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Some thoughts about UCI as a viable option

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Replies to: Some thoughts about UCI as a viable option

  • ncbearsncbears Registered User Posts: 15 New Member
    D got a personal call from a 3d year Theatre student at UCI last night. That's pretty cool. Makes her feel good to feel like she's being recruited.
  • actor12actor12 Registered User Posts: 319 Member
    Wow, if UCI becomes an audition school I'm pretty sure it would be in my tops. I wonder how that would affect the BFA program here.
  • theatremommatheatremomma Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    I don't think it should become an audition school. We need schools with good programs, close to home, that we know we can get in, and won't be cut. Training can be what you make of it as long as there are good classes available. This whole audition process has worn me out and depressed me (and I'm just watching it for next year!) I hope they leave it a alone. There is an audition process to move higher each year but you can continue to take classes if you don't move up. There needs to be programs like this.
  • CalMTMomCalMTMom Registered User Posts: 160 Junior Member
    theatermomma- Agreed that there should be some non-audition schools. My issue with UCI has been that they accept you into the school but limit access to many of the classes that you can take, by audition. This is backwards to me. Maybe having an audition would be a good thing so that you know that you can access courses if you are admitted. Luckily, so far, my D has gotten into the MT classes she wanted to take (knock on wood), but many many more do not. I have no problem with students not being cast in mainstage productions, auditions are to be expected, (although much of the casting is grad students)....and they have many workshops and student directed productions so there are opportunities to perform. But students should have access to the MT coursework, period--That is what we are paying for: the curriculum/coursework. I can understand auditioning for the showcase and the very top level course being by audition and only open to BFA students, but the intermediate courses (MT2 and MT3) should be open, not by audition, in my opinion. The BFA MT program is extremely small here--the focus is really acting.

    We have been somewhat underwhelmed with UCI so far. The tuition keeps skyrocketing, access to classes is difficult, class offerings are constantly being reduced, many undergraduate courses are taught by the graduate students and not the professors, the drama program is not connected with the music department at all so there is no piano coursework in the major and only one basic music theory course available to drama majors, they don't really have any organized system for dance coursework--although the dance department is top notch (but again you have to audition for any dance courses above the beginning level), they chose mainstage MT productions with small casts even though they have over 400 drama majors, graduate students are really the priority, the drama (MT) faculty is very small for a program of its size. To top it off, we get a phone call every quarter asking if we would like to donate money to the University!!! Mind you, we are paying full sticker price. Many of my D's friends who were on scholarship or financial aid have had their funding seriously reduced and are having to take out loans. I know that funding is an issue everywhere, but CA colleges are particularly hard hit right now due to the state budget problems.

    I can say that the general education courses are rich and provide a solid liberal arts core which is a good thing, and there have been a few amazing drama professors,however, the drama program and particularly MT program has some real issues to resolve. I think this would be an amazing place to do your MFA :-)
  • actor12actor12 Registered User Posts: 319 Member
    I don't like the idea of auditioning into everything. It seems much more sensible to just audition once for acceptance and then get your classes. Of course, then you might not get in and it's a UC so getting your classes will always be a challenge. However, I much prefer the quality of this program to some of the MT BFA's. The acting classes especially at one I audited were just appalling and I would far prefer being taught by a grad student to that professor. Dance is supposedly being beefed up in the future. The BFA class of seniors is ridiculously small though....like 5 people. What's the point of that?
  • paradoxicalparadoxical Registered User Posts: 203 Junior Member
    The UCI dance department is strong. It requires auditions and sends some graduates to professional companies every year.

    Dance productions are by separate auditions, and advanced dance classes are only open to dance majors. It helps to be male, but you have to dance at advanced level to be selected.

