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Senior Showcases?

abcdefg1abcdefg1 Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
edited July 2011 in Theater/Drama Majors
Can someone please provide me with a list of colleges that have a senior showcase for theater/drama majors? (Where one can get exposed to agents, casting directors, etc.) Also, please specify whether one must have a BFA as opposed to a BA to participate in the showcase. Thank you!
Post edited by abcdefg1 on

Replies to: Senior Showcases?

  • OneToughMommyOneToughMommy Registered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    Gosh, there are quite a few. Maybe you could provide some information on which schools, or which types of schools (size, location, academics) you're interested in, and then I and others on the boards could provide some info.
  • abcdefg1abcdefg1 Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    I don't have really specific preferences, per se; I really like the look of a lot of different schools...Just to give you an idea, here is the 'list' I'm working on narrowing down:
    - Amherst College
    - Bard College
    - Bennington College
    - Brown University
    - Carleton College
    - Carnegie Mellon University
    - Unviersity of Chicago
    - Columbia University
    - Dartmouth College
    - Emerson College
    - Grinnell College
    - Hampshire College
    - Haverford College
    - Juilliard
    - Kenyon College
    - Lawrence University
    - Middlebury College
    - NYU
    - Northwestern
    - Oberlin
    - Skidmore
    - Vassar
    - Wesleyan
    - Williams

    Sorry for it being so long (I'm only a rising junior so I have some time to narrow it down!).
  • EmmyBetEmmyBet Registered User Posts: 2,934 Senior Member
    OK - abcdefg1. You are asking a lot of questions, and I'm glad you're doing this kind of thinking. Only you know what you want. I've read lots of your posts now, and I'm going to answer with my thoughts on this thread, since you've listed schools you are looking at.

    It's very exciting that you kind of "want it all." On the one hand, you want an theatre program that's intensely performance-based, as opposed to academics (theatre lit and history). On another hand, you're thinking about a double major, so you can study something else conventionally (I'm not sure what subject) and do the theatre work separately. Thirdly, you have a list above that includes many theatre BAs that are fairly conventional, including both performance and the more academic side of theatre.

    AT SOME POINT - and this could be in two months or two years - you will have to pick one of these paths. You can do that soon, and then gear your application list to that choice, or you can apply to several of each kind of option and decide based on where you are accepted. When you're looking at your admissions results, you'll know what really appeals to you the most, or at least seems most practical at the time.

    Your ideal - doing a full BFA that's completely performance based AND getting a liberal arts degree in another subject - is next to impossible. You're going to have to compromise, somehow. My only suggestion at this point is to have several running lists, that keep those three kinds of schools separate. Currently your list includes stand-alone conservatories (Juilliard), BFAs where you can do other liberal arts work (NYU), and lots of BA schools of varying types of programs. As you're narrowing down, compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. You could try to have reach/match/safety within each list (although only a non-audition school is a true safety). Maybe making those distinctions will help you see which way you are leaning.

    And don't sweat the future quite so much. Maybe you will get an MFA if you don't get your conservatory training now. Or maybe you will get another degree in another subject after you finish your theatre degree. As for your question about senior showcases, those are very nice, but in my opinion that is the least of your worries for now.

    Keep asking questions and let things happen one step at a time. It's great that you're paying so much attention and working at this now. That will serve you very well.

    One personal comment I'll make is about your remark on another thread that you really don't want to study theatre history or literature. First, if you really feel this way, you're going to have to drop virtually all of the schools on the above list. Most of them are BA programs at schools where you're going to study lots of literature and history, in theatre and otherwise. Second, while there are BFAs where they do LESS lit and history, they're not going to appreciate trying to teach someone to act who says openly that they aren't interested in those things. The place for that kind of actor training is at a certificate program, not in a serious 4-year degree.
  • complexlifecomplexlife Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    I'm going to be honest with you. Yes, a lot of schools have showcases. The truth is a lot of BFA programs don't do well. There are only a handful of school that actually do well and industry professionals come to.

    SUNY Purchase
    Carnegie Mellon
    Brown University

    ...are honestly the only BFA programs industry professionals recognize during the showcase season. The worst thing is go to a ok BFA program that says they offer a showcase and you get there and its EMPTY.

