Chairperson: Chris Berchild
Department Office: New Theater, room 38
Web site: http: www.indstate.edu/theater/
Through a diverse selection of courses and many production opportunities, the undergraduate program in the Department of Theater provides students with a broad and solid foundation in the artistic, intellectual, and practical aspects of theater. Led by a professionally active and accomplished faculty, the department fosters a positive working environment—inside and outside the classroom, onstage and off—that is serious, focused, rigorous, and nurturing. It encourages students to collaborate, experiment, and take initiative in the development of new work, whether it be new student written plays, multi-media performances, or imaginative interpretations of established plays.
The department features an active production schedule, including two seasons of performances during the semesters of the regular academic year: FallStage and SpringStage. Each season features mainstage productions, including at least one faculty-directed show, and a Studio series, comprised mostly of student-initiated projects. The department produces a New Play Festival every spring highlighting new plays, directed, acted, and designed and written by current students.
A degree in theater will prepare the student for a career in many areas. While some graduates of the department are currently working in professional theaters as actors, playwrights, directors, and designers, many graduates acquire high level jobs in business and industry. The program also prepares students to pursue graduate studies. The theater faculty work professionally outside the department and are able to offer experiences and contacts to students upon graduation.
In support of the liberal arts and sciences mission of the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana State University, the Department of Theater participates in the Foundational Studies Program and the Honors Program.
The department offers a wide range of courses in theater history and theory, and dramatic literature, as well as in the areas of acting, directing, playwriting, stage design, stage management, and technology. Among these are some offerings specifically designed for non-majors to encourage an appreciation of the field; for example, 174 (Introduction to Theater), with multiple sections available in both fall and spring, and 150 (Beginning Acting). Courses for the major are designed to promote breadth and depth and thus fall either within the broad-based 36-credit core curriculum or, for more focused study, in one of the three concentrations.
The department has exclusive use of two theaters: a 240-seat proscenium theater located in Dreiser Hall (Dreiser Theater) and a 200-seat flexible black-box space in the New Theater. Also located in the New Theater are: faculty offices; a laboratory rehearsal space; a computer laboratory for design and technical theater; and a ticket office. Besides the theater, Dreiser Hall houses the primary scenic and costume studios and a design classroom. All facilities are operated entirely by the Department of Theater.
The undergraduate degree programs offered by the Department of Theater is the bachelor of arts. All degree candidates must successfully complete the University requirement of a minimum of 120 credits, including Foundational Study course work, as well as requirements for the departmental major.
Students interested in theater may choose a major or opt for a minor in theater. As soon as students decide to become majors or minors, they may access the ISU Theater Student Handbook on-line to learn more about the curricular and extracurricular opportunities and expectations as they pursue their course of study.
The core curriculum provides theater majors and minors with a comprehensive theater education, promoting versatility by exposing students to principles and skills in the primary theatrical arts and crafts. Students may choose a concentration in their junior year or stay with a general theater degree. Either choice will prepare the student for activities both in and out of theater upon graduation.
Each theater major and minor freshman is assigned a faculty advisor. Since advising is an integral part of the student’s experience in the department and a key factor in successful completion of the program, it is vital that good contact with the advisor be maintained prior to registration and throughout both semesters. The advisor can also be helpful to students when they are seeking career advice. By the end of the sophomore year, a student may be reassigned to another faculty advisor within the department depending on the student’s focus area.
At the beginning of each semester, auditions are held for those interested in acting in FallStage, SpringStage mainstage, or Studio productions. All students may audition, so long as they are enrolled in the University during the semester in which they want to participate and have above a 2.0 as a cumulative grade point average. Enrolled students interested in carrying out technical assignments should arrange to meet with the department’s production manager as early in the semester as possible. Students cast in shows or assigned crew or design positions may sign up early in the semester to be evaluated and to receive credit for successfully completing those assignments. Participation in department productions also enables students to earn points toward joining the honorary theater fraternity, Theta Alpha Phi.
During the summer, the Department of Theater produces professional theater productions through Crossroads Repertory Theatre (formerly called SummerStage). These productions provide advanced theater students with invaluable experience working directly with theater professionals from all parts of the United States. Students participating in Crossroads Repertory Theatre can receive stipends and/or credit. Contact the Department Chairperson for further details as well as for an interview and/or audition.
Theater courses are open to all students in the University who have completed the proper prerequisites.
Theater Assessment and Outcome
Assessment is an integral part of the creative process and, as such, is an integral part of the department’s continuous activity. Each theater class, as indicated in the syllabus handed out at the beginning of the term, has its own methods of rigorous assessment. These methods include combinations of examinations, papers, rubrics, creative assignments, evaluations of projects at various stages of completion, as well as written and oral critiques offered individually or collectively. Because much of the learning that takes place in theater courses occurs in experiences attained with fellow classmates inside and outside class, attendance and promptness to classes, laboratories, and rehearsals are stringently enforced and are consistent factors in a student’s grades. Credit-bearing production activity is assessed through rubrics completed in conjunction with a faculty member after a production process is completed. Majors are also required to give portfolio presentations of work completed both in core courses as well as for the concentration. All presentations occur in the spring of the senior year. For more detailed information about how theater students are assessed, refer to the ISU Theater Student Handbook, available from the department.
Upon graduating with a theater major students are able to: demonstrate skills in theatre technology (sets, lights, costume, sound), theater design, and performance; critique their own creative approach to, communication about, and contribution to or performance in a production; critique productions of established and new works of theater from the perspective of technology, design, and performance; create original performance/production material based on theater and performance/production theories or techniques; and describe the major trends in the history of Western theater and their applicability to a current production.