Hi, @PathDad! My D is a freshman this year. She applied to 13 BFA programs for Theater Design/Production last year, so we gathered quite a bit of intel. And yet, I still don’t have much info to share that might be illuminating!
I can tell you that we saw all kinds of portfolios last year, from thin three-ring notebooks with notes and sketches sticking out to large garment bags with costumes designed and made by the applicant. A couple of schools actually mentioned that they recognize students come in with a wide range of experience levels in technical theatre, partly depending on the varied opportunities available across high schools and also on when the student’s interest was sparked, so they are used to seeing all kinds of things presented in the interviews.
Your D can create her portfolio out of whatever she does have from productions, plus any drawings, sketches, art projects, etc. that illustrate her creative process. If she reads a play or an interesting scene in a book, she might sketch out her own potential set design and include that, for example. Has she done graphic design for show posters or program covers, etc.? Does she like to create idea boards on Pinterest? Experiment with color and texture combinations for costumes, sets, or lighting? Anything like that could potentially be included. Honestly, I feel like no one is going to judge applicants on what they weren’t able to do during COVID…everyone (college faculty included) is just trying to get through it as best they can, you know? Presenting whatever she has done to keep creating during this time will probably be perfect.
Regarding the level of competition for the design tech programs, it was really hard to tell, and that information is just not readily available. The schools my D looked at have a small number of spots in each area they offer (e.g., scenic design, costume design, props, lighting, stage mgmt, tech direction) – we saw some with 3-5 spots and some with 10-12. My guess, based on very little information, is that the programs probably make offers to double the number of spots they want to fill and see how the numbers play out when responses start coming in. We guestimated, from looking at interview slots as my D was signing up, that programs had maybe 8-10x the number of applicants as openings, but that might “only” be 40-100 applicants - not a huge pool, but if they’re all vying for a handful of spots, it could be pretty competitive. It was also hard to size up the competition, if you know what I mean.
Does your daughter have a particular tech area that interests her the most?