Why I Love Seeing the Opening Night Performance

Why I Love Seeing the Opening Night Performance

One of my favorite things to do as both an audience member and as a writer is to go and see a theatrical performance on its opening night. There’s something about that particular performance that makes it different from any other performance. Over the past few years I, as not only an audience member but as a reviewer, have been fortunate to see many opening night performances. It is from those experiences that I would like share a bit of insight as to what makes the opening night performance stand out from all the others. 

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College President Boots Musical from Theatre for Political Event, Then Blames Theatre Students When Event is Cancelled

College President Boots Musical from Theatre for Political Event, Then Blames Theatre Students When Event is Cancelled

Imagine you’re a chemistry or biology college student. You’ve spent weeks preparing your lab and have timed everything perfectly. You and your lab partner double checked the equations, and experiments are chugging away. There’s still a couple more weeks of monitoring to go before your work is finished, but you’re feeling pretty good. Now imagine being told that the lab is needed to host a special visitor and that your experiments must be removed. The “compromise” is that you can move to a smaller lab which doesn’t have the right equipment, so all your months of hard work will be lost. You have no say in the matter and nor does your faculty advisor- the college administration made all these decisions for you and without your knowledge or input. This would never happen, right? No one would dream of asking a science student to uproot their work at the last minute. Yet this is exactly what played out at Westfield State University (WSU) and their theatre students.

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"It was an Oversight" is an Ignorant Reason to Not Cast Someone

"It was an Oversight" is an Ignorant Reason to Not Cast Someone

I think avoiding the truth in fear of confrontation leaves an open door to just downright lie. People may disagree with what I say, but I truly need to say this because this excuse is becoming more and more common when it comes to my friends on the education/community theatre and the semi-professional level where they are using the “oversight” excuse on why someone didn’t cast someone in their show.

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The Benefits of a Small College Theatre Program

Sarah Ferguson

College theatre isn’t all about who has the best name recognition or most famous professors in the industry. Sometimes it’s the smaller schools that pay off big time in the long run! As someone who looked at programs both large and small, I can tell you from experience that the differences are significant. The most important thing is to choose the school that is best suited to you as an individual. That being said, let me tell you how I fell in love with my small college Theatre program.

First, when you’re in a smaller program, the professors know you very well. Odds are, you’ll have the same professor for class at least twice a year, not including the work you do with them on other productions. This may sound scary, but it’s actually pretty great. This way, your professor knows how you work, knows what you need to work on, and you are able to develop close relationships with them. Not to mention your professors- whether famous or not- most likely have plenty of connections in your field, and therefore the better they know you, the better chance you have of getting recommended by them for a position somewhere. 

Another great thing about a smaller program is the amount of experience you get! Small programs do not mean small shows. If you’re in a small college theatre program, you simply have less competition for the leading roles in the shows put on by your department. Instead of 20 other girls going for the same role as you, there might be 5. That makes a difference. Not to mention, in small programs, the directors often try to keep you as involved as possible even when you’re not performing in a show. Didn’t get offered a role? Here, why don’t you help us out and be our Choreographer? Experiences like that are few and far between in larger college programs.

Photo: Elmira College

Photo: Elmira College

Quality over quantity is essential! When you have smaller classes, the professors can spend more one-on-one time with you and that can greatly improve the quality of your education. In my Shakespeare class this past semester, there were 13 of us. By the end of the semester, all of us had worked one-on-one with our professor on multiple assignments, not to mention he was able to give each pair of actors feedback and extra help on a day we would have had off because there were only 6 groups.

It’s hard to be an outsider in a small program! When you’re working on a production, or taking a class for your major, you’re around many of the same people again and again. That makes not becoming friends with them pretty hard if you ask me! When there’s 20 people that are all in a show together and going to classes together, classes lead to lunch dates which leads to study sessions which leads to karaoke nights in the campus music building. Well, or something close to that. Seriously, you learn to be really comfortable with everyone REALLY fast. 

Finally, in small college programs, you find the people you’ll spend the rest of your life with. I’m not just talking about true love—I’m talking about friendship. The kind of friendship when you’re 87 years old and still keeping in touch with your college friends. Sure, you can do the same thing in the larger programs, but in my experience it happens much more quickly in small programs. These people become some of your closest friends and will outlast many other friendships- even some high school ones.

In the end, the decision is yours to make. Where are you going to be comfortable? What are you looking to get out of your college experience? Is it a nice résumé? Or is it the knowledge and the people you’ll be working with that matter to you? Either way, break a leg out there, and whatever you choose, enjoy it!

Dear Theatre Students, Don't Throw Away Your Shot!

Dear Theatre Students, Don't Throw Away Your Shot!

Dear theatre students,

We’ve met before, but as a reminder, my name is Chris and I am a theatre professor.  While I might not be YOUR theatre professor, and while I don’t claim to speak for ALL theatre professors, I wanted to take just a moment to talk about your futures.  I think what I have to say is important to those of you in college theatre programs, and also those of you who are hoping to go into a college theatre program—but perhaps other theatre artists, in various stages in their careers, might find some utility in my advice.

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What Nobody Will Tell You About College Auditions

What Nobody Will Tell You About College Auditions

People tell you loads about college auditions. You can go google a list of “Dos and Don’ts” for your auditions and find pages of forums, blog entries with constant advice:  Wear something conservative, dress to your characters. Sing this song but don't sing this one, put yourself out there but don't show off. In the theatre world of people telling you what to do, it’s only natural to throw yourself head first into what they have to say. Sites like these are bibles for growing theatre kids, and they were mine too when I first started off. 

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Selecting a BFA/BA Program? : A Checklist of Questions To Ask

Selecting a BFA/BA Program? : A Checklist of Questions To Ask

This is the time of the year where the college decision process should be finalizing. Most colleges will give you a deadline of May 1st, so it's understandable if you're feeling a lot of pressure right now.

Students, I'm not going to sugarcoat this decision process. You will be making a decision of where to spend the next years of your life and investing almost, and in some cases over, $100,000. A decision like this should not be made hastily. Take your time and do the research that's most important to you.

But if you or your parents aren't exactly sure what to do first, here is a checklist of things to ask colleges as you come down the final stretch of making a decision.

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