    That said, high intermediate level dance classes aren't limited to dance majors. While these may be taught by MFA grad students, they are usually former pros with national companies who share generously, tell stories and can be very encouraging.
  • theatremommatheatremomma Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    Just to update info on this program. My friend's son who graduated from the BFA a few weeks ago (5 graduates in that program) has a paying job in regional theatre this summer! He got several auditions from his NY showcase but has not been signed by an agent. My other friends daughter will be a senior next year and was admitted to the BFA. They are frustrated with the budget cuts. She has yet to be cast in a show at school and is doing shows outside of school. There is no real budget for shows next year either. She likes her classes but is spending a lot of time auditioning for outside stuff. She will be working the parades at Disneyland this summer. I still like this school and it will be a safety for us but only because it is close to home. CA school budget issues are a real problem.
  • actor12actor12 Registered User Posts: 319 Member
    I like this school a lot but am confused by casting. I know a girl who was cast in two mainstages this year in very small parts but still cast. How could a BFA not ever be cast? Still there is so much quality theater in the area and the students are so talented. Most that I know or know of seem to be doing very well after graduation.
  • theatremommatheatremomma Registered User Posts: 500 Member
    The guy that just graduated was NEVER in a main stage show! We saw him in student productions and he was the lead in shows all over town. That's the frustration!
  • musicaltheatrememusicaltheatreme Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Hi guys. Not sure if anyone is still following this thread or looking for more info about UCI's program from the inside, but I am a current drama/mt student here to help answer any questions.
  • HeartsongmomHeartsongmom Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    Thanks for the offer to answer questions, musicaltheatreme. My D was just accepted into the undergraduate UCI program. She's interested in a program that offers lots of performance opportunities and cross discipline courses. As an acting major could she take courses in singing and dance, as well as acting. The website says only about 10 % get into the honors acting program. Does this create a cutthroat climate in the department? I also heard that shows and faculty have been cut due to the budget problems in CA. What has been your experience so far? Thank you for any info you can provide.
  • actor12actor12 Registered User Posts: 319 Member
    Congrats, I just got accepted, too and know some of this. Everyone at UCI starts as a drama major and then auditions into MT 1, 2, 3, & 4, the musical theater workshop and lab. The dance program is awesome and you can audition into all classes.There's also a musical theater dance and a movement class, everything is by audition but it's not too hard to get into the lower levels. Moving up is harder. The classes are amazing but scheduling in everything you want can be a challenge. It's not cutthroat at all. As for the Honors in Acting, that's a stamp of approval from the faculty but does not affect what classes you can take. They take very few into the BFA MT but even without getting it you still get to take almost all of the same courses. I like this school alot and know lots of talented people there. They have students who have been on Broadway, work in LA, and on television. It doesn't get any attention but it really has everything I want in a school...smart and talented students and fantastic teachers. It has moved up from my safety now past quite a few audition programs.
  • HeartsongmomHeartsongmom Registered User Posts: 67 Junior Member
    Congratulations on your UCI acceptance. I appreciate your information about the program. Parts of the program seem very attractive, and it's closeness to LA is appealing. I know with all of the UC cutbacks classes are crowded and I'm not sure how that impacts theater budgets, but that problem is probably nationwide unless the college has a tremendous endowment. It was a safety school for my D too, and so it's a relief that she has been accepted into a program with strong academics as well as a good reputation for teaching artists. If any current students or parents could comment that would be very helpful too.
    Thanks again!
  • musicaltheatrememusicaltheatreme Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Hey Heartsong,

    I sent you an email in reply to the message you sent me (I hope it finds it's way to you!)

    To summarize what I put in the private email, Yes! UCI has tons of performance opportunities. (Mainstage shows, student directed workshops, the Festival of New Musicals, independent faculty projects, student films/webseries, off campus summer stock theaters come here to audition for their seasons).

    Just to be clear, UCI DOES NOT have an 'acting major.' As a Drama Major (BA) you can choose what classes you would like to take (outside of the requirements) which will structure the emphasis you want to study (for example, directing, stage management, musical theatre, acting). If your D wants to focus on acting, there is no series of acting classes taken as a progression over the 4 years (like most BFA in Acting programs have). There are lots of acting classes to take however, (movement, speech, intermediate acting, shakespeare, acting for the camera, master acting, clowning) but the only required acting classes for the Drama major is 1 year of the "30 Series" which is taken as a freshman and is a 3 quarter series taught by graduate MFA acting students. All of the other classes I mentioned earlier (clowning, etc.) are taught by UCI faculty (the same people who teach the MFAs).

    The BFA in musical theatre program has a more structured plan for the 4 years. That is the track I am on. I am currently a sophomore in Musical Theatre Level 3. They only take 8 people for the BFA, 20 for MT 3 which can be repeated 3 times and comes with weekly private voice lessons.

    For Honors in acting, usually 40people audition (I would say) and about 3-5 are chosen. The benefit of being Honors in Acting is you can take Dynamics class with the grads, you get the seal on your diploma, and the school sponsors you for URTAs. (The school also sponsors non-honors in acting kids for that too, but that is audition based as well).

    I do not think UCI is 'cut-throat.' It is competitive and especially so if you are pursuing the BFA program.
  • musicaltheatrememusicaltheatreme Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    Also, I do not think that UCI's program has been affected by budget cuts in a negative way. They have been forced to do smaller musicals, but that basically means instead of doing West Side Story they do Spring Awakening. I don't think of that as necessarily being a downside.

    To replace the big-ensemble singing musicals, UCI offers a 199 class in the spring where students do a staged reading of a show that features those big ensemble numbers.

    The proximity to LA and other OC theaters is great. UCI students (especially the MT focused ones) often audition at Musical Theatre West, La Mirada, The Chance to name a few.
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