Author Topic: grad schools  (Read 6140 times)

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samthestagemanager

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« on: Mar 27, 2006, 12:49 am »
I'm finishing up my second year in my ba program. I am beginning to look into grad schools (MFA in stage management) and I was wondering if anyone has any words of wisdom in terms of researching and applying?

Mac Calder

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« Reply #1 on: Mar 27, 2006, 03:24 am »
Okay, I dont know US schools, nor the selection process. So these are just some general tips:

Name means a lot when you are just getting started. In australia, for example, there are a number of places that offer courses in "Production", however there is one that will put you so far above the others it is not funny (The National Institute for Dramatic Arts). I have an uncle who is fairly high up in the University system here, and he basically told me as I grew up "Once you create a reputation for yourself, your educational roots often do not matter, however fresh out of school, it means everything. Choose a place that is recognised both nationaly and internationaly and you will have no end of work."

Some courses come with 'extras' that are damn useful. I mentioned NIDA above - their Production course comes with certified training for things like high access platforms, rigging, pyro etc and the extra certification that comes with those competencies. The course is also a hell of a lot harder than anywhere else, but for three years work, you come out able to be employed straight up, instead of needing to go and atain OH&S certification, First Aide, etc.

Look at course outlines and the background of the lecturers. Some of them are huge names that have decided to give up the gig and teach the next generation - Sometimes, if it comes down to two different places, the one with a well renouned lecturer certainly takes the cake - especially if you take the extra step and get to know them, because they just may be able to put you into contact with them, and later on in life you can do a little bit of name dropping (I hate name droppers, however if there is someone you know they have worked with before, you can 'chat about old times')

Basically, find out as much as you can about each place, and if they have open days, go and attend, they may be able to put you into contact with some past graduates and current students who will really give you an idea about the intricacies a glossy pamphlet cannot give.

Talking. That is the way things work.

thankyou5

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« Reply #2 on: Mar 27, 2006, 12:20 pm »
A couple words from someone who just finished the whole grad school application process.  

There aren't many programs out there.  I think there are roughly a dozen in the US, which makes the search a bit easier.

Cal Arts, UCSD, UC-Irvine, University of Alabama, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, UM-Kansas City, UNLV, Rutgers, Yale, NYU, University of Delaware and a few others I can't think of off the top of my head.

Each school has a pretty specialized focus so think about what type of theatre you would like to explore.  For instance Iowa does mostly new works, while Alabama is linked exclusively with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, UC-Irvine explores not only theatre, but other aspects of the entertainment industry (film, television).

Talk to the students in the program.  This was the most beneficial for me.  I also found that all I needed to do was ask to be put in touch with a student and in some cases was able to meet a student in person when they happened to be in town.  Be sure to ask the tough questions like "what does the student feel is lacking or difficult about the program"

There have also been changes to several programs in the last couple years, with new heads of departments coming on board and reconstructing the program.  Be sure to find out where the program is headed instead of relying on where it has been in the past.  

For me, the biggest draw of the school I chose was contacts.  Who do the professors knows many times leads you to internships and later work.  Most schools post an alumni brag sheet.  Take a look at these, while they don't guarantee that you'll end up in the same place, the do offer a good look at where you can go, as well as, an example of people you may be able to contact after graduation.

Also look at applying through URTA's.  There are only 6 schools, I think, who use them for SM's, but if you find that you are interested in a few of those schools, I found it much easier to spend one day interviewing in a common location much easier and cheaper than flying all over the country for each school.

Best of Luck

jensparkingonly

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« Reply #3 on: Mar 27, 2006, 03:31 pm »
I finished an MFA program in 2005. Here is what I wish I knew...

Exploring Grad schools is a tough thing.  Start on line and search the list of schools and their drama websites. This will give you a good idea of what each program is about.  Look at programs that are in regions you really want to live in for three years and what type of industry is in that area.

Most interview through the URTA's.  At the URTA's you have a brief interview with several differnent recruiters in one shot. The flip side is they are seeing 15 to 100 people during that interview weekend. If there is a program you are particularly interested in, try to apply directly to the program or make contact with the recruiter ahead of time so they know your name ahead of time and send a thank you note after the interview to remind them of who you are.

