1. Room for Growth
Over the few years since the Rochester College Theatre Department was created, there has been an exponential influx of theatre students. Right now we have the largest amount of theatre students in the history of the department. It is amazing to see how much the department grows each and every year. With this constant growth, we see more diversity, the possibility of doing a wider array of productions, and an increasing number of staff and faculty. In fact, there are now eight theatre professors in all. When I started going to RC only two years ago we had about half that number. Due to the growth we have seen we are even able to offer a week-long study abroad trip in London that centers around theatre.
2. Helping Shape the Department
Because our theatre department is so new, the students get to help shape it. Some of our classes are brand new so professors still have to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This gives us the opportunity to give them feedback about courses. We also have the opportunity to voice our ideas and be a part of creating new traditions. In the past few years we have introduced an improv club, produced several student led variety shows and cabarets, and began doing 24 Hour Theatre. We also do staged readings and sometimes those readings are for plays that students wrote themselves.
3. The Professors
Rochester College may be a small college, but because of this our professors are capable of giving each student their full attention. We know that at RC our professors want us to succeed. In addition to this we know that they care about us not only as students but as people too. Their doors are always open and we know that we can trust them for good advice, constructive criticism, and honest opinions. Our professors can also be very flexible if it is necessary. If you are sick or have some other acceptable reason for being unable to do something they will work with you.
4. The Opportunities
In any other Theatre Department at any state university it would impossible to find the kind of opportunities that abound for students at RC. We may be growing but the department is still small enough that everyone has an important role. In addition to acting students may stage manage, house manage, do lighting or sound design, work in the shop, or contribute in countless other ways. The ability to lead benefits students greatly and provides them with a marketable skill set. Every student has something only they can do.
5. The ALT
Over the Summer our Technical Director, Eric Niece, with the voluntary assistance of several faculty, staff, and students created a new performance space for us. We have a large black box theatre that we use for most main stage shows. However, as the department grew, we saw a need for an additional theatre space. The ALT is short for Associates’ Lab Theatre and it is a small performance area that is perfect for class, improv shows, staged readings, cabarets, student directed shows, and other events of a similar nature. The Theatre Department greatly appreciates the provision of this new space and can’t wait to see what new and exciting ideas students will come up with for the new space.
6. UnCovered Theatre Company
Rochester College partners with a professional theatre company called UnCovered Theatre. It is this partnership that makes a lot of what we do possible. Partnering with professional actors allows for mentorship, the ability for students to be in more difficult productions, and even provides opportunities for professional internships. During the summer UnCovered does a Shakespeare Festival on RC’s campus. When this happens they allow students to audition for their shows as well as interview for technical positions to get some intern experience. The relationship between UnCovered Theatre and Rochester College is hugely beneficial for both company members and students alike.
7. The Community
If the RC Theatre Department could be summed up in one word I would say, "family." Everyone wants their classmates to succeed. At auditions I see students cheer each other on and rehearse together. Everyone simply wants the best cast for the show and students rarely get overly competitive. This is so different from departments at other schools. More often than not we all try to treat each other with respect and kindness. This makes for a great, comforting atmosphere in classes, rehearsals, and performances. We can feel safe around each other and this is so important with an art that can make students feel very vulnerable at times.
Find out more about RC Theatre here by visiting: http://www.rc.edu/academics/undergraduate/theatre/