    In NYC: Juilliard, Yale School of Drama, Brown (MFA), NYU Graduate Acting, CMU Drama, SUNY Purchase, NCSA, Boston, UCSD and some other MFA programs do the best.
  • amtcamtc Registered User Posts: 2,864 Senior Member
    complexlife - where is your info from?

    emmybet - your response is right on the money.

    abcdefg1 - It is insulting and naive to say you want a BFA program without learning the "fine art" aspect of the degree. Reading and interpreting plays is quite important in making you a better actor. Perhaps you are not sure what you want at this point and that's okay. Maybe you should decide on your "other" major and find a school that offers that major and audition for productions extracurricularly.
  • sandkmomsandkmom Registered User Posts: 946 Member
    OP, I'm impressed with the research that you are doing already. You are discovering what it is that you want in a college program, learning the typical differences between different degree programs and you have plenty of time to finalize your list for applications.

    It sounds to me like you want practical training as opposed to a purely academic study of theatre, coupled with the ability to double major and I'm sure that there are schools on your list will meet your criteria. But keep in mind, at many of these schools this does not mean that you won't be "studying" theatre in addition to your training...a smart actor who can harness his or her natural instincts about the character but who also analyzes the text brings the most real performance to the stage!

    It also sounds like you want a Senior Showcase, the importance of which has been debated on this forum before.

    I also agree with emmybet that at some point you are going to have to choose where you want to focus and how you want to spend your days in college. Do you want to spend them in a BFA program where you will get the practical training that you are looking for but will have less of an opportunity to double major or is not double majoring a deal breaker and so you might therefore be better suited in a performance based BA? You don't have to make this decision now though! I think that the best application lists are those that include a variety of degree programs because come enrollment time you may find that your needs/desires have changed. Of course, you ABSOLUTELY need to include academic/non audition/financial safeties on your list and they should be at schools you'd be perfectly happy to attend.

    Have you discussed finances with your parents? This is good time to have that conversation. Of course, you can and still should apply to schools and hope for a good FA package but that may or may not work out for you in the end.

    You also can narrow your list by determining in what kind of setting you will thrive. Do you want a traditional college campus or something more urban? How far from home are you willing to go? What size school? Start with these basic questions to narrow your list because there are a lot of great programs across the country, but if you just can't see yourself there, they aren't a great program for YOU!

    You may have to start visiting to make these decisions and it would help to see different types of schools. Since you are in New York, why not start with some of the NY schools on your list? Vassar will be a very different college experience than NYU and while it doesn't mean that you couldn't do equally well at either school, it can help you determine your preferences!

    Good luck! :)
  • abcdefg1abcdefg1 Registered User Posts: 55 Junior Member
    Thank you for all these great answers--I really appreciate it!
    Thinking about it more, I guess it was pretty ridiculous of me to say I am completely opposed to interpreting theater and plays as literature. I actually do love English literature, so I believe I would enjoy that anyway.
    The problem with me is I really don't have anything "specific" in mind. As you can see, I have schools like Grinnell and Dartmouth, in environments far from metropolis, and then places like NYU and University of Chicago...honestly, I feel I would be just as happy in or out of a city. I have begun visiting some (Bowdoin, Bates, Amherst, and Wesleyan---I eliminated Bates). This is giving me a better picture of what I want. As of now, I do believe that I want a college that will offer a fantastic BA theater program in addition to other great academics for a double major. As finances go, I'm an only child and my parents have made it clear they will make it work for wherever I'd like to go.
    But for schools like NYU, Emerson, and Brown---are you telling me that having a double major...BFA in theater and BA in say, Psychology, would be impossible or just too challenging to pursue?
  • soozievtsoozievt Registered User, ! Posts: 31,559 Senior Member
    At most BFA programs, a double major is not possible but it is possible at SOME. NYU is one example where it IS possible.

    Brown is a BA, not a BFA school. It is definitely possible to double major at Brown as it is at most BA schools.

    I have a daughter who went to NYU/Tisch and a daughter who attended Brown and so speak from experience.

    At Emerson, it depends if you are enrolled in the BFA in Acting or the BA in Theater program (they offer both there). But please be aware that Emerson is a pretty specialized school and doesn't have nearly the full array of liberal arts majors. Like it has no psychology major (you mentioned that subject). Most of its majors are in communications and performing arts fields. There is a minor, however, in psychology at Emerson.
  • SDonCCSDonCC Registered User Posts: 2,373 Senior Member
    IMO, it's fine to like schools of all types. I wouldn't listen to people who tell you that you need to figure out if you want a big school, or an urban school, etc. IIRC, you are a rising junior, so until you get your SAT scores, it's difficult to know how realistic your list is now, so paring it down might have to wait.

