Photograph by Blake Ashby

Competition for classes limits participation in Theatre minor

By Mackenzie Bath

The goals of majors and minors in any given department have their differences, with minors tending to desire a less intensive learning track. This is especially true for the Theatre minor. Theatre is already a relatively niche field of interest and it is even more exclusive at Lewis & Clark in that the requirements are difficult to fulfill. Unfortunately, the current structure of the program seems to deter many from pursuing the minor.

Problems are largely caused by the limited number of courses offered each semester. For example, there are usually no more than three dance courses offered simultaneously, and the range of genres and professors is quite small. Similarly, only one or two of the six dramatic literature/history courses are held each semester. Due to the fact that majors and minors are both required to take these courses, they fill up quickly. It thus becomes difficult to specialize within the Theatre minor because there are not many classes in each discipline that a student can take. While majors can focus on design, performance, or literature/history, minors choose between general theatre studies and dance. With the limited classes available, some students decide that they simply cannot add the minor.

Complications within the minor also occur due to the variation in credit value across classes and production work. While being in a production can mean earning two to four credits to boost your credit count, a spot within a show can be difficult to obtain. With four shows per year and only a select number of four-credit roles, not every student can earn their minor through productions. Productions also require an incredible amount of time. To be in a production, a student is expected to be in the theater most evenings for three to four hours and to be doing work for the production on their own time (memorizing lines, character research, etc). While this is a reasonable amount of time for a major to be spending every semester, it can be quite taxing for a minor. On the other hand, this commitment allows students to complete the minor without filling their normal class schedule, giving them more room for General Education and major classes. Unfortunately, both the large time commitment and the unreliability of production credits are reasons some students decide not to become a minor.

If one is able to successfully (and willingly) navigate the uncertainties of the Theatre minor, they will discover that the reward is worth the effort. Experience in theatre can improve public speaking skills, interpersonal relationships, time management, respect and, of course, theatrical technique. Although minors are probably not educating themselves in this discipline to get a job in theatre, they still commit to the work because they care about the art and the experience. They also do it for the opportunity to better themselves and prepare to be a productive member of society. To allow more students the opportunity to have such a fulfilling experience, the program should allow for more flexibility in requiring fewer credits and omit theatre history, for the most unique and valuable aspects are taught through the time spent in the theater itself.

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