International Theatre Institute by Hans Echnaton Schano
The theatre is something wonderful. And it has gone through so much. It survived from Ritual to Sophocles, from the antique Persian theatre to the present, from Shakespeare all the way to Brecht, Sartre and the many others, through all the cultural developments and revolutions. Sometimes it might have been swept along by political waves to become an instrument of propaganda for good or for bad, for one side or the other; but ultimately the theatre has not been here to take sides, but to ask and show what it is all about. It gives us a chance to look at ourselves and the effects of our doing. Music, epic, tragedy, comedy, they all live in us. They are part of our lives and the theatre is the medium to explore and research them, to give us a live, close up perspective of what moves us.
Today we live in times of success-oriented pressure. Everything has to bring immediate results. If it doesn’t make us money or bring us fame right away, it is not good enough for now. So why not at least let the theatre be the place or the event, wherein body and mind, artists and audiences, can come together to celebrate the event of human renewal, where we are also allowed to observe, to contemplate and to reason without the immediate goal of achieving instant effectiveness. Where we may not have all the answers right away, but where we and the audiences become partners in watching and questioning all the aspects of our existence as we represent it, and so allow us to slowly but profoundly approach the area of real understanding instead of constantly having to jump to premature conclusions.
The duty of the theatre as cultural institution is not to tell someone what they have to think or what they must do. But it is maybe, to eventually support each other in our quest for a better understanding and hereby also in the finding and making of intelligent and reasonable decisions, without however trying to exert undue influence. The theatre asks for your patience and your involvement with the work of author, director and performer. It invites you to dream and to dare, to feel and to think, and to behold your very own vision of how things could be. And it hopes that you will take that vision home with you, and if it is in accordance with rightness and reason, that you may also achieve to make it come true.
Yours in theatre
Hans Echnaton Schano
There is no weakness in having a theatre background. There is only strength. Here are just a few skills that a theatre degree gives in business (author unknown):
- Advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills: taking a script and translating it into a finished production is a colossal exercise in critical thinking. You have to make tremendous inferences and intellectual leaps, and you have to have a keen eye for subtle clues.
- You’re calm in a crisis: You’ve been on stage when someone dropped a line and you have to improvise to keep the show moving with a smile on your face, in front an audience. Your mic died in the middle of a big solo musical number. You just sang louder and didn’t skip a beat.
- You understand deadlines: Opening night is non-negotiable.
- You have an eye on audience perception: You know what will sell tickets and what will not. This is a very transferrable skill, and lots of theatre people underestimate this, because they think of theatre as an ART, and not as business. Theatre is frequently one of the few academic departments on campus that teaches selling to the public.
- You’re courageous: If you can sing “Oklahoma” in front for 1,200, you can do anything!
- You’re resourceful: Producing any show on a budget teaches how to get a lot of value from minimal resources and to stay on budget.
- You’re a team player: there are truly no small roles, only small actors. The show will fail without everyone giving their best, and even a brilliant performance by a star can be undermined by a poor supporting cast. Working together teaches you how to leave your ego at the door and how to collaborate.
- You’ve versatile: You can probably sing, act, and dance. But you can also run a sewing machine, a table saw, rewired lighting fixtures, did a sound check, use a paint brush and you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty for the benefit of the show.
- You’re flexible: You’ve worked with some directors who inspired you. Others left you flat, but you did the work anyway. Same goes with your fellow actors, designers and stagehands. Some were amazing and supportive, some were horrible and demoralizing. You’ve worked with them all and learned something from every one of them.
The major in theatre prepares students for careers that require skills in communications, creativity, and problem-solving, or for careers in the entertainment industry. It provides professional orientation and background within a broad liberal arts framework. Students may use the major as a preparation for graduate or professional work; the required courses provide basic training in essential theatre areas, and students planning to pursue more advanced work should take well-chosen electives in areas designed to increase specific skills.
All majors are required to participate in productions sponsored by the School of Communications; academic credit is given for all such involvement. Also, students may pursue internships with professional theatres, locally, regionally or nationally, as managers, publicists, technicians, and production assistants.
Versatility in a number of areas is the single most important factor in obtaining work. Grand Valley theatre students have successfully completed programs in graduate schools and professional conservatories. They have found work in schools and recreation departments, repertory theatre companies, modern dance companies, and arts organizations as performers, technicians, teachers, designers, directors, and administrators. The combination of critical and problem-solving communications skills with the self-confidence and responsibility coming from performance experience provides excellent training for many non-entertainment fields. A complete list of placement and careers of recent theatre graduates is available upon request.