Since 2011, theatre at Colorado State University has undergone an extraordinarily successful transformation with the number of theater minors quadrupling and the number of theater majors tripling since 2006. Housed within the Department of Music, Theatre & Dance, theatre is now a larger and more advanced program of study that is attracting higher numbers of students.
The most visible change is the ability for incoming students to now major in “theatre” or “dance” as standalone majors. Previously, students pursuing these areas of study were enrolled is the degree of “Performing Arts” with a theatre or dance concentration. The change has been made to more adequately reflect the strong, specialized programs of study already being offered in these areas at CSU, which also places the programs on the same “playing field” with competitive universities.
“It wasn’t intuitive to have to look under “Performing Arts” and we received feedback that potential students didn’t think we offered theatre or dance,” said Jennifer Clary, Marketing Director for the department. “We are pleased to now be able to list ‘Theatre Major and Dance Major’.”
With this change, the department anticipates an increase in theatre majors and dance majors with the enhanced perception and validity of the program to incoming students. Although the strong curriculum and program were already in place, the new degree name is a more sought after and preferred degree.
Coupled with the name change, the most significant change in the theatre program is the curriculum overhaul that began in 2011, and is still under way. The addition of upper division courses such as directing, professional actor preparation, and advanced topics in acting adds a whole new level to CSU’s theatre education and provides new options for students with a variety of interests.
The expanded areas of study may draw in even more theater students and develop the program further.
“I think our new major will be unique in the region, with a full complement of courses for the actor, the playwright, the dramaturge, theatre critic or researcher, the director, the designer, and technical production students,” said Walt Jones, Director of Theatre & Dance and department co-chair.
More changes are anticipated for the Fall 2013 semester; several completely new focus areas are being implemented this fall as well.
According to Jones, the department hopes to increase the variation of study to include classical and contemporary options. New seminars will also be offered to prepare students for the professional world or for graduate school.
Theatre students will have the option of three concentrations: Performance, Theatrical Design & Production, Playwriting & Dramatic Literature, or General Theatre. Each new focus includes lab education and, in most cases, software education. These areas are designed to give students more direction in their pre-professional training in the program as they prepare for a career in the performing arts and/or graduate school.
While these classes are already being taught to current students, they will be able to officially declare concentrations in these areas starting in the fall.
“The strength of our talent and level of production skills in theatre and dance has been prominent for a while, especially since moving into the state-of-the-art University Center for the Arts,” notes Clary.
Due of this established reputation and world class facility, last year the department hosted the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, (read more about the Regional Conference and "A Look Back"). With thousands of theatre professors and students attending, the festival definitely put the department in the national spotlight.
“Since moving into the UCA, bringing on more faculty members, overhauling the curriculum, and now changing the name, we have positioned the theatre program for continued success and growth; changing the names of the degrees was part of the comprehensive process,” noted Clary.
The University Center for the Arts at Colorado State University provides an enriched venue in which the study and practice of Art, Dance, Music and Theatre are nurtured and sustained by building the skills and knowledge needed by future generations of arts professionals to become contributors to the essential vitality of our culture and society.