Monday, February 22, 2010

A Theatre Note

I usually don't do this.

Why am I doing this?

This is a web log--theoretically, I can post whatever I want on here. Like, I can post my inmost thoughts and feelings (provided I want to share said thoughts and feelings with the fabled "Internet"). But I really tend to focus more on opinion here rather than emotion. And I guess...well, screw it.

Here at my school, we have a theatre program, but no theatre major. Or even a theatre minor. We produce three shows per year, and we have classes, whenever enough people sign up to make them happen.

We can declare individualized theatre majors, or even individualized theatre minors, but that's a lot of work, and it costs extra. So what we end up with is a theatre community largely composed of people who will most likely end up in non-theatre careers. So why do people audition for shows? Why are we still doing shows here, besides because of the indomitable will of Doc?

It boils down to the fact that we have an excellent theatre community. People know they won't be going into theatre as careers, and yet they still audition, and we put on pretty good shows--last night's closing performance was the best theatrical performance I've ever participated in. Our theatre community is willing to do theatre JUST because they love it. Most of them aren't planning for Broadway.

Now, that is absolutely wonderful--basically, theatre is staying alive because people will throw themselves into it as a wholly extracurricular activity.

But here's the flaw; with this situation, the continued success of our theatre program depends absolutely on the good will, diligence, and dedication of a motley group of people who did theatre in high school. We have no major or minor--we have nothing to lure talent, and we have no practical reason for people to keep performing. If the well of good will dries up, where are we?

Do theatre productions still happen? If so, what sort of life will they have? What if nobody auditions?

I heard it said recently that we "are not a legit theatre school". I simultaneously agree and disagree. On the one hand, we are not known for our theatre program. We're not a big name--we don't attract a lot of great talents. (Nothing against our current theatre community; I just mean that high school theatre standouts don't come to our school because we have a great program.) However, because of this amazing outpouring of goodwill, we have put on some AMAZING shows, and even saved a few from disaster. (Alice, I'm looking at you.) And our instructor told me recently that a theatre degree is not required to go to theatre grad school, so that raises the question "What makes a good theatre program? Is it fine performances or is it a big-name-producing major program?"

I really don't know where this is headed, but I figured it'd be better to let it all out rather than try to disjointedly communicate it to various people and end up wallowing in a cesspool of misunderstanding. OH! I remember.

We have a great program here, but we have no direction. There is no future for our theatre program without a major or a minor, or both; we need to hire at least one full-time instructor, reinstate the major and the minor, and refurbish our space. If those don't happen, we are doomed.

So here's my challenge: theatre people (you know who you are), make yourselves heard! Speak out in favor of the reinstatement of the theatre major and minor. If we keep hoping that we'll "get some good freshmen in this year", we'll go into a long slow decline destined to end in ultimate failure. Be proactive, people. Keep theatre alive for the class of 2014, and 2015, and 2114, and 2115. It's on us; let's not let future students down.

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