@lake4 I’d be happy to talk a little about the theater department and opportunities at UR! Besides being a music minor, I’m also considering a dance minor and am a member of University Players (I’ll explain what this is later), so I’m involved in the Department of Theatre and Dance. It’s a great community and program!
Dance and Theatre are one department, which creates an interesting dynamic. Students that are a member of University Dancers (UD), which is the audition-based department Dance Company (carries academic credit, which counts towards dance major/minor), have to put in hours to the department working on theatre shows, such as working in the costume shop. And of course, theatre students help crew the UD performance in the spring. University Players and Dancers are actually paired together and do many events together. There’s actually only one email list between the two.
There is a big focus in the theatre department on not just acting (although there is plenty of that built into the curriculum!), but everything that goes into production (sound/lights, set design, costuming, stage makeup, etc). All theatre majors have to complete the two-year Production Studies course sequence, culminating in Productions Studies III, where the class as a group produces a major theatre production from start to finish (selecting the play, researching, budget and fundraising, designing, helping with casting, running rehearsals, publicity, etc) performed in the first half of the spring semester .
In terms of acting, there is whatever coursework you complete, as well as two major department theatre productions each semester. These productions are audition-based and open to any student at UR (you do not have to be a theatre major or minor to participate). If you are acting in a department production or you are crewing (light/sound, costume, etc) you get academic credit, though they are practicum credits, so they don’t count towards the units needed for the major or minor. In the spring semester, the second show is always done with a large cast and this year, we’re doing Shakespeare. Last semester, we did a big musical (Funny Girl), which we do every other year (although the music director last semester told me they are planning on changing to doing a musical every year). Last year was unique in that we also had a smaller musical in the fall (it was a premiere of a new work), but it was more hip-hop and involved a live DJ. The large spring musicals have student pits, which I was in last year, but that is about as much official involvement that the music department has with theater. There are, however, many music majors and minors who participate actively in the theatre department, particularly vocalists who are also interested in acting.
We also have University Players, which I mentioned above. It is the department theatre group that anyone can join. You have to pay dues ($6 a semester or $10 a year) and complete hours to be a member. Hours can be completed by acting or crewing (set, lights/sound, costume, makeup, stage managing, etc) department or Players productions, any productions sponsored by the two (so select student productions), or participating in All-Calls and All-Strikes for different productions. Basically, it’s a way for any students interested in theatre to learn different aspects of production if they would like and also give back to the theatre department. I’m currently Co-Head of Makeup and Costume (focus on makeup; my Co-Head works in the costume shop, so she is focused on that) as part of the design team for Players’ Haunted House this year and it’s a lot of fun!
There is also Alpha Psi Omega (APO) which is the theatre honor society on campus and they sponsor different shows and events too. APO has some similar duties to Players and also sponsors student productions and events, the biggest of which is the fall New Faces, which they produce, direct, and cast. New Faces is cast, rehearsed, and performed in the first two weeks of the fall semester and is open to any student who has not been in a department theatre production; most of the cast is freshmen. It’s kind of like a mini broadway/theatre revue and has a mix of scenes, musical numbers, and monologues. I was in the cast of this year’s production (called “Fifty Shades of Play”) and some of our songs included “Wilkommen” from Cabaret, “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent, and “Everybody Say Yeah” from Kinky Boots.
And of course, there are always student productions that there are casting calls for. Two years ago (spring 2014), there was a student production of a musical that one of the music majors wrote (he’s now working on a masters in musical theatre writing at NYU Tisch).
Sorry for the lengthy post, but the theater department has many different aspects that I wanted to be sure to cover!