Personally, I love it when a college tries to make the most of the resources it has to create the best theatre program possible. Whether it's through bold show choices, updating facilities, or hiring a more diverse faculty, anytime a theatre program tries to better itself, it's a win.
Except when they try to over-extend and become something they're not.
I was recently told of a college theatre program that offers a BA in Theatre Arts. Within their "Performance" concentration, they require students to sign agreements that during the school year, they will only be allowed to audition for the shows within the school itself. Any outside auditions would result in dismissal from the program.
While something like this would certainly be included with most BFA conservatory level programs, this is the first time I've heard it included with a BA program. I don't know what the head's of this program are hoping to achieve but I believe requiring such an agreement on BA students is wrong.
As someone who has worked in higher education for over a decade, I know the benefits and draw that BA programs have over BFA programs. Typically for students that want a more traditional college experience, perhaps double major, study abroad, and in theatre cases, audition for productions outside of their school. This was especially attractive in areas such as Boston, New York, Chicago, etc.
However, forcing BA students to sign an agreement like this changes what the program is supposed to be and misrepresents the experience the student thought they were going to have. While an agreement like this is put into place for BFA students due to classroom, studio and rehearsal time, having it for a BA program is ludicrous.
Colleges need to understand that students chose their schools for particular reasons. By adjusting your BA program in hopes that it makes it look more prestigious, in this case, hurts the program overall.
Photo: Simpson College