There are very few programs in the US for stage management and they usually admit 2-3 people per year to each program. In some cases these applicants are directly out of udergrad, but in a lot of instances, they admit people who have a few years professional experience already under their belt.  I recommend you spend a little time in the real world working before going back to the institution.  You will glean so much more from the educational experience if you do (this I speak from experience). Also, really define your career goals.  If you just want to SM, grad school may not be the best route. You may be more successful persuing some year long/seasonal internships/apprenticeships at reputable companies and seeing where that takes you.   If you want to head into education or production management the MFA level education may set you up better for your career.

Also, explore the program's faculty. It is not what you know, but who you know. And to make an informed decision, find out who the faculty is that  you will be in contact with and what professional work they have done. Meaning what connections do they have that you can benefit from: networking.  Also, get to know the other students in the program. Don't be afraid to ask them what sucks about the program. Make sure you plan a time to visit the university and see a production, see a rehearsal and go to a class or two.

Best of luck!
Jen Matthews
Stage Manager, AEA
jensparkingonly@hotmail.com

"In art we are once again able to do all the things we have forgotten: we are able to walk on water; we speak to the angels who call us; we  move, unfettered, among the stars." -ML

ERK

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« Reply #4 on: Mar 27, 2006, 11:31 pm »
ditto on the above advice.  I'm at UC, Irvine.  If you want to know more about my school, I'd be happy to chat.  theatrechick2000@yahoo.com

samthestagemanager

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« Reply #5 on: Mar 28, 2006, 08:17 pm »
thanks! that is great information

KC_SM_0807

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« Reply #6 on: Apr 08, 2006, 11:22 am »
For Grad School, the URTA schools I'm looking at are Univ of Illiois Urbana/Champaigne, Univ of Alabama, UC Irvine, and Iowa.  You can go to www.urta.com and look up all of the schools that offer Stage Management.  Unfortunately, less than 1/3 of the schools offer MFA in Stage Management, and they don't recruit every year.  I'm also looking at Rutgers and Columbia, because I want to head further north.  If you go on URTA it helps, and also, if you just do a search on google or yahoo "MFA Stage Management", a whole list of schools comes up with that in the site, so you may find schools that you didn't even know had the program.  I just want to be a Stage Manager, but I don't feel like my undergrad degree will have prepared me enough, which is why I'm going.  We can be looking for grad school buddies  :lol:  Best of Luck!
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

KC_SM_0807

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« Reply #7 on: Apr 08, 2006, 11:33 am »
Btw, I do think they are right about the above with getting more experience before you go to U/RTA.  A friend of mine is a fabulous scenic designer, graduated in 2005, and took a semester off to design shows around Wilmington.  He designed about 6 shows during that time, and got into Indiana with full tuition and stipend, etc.  If you haven't done much besides university level, then I definitely suggest taking a semester or a year to get involved elsewhere and doing other things before taking the dive with URTA.  It'll definitely make you stand out and increase your chances, especially since there are so many people and so few spots!
"Perhaps, therefore, Stage Managers not only need to be calm and meticulous professionals who know their craft, but masochists who feel pride in rising above impossible odds."

JenniferEver

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Re: grad schools
« Reply #8 on: Jul 05, 2006, 12:40 am »
I'm looking into MFA programs as well, and my top choice as of right now is Sarah Lawrence College. In their program you don't completely specialize, but you still participate in many aspects of theatre while pursuing your main focus. I also like that it seems to have a more organic approach than some of the other schools I've been looking at (namely NYU and Columbia). I've been looking for Directing, so I don't know which schools have an SM program, but the requirements are drasticallty different. For NYU and COlumbia, they choose students in order in limited number for each concentration (playwrights first, then directors, then actors and SMs), At Sarah Lawrence, I don't believe they break it down in this way. For Yale School of Drama, you need to have 2-3 years post collegiate professional experience in your field to be considered. So the requirements vary from one school to another and it really depends on what you're looking for. For me, with my concentration in directing, I find that it is infinitely helpful to understand all of the other aspects of theatre (this is true for an SM too) and I had a very organix experience in undergrad, and so that's what appeals to me rather than a more highly focused program.

You also have to ask yourself why you are going to grad school and what you hope to accomplish and get out of it. That will help you find the right place for you to reach your own particular goals.

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