C.4. Student One Acts Studio Theatre Process.
Selection of scripts and artistic staff (directors and designers) is made by the Theatre Faculty from among materials and applications submitted by interested students. Initial screening of submitted script entries is made in consultation with the faculty. The screening and selection process occur during the Spring Quarter prior to the year of presentation, and the final decision concerning play titles, directors or artistic staff is formally announced as a part of the Annual SPAM Awards at the end of the academic year.
A format using shorter plays, or One Acts, allows several students to be served by the experience and offers opportunities not usually extended by the remainder of the University Theatre production season. Under this format a number of students may be assigned artistic leadership roles as designers or directors as well. Shorter plays offer more concentrated character development, and providing several plays can extend casting to a variety of people who may not otherwise be cast.
Working creatively and autonomously with fellow students provides a striking experience in ensemble, and vividly clarifies distinctions between the territorial tasks of the various artistic personnel. In other words, working together with only a moderate amount of faculty leadership forces members of the artistic staff to face several nagging production decisions: who’s in charge of what; what really is my artistic vision; how do I express it clearly; how do I let other artists be artists; which creative compromises can I tolerate; and how do I foster consensus?
One curricular intention of the Student Studio is to allow the production to be student driven. This may on the surface seem to imply that faculty involvement is minimal. But actually it means that faculty members are involved as advisors rather than artists. With faculty and staff members acting as mentors, students initiate the entire artistic process, from discovery of the script right through to the closing performance. With the organization of the production process assured by standard University Theatre operations, the faculty members are aboard chiefly to offer advice and counseling on artistic decisions and people relationships.
Tasks of the Director
The tasks of the director are mostly the same as in any production setting.
• The discovery of a script which matches established criteria and for which the director has some personal empathy;
• The development of an imaginative, coherent, and clearly expressible interpretation of the script, augmented by an artistic vision of a needful aesthetic response from the intended audience ;
• The concise communication of the interpretation and desired aesthetic impact to the designers of the production, with the willingness to adapt to their artistic requirements;
• The creation of a prompt book which includes notions on interpretation, characterization notes, an breakdown of the script’s ideological structure (beats, etc.), a pattern of blocking, and an indication of the intended production rhythms.
• Auditioning, casting, scheduling rehearsal, controlling rehearsal, guiding character development, creating ideas and mood through line and scene delivery, controlling pacing and rhythm, an participating in tech week decisions;
• Attending all production meetings;
• Cooperating with publicity needs for the production;
• Furnishing program notes which nudge the audience toward appropriate and insightful responses to the production;
Tasks of the Designer
The designer tasks are also standard to any production setting:
• The commitment to the collaborative process of design;
• The commitment to the selected script and to the vision of the director;
• The full understanding of the script and the purpose of the production;
• The development of an imaginative, coherent, and expressive visual concept that supports the aesthetic and mechanical elements or requirements of the script;
• The concise communication of the design concept and the desired impact as it relates to the director’s vision and other members of the design team, with the willingness to adapt to their aesthetic requirements;
• The creation of expressive rough sketches with color indications and/or model, and ground plans, or in the case of costumes provide sketches and fabric swatches and/or color indications;
• Meet with the director to discuss director’s vision or concept;
• Research for specific design elements;
• Provide 1/2” scale ground plan and elevations; for costume provide final sketches with fabric swatches or color indications;
• Provide color rendering or scale model with color indications;
• Meet with production manager and technical director to discuss time schedules and required materials;
• Work with props person to locate furnishings, draperies, and approve hand props with final approval by director;
• Work with costume designer to collaborate on color choices;
• Work with lighting designer regarding color choices and special effects;
• Attend all production meetings;
• Attend acting rehearsals as needed;
• Attend all technical and dress rehearsals and makes adjustments as necessary;
• When show runs, make periodic to check how scenery, furniture, and props are holding up and assist in making repairs or touch-up;
• Enduring and deserving artists have impeccable manners, therefore always thank everyone who warrants it and have respect for your colleagues.
