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BWW Blog: How to Approach the Daunting Search for the Right Theatre College Program

BWW Blog: How to Approach the Daunting Search for the Right Theatre College Program

When looking at collegiate programs and thinking about how I could train to become a theatre director, I was astonished to find that there are multiple paths to choose from and each one offered something different. You can choose to have a directing emphasis in an acting program, you could go for a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), or even choose to take general theatre classes and wait to focus on directing until graduate school. With so many options to choose from, I had to really narrow down what I knew was right for me, or I would be applying to 20+ colleges and universities across the country. So instead of starting at the type of program I might want, I chose instead to look at the environment I wanted.

In every school I've attended, I have never had more than 68 students in my grade. So I started by looking at a smaller university population in order to suit my education needs. The large state schools came off the list and I was left with small public and private schools, which still was too large of a pool to draw from. I decided then to look at BFA programs, as I have attended summer intensives that follow a conservatory learning environment, which most BFA programs are also formulated around. Having narrowed the pool down enough to start a preliminary list, I was able to start scheduling school tours and reading up on the different degree offerings that I was privy to when attending a certain school.

What caught my eye was that a small number of schools actually offer a BFA in directing, which is a very specific degree designed to train theatre artists in both areas of acting and directing. I was drawn to this degree because it would give me enough directing knowledge to get my foot in the door of the directing field, attend a masters program, or take part in an apprenticeship down the road, while also giving me some acting experience that would aid in my knowledge of how to approach the text of a show. All of these boxes were checked off by the degree, which is how I narrowed down my search to directing BFA programs at smaller colleges and universities.

Surprisingly, at the time of my search, I could only find 6 schools in the country that were offering the degree I wanted and it made my seemingly impossible decision so much easier to make. I submitted applications to four of the schools, along with a two safety schools, and started the process of auditioning and touring each of the schools. During February vacation of my senior year of high school, I flew down to Nashville, TN to attend Belmont University's audition day for the College of Visual and Performing Arts. While on campus, I felt drawn to the community developed by the theatre and dance department, as well as impressed by the idea that all undergraduate directors would have experience in putting on a mainstage show by the time they graduate.

So, I interviewed and talked through my portfolio and a week later I received word that I was accepted into the program for Fall 2017. I was ecstatic and accepted as soon as I figured out how, because I found a program that was meant for me and a place where I would be happy training for four years. If there is one thing I would recommend to high school students, spend your time finding the program that fits your needs, not the one where you need to fit theirs. I found my place through a long, extensive search and it was well worth the effort!

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From This Author Student Blogger: Samantha Hansen

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