We have a role for everybody in the Theatre and Dance Department at Santa Clara. Every academic department at SCU has a photo of all of the students who are majoring or minoring in that department, but in Theatre and Dance we not only have photos of majors and minors but we also include photos of our “Enthusiasts”. Enthusiasts range from students who want to take the occasional class in the department to students who want to do everything but the major, the title is truly what you make of it and it requires no formal commitment. What I love about our program is the level of professionalism that we achieve while also maintaining inclusivity. Last spring I performed in our Mainstage Production of Legally Blonde, and not only did the cast include theatre majors but we also had students from the Business and Engineering schools. Even given the time commitment of between 15-20 hours a week, students from across the university want to and have opportunities to get involved with department productions.
Every year there are four departmental productions varying in size and scope. There are always three plays and one musical, and on alternating years we include a play from Shakespeare’s canon in our season. Recent hits include, Chicago in 2015, and The Glass Menagerie and Cripple of Inishmaan in 2018.There is also an annual dance concert, Images, every winter featuring faculty and student choreography. In addition to Faculty directed shows there are also many opportunities to get involved with student productions. Every fall and winter there are one-act festivals featuring student directed plays. Most recently I directed The Man Who Couldn’t Dance by Jason Katims in the Fall of 2018 for my Senior Project. If you are a playwright there is the New Playwrights Festival every spring where students, and sometimes faculty, read plays out loud in a weekend-long event. In addition to theatre, there are also student choreographed dance recitals in the fall and spring, usually featuring the work of upperclassmen dancers.
Not only are students, majors or not, performing in Theatre and Dance Department shows, but they are also getting involved in every aspect of production. There are opportunities every quarter to stage manage, design and built costumes and sets, serve as a dramaturg, work on a run-crew, or assistant direct. Majors are required to serve on a crew for a minimum of two department productions to learn about the different crafts, but there are always spots for people who are interested in learning a new skill or who want to continue backstage work that they did in high school. My emphasis as a theatre major is in performance, but in my four years I have also worked as a stage manager, a sound operator, and on a costume crew. In most cases I walked into the job not having any prior experience, and I was received warmly by my professors and peers and taught step by step how to be successful.
Surprisingly enough, I did not choose Santa Clara because I wanted to be a Theatre Major. My initial plan was to get involved on an extracurricular level and declare my majors with other departments. Although I have expanded into other areas of study, I am also studying Political Science, I unexpectedly found a cozy home in the Theatre and Dance Department. Had I gone to a different school where the performing arts programs were sectioned off into an exclusive conservatory I might not have been able to get involved so quickly and so easily. I started with a One Act, took some acting and dance classes that sounded fun, got cast in my first mainstage production and then decided to make the relationship official. The Theatre and Dance department at SCU, with its faculty, rehearsal and performance spaces, and reputation for quality productions, was a hidden gem for me. There truly is a space for everyone. Whether you want to take a class or two, get involved backstage, brush up on your acting, singing, and dancing, or jump-start your performance career, there are opportunities for you here.