Why be a theatre arts major?

Rachel McVicar ‘14, Staff Writer

You may happen to know one or more of the Theatre Arts majors running around our campus. If you are acquainted with our kind, you also know that when I say “running” I mean it.

Being a theatre major means foregoing sleep, free time and meals. “So why do it?” you may ask, and that is a fair question. Why do we choose to fill our college years with running from class to rehearsal to club meetings to concerts to homework to set-building, light focuses, sound-checks and back again? I can tell you why I do it. I love it.

I am a theatre arts / English major with a concentration in creative writing, as well as a music minor. I can personally attest to the stress-filled weeks, the sleepless nights and the running back and forth. However, I can also tell you about the amazing friendships, the collaboration, the skills and the sheer amount of experience that I have gained after three, going on four, years in the PAC. These are things that other majors do not offer on the same level.

As theatre majors, we have learned about how to work with others. We know how to share ideas, how to accept the ideas of others, how to say, “Yes, and…,” and how to work through any issues we might have with other individuals. These are life skills that will be valuable no matter which careers we choose. As theatre majors, we are also learning how to be useful – not only onstage, but backstage as well. We are required to help build sets, participate in run crews and stage management, and we are encouraged to foster skills in light and sound operation and design, front of house management, public relations and dramaturgy, among other things. Versatility is the name of our game.

Being involved in so many different things at once is beneficial to us, despite the sleep deprivation and the early-onset grey hair. As theatre majors, we become adept at time management, as well as learning skills that we can take forward and use in many roles. For example, I know how to use power tools, draw out a floor plan of a room, design clothing, make collages, hang lights, speak like a proper English lady and recreate the “sounds of India.”

The beautiful thing about the program is how everything comes together. The capstone theatre class, taken in our senior year, is the Theatre Context class. Senior theatre majors take all of the knowledge that they have gained and put it to use. Seniors are required to conceptualize, design and theoretically produce several shows. And for a final project, stage a full production.  We have heavy reading and research requirements, and we must make use of skills such as public speaking, design, close reading and writing.

We may be some of the busiest people here on campus, but I have to say that we are also having the most fun. As theatre majors, we are learning how to make use of our perspectives, how to make our voices heard and how to work towards making the world a little bit brighter.

Fourteen hours in the PAC at a time may be hard sometimes, but there is no doubt that those hours will eventually pay off.