Author Topic: Help Choosing University!  (Read 2947 times)

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SMsydney

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Help Choosing University!
« on: Apr 12, 2016, 04:36 pm »
Hello!

I am currently a high school senior debating on where to attend college next fall.

I am currently between Ithaca College's Theatre Studies major and Syracuse University's Stage Management major.

I thought I had my heart set on Ithaca since it's a smaller environment and lots of personalized attention, but I also liked what Syracuse had to say about their program. I am stuck!!!! Ithaca gave me a lot more money than Syracuse, but don't want that to become the deciding factor.

I am also questioning what would potentially happen if I decided I didn't want to stage mange once I realize what it's really like. What program would help me the most in the future?

Please respond!!!

bex

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #1 on: Apr 12, 2016, 04:50 pm »
Some other things to consider when choosing a theater program:

- Are your professors actually working in the real world, or have they been stagnating in academia since the days of foot-powered dimmer switches?
- Is there a graduate program? If there are grad students, how many of your classes will be taught by them? How much opportunity is there for undergrads to work on the Mainstage shows?
- Are there student-generated theater productions?
- Is there opportunity to work in dance or opera?
- How many stage management classes are there in your program? How many gen-eds will you have to take?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Everyone wants different things out of their educational experience, that is just some stuff to think about.

I wouldn't worry too much about what happens if you decide to change your major. Syracuse and Ithaca are both EXCELLENT schools, congratulations on being accepted into both of them! If you decide stage management or theater in general isn't for you, there are plenty of other things you can major in at both of those schools that will give you a first-rate education. 
FWIW, at my college, you had to wait until your junior year to be accepted into the BFA program- that gives you a chance to try stuff out and take a bunch of general theater classes to make sure it's the right path for you before you commit to a specialized degree track.
You will have to sing for your supper & your mortgage, your dental coverage & your children's shoes, over & over again while people in desk jobs roll their eyes the minute you start to complain. So it's a good thing you like to sing.

SMsydney

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #2 on: Apr 12, 2016, 05:04 pm »
Thank you so much for responding!

What school did you attend?

Also, at Ithaca there is only one general stage management class, but many opportunities to stage management. I wish they had more individualized stage management classes, but unfortunately they do not, which makes Syracuse look better. But, I am interested in finding out other things I could potentially like in the theatre world. At Syracuse, they work hand in hand with a professional company, which has it's positives and negatives. I'm just worried that with Syracuse, the major is so specific that if I find out I hate it I will end up being stuck. This is why making a decision is so hard because I'm so in between!!!

SGU312

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #3 on: Apr 12, 2016, 07:31 pm »
Bex brings up some good points to consider.
I went to Syracuse, so feel free to send me a PM.
They have a good program, although I'm sure things have changed since I was there.
Having the partnership with Syracuse Stage is a huge plus (it's a professional Equity theatre that operates under a LORT contract).
As you mention, you start off right away as a BFA stage management major.
That's not to say you can't change your mind. My class started off with 7 (which was considered large), by the time I graduated it was down to 5.
You do have general ed credits, which must be outside the drama department (so you can take classes in other things that interest you). Within the department you also have electives, so again, you can take classes in other areas (I took several lighting classes, a props class, etc).

"I wish they had more individualized stage management classes, but unfortunately they do not"
This is not necessarily a bad thing. There is only so much stage management you can learn in a classroom. Being able to work on productions helps you learn what works and what does not. Also, taking classes in other areas besides stage management makes you very well rounded. Some knowledge in different areas of the theatre will help you out a ton.

PSMKay

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #4 on: Apr 12, 2016, 07:56 pm »
I had never stage managed (or done any backstage work) when I started college. I never took a stage management class in college. I did, however, get a very thorough education in stage management while I was in college by studying everything else that the department had to offer and constantly doing gigs.

If you go into SM as a career you will never really get a chance again to learn first hand what the rest of the creative team does. That kind of knowledge/sympathy will be crucial once you're on the job. Go where you can learn everything - not just backstage. Learn to understand directors and their language, acting techniques and the prep required to use them, choreographers and their notation styles or you will be lost during the table work, refinement and choreography part of the rehearsal process.

Learn dramaturgy and how new plays are born because we need them badly. Learn how to rehearse and put in understudies. Find somewhere to get put into a long running existing production - they're very different from the short runs that college theatres tend to mount. My first eight week run was a real shock.

Theatre is an area where grad student TAs can be handy, as they can turn into industry connections a few years later if they like you and manage to escape academia.

I'd say, check out their alumni pages and see if you can find lists of all the graduates from 2011. Search for them online to see what they've gotten up to since they left - not just the big success stories that the college will brag about, but all of them. That's the real tell of the school's strength.

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SMsydney

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #5 on: Apr 12, 2016, 08:47 pm »
Thank you both for responding with input I had not thought about until now. I am looking down both for alumni, but cannot see much for stage managers. For Ithaca, you have to have a login to look at an even more extensive list than what they provide on their website. Syracuse only has about 2 stage managers from what I can see from a login time ago. Cannot seem to find another list. I do know both are great programs, little worried what I could do with a Theatre Studies BA...

EFMcMullen

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #6 on: Apr 12, 2016, 11:03 pm »
little worried what I could do with a Theatre Studies BA...

You can become a professional stage manager. If you are good you will get hired. If you network and put yourself out there, who knows where you will land.  Many people on this forum are 'just BA' stage managers, and I personally wouldn't have it any other way.

PSMKay

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Re: Help Choosing University!
« Reply #7 on: Apr 13, 2016, 11:34 am »
If you are on LinkedIn you can also use their advanced search to find stage managers who list specific schools in the "Education" section of their profile. It won't let you refine by the year they graduated, but it's at least a start.

As for a general theatre BA, you can become a stage manager.

You can also become an arts administrator, a world-renowed handmade crafts specialist, an educator for a group supporting the empowerment of teen girls through the arts, a teacher, a lighting designer, a game designer or a web developer. (That's what the folks from my graduating class are doing now.) You could become an attorney or an instructor or an entrepreneur or a real estate agent - all things that I've done or considered doing that would use my gen-theatre degree in some way.

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