Anyone crazy enough to pursue a degree in theatre is doing so because they couldn’t see themselves spending their life doing anything else. Because of that undeniable passion (and bonding over being told they’ll actually be waiting tables the rest of their lives), members of college theatre departments share a certain connection, an unspoken understanding that from here on out, there’s no turning back. Everyone from the stage managers to the lighting designers to the performers shares the same insatiable desire to create new work, tell stories, and learn about what it means to be human. As a member of Towson University’s theatre department, I’ve seen pure magic happen both on stage and off. Here are 5 reasons I think the indomitable spirit of the college theatre community is inimitable.
Productions are cutting-edge and challenging.
College theatre productions aren’t commercial. They’re not looking to make a profit or transfer to Broadway. They don’t follow precedents. They’re produced to push everyone involved to their creative limits to show them just what’s possible. They dare to question students’ beliefs about theatre. They challenge not only the artists involved but also the audiences, raising questions about contemporary cultural and social issues.
College theatre is a process of pure collaboration.
At the end of the day, a production doesn’t just belong to the director, it belongs to everyone. Students are encouraged to share their ideas, explore possibilities, and try something new. When you see a production at a college, you’re seeing artists who were given the freedom to truly make a show their own. You’re seeing artists who are learning exactly what it means to be an artist, and are creating something completely new, organic, and synergistic.
You find a family.
From class to rehearsal to late-night, post-show diner runs, your fellow theatre majors become your second family. After being open and vulnerable in a way only theatre artists can be, it’s hard not to create a deep connection with your classmates. You befriend people you never expected to in ways you never imagined, and your relationships blossom and bloom with each production you work on together.
There are endless opportunities to expand your boundaries.
In a college theatre department, you’re not limited to just one role or concentration—you’re given the freedom to try a little bit of everything. Being put into a box can be frustrating and will prevent you from reaching your full potential, leaving you feeling discontented and unfulfilled. But with the department dynamic, it’s easy to pick up a class in a different discipline or take on a position you may be interested in pursuing further.
It’s okay to make mistakes.
When you do try something new, there’s a chance you may fail. But that’s fine. In a college theatre department, it’s safe to explore your inner self and make creative leaps. You feel comfortable with your fellow artists. Everyone wants to see you succeed, so if you do make a mistake, you have a strong support system to help you out.
Why do you love college theatre? Let me know in the comments below!
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