In search of theatre tech people and I have not seen any more recent (past three years or so) posts. Is there a place where the theatre tech people post? D19 is visiting schools and further developing her portfolio.
Hi! They post here. There just aren’t a ton of them. My D is a rising sophomore in costume design. What is your D interested in?
Thanks for replying, @letterhead! D19 is interested in theatre tech, particularly the design side, but isn’t sure what particular area yet. She has done some work with costumes, makeup, lighting, and set construction, but she seems to also be interested in sound. About the only thing she is certain about is she does not want to be on stage.
Is your D in a BFA program?
My D is trying to decide between a BA program where she can also major (or perhaps minor) in something else, particularly digital media/design, and a BFA. It seems each school has its own take on what constitutes a BA/BFA and how much available time there might be to pursue a secondary interest.
I admit I am not knowledgeable about arts/fine arts programs, as my background is business/IT/social sciences. So I’m trying to learn as much as I can to help D19.
We have a big spreadsheet of possible schools, and it seems like we have a dozen or so columns dedicated to different majors/degree programs. There has to be a better way!
My son is entering a BFA program this semester (ah, who am I kidding? He’s leaving in 4 weeks!) with a design and production emphasis. His program also offers costume, scenery and lighting concentrations. He is also interested in sound. He plans to use his AP credits to fill in gen eds so he has room in his schedule to take the 3 additional courses a lighting concentration student takes. Like you, I have no background in this… I am a trial attorney. Like your D, my son has zero interest in appearing on stage, although we will see if that changes with the acting for non-majors class he is taking this semester.
I have to say that we narrowed our search down by cost first and likelihood of acceptance to the school/program second.
Letterhead is correct: there are a few tech parents here, but not much posting. My D just graduated this past spring with her Production & Design degree from NYU, so if you have any questions about that program I can try to answer them. I know at NYU it’s possible to be in their P&D BFA and still get a minor (my D did). And I think she knew kids who double majored, as well.
@OrangeFIsh, my D is a rising sophomore in a BFA program at Rutgers. At her school, there is not much room to double major (unless it’s something like costume design and costume construction). But it’s true that each program is different. It can be frustrating that there’s not, ya know, a handy chart! But it is as much your child’s personal discovery process as the discovery process about each school. The very best thing is to be all ears and eyes at visits and portfolio reviews. We found that professors at portfolio reviews, if you’re able to do them on site at schools you’re child is interested in, will be incredibly generous with their time.
My daughter knows several people who’ve come in for one kind of tech and shifted after a semester or two. I don’t think it’s unusual. Many of the BFAs require that the students rotate through all of the tech disciplines. I love that!
I’m a fan of the big spreadsheet. The process of college selection in this field is not as linear as you might be used to (!), but it will ultimately take on a life of its own. Enjoy!!
My D is in the Design/Tech BFA at Otterbein. Her main concentration is stage management and her secondary concentration is lighting. Most of her classes are in theater, and they take at least one class in each D/T concentration, but she is also doing a minor in creative writing. Her schedule is pretty full with 18 credits each semester, but she is learning tons, has great opportunities and is loving the program and the other students.
Glad to join you! My D is a HS junior very interested in applying to BFA programs for technical theater. At this point, she is most drawn to scenic design but I believe (and she agrees) getting an education across all tech disciplines is important. We’re midwesterners and within the region, she is looking at DePaul, Webster, Otterbein and ISU. She’s also looking at UNCSCA, CMU and some schools in NY but she’d prefer to stick in this area. @Reckless: I would love to hear anything more about the program at Otterbein that you would like to share. From what I’ve read so far, it sounds like a terrific program in a warm and welcoming school. Side question to any of the parents reading this: how important are ACTS/SATs in the application process?
Hello! My D is a high school senior this year and wants to pursue costume design/tech. This process so far is nerve-wracking since there are really no “safety schools” when interviews and portfolios are involved. @Bubblewrap666 --we are in Cincinnati and looking at many of the same schools. FYI–Otterbien is having a theater (including tech) major visit day on September 29 with a full day of class shadowing, admissions info, and theater tickets to that evening’s show. So far, UNCSA blew her away and is her dream school. Some other schools on our list to investigate are: Bucknell, College of Charleston, Emerson, University of Evansville, Millikin, Ohio U and Shenandoah.