Task of the Faculty Advisor
A faculty advisor is assigned to provide advice and guidance in the development of the artistic product. The advisor will establish an appropriate consultation pattern for members of the artistic staff during both the period of preparation and as production activities get under way. The advising process intends to assure clarity of artistic vision, accommodation of creative difficulties, and appropriate creative development and rehearsal practices. Technical advice and personnel management issues may also be a part of the advising process if necessary. The advisor’s activities take place in addition to the normal and established production meeting patterns overseen by the SPU Producing Director and the Technical Director.
The Student Studio production is considered a full-partner of the University Theatre season. As such it receives the appropriate support accorded to any Studio production in terms of budget, crew assignments, rehearsal-scheduling preferences, promotion, box office, and the like. Production activities are, therefore, under the guidance and accountability of the Producing Director and Technical Director for the department. The operational standards of the University Theatre apply (as described earlier in this handbook).
The performance calendar slot assigned to the Student Studio is traditionally that for the first studio production, presented toward the end of Winter Quarter. The run of the production is usually contained within a one-week period and consists of five consecutive performances, exclusive of preview. Auditions are usually held at the beginning of the Winter Quarter.
NOTE: Performers in the Student Studio production will be compromised for casting in Mainstage #3, usually scheduled for early Spring Quarter production.
Script Selection and Artistic Staff Requirements
The scripts to be produced need to accommodate the guidelines which apply to all University Theatre productions, including:
1) appropriateness for Seattle Pacific’s mission, balance with the remainder of the UT season,
2) educational value, artistic value, budgetary feasibility, and viability for production in the studio setting.
Each director candidate must submit one to three scripts, ranked as to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd personal choice. Script recommendations—in writing—are welcome from any source, however, and will be made available to potential directors for consideration. The scripts need to be an hour or less in playing time. The Theatre Faculty will respond to the script proposals prior to the final selection decision.
As is the case for artistic staff, the final decision on script choices will be made by the Theatre Faculty, which is ultimately responsible for the production program. The selection of scripts and choices between artistic staff candidates are often closely interrelated.
Performance and production crew activity associated with the Student Studio is part of the curricular program of the department, and qualifies for credit through the performance and production practica courses. Academic credit for students selected for the artistic positions of Director, Scenic Designer, Lighting Designer, and Costume Designer is available through enrollment in TRE 4961 Special Projects. This credit is limited to three (3) credits total, which may be extended over two quarters. Grades for all activities associated with the productions will be assigned in the established manner, and by the faculty members attached to instruction of the various courses involved.
Many Theatre majors seek to use directing or design experience in the Student Studio as fulfillment of their requirement for a Senior Project. This is often appropriate, but application for accommodation of the Senior Project in this manner must be approved separately by the Theatre Faculty.
Since the productions will be a part of the curricular program of the Theatre Department, candidates for artistic staff positions must demonstrate artistic and leadership qualifications for the various assignments. It is expected that the work and qualities of the candidates is known by the Theatre Faculty.
At a minimum, candidates must indicate satisfactory completion of the following course preparations, or equivalents. If timing dictates, the courses may be completed in the post-application quarters prior to the assigned production dates.
TRE 2340 Acting II: Character or TRE 3340 Acting III: Styles and TRE 3710 Directing
TRE 3733 Scene Design and (preferably), TRE 2733 Scene Painting.
TRE 2740 Introduction to Lighting and Sound
TRE 3750 Costume and Period Styles and/or extensive experience in the costume area.
The Theatre Faculty will make the final selection of the major creative assignments, including the director and the various designers. Each candidate must apply independently—director/design teaming will be made by the Theatre Faculty.
The application form for artistic staff positions is included in the E. Forms section of this handbook, and is to be submitted to the Department Chair during the beginning of Spring Quarter, but in no case later than the first Monday in May.
Announcement of titles and the artistic staff selected will be made in conjunction with the remainder of the upcoming season at the SPAM Awards at the end of the academic year. All candidates who apply for the various artistic positions will be advised of the selection decision prior to that time.
Next Section: C5: Developing a Résumé