pursuing a program in stage design

<p>My daughter is still a high school freshman but we have started talking about college. She is very good at science but actually prefers the arts. She has always been creative, loves to sketch and she has always been good at making things look good, whether it is clothing and accessories or choosing color combinations, furniture placement, food decoration etc. She is currently part of the stage crew at her high school. She really loves to create the sets and all the excitement that comes with getting the show on and then keeping it going throughout the performance period. She has told me that she might like to pursue a career that would allow her to do this. She does not want a career that will have her tied to a desk (like mine : ( ). I am thinking theater or set design. I have done a little research but I would really love to hear from those who either have done it or have children that have pursued this field. </p>

<p>I expect that it is really competitive and that the hours are long and salaries low. How is the satisfaction? What schools did you look at. I have seen Carnegie Mellon thrown around a bit. I see that many schools offer programs in stage design but it looks like you might need to get a masters in fine arts. Given the salary expectations, this could be very expensive. Is it really necessary or is experience more important. Where are the jobs and what it the outlook? I expect in NYC, London and California to be key cities. As such, I expect that schools in those cities would be the best choice. </p>

<p>Industrial design seems interesting to me as I think it could provide more options but not sure if this would be more of an office type job depending on the product. Also, for practical purposes, I would want her to look at a liberal arts school vs a strict arts school just in case.. she changes her mind along the way. </p>

<p>I did look at the Major's forum but it looked a little too intimidating at this point given that we are just starting to get a feel for it.</p>

<p>Take a look at Chapman University, they have a BA in Theater Technology (The BA Theatre, Technology Area of Study is for students interested in technology and design, and provides specialized training in skills such as drafting, stagecraft, design and advanced technology courses. The Technology emphasis provides skills and hands-on experiences to students that will serve them well in a career behind the scenes in theatre and media, or as preparation for more advanced training in technology and design in graduate programs.). It's a wonderful school, with excellent resources. Chapman</a> University - CoPA - Theatre - Academic Programs</p>

<p>USC has a great program as well, but requires an interview (Design/Technical Direction: The B.F.A. program in design/technical production offers two areas of study: design — incorporating study in scenic, lighting and costume design; and technical production — incorporating the study of theatrical design with training in the professional skills needed to execute stage designs. An interview is required for admission.) USC</a> Catalogue: The Schools: USC School of Theatre: General Information</p>

<p>There may be others, bit both of these schools have excellent reputations.</p>

<p>Mason Gross at Rutgers is a very good theater school with direct access to NYC, as well as several theaters in New Brunswick (not to mention its own productions). </p>

<p>Design</a> | Mason Gross School of the Arts</p>

<p>You might want look around/ ask in the Theater/Drama section.</p>

<p>Theater/Drama</a> Majors - College Confidential</p>

<p>Three design/tech programs that are heavier on Tech that could be interesting are:</p>

<p>Fitchburg State College - BS in Industrial Technology, with Theater Technology Concentration <a href="http://www.fsc.edu%5B/url%5D"&gt;www.fsc.edu&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>Michigan Technological University - BS in Theater and Entertainment Tech Michigan</a> Technological University</p>

<p>University of Nevada-Las Vegas - BS Entertainment Engineering and Design University</a> of Nevada, Las Vegas</p>

<p>Happykid is doing the first two years of her theater tech/design program right at our local community college. Next fall she will be somewhere else majoring in lighting design. There are good options out there that don't require attending a conservatory-style program. However, finding them can be a bit of a headache. I suggest running searches with every college-matching search engine that you can find, asking around for suggestions, and then checking the websites. A number of places that were highly recommended by people who I thought would be "in the know" turned out to only offer acting, and no design/tech at all!</p>

<p>A friend's son is doing this major at Ithaca college</p>

<p>Theatrical</a> Production Arts (B.F.A.) - Theatre Arts - School of Humanities and Sciences - Ithaca College</p>

<p>Is a degree actually necessary? In our neck of the woods, 2 years in a community college theatre design program gets you really great jobs (but we live in a place where a lot of movies are made and jobs in this area aren't rare).</p>

<p>I know someone who got a degree from Brandeis in this area who currently works as a stage manager for various companies here in Chicago. FWIW.</p>

