Jan. 18, 2018
How involved are students in BVU productions?
D: They are the driving force that makes the shows happen. From building scenery to costumes, selecting props, creating posters and programs, and running the box office, they take care of a lot. We supervise and encourage students to take on leadership positions.
How many students take part in an average show?
B: It ranges from as many as 100 and as few as 50. Students from the Intro to Theatre class, the theatre practicums, our scholarship students, and work study students all participate, so we work with lots of different students.
It sounds like there are a lot of moving parts. What does it take to make sure things go well?
D: It takes commitment, creativity, innovation, and a little craziness. If you're cast in a show, you might be working two-and-a-half hours a day, meaning you're doing homework while off stage. What's special is that students are working as a group toward one common goal; when they get to show their work to the audience, they feel a sense of accomplishment, and that's what keeps people returning to the stage.
B: We nurture a certain set of skills which can't be repeated in a traditional classroom setting. When things don't go according to plan, we teach them to keep calm, adjust, and the audience may never know. It's called grace under fire, and when they're faced with similar problems at work in the future, they can say “this is nothing compared to what I had to deal with on stage.”
“Because they also work with outside clients and professional companies while at BVU, they graduate with great experiences.”David Walker
How many performances take place per year, and what's changed?
B: We've consistently held three main stage shows a year since 1996, but we also allow students to showcase their classwork to the public and direct or write their own productions. The curriculum now intentionally connects with digital media, music technology, animation, and other departments, and the major is now called theatre and media performance. There are so many job options outside of theatre and film now, which is part of the reason we provide contrast and diversity in our productions. For example, we did The Tempest in October and Woman Wonder in November. The first was a modern take on Shakespeare requiring very little technology, and the other is much more evocative and current.
What makes BVU theatre stand apart from the rest?
D: The responsibility that we give our students, and they do it all. Rather than coming into a cookie cutter process, we don't allow them to rest in one area. They may be designing a set for one production then singing in the next. Because they also work with outside clients and professional companies while at BVU, they graduate with great experiences.
Tell me about the Siebens Forum Workshop.
D: It's a 30-ft. by 30-ft. space backstage in Anderson Auditorium for set and prop construction. We use quality tools and reuse stock scenic pieces as well as found materials. I teach students to use alternative materials rather than resorting to expensive lumber for everything. It's creative problem solving on the technical side.
How do you keep students involved, and with what challenges are you facing?
B: We support student ideas and creativity. For example, we have an animation student that produced work for Woman Wonder, and one of our arts management students took a survey to evaluate appropriate ticket pricing. These are two examples, but we have so many great students who bring their talent and creativity to our productions. Together we produce high-quality shows, and as a result, we're seeing an increase in our audiences.
Theatre and Media Performance
Through hands-on experiences, leadership development, and internships, students gain the knowledge and confidence they need to meet creative challenges and succeed in many environments.