Author Topic: To Major or Minor? That is the question..  (Read 4234 times)

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itsDani

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To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« on: Aug 17, 2013, 03:05 am »
Hi everyone!

I'm starting my senior year at high school very soon here, and I'm starting to look at colleges.
I am very interested in stage management and would absolutely love to pursue it in the future. However, I am completely aware that it is a lot of work and very difficult to get into. My parents have told me that if I go to college I have to major in something "real."

Recently I got involved with my local professional theatre and I am in love with it. I truly believe that being involved in theatre is one thing that I must do in my life. Theatre is the only thing that I am passionate about.
I am determined to at least go to a university with a good theatre program and stay connected with it.
Therefore I have been considering minoring in theatre.

I was wondering if anybody here had any experience in minoring in theatre, and if its any help going into the business?
Also, just some curiosity questions for anybody reading this who went to college:
  • What did you major in?
  • Was your major important in getting the job that you have? Or do you think that you could have still gotten it without studying that?
  • Do you think you're college would have let you still be involved in the theatre program had you not been studying within it?
  • If you majored in something theatre related: If you hadn't majored in that, what would you have wanted to study instead?

I've searched through the forums here for quite a while and have found a few things helpful to me, but I would love to hear some more specifics.
Thank you all!
Dani  ;D

nj_song

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #1 on: Aug 17, 2013, 01:57 pm »
I'm a senior at a small liberal arts college in Seattle. Our program is pretty small with an average of about 8-12 theatre majors graduating a year. I first started out as just a Theatre major with an emphasis in Production. Then, I found the major Communication and I loved it so much that I decided to double major. I haven't graduated yet but I've gotten a couple of SM gigs this summer, all of which I probably would not have gotten if I didn't major in Theatre. The reason being because I've gotten a lot of experience stage managing at my school because I'm a major. There's no actual rule that says only majors can stage manage the shows at my school but majors do get first priority. Also, one of my SM jobs this summer I got because my stage management professor recommended me to a director. I probably wouldn't have gotten the job if I wasn't a major. In my department, we do have a number of students who are not majors that are very involved in the department. Mainly because they have jobs as stage hands/house managers/electricians and just because they love theatre so much.

I hope that helps and gives you some perspective. Granted, I haven't actually graduated yet so my story is a little different. Good luck applying!

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Maribeth

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #2 on: Aug 17, 2013, 02:38 pm »
I suggest doing a search on the words "theatre major"- this topic has come up a number of times before, and you may get some valuable information out of those discussions. 

  • Do you think you're college would have let you still be involved in the theatre program had you not been studying within it?

This question is specific to which college you go to. You should ask when visiting/considering college choices.

ejsmith3130

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #3 on: Aug 17, 2013, 10:16 pm »
Something important when looking into the major vs. the minor is the courses that are required. I was a general theatre major and took a wide variety of classes. The theatre minor at my university focused mainly on literature classes and acting classes. My husband who is a teacher took the minor in theatre because it supplemented his english education very well. You can look up course catalogues on university websites to find this information.

I have met many people who are working stage managers who majored in things other than theatre (like Math!) and people who didn't go to college who are professional stage managers. A theatre major can give you a broad education or a stronger technical education based on what type of program you enroll in.

Outside of the department involvement also varies greatly from school to school. My theatre department was really small (about 30 people total in undergrad) so we heavily relied on non majors to take on roles and work with us to get the productions done. On the flipside, I had a friend who went to a large university that didn't allow non majors to hold any sort of work role because they didn't have enough jobs for the people who were majors.

My parents have told me that if I go to college I have to major in something "real."

I understand this, and I'm sure someone will argue with me on this point, but your education will only be as good as you make it. Our job market is tough- but a lot of them are. My husband is a certified teacher, but he doesn't have a job. He had the "real" major. He works in retail and substitute teaching. I am the one who had the risky major, but I'm working consistantly, pulling the majority of my income from theatre. Is this always the story? No. But one of the most important things about your education is you. If you work hard and make opportunities for yourself you will go further than someone who just takes classes and gets a piece of paper after four years saying they have a degree.

Good news for you? You are already making connections to the local professional theatre. I can track all of my connections back to my first internship. I got that through college and majoring in theatre, but you are already there. You learn more on the job than you do in a classroom.

Good luck with whatever you choose to do. Don't be afraid if you change your mind a million times. I have wanted to do many many things and I'm still pretty young. Stay flexible and open to opportunites.

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itsDani

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #4 on: Aug 18, 2013, 02:17 pm »
Those were all very very helpful responses. Thank you all so much!
If anybody else has an input I would love to read it :)

Sarah.E

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #5 on: Aug 18, 2013, 02:33 pm »
I'm another double-major (sociology and theatre arts), and while it totally depends on the school, for me double majoring was the right choice for several reasons. It stopped me from 'pigeon hole-ing' myself into theatre too soon, and gives me a good outside perspective on my theatre work. I would urge caution on being too set on a specific trajectory within theatre, even if it seems like the perfect fit right now; I went into college with my theatre major as stage management, and discovered a year and a half in that while I love and always will love the work of stage managing, the lifestyle is not for me. I let myself suffer through longer than I should because I saw as 'sacrifice' what I should have seen as 'not right for me.' I'm now happily exploring playwriting, dramaturgy and other literary ventures and have a budding interest in directing in addition to my sociology studies. I'd recommend doing what you can to keep your options and education broad while seeking out a strong theatre eduction. That said, I wouldn't have had access to many of my favorite courses and professors if I weren't majoring in theatre, and my school does segregate the theatre department from the other theatre-groups on campus.

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On_Headset

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #6 on: Aug 18, 2013, 03:42 pm »
When I got my BFA, there were about 15 other people in my graduating "stream". (~85 in my graduating class, but only 14 others in the technology/design program.)

Do you know who got jobs afterwards?

It wasn't the people who had the most prestigious assignments during the BFA program.

It wasn't the people who had the best social networks and got on best with the professors.

It certainly wasn't the people who got the best grades.

It was the people who worked. The people who got themselves on payroll at the university theatres, who worked downtown during their BFA, who apprenticed at summerstock, who got involved with fringe shows, who volunteered with the university amateur dramatics society.

Yes, yes, okay, great: you did a mainstage show and a studio show each year of your BFA program. You and everyone else. What else can you offer? What else did you do? What else is on your CV? (In fact, given the choice between someone who only has a mainstage/studio-per-year BFA, and someone who doesn't have a BFA but can show me that they've worked 8-10 projects per year in a variety of environments, even if those 8-10 are orders of magnitude less prestigious [fringe, storefront, community, amdram, instructional theatre, etc.], many jobs would still go to the latter person.)

The kids who got amazing grades and great assignments but only worked on class-assignment shows fried. They become the waiters and baristas and washup drama teachers. (Not that "drama teacher" is a washup profession, but when you graduate, spend 4-5 years trying to find work, and go back to university to become a drama teacher [because what else can you do with a BFA?], you're a washup.)

Conversely, the kids who only got mediocre grades and relatively unimportant assignments, but worked their tails off to get their fingerprints on as many projects as possible (at the university and elsewhere) are the ones who succeeded.

itsDani

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #7 on: Aug 20, 2013, 10:28 pm »
Thank you all so much!! Everything that you have said has been very helpful :)

Caroline Naveen

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Re: To Major or Minor? That is the question..
« Reply #8 on: Sep 17, 2013, 08:01 pm »
Thanks for posting this thread itsDani. I am also finishing up high school and found reading this extremely helpful :)

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