CSU theater department changes majors, adds focus areas

Since 2011, Colorado State University has completely altered its theater department, with much success. These changes have turned the program into a larger and more advanced program of study and brought in higher numbers of theater students.

The number of theater minors has quadrupled and the number of theater majors has tripled since 2006, according to theater director Walt Jones.

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Students warmup before practicing monologues in Professor Eric Prince's Theatre class Monday morning at the University Center for the Arts.
Students warmup before practicing monologues in Professor Eric Prince’s Theatre class Monday morning at the University Center for the Arts.

This process is still under way, with some changes already implemented and more to come.  The largest departmental change was the addition of upper division courses such as directing, professional actor preparation and advanced topics in acting.

The department also changed major names to Theater Major and Dance Major, so prospective students could easily find their preferred major.

“The new degree name is a more sought after and preferred degree,” Jennifer Clary, director of marketing for the University Center of the Arts, wrote in an email to the Collegian.

“We were pretty sure we were losing potential students because they couldn’t find the Performing Arts with a Theater Concentration listing in the catalog and online,” Clary said.

More changes are coming; several completely new focus areas are being implemented this fall as well.

Under the Design and Production concentration, students will have the opportunity to choose from lighting design, scene design and production, sound and digital media production, and several others. Each new focus includes lab education and, in most cases, software education.

While these classes are already being taught to current students, they will be able to officially declare concentrations in these areas starting in the fall.

The increased number and difficulty of classes has created new options for students with a variety of interests.

“These major improvements in our curriculum have been much needed for some time,” Laura Jones, professor of acting, directing, and theater history, wrote in an email to the Collegian.

The expanded areas of study may draw in even more theater students and develop the program further.
“I think our new major will be unique in the region, with a full complement of courses for the actor, the playwright, the dramaturge, theatre critic or researcher, the director, the designer, and technical production students,” W. Jones wrote in an email to the Collegian.

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According to W. Jones, the department hopes to increase the variation of study to include classical and contemporary options. New seminars will also be offered to prepare students for the professional world or for graduate school.

Students who were already in the program can look forward to these changes as well.

“We’ve always been a kind of smaller theater program, but now that we’re starting to grow it will be good to have all these new classes for incoming students,” said Trevor Grattan, a fourth-year double major in theater business management.

As changes continue, the theater department hopes for increased growth and success.

“We have learned that ‘state of the art’ is an oxymoron. Art is not static. It is our obligation to go with the flow,” L. Jones said.