    You will be well served by having a range of schools on your list -- and you may need to have more applications than most, because you don't know whether you want a BA or a BFA. That's okay, and you don't need to decide until April of your senior year.

    If Bard stays on your list, you should do everything you can to attend the IDP program. This has a higher acceptance rate, and they mail your decision to you the day after you do it. It is non-binding; it is like EA, (which Bard also offers). Then, you won't need any safeties (and you will know you're in college before Thanksgiving!).
  • SDonCCSDonCC Registered User Posts: 2,373 Senior Member
    coincidentally, Grinnell posted this interview with an alumnus in its magazine. I think the article is worth reading for any aspiring theater student; not just for someone considering Grinnell.

    Actor Emily Bergl ?97 ? LIVE! - News | Grinnell College.

    The full interview needs to be downloaded (there's a link)
  • OneToughMommyOneToughMommy Registered User Posts: 211 Junior Member
    Hi, I thought of a few things to add re: showcases (though I think this thread has expanded to address some other issues, which is fine).

    1. Even when you determine that a school does have a senior showcase, you will need to inquire as to details. E.g. Northwestern has showcases in Chicago, New York and (I believe) L.A., but only selected members of the senior class get to go to the out of town showcases. At NYU, my understanding is (Soozie, you probably know better than I) that there is a "unified" showcase for graduating seniors, but that it, too, is selective. (With hundreds of acting BFAs graduating each year, it would pretty much have to be.) I believe most of the studios at NYU also put on showcases for their students, but don't know for sure.

    2. In most cases, showcases are found in BFA programs, not BA programs. Conservatory-type BA programs e.g. Fordham, may be exceptions.

    As other posters have noted, you will want to pursue this further if you decide a professional training degree is the way you want to go.

    Best of luck.
  • complexlifecomplexlife Registered User Posts: 96 Junior Member
    @amtc This info comes from NYC Agents and Casting Directers. I won't name names but you can ask anyone in the New York industry and they will tell you the same. These days its about getting the best artistic training and CONNECT. It's all about who you know and being SEEN!
  • abtsmomabtsmom Registered User Posts: 173 Junior Member
    Complexlife-I think that is right on. Agents attend plays on a regular basis, not just go to showcases. They take info from people they know in the industry. Use the college time to perfect your craft and take advantage of internship opportunities that may seem like menial work to get to know people. Onetoughmommy--you're right...even though schools advertise they have showcases, if you ask, some of them have auditions (or just select) those who go to showcase.
  • GregDashawayGregDashaway Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    I’m not an actor, but I thought I might become one when I came to New York years ago. I took acting classes at several NY schools for a while, and one thing I always found exciting and seductive was the myth of the Senior Showcase. It was hinted at in the brochures that when we finished our training and gave our final performances that agents and famous alumni would be sitting in the audience waiting to give us our big break. And maybe some of those people did come to the performance, but mostly the people in the audience were our friends and family, and the other students in the program.

    I know that in the back of all our minds is the belief that people will somehow spot our talent no matter where we are. We will be sitting in an ice cream shop and an agent will spot us and want us to be in a movie. We will be in a student showcase, and even though we are still students, someone will spot us and want to manage our career.

    But think about it. Can life really work this way? Do you really think that agents and managers are out combing the streets trying to find you wherever you are? Even if you’re at an acting school?

    I think a better model in life, for any career, is to realize that you will have to go to the gatekeepers, whomever and wherever they are. You will have to knock on their doors. You will have to stand in that line that goes all the way around a midtown New York City block for the chance to get a number that will let you come back later in the day to audition for a minute for a casting director. You will have to prove to them that you are serious. And you will have to keep doing it over and over again for most of your life.

    You may find more creative ways to get people to notice you. But basically I believe that no one is “discovered”. Mostly you will have to do steady, good work, year after year, after year. And then one day, an opportunity that looks exactly like all the other opportunities you have had, may turn out (looking back on it) to be your big break, or at least propel you a little bit further in your career. But don’t pick a school because you think that it all happens at a Senior Showcase. Life doesn’t work that way. I believe the Senior Showcase is truly a myth.
  • chrissybluchrissyblu Registered User Posts: 709 Member
    UCLA has a showcase for the actors. The students pay for it, but they get industry execs/agents there and the professors work with the students to organize it. They do not have a showcase for the MT students.
This discussion has been closed.