The VPA Theatre Department is a multifaceted, comprehensive training program for aspiring actors and performers. Offering courses in acting, voice, and dance, the program is designed to enhance and broaden the skill set of the actor. Every performance major will take classes in all three performance areas.
Along with nurturing performance techniques, instruction in theatre history, directing, and theatre literature challenge and engage students in a well-rounded education. Students also learn and practice auditioning strategies to help them navigate the competitive professional and collegiate worlds of theatre.
The program produces four mainstage productions annually—two musicals and two straight plays, traditionally one classical and one contemporary play—to offer students a variety of performance opportunities that allow them to further develop their skills and apply the techniques learned in class in real productions. Participation in these productions is through auditions; students not cast for a production are expected to participate in the technical aspects, and through this experience, performers gain knowledge of directing and stage management, along with other production-oriented skills.
In addition to mainstage productions, students work together in class “greenroom” performances that are open to family, friends and the general public. Participation in these performances is graded as a class exercise, and every student has a role on stage; the performances encompass the acting, singing and dance training that students receive.
Enrollment in the Theatre Department requires a substantial commitment of time: rehearsals run Monday through Saturday for most productions, and auditions for the first play begin in the first week of school. While it is not impossible to enjoy other extracurricular pursuits such as sports and clubs, it is also not easy to balance the theatre schedule with other major hobbies if one is cast in productions. Parents and students considering the program should be willing and able to meet rehearsal schedule needs.
While performing is clearly an objective of the theatre instruction, students are also challenged to practice self-reflection; explore the human experience, contemplating such aspects as motivation, fear, and inspiration; and through collaborative projects learn the skills of teamwork, leadership, and project management. An underlying philosophy of this department is “theatre builds character,” and students emerge as graduates who are self-aware and perceptive contributors to society.
The Theatre Department has two tracks: Performance and Technical Theatre. Students who are interested in design, management, and mastering entertainment technologies are ideal candidates for Technical Theatre.
In the Technical Theatre curriculum, students learn about the production aspects of the art form—exploring components such as lights, sound, set design and more that make for the magic of theatre. Technical Theatre students truly run the show, often participating in productions in leadership and management roles, with responsibilities ranging from designing audio and visual aspects to running rehearsals. The department is geared for students who want to learn how to lead, design, and implement creative ideas. With hands-on training in a variety of modalities, tech theatre students always have opportunities that enhance their critical thinking and problem solving abilities as well as their leadership skills.
Outside of the classroom, Tech Theatre students gain skills through experiential work in productions, building sets, collecting and managing props and costumes, designing and running lights and sound, and serving in the role of stage managers and assistant directors for the mainstage and smaller productions.