How To Make An Impression As A New Theatre Major
If you are about to start college and you’ve decided to become a theatre major, you might be feeling equal parts excited and apprehensive. Of course, you love the discipline and can’t wait to learn more about the art. On the other hand, you’re not sure of what the expectations are at the college level.
Over the next 4 years at your institution of choice, you will form close bonds not only with your peers, but also with your professors.
The relationships you form with your professors will be invaluable for your growth, opportunities, research and future employment. The question is: how do you build relationships with your future mentors?
My first piece of advice is to introduce yourself to the person in charge of your area of interest. You’ll certainly meet professors through your classes, but you might not have a course in your area of focus in your first semester. Make sure to make that connection. You can do so during the professor’s office hours, which are designed for meeting with students (you can email to make an appointment first).
Alternatively, a lot of departments start off the semester with some type of formal or informal gathering which might be perfect for this type of networking opportunity. When you meet with the professor, tell them about your interests and the skills you are looking to develop. Don’t know what skills you should be developing are? Ask them. Inquire about the professor’s interests within the subject. Ask what opportunities they recommend for you this semester.
The next person to seek out is your academic advisor. This professor will be able to help you coordinate your schedule and general college experience, while also navigating the ins and outs of the theatre department.
For example, your schedule might initially have a 6pm math class. In creation of this schedule, you wanted to leave yourself open to get a work-study position. However, rehearsal times start at 6pm. The academic advisor can help you choose a different class, so that you leave your rehearsal slot open and maybe even save some time for that part time job. They will also be aware of important policies, such as maintaining a certain grade point average to participate in the productions.
On the subject of productions: get involved in the productions.
Audition if you’re an actor. Even if you don’t get cast, it’s really good experience and it allows the director to see you perform. If you’re a technician, talk to the Stage Manager or the professor in your area of interest to see if there are any open positions on the show. Familiarize yourself with the department protocols and procedures (your advisor can help with this too) to find out when casting and production assignments typically take place.
If it’s not possible for you to participate in the fall season, volunteer to usher to stay involved and start working on your plan for spring right now.
In addition to productions, your department might host a variety of events, such as workshops, guest performances, presentations, pizza with professionals, or informal get-togethers. Attend them all.
When professors see you participating, they realize that you are passionate about the subject. It will help them remember you.
Additionally, you’re on the forefront of their minds, so they’ll think of you when they need an assistant on a project. The knowledge you gain will also help you in your courses and on production work, so this one is a double win.
The last one seems really obvious – rock your theatre classes! This is a field you should only enter if the work is something that you love.
Theatre making is hard, but it’s also very rewarding. Put in the work and earn the respect as a young theatre professional.
You will learn very quickly if this field is for you. When the work makes you happy, you should give it your all and your professors will help and give you the push to become the best artist you can be.
I am incredibly grateful for my mentors in my undergraduate program. Mentors will help you find your talents and discover who you are as an artist. Mentors will help you course correct when you make mistakes or fail. Mentors will write you recommendation letters.
Mentors will push you towards various opportunities, from academic scholarships to professional employment. Mentors will help you transform into the professional you will become at the conclusion of your undergraduate education. So don’t wait – make those connections today. Good luck – and enjoy this crazy adventure!