Why Would You Ever Want Major In Theatre?

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Founder

Dear High School Theatre Seniors,

Congratulations. You've just finished your final high school theatre production. It's an emotional time, I know. But for some of you, it won't be your last production. Why? Because you've decided to major in theatre in college.

Why would you ever want to do that?

Between now and September, get ready, because you're going to be asked this question over and over again.

Don't worry if you don't have an answer yet. When I was asked this the summer before my freshman year, I was nervous because I didn't have a definitive answer either. However after getting my degree, here's a couple of reasons why you should be very excited about the next four years.

You're going to be introduced to amazing new works and artists

If you're coming from a high school where your entire four years were full of Beauty & the Beast, Grease, Into the Woods, Oklahoma!, Noises Off or Shakespeare done in the most ridiculous settings imaginable, get excited, because college is going to open your eyes to some amazing work you don't even know exists.

When I was a freshman in college, I had just come from doing Guys & Dolls, Damn Yankees, The Sound of Music and Good News. Within months I was introduced to the works of Jason Robert Brown, Maltby & Shire, Jeanine Tesori and William Finn. I studied scenes from plays by the likes of David Ives, Robert Partick, Christopher Durang and Eugene O'Neill.

Everything you love about listening to an Rodgers & Hammerstein or reading Arthur Miller is only going to be enhanced when you learn of the artists that were inspired by them.

You're going to meet professors who will change your life

You'll have professors in college, whose only goal is to make you in to the best performer or designer you can be. They will challenge you.There will be professors who will break you down only to build you back up. They will teach you about instincts, movement, discovering yourself as an artist and how to fake punch someone in the face!

They'll also be the best mentors you could ever ask for.

You're going to perform in some incredible productions

If you think your high school productions were great, you haven't seen anything yet. Just wait until you're in a show designed by professionals with terminal degrees in the field that you love. Just wait until you're choreographed by someone who worked with Susan Stroman or a musical director who worked with Stephen Schwartz. The professional experience from the people who are running your college productions is going to blow you away.

The first production of my freshman year had one of the most beautiful sets I've ever seen. It had actors who were all the most talented people from their respective high schools and the performance was unbelievable. I think I spent more time on that show being in awe of those around me then actually concentrating on my role.

You're going to see what 3:00 AM looks like

When I was in college, after a rehearsal, I would look at my friends and without a word, we all knew what was going to happen next...Dennys. In Horseheads, NY, the Dennys was open 24 hours a day. So around 11:00 pm, my friends and I would sluggishly walk in, plop ourselves down at a table, order the first of at least a dozen cups of coffee and begin either bitching about rehearsal, gossiping about everything/everyone(getting louder and louder with each cup of coffee) and order the same thing every time(Me: All American Slam with All Bacon). Pretty soon we'd look up and see that it was 2 am. We would raise the question if we should leave, and then decide just a couple of cups of coffee more, pretty soon it was 3 am.

You're going to have a lot of experiences like this and see for yourself what's on the other side after you've broken through the wall of exhaustion.

You'll meet the best friends you could ever ask for

College isn't going to be a breeze. There will be tough and stressful times ahead. But you're going to be surrounded by truly the best people you could ask for. They know the stress of a tech week or what it's like to have your confidence shaken. Better yet, they're right there in the trenches with you. You'll see each other through the lows but also the highs. They're be the people you trust the most and you'll miss the most when it's all over.

The next four years of your life are going to be full of experiences you'll never forget. You're going to collect stories you'll tell for the rest of your lives and meet people who will change you for the better.

So this summer when your relatives or friends ask you why you would ever major in theatre? Consider what's been listed above and say,

Why would I want to major in anything else?

Photo: Santa Monica College