<p>OP, your D's interests sound very much in line with a major in Theatre Design and it's so cool she knows it so early. It's a niche type of major--a combo of design, architecture, theatre history and production skills-- and not a lot of information is devoted to it here on CC, but search the thread on the Theatre/Drama majors forum under the title "Technical Theatre." It's been going for a few years and there is a lot of info to absorb there if you have a tall mug of coffee and a few hours.</p>

<p>And now, a few suggestions:</p>

<p>My S2 is Theatre Design major (he's currently a freshman concentrating on Scenic/Set Design) and wanted an academically challenging school in a large city, as well as one with excellent design opportunities for UG. I suggest you check out the Theatre major: design/tech concentrations at UCLA (in their College of Film and Theatre). They require a supplement plus interview. While my S liked much of their program, they have an MFA program as well, and this is something I would advise you look into for any college. At UCLA, for instance, their grad students, we were told, do all design and tech on productions, while the UGs do mostly training. </p>

<p>He also loved Carnegie Mellon which has an excellent reputation. Their BFA in Tech Theatre is a rigorous 4 year conservatory style program. BFA programs have fewer reqs from the Gen Ed type courses and electives. He was very drawn to this school and they have excellent connections for work in NYC and L.A. after graduation. The curriculum takes a longer view and students must take many introductory courses before they move up the ladder to do actual design work, but they put on the most amazing productions! </p>

<p>I can also recommend you look at USC, where S2 decided to attend. They offer the choice of BFA or BA. S2 wanted to do a double major (so chose the BA Theatre Design) as he was also admitted to USC's film school. He's very interested in film art direction and production design and still exploring many career options. It's an excellent program and in his first semester, a professor pulled him aside to ask if he'd like to assistant design a play that semester. He has jumped in with both feet and is really really happy to have so many hands on opportunities so soon.</p>

<p>In the tech theatre field, job opportunities come from an excellent portfolio. The more productions one can work on, the better. So there are many LACs and great universities with very strong Theatre programs out there that would serve a tech student well. Check the websites to see if they offer concentrations or majors in Design/Tech. OTOH, many of the most highly regarded design programs are BFAs in rather obscure (to the mainstream cc reader) locations. U of Cinn CCM, UNCSA, and SUNY Purchase, to name three, are praised very highly. </p>

<p>As for the future, many cc theatre pros report great opportunities to work in this field--quite the opposite of the prospects for performance based majors. In addition, there are several top universities that offer MFAs. If your D is interested in designing on Broadway, she may look towards Yale School of Drama or UC San Diego, just two MFA programs in Theatre Design that produce amazingly successful grads.</p>

<p>UNLV sounds very interesting. With all the great shows in Las Vegas, there is plenty of work there, and maybe internships as well? Liberal arts schools and Universities with great theater/dance programs would have excellent for opportunities to design and learn.</p>

<p>For students with a tech orientation (more so than design) check around to see if one of the community colleges in your area offers part (or all) of the IATSE apprenticeship program. Here are two examples:</p>

<p>College of Southern Nevada,
[url=<a href="http://www.iatselocal720.com/%5DIATSE">http://www.iatselocal720.com/]IATSE</a> Local 720

Students intern with major Las Vegas area shows.</p>

<p>Prince George's Community College, Largo, MD
Home</a> Page
<a href="http://www.iatselocal22.com/ht/d/sp/i/73301/pid/73301%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.iatselocal22.com/ht/d/sp/i/73301/pid/73301&lt;/a>
Students intern at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap.</p>

<p>Wow, thank you for all the great replies and links. This is really a great start. We live on the East coast so we could start researching places like Ithaca, Carnegie Mellon, Suny Purchase and Rutgers. We are actually going to be in California this summer but the Northern part. I wish I would have thought about tacking in extra days to visit USC or UCLA. I know it's early but it gives her time to consider her choice and research it before she has to decide on a school.</p>

<p>Best advice would be for her to attend a school that has a CLOSE relationship with theaters in which ever part of the country she wants to work. If that is New York, California, Chicago, Minneapolis, where ever. She will want to be "known" to the theater people to give her a better chance of getting a job. This is what everyone we know that has kids "majoring" in any aspect of theater has told us they have been told.</p>