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College/University With Technical Theatre Major

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by Spader, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Spader

    Spader Member

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    I've been having an extremely bad time trying to find colleges that offer Technical Theatre or Theatre Design as a major. I want to go on and focus on Lighting design, and I won't even consider a college that simply puts "Theatre Arts" down as a major.

    So, I was wondering if anybody knows of good schools in Northern California/Oregon/Washington with good technical theatre departments.
     
  2. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    Why not?:confused:

    There will likely be those that disagree with me on this, but at the undergrad level, whether your degree lists a specialization is not really all that important to your future career.

    I am a graduate of UC Irvine, class of 1998. While in college I specialized in stage lighting and lighting design. My degree just says Drama, not even Theatre Arts or Technical Theatre, just Drama. This has not hurt me one bit. To take it a step further, I only spent my last two years of college at UCI. I did my first couple of years at Orange Coast College, a community college in Costa Mesa, California. I'm glad I went this route, as I was able to get much more hands on experience at the community college level than I did at UCI. This was in part because I did not have to compete with upperclassmen for the coveted tech positions on the various shows I worked on at OCC. For that very reason, I strongly recommend that prospective theatre majors at least look at their local community colleges rather than dismissing them out of hand.

    I've been in my current position since January of 2000, but while it was a contributing factor, it was not my degree that got me my job. Instead, it was the time I spent doing overhire work at the Pageant. In that time, my current employer learned what they could expect from me in terms of work ethic, skills, attitude, creativity, and a whole host of other factors, such that when the Master Electrician position opened up it was offered to me. There are plenty of better lighting guys out there than me. There are also plenty of better electricians than me out there. But the Pageant wanted me, not because I was the worlds greatest lighting guy, but because I was familiar with their operation, and I was not an unknown. They knew what they were getting when they hired me.

    Now I'm not saying that you're wasting your time trying for a degree. Far from it. I use what I learned in college all the time. You probably will too. But I think you're giving far too much importance to the title on piece of paper that the university gives you at the end of your time there. You should really give far greater consideration to the quality of the program. A degree that says Lighting Design is completely worthless if the program behind that degree does not teach you what you need to know to become a lighting designer.

    Just something for you to think about.;)
     
  3. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Yeah, Design is a focus of study within the department.

    The university I went to has a department of Theatre Arts. It only became an official department during my time there, and it's been around for many years. It's been under both Communications and English in the past. The Department has two focuses of study: Design and Performance .. and in my last year they added a General Theatre focus, less specialized. No matter what you choose to specialize in, your degree from there reads either BFA Theatre or BA Theatre.

    If you refuse to consider any school that does not have a completely separate Technical Theatre Department and Major, then you're ruling out some very good universities and departments. Almost all of them, in fact.
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    For more unsolicited advice, Spader, see this thread: http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/education/8701-few-schools.html, and this post, which I'll requote here as I feel it bears repeating.
     
  5. bhallerm

    bhallerm Member

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    I'm a Technical Director at a high school as many of you know from my post in the Ed forum. My degrees are as follows:

    -Associate of Applied Science in Music Production/Audio Engineering

    -Bachelor of Music Education.

    They were looking for someone that had a lot of audio experience due to all the concert recordings and weekly activities on top of the productions. Most of my previous theater experience is as a trumpet player in the pit. Not saying it's the way to do it. Just my 2 cents.

    BJH
     
  6. Cheever

    Cheever Member

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    I don't know if you can find a place with a "Lighting Design" major.

    I plan to attend Winthrop University in SC. They offer a technical theatre major and you gradually create an emphasis in a certain area.
     
  7. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    I would have to disagree with the idea that someone needs to undergrad in anything but theatre, I feel that is a huge mistake!

    The way my school puts it, in terms of our general education requirements and our in-major requirements, they are not training us for our first career that we will use our major on, they are training us for our 3rd and 4th and 5th career change way down the line!
    ----------
    Now, I am also an English major, but for my university we are required to take a lot of math and science (we're a technical school =/ ), a lot of history, and weird off the wall classes. This is all to teach us about life and such. Within my major, I am required to take performance classes, history of theatre (2 semesters!), design classes, and directing classes. All of this is to provide an overview base for us to learn off of.

    They want us to understand what the institution of theatre is, and how it fits in to the modern world and the past, as well as get a grounding to do whatever area we choose!
    ------------

    To digress a little, everyone should read Steve Job's commencement speech that he gave at Stanford University a few years back. He was talking about the development of the first mac, and why it was so groundbreaking, and he talks about how when he dropped out of college, he stuck around to take random classes. He took a caligraphy class, and this is how he made the default typeset on the mac, he took other classes to learn how to arrange stuff. None of it was computer related, but when it came time to make his computer, he was able to apply these random bits of knowledge to make something new!
     
  8. erico3456

    erico3456 Member

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    Hey
    I can't comment that much on what degree you should go for because
    i'm still a young one but I have found a website that I find useful, it has a large listing of schools that have technical theater like programs and degrees. It doesn't have that much information on it but has a list of many schools and what technical theater degrees they offer.
    Academic Programs in Technical Theater

    I hope you can find it useful. Also I do believe that you have to visit a schools department and meet with its teachers to really get a good idea of what kind of education you can get there for what your looking to get like i have started to do.
     
