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Applying for a Technical Theatre Major

CynchaCyncha Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
edited December 2011 in Theater/Drama Majors
Hi! I am a rising high school junior, and I am considering applying for a technical theatre major. However, because I recently made this decision, I have limited experience. How much experience is necessary to get accepted into a technical theatre program (most likely one that focuses on stage management)?

How should I approach preparing my portfolio? If it should consist of selections from different prompt books, how many pages should it be? If I change my mind and decide to apply for a Theatrical Design major, how many works should I include? Would it be a bad idea to include many pieces of art that I made in my fine arts and graphic design classes?

I study visual arts at my high school, and as of now, I have a 3.8 GPA, have assistant stage managed one production at my high school. Next year, I will be assistant stage managing the fall play, taking courses in set design and construction, prop design and construction, scenic painting, costume design, hopefully doing tech work for local theatres and taking three AP/IB courses.
Post edited by Cyncha on

Replies to: Applying for a Technical Theatre Major

  • theater momtheater mom Registered User Posts: 535 Member
    You should have enough experience by next year and it sounds like you have other things to recommend you, such as drive and discipline.

    For questions about portfolio requirements, check the websites of schools you are considering. They will tell you what they want. No two are identical so consider a folder-type portfolio so that you can take exactly what was requested by each school.

    In general, a single production book should be enough and you should bring the whole thing. Some schools will be interested in your fine arts pieces, others will not. If a given school does not specify exactly how many pieces to bring, take only those that you think are your best.

    Best of luck.
  • RachelimaRachelima Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    I think colleges AND theaters are looking for talented tech students and you should feel confident in pursuing this interest! For example, at Cherubs at Northwestern this year, they had a hard time finding 10 qualified tech students for their program, but turned away more applicants than ever before for their acting program - and they took 150 actors... The odds are in your favor, so keep getting experience and emphasize your interest in your application essays!
  • littlesooyon92littlesooyon92 Registered User Posts: 72 Junior Member
    I am in the same situation!
  • kyndcookiekyndcookie Registered User Posts: 43 Junior Member
    The good news is that there are many places to get a good theatre production education. The bad news is you really have to dig to find them. In my opinion one of the best undergrad programs in America is the University of Wisconsin - Madison. There aren't many undergrad "powerhouses" in technical theatre, but UW is one of them. That said, you don't need to go to a powerhouse school to get a good education.

    What you need to do is find a school with an overall program you can be happy with. Then you look at the shop. Does it have decent facilities? Are you going to be taught metalwork, welding, plastic fabrication? Does the school do any motion control scenery? Does the theatre own any moving lights? Has anyone started using projection as a scenic or lighting element? Does the department offer classes in sound design where students use design and control software like Pro Tools? Do they teach computer based drafting like Vectorworks or AutoCAD?

    The most important aspect is the technical director and production manager, if they have one. These two positions are likely to be your mentor for many years. If you cannot get along with them you need to move on to other schools. Don't kid yourself into thinking you work with a difficult personality. Most production people pride themselves on being down-to-Earth types, but some are just plain cranky.

    To me, production is the one area I think it's really important to consider pursuing an MFA. There are some very good technical production schools out there that will teach you more in three years than you can learn in 10 years as a freelancer. Mostly because you are producing shows at a breakneck pace for the entire time you are in school. I'm biased but many would say that Yale's Technical Design and Production program is the ne plus ultra of training programs. There are other programs that give you a good education, but Yale students begin their networking three years before they graduate, and alumni relations are deeply ingrained into the program. You know all those Yale designers who win Tonys every year? Who do you think builds all those sets and lighting rigs? Other Yalies...
  • UAlbertaAlumUAlbertaAlum Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    If you are interesting in getting some international experience while you go to school, you might want to check out the University of Alberta (in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada - 500 miles north of Great Fall, Montana). Home - Drama - University of Alberta . We've got great tech theatre programs, and are always looking for strong students. We accept 8 students every year in the B.F.A. Tech Production program, 8 a year into B.F.A. Stage Management and 6 a year into the B.F.A. Theatre Design program. We have other programs too (like B.F.A Acting and B.A. and 5 grad programs), and really great facilities - you'll get hands-on experience right from the start. And, tuition for US students at UAlberta is similar to the cost of tuition if you go out-of-state in the US.
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