@Reckless , @letterhead , @techmom99 , @BigCityLight , can you share some insight on how interviews and portfolios went? I know that numbers of students accepted into these programs are small, but I can’t get any kind of handle on how many kids are applying to them. DD’s grades are pretty good (3.65), include AP classes, and she has great SAT scores, but it seems that most of these don’t count for a ton when weighed against the interview and portfolio, which we don’t really have any way of judging.
Hi there! It is a crazy but exciting time so enjoy the process! My son is a rising sophomore in the BFA P&D for Stage and Screen at Pace University in NYC. He had applied to Rutgers Mason Gross, NYU Tisch, Wagner, Fordham and CMU. He loved the program and Pace and they also gave us the best financial aid package. His portfolio review was done in person with the Director of the program and he was accepted to the program the next day. Visiting the schools helped a lot. He absolutely loves it there! It has exceeded his expectations and he has had many opportunities and made a lot of professional contacts even as a freshman this past year. He completed an internship late spring with Stella Adler Studio at NYU and is now on their payroll for future projects. He has worked on both stage shows and films through the school and finding he is really enjoying working on films. He is gets to learn all design disciplines but enjoys set design, production design and art direction. Students need to be proactive and seek out the opportunities that are available to them.
Hi, @momof2lefties ! My costume design D divided her portfolio reviews evenly between on-campus and NY Unifieds. She did 6 between December and February, with 3 in NYC (1 school didn’t show up during the blizzard). In costume design, some schools seemed to accept 2–4 people out of maybe 20–40 applicants. I did write down numbers at the time, and that seems like the ballpark. That being said, we saw people at portfolio reviews without . . . portfolios, so among those 20–40 at some schools were people who were just checking it out, it seemed like. My D’s portfolio was fuller than many as she’d done (and kept!) so much work in HS. I think some kids and parents fall into the trap of trying to create the right portfolio, when most professors are very interested in seeing a portfolio that represents YOU. They want to see how you’ll fit into their program and they want to see your passion.
I don’t know much about the Midwestern schools, other than their excellent reputations. My D did apply to DePaul, and she got in, and they offered a nice scholarship. But not nice enough! I’m pretty sure the scholarship was academic. Those grades, SATs, and APs may not influence the admit decision, but they definitely do help with merit money. She was offered scholarships everywhere (which was critical for us!), including Rutgers/Mason Gross, which she loved from Day 1. A year in, she still does, and I’m incredibly impressed with the kind and brilliant professors. I don’t think that’s unusual in the business. So many nice people!!
I don’t think my daughter went to one portfolio review where she came away shuddering. It is so NOT like the audition experiences the poor actors have sometimes. The worst experience was in NY during the blizzard of '16 when she was reviewed by a non-costume person for (I think) Purchase. The person was very nice but knew very little about costume design. But universally, they seemed to want her to be at ease so she could engage. The interviews weren’t short, either, so I think she was able to feel she’d done her best in the end. I KNOW it’s nerve-wracking. I will say, she scheduled her first review for the school she was the least interested in attending. It seemed like a good program, but it was remote, among other things. That did wonders to demystify the process and was a good move for all of us. And except for the fluke of the NY blizzard, which stretched schools pretty thin, I thought she had solid quality experiences both at Unifieds and on campus, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommending doing them either way, depending on your schedule.
If she wants to add more schools on the East Coast, I’d urge you to check out Rutgers, Montclair State, and VCU.
Ultimately I bet she will have choices. Very best of luck to you both during this exciting time!
My S17 didn’t decide until the end of junior year that he actually wanted to do theater as a major. Prior to that, he was planning a psych major. So, we were seriously behind the game. He got a portfolio together using several 1 - 2" school binders. He displayed it in person at 3 schools - LIU-Post, Adelphi and SUNY Fredonia. He was accepted to each program and has been at Fredonia for one week. The only complaint he has is that the school apparently accepted 15 lighting design major freshmen, including him, and he is nervous he won’t get enough work. It seems taht in previous years, they took 7 - 10.
He is enjoying his BFA program (30 credits of gen ed, he’s got 9 AP), the facilities are new and gorgeous (I saw them at orientation) and he said he’s learned more in one 3 hour session of drafting than he did in an entire year at HS. His program rotates the majors through the back end. This semester, half the cohort is doing scenery and the rest costumes; next semester, it will reverse. He’s also taking acting for non-majors. Honestly, you can’t beat the price, if you are a NY’er. I didn’t qualify for Excelsior, but with his scholarships, I am paying just under $18K for the year. At the other schools he was looking at, the cost would have been twice that, even after scholarships and FA.
