BA - Theatre Studies
Faculty Advisor: Michael Vought, Ph.D.
What are the requirements of Theatre Studies?
The Theatre Studies B.A. shares the General Education requirements with all Westminster College students, and the required course path to graduate with a B.A. degree.
Why get a degree in Theatre Studies?
The Theatre Studies B.A. opens up a world of creative opportunity. Most people think that theatre degrees are only for acting and directing, but besides that you can take the performance experience and work in hundreds of different positions ranging from a dialect coach to a politician. A liberal arts education teaches you to think critically and to communicate effectively, skills useful in any profession, throughout your life. Many people who pursue an undergraduate degree in theatre, also go on to receive degrees in law or business, but the skills they learn in the theatre pave the way for them in their higher education pursuits.
The article below was recently published in Dramatics magazine regarding theatre majors.
25 SPECIAL ADVANTAGES THE THEATRE MAJOR HAS---
1. Oral Communication Skills
Many students find that theatre helps them develop the confidence that's essential to speaking clearly, lucidly, and thoughtfully.
2. Creative Problem Solving Abilities
Most people expect theatre students to exhibit creativity in such areas as acting, design, playwriting or directing, and many companies do recruit creative thinkers.
3. More than "get it done"
Theatre students learn that just "getting it done" isn't enough. You learn to do it correctly. Whatever your theatrical job--tech, performing, research, management--it has to be done right . You learn to take pride in doing things at your very best level. Of course an employer will value that trait.
4. Motivation and Commitment
Being involved in theatre productions and classes demands commitment and motivation. By example, we teach each other that success comes to those who are committed to the task at hand. Few other disciplines you study will so strongly help you develop motivation and commitment.
5. Willingness to Work Cooperatively
Your work in theatre companies teaches you how to work effectively with different types of people--often very different types! Theatre demands that participants work together cooperatively for the production to succeed; there is no room for "we" versus "they" behavior.
6. The Ability to Work Independently
In theatre, you're often assigned tasks that you must complete without supervision. Crew chiefs. Directing. Putting together this flat, finding that prop, working out characterization outside of rehearsals. It's left up to you to figure out how best to achieve the goal.
7. Time-budgeting Skills
When you're a student, being involved in theatre forces you to learn how to budget your time. You need to schedule your days very carefully if you want to keep up your grades while you're busy with rehearsals, work calls, and the other demands that theatre makes on your time.
Personnel managers call people who approach work with initiative and enterprise "self-starters." The complexities of a theatrical production demand individuals who are willing to voluntarily undertake any task that needs to get done in order for the production to succeed. In theatre, we're all self-starters.
9. Promptness and Respect for Deadlines
Tardiness is never acceptable in theatre because it shows a lack of self-discipline, and more importantly, a lack of consideration for others. Being late for a rehearsal or failing to finish an assigned task on time damages a production and adversely affects the work of many other people. Employers appreciate workers who are on time and do their work as scheduled.
10. Acceptance of Rules
In theatre you work within the structure of a set of procedures and rules that deal with everything from shop safety to behavior at auditions, rehearsals and work calls. You learn that you must be a "good follower." Theatre teaches you the importance of rules, a concept that's valued in any organization.
11. The Ability to Learn Quickly AND Correctly
Theatre students, whether they're memorizing lines or learning the technical aspects of a production, must have the ability to absorb a vast quantity of material quickly--and accurately . Your work in college theatre will show that you have the ability to grasp complex matters in a short period of time, a highly-valued trait to employers. Note that part of this ability is another significant trait: knowing how to listen. If you don't listen, you're likely to make some major error that will damage the production. Listening is a skill for any job and an employer will respect your ability to listen and comprehend.
12. Respect for Colleagues
In theatre you discover that a successful production requires contributions from everybody who's involved. Mutual respect is essential. A prospective employer will appreciate the fact that you have learned the importance of respecting your co-workers.
13. Respect for Authority
Only one person can be in charge of any given portion of a production. The director. The shop foreman. The tech director. The designer. Theatre teaches you to willingly accept and respect authority.
14. Adaptability and Flexibility
Theatre students must be adaptable and flexible. You need to be willing to try new ideas, accept new challenges, and have the ability to adapt to constantly changing situations and conditions. A worker who is versatile and flexible is highly valued to most employers; both traits prove that you are able and willing to learn new things.
15. The Ability to Work Under Pressure
Theatre work often demands long hours. It's important that everyone involved with a production be able to maintain a cooperative and enthusiastic attitude under pressure. The ability to remain poised under such tensions is an asset that will help you cope with stress in other parts of your life, including your job.
16. A Healthy Self-Image
To work in theatre, you must know who you are and how to project your individuality. But at the same time, it's important to recognize the need to make yourself secondary to the importance of a production. This is a tricky balance that, although difficult to accomplish, is a valuable trait that employers treasure.
17. Acceptance of Disappointment-- And Ability to Bounce Back
Theatre people learn to deal with dashed hopes and rejection on a regular basis. You learn to accept that kind of disappointment and move on. Employers need workers who are resilient enough to bounce back from this kind of frustration.
Theatre demands that you learn how to control your life. More than other students, you are forced to make choices between keeping up with responsibilities and doing things you'd rather do. You learn to govern yourself. An employer will respect that ability.
19. A Goal-Oriented Approach to Work
Many aspects of theatre involve setting and achieving specific goals. In employer's terms, you've learned to be task-oriented and capable of finding practical ways to achieve goals.
Busy theatre students, involved in a production or other theatre projects while also taking a heavy academic load, must learn to concentrate if they are to succeed. Acting classes, in particular, stress concentration, and once you have learned that skill as an actor, it can be transferred to other activities.
As you work in theatre you learn to dedicate your very being--to doing your best to create a successful production. Many theatre students discover that committing oneself to a given task is deeply rewarding. Employers respect workers who have learned the value of dedication.
22. A Willingness to Accept Responsibility
Theatre students sometimes have an opportunity that is seldom given to students in other disciplines--the chance to take on sole responsibility for a special project. Being a production stage manager...a designer...a crew chief...a director. Students with other majors seldom have anything even close to these lessons. You can expect employers to value this unusual ability.
23. Leadership Skills
As a theatre student, you have many opportunities to assume leadership roles. In the nurturing environment of theatre, faculty help you learn from mistakes so you become a better leader. Leadership training like this can open the possibility for comparable opportunities in a company that hires you.
Theatre training teaches you confidence in yourself. Your accomplishments in theatre show you that you can handle a variety of jobs, pressures, difficulties and responsibilities. You develop a "Yes, I can!" attitude.
25. Enjoyment -- "This is Fun!"
You've discovered already that theatre people mystify civilians when we say we're having fun. Non-theatre folk shake their heads when we tell them that, and they ask how it is possible to have "fun" in a job that keeps us working night after night, sometimes until after midnight, doing something that calls for a grinding rehearsal or work schedule day after day. We've learned how to find enjoyment in what we do. We can adapt that to other jobs, find ways to enjoy other activities. That positive attitude will mean a great deal to any employer.