  9. Spookz

    Spookz Member

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    They're out there. I'm attending DePaul University as a Lighting Design major. ;)

    A lot of choosing colleges depends on the quality of the education you're looking for and what kind of degree you're seeking. There's nothing wrong with going to a college without specified majors like "Lighting Design" or "Costume Technician." If you feel like you would excel in a conservatory setting, then go for it. But remember, conservatories are harder to get into and there are plenty of schools out there that have programs just as good.
    And remember, you can always go back to school and get a Master's Degree if you feel like you need more education.
     
  10. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    Something I was going to say earlier, and then forgot to, is this:

    There's a lot more to theatre, even production and design, than you would get from just a technical theatre department. I mentioned earlier that the university I went to, like most, has a Theatre Arts Department, and my degree reads BFA Theatre. The list of courses I had to take for that degree include the following: Basic core classes of course; Stagecraft 1&2; Scene Design 1&2; Lighting Design 1&2; Costume Design; Acting 1; Directing 1; Stage Makeup 1; Craft Of Costume; Scene Analysis; Classical & Modern Theatre History; Voice And Movement .. and other electives and whatnot.

    Similarly, our performance majors had to take Stagecraft, Scene 1, Lighting 1, Costume, and so on in addition to specialized classes like Acting For The Camera.

    It may seem stupid for me, who wants to become a lighting designer, to have to take an acting class and a directing class. I can't act, but because of that class I understand acting more than I would otherwise. I can't direct, but I can understand what a director's trying to do better than I would otherwise. I'm a more well-rounded theatre person because of all that (and the Department as a whole; don't let the degree title and course catalog be your sole criteria), and similarly the actors have some basic idea of the technical side of things. Some of the best lightboard ops I know are actors, and similarly there are a few that I went to school with who graduated under the Design focus degree plan who discovered they enjoyed acting as well.

    In all fields, not just theatre, we need more generalists and fewer specialists. Just my opinion.

    Oh, and what did I learn at college? A lot, and not a lot at the same time. I learned how to learn, and I learned a lot of good stuff, principles and techniques, from professors and TDs we had. But largely I'm self-taught in everything I do, from lighting design to audio to video to my real day job, database administration. Going to the right college won't teach you how to be a good LD .. but if you're lucky, while you're at college you'll learn how to become a good designer and more.

    Just my two cents. Maybe two-and-a-half; keep the change. :)
     
  11. themuzicman

    themuzicman Well-Known Member

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    I agree completely. I was forced into acting classes, and the actors were forced into design classes. At the beginning of my first acting class the teacher went, "I don't care if you are a performer or producer, you are all expected to act at the same level, and will be graded as such." - It was hard, but I am the better for it.
     
  12. Pie4Weebl

    Pie4Weebl Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I just wanted to pop into this thread and clear up some miss understandings about conservatories. It seems everyone in this thread believes that some one pursuing a lighting design degree in a conservatory will take lighting classes and lighting classes only. This is incorrect. The types of classes we take are chosen to make us the most effective designers we can be when we enter the real world. There is an emphasis on art classes to help you visually communicate your ideas and more importantly be able to verbally express them and defend them. We also take theatre lit and history courses. And yes, we take acting, directing, costuming and all those other fun theatre classes outside of our focus. And yes you can still take some odd-ball classes on the side and even get a minor if you really want to.

    Where conservatories excel past other theatre programs is the hands on learning. Making mistakes on shows is arguably the best way to learn and conservatories give you plenty of opportunities in that regard. Likewise, following equity and IA rules prepares us to know how the process really works.

    Webster in particular offers even more hands on experience. With the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (A B+ LORT stage for those following along at home) we are thrust into working on real live professional shows many times in an assistant capacity to the designer. Many of our grads have gone straight to working for large regional theatres or on off broadway.

    If you don't really know what you want to do with your life when you grow up a generic drama degree is fine. But if you have some idea what you want to do, a conservatory program will get you there faster. (And that is not to say you are locked into a path when you join, many people change their emphasis or pick up a second)
     
  13. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I also want to jump in here. Unfortunately I think that the real problem is the limited scope of search that the OP is doing. If you limit yourself to a small region of the country (the western seaboard) then you are limited in what you will find. There are plenty of liberal arts schools all over the country with theatre departments or schools of performing arts that offer more specified undergrad degrees.

    There is nothing wrong with this approach or a "generalized" degree in theatre. Most places that hand out a general theatre degree still allow you to taylor your education to what you want. Sometimes in programs with more specific foci don't allow you the room to explore that you might want. This could be room to explore other aspects of theatre or other fields of study all together.
     
  14. Spader

    Spader Member

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    Thanks for all of the feedback.

    I guess the advice I should take is to look for quality over title. With this in mind, where can I get a great education in California, preferably in the North?
     

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