My D went to a prep school that didn’t know anything about the application/interview process, and neither did we. We did just about everything wrong including only applying to 3 schools (one of which dropped their Stage Management program before acceptances were sent out, and another of which my daughter had no connection with the head of the department) and only looking at schools that offered specific degrees in Stage Management, not ones that offered Design/tech. To make a long story short, my D reached out to Interlochen who was incredibly gracious with their time in helping her. She figured the process out before her Otterbein interview and it went well. She was interviewed by panel of technical theater professors who were extremely kind and engaging, and was accepted about a week later. We missed a lot of schools, but she says that she thinks she would have picked Otterbein regardless, and it has been a wonderful fit. She has met and worked with a lot of wonderful people, and has had incredible opportunities, and she is just starting her sophomore year…
At far as grades and standardized testing go, they don’t seem to matter much for admission, but do count for merit scholarships. I’m not sure what the percentage is of accepted students, but I think Otterbein accepts about 10 Design/tech students per year. The staff does live up to its top notch and caring reputation. Westerville is a great town in which to have a family, so the school draws a lot of top people that way. I think they look for students who are passionate about their craft and who seem responsible. My D says that set design majors are the most in demand and should have lots of good offers. If anyone is going to visit Otterbein you can PM me and I will tell my D to try to meet up with your child and answer any further questions.
One last note. My D started off using a binder for her portfolio, but later switched to an 8.5 X 11 black portfolio from Michaels that looked very professional. She actually made two of them so that the interviewer could have their own, though I know this wouldn’t work if you needed to include originals.
At one point we were thinking of a gap year, and I made this list of schools with good technical theater/stage management programs. I’m sure there are a bunch of schools I omitted, but maybe this will prove a good starting place for someone:
U of MI
U of Miami
Cornish College of the Arts
Southern Oregon University
U of Rhode Island
U of Utah
U of N Kentucky
Howdy, joining this thread to say my D is currently vacillating among enviro science/study-type programs, theater tech and undecided
I will follow this thread, but am not sure it’s where she’ll end up. @OrangeFish and I have commiserated on the Parents of 2019 thread already – and we did visit Otterbein briefly last month during a family vacay and D seemed to really like it. She is in the traces to be stage manager at her HS, and volunteers with a kid’s program at the local playhouse. Not much to put in a portfolio, though.
Returning to this thread – for those who have been down this road, how many applications seems to be the norm for theatre tech majors? (I know performance applications are an entirely different situation.)
We are just headed down the road, but D finished submitting her total of 12 over the weekend. A combination of very prestigious tier, high-middle tier, and doesn’t-seem-as-competitive (but we don’t really know, exactly) tier. Of course, her top choice so far is one of the hardest to get into. First interviews start Nov. 4.
Thanks and best wishes @momof2lefties – may the wait time until interviews go quickly!
My son applied to only 5 schools and did portfolio reviews at 3. It might have been too few, but we were really not well prepared for this. I didn’t want him to apply to schools that I couldn’t afford because I thought that would be cruel. My budget is the cost of a SUNY and, frankly, his academics weren’t good enough to warrant the huge amounts of merit money that would have been needed for him to attend a top school, even assuming he would have gotten in on his portfolio. We thought about doing NY Unifieds since we live in the suburbs, but my son didn’t want to apply to schools he didn’t think he could get into academically (NYU, etc.) and he already had academic acceptances from the 3 schools by then and program acceptances from 2.
He seems happy at Fredonia. I am going up in a few weeks for family weekend and will see a show. He is doing follow spot, which is a basic position, but given that there are a dozen or more tech/lighting freshmen, it’s a nice sign. The program seems intensive. His cohort has really bonded and he has made a number of friends. He says he is pleased with his choice.
Thanks for your post @techmom99 – I had asked the theatre folks at D’s school, and was told somewhere around 6 or 7 schools was the average for BFAs. A few students applied to 10 schools, but many had application fees waived along the way.
So good to hear that TechSon17 has made a group of friends already and he is happy at his school! Based on your suggestion, it’s on D’s list of schools to consider. (We’re also on a budget-conscious hunt.)