess the needed requirements for success in the discipline.  It also enters into an informal contract with you in which it pledges to monitor your progress and your development as you grow in artistry and move toward the completion of your degree requirements.  Acceptance does not promise that you will become a world-class artist or a renowned scholar, or, for that matter, ever have a thriving career in theatre-related work. It does, however, oblige the faculty to push, to encounter, to cajole you into being what you can be, and hopefully, better than you have dreamed.

A contract, of course, binds both parties.  It is now incumbent upon you to make a sincere effort toward seeing through the glare of class assignments, deadlines, production joys, work obligations and social interactions, in order to target your energies on the real task of your education: the focusing and enhancement of your abilities.  It’s not easy to thrive when your body is exhausted and you have too much on your plate; or when the required activity seems to make little sense and is unrelated to your present desires.  It’s difficult to remember, that you are in charge of your body, loading your plate, trusting the usefulness of all experience, and wrestling with your desires.  By not disciplining yourself in these matters you will let your education sweep past you as if attached to the second-hand of a gargantuan clock.  Time will fly, you’ll get your degree, and one of the best eras of your life will be lost to mere task fulfillment. 

When “running the course” it’s very tempting to want to rush your development.  While such choices are linked with personal maturity and readiness, you are well served not to get intricately involved with outside theatre companies during the aca­demic year.  Summers, of course, are another matter.  It’s tempting to want to get on with your career—making contacts—but you will probably mostly end up removing your focus from your present task, which is one of gaining knowledge, perspec­tive and artistic maturation.  These understandings do not come easily, and certainly not by way of merely “stacking-up” experience.  Set aside this portion of your life for finding the core of your artistic beliefs, that core on which you will build your career.  You’re better advised to spend your artistic energies and developmental time on University Theatre offerings or in producing your own laboratory shows.

So what is being expected of you?  What are the appropriate goals, and how do you achieve them?

The how part can’t be answered here.  That’s really up to you.  All any curriculum can provide you is the reasoned and reasonable opportunity for progress.  Finding the inner drive to achieve is a very personal attribute; some can muster it and many others can’t.  Drive seems to be involved somehow with curiosity, imagination, and responsibility, all wrapped up in self-image.  Exercises and focused experiences can enhance these qualities, but they can’t create them.  These qualities cannot be expected of you, but if they’re there, and you’re working on them, they can be cultivated and celebrated!

An educational curriculum can only establish desirable, obtainable goal, and set-up patterns of activities and interactions which can provide you the opportunities to activate yourself toward growth.  Too often we treat education as information-based when it ought to be viewed as change-inducing.  Information is only one key to gaining perspective for change.  Experiences and interactions are the others.  In an educational setting, strategies toward change centering on these topics is called curriculum, and it goes well beyond the classroom setting and into all planned activities, including the SPAM Awards, Theatre Forums, cast parties and faculty advising.  Since only so much can be accomplished in your undergraduate career, the theatre curriculum seeks to provide you focus on two major goals: those of personal development, and those of growing abilities.  The faculty challenges you to actively pursue them.

Much of what happens in your undergraduate career would happen to you anyway.  Time passes, and experiences accumulate, glands settle down, other people’s ideas and values rub off on us, we better learn how to respond to our values.  What an undergraduate education can provide you is an examined, more deliberate approach to these changes.  In terms of personal development, the theatre curriculum will assist you in:

  • discovering your special gifts in imagination, verbal and non-verbal communication, empathic sensitivity, visual and audio perception, organization, leadership, and the like;
  • increasing your discipline by focus, perseverance, management of time, emotional control, tolerance of the “other,” an ongoing process of defining self, and the like;
  • treasuring the ideal of excellence by committing to order and precision, embracing personal responsibility, striving for originality, moving beyond expectations, and the like;
  • extending artistic awareness of how an artist thinks, the unique qualities of artistic expression, the social and spiritual roles of the arts, the history of humanity and the arts, and the like;
  • encouraging spiritual enhancement through prodding an awareness of God’s special artistic gifts, encouraging a sharing of your artistry with others, motivating an attitude of servant hood, and the like.

Most academic disciplines treasure measurable skills attainment.  Usually these skills are tied to some form of career enhancement, although often the aim is ability for its own sake.

In the liberal arts theatre setting these notions are inseparable.  Our curriculum can offer you the possibility of growing abilities in the following:

  • objective self assessment through an awareness of what constitutes excellence, seeing self through goals of ensemble, distinguishing desires from achievements, prioritizing values, and the like:
  • cognitive theatrical criticism by way of gaining a clearer understanding of traditional “rules” of theatrical practice, learning to distinguish choices made in the production setting, assessing the choices not made by the artists, acquiring first hand experience of the difficulty of the task, and the like;
  • sensitive creative negotiation associated with group decision making, concise self expression, creating a functional and enriching performance ensemble, activating group imagination, and the like;
  • creative self expression through acquiring knowledge and practicing application of the distinctive way art “means” and how it communicates, extending opportunities for insightful analysis of accomplished works of art, and the like;
  • heightened sensory sensitivities related to spatial awareness, visual and musical rhythms, controlling both the personal and public impact of space, learning to read and create meaningful “body language,” heightened awareness of both implicit and symbolic meanings for color, light, sounds, and the like;

The lists above are clearly incomplete and open to interpretation.  Their thrust is that you need to be looking behind the activities of the classroom and the platform in order to maximize your growth as a person and artist.  Much of life gets lost in the details.  Guard against it!

Next Section: C1d: Requirements

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