“There’s no business like show business!” Truer words have never been spoken, as those of us in the business know. The applause, the compliments, the friendships, the sometimes desperate efforts to beat the deadline, and the sense of accomplishment combine to make theatre experiences some of the most intensely memorable and meaningful of our lives. But what if you want more than memories? Have you thought about making theatre an integral part of your life? Have you dared to think that theatre could be your vocation? At Valpo, we not only dare to think of theatre as a vocation, we dare to recommend that you think seriously about it and to come to study theatre at Valpo.
There are three phases of theatre study: experience, education, and entering the professional field. Experience is what got you thinking in the first place, right? You had a great time working on a play or a musical. It was fun, challenging, and satisfying. You did well and you want to do it again. There is absolutely no substitute for experience. At Valpo, you can get plenty of theatre experience, and, as a freshman, you don’t have to watch while upperclassmen and graduate students are doing what you want to do.
We produce three plays, directed by faculty, each year on the stage of the University Theatre and one of these is a Broadway musical or an opera. We have two very active outreach programs, Soul Purpose and Theatre Outreach Performances which give as many as 50 performances in churches and schools every year, and several student-directed productions each year. Auditions for these productions are open to all Valparaiso University students and more than half of the performers are majoring in disciplines other than theatre.
Theatre is a valuable learning experience, it’s great fun, and the friendships you make in a show can last a lifetime, but what if you want to get serious by entering phase two: education. You can take an academic course in the Department of Theatre (THTR). You can put five courses together as an academic minor, or you can become a major by taking 12-16 courses. By entering the education phase you will join about fifty other students who have made the decision to be trained by four full-time theatre faculty and a range of visiting professors and guest artists who are experts in their fields. You can take courses in acting, voice and movement for the stage, and dance. You can get hands-on instruction in costume and makeup, stagecraft, scenery and lighting. You can study playwriting, play directing, and a range of courses in dramatic literature. Any of these courses will contribute to your general education and you will acquire knowledge that can be applied to a variety of professional fields.
Most students who major in THTR move on to phase three: they enter the professional field of theatre. We work hard to place THTR graduates in the field. Through our Colloquium program, theatre and entertainment professionals come to Valpo to talk about what they do. Internships and co-operative education experiences lead to entry-level positions. We take a systematic approach to audition training for performers preparing for summer theatre work and post-graduate training.