Transitions into Theatre

Aug 31, 2017

by Dr. Christianne Roll
Associate Professor of Musical Theatre

The start of the school year, whether it is elementary school, high school, or college, is a transitional time filled with new routines, new friends, and new expectations. Even for seasoned teachers and professors, the start of a new year presents a chance to try new techniques and to motivate a new population of learners.

In many of our theatre classes, the first few days of the semester are spent helping new students adjust to the expectations and norms of being a college student. However, when it comes to getting involved with the Theatre Department’s theatrical productions, there is no such time for adjustment.

All theatre students, including the incoming freshmen, participate in the audition process for the college’s fall semester shows within the first five days of being a student at Florida Southern College. And the rehearsal and production process starts within the first week of the semester. What a great way for a theatre student, as the college’s mission says, to become dynamically engaged in learning about their chosen field of study!

The theatrical shows of Florida Southern are the deepest way our students engage with being a theatre professional. To prepare for these shows, the students spend hours every afternoon, evening, and many weekends taking the techniques they are learning in the classrooms, and applying them to a living, breathing, professionally-produced show.

Garrett Bennett '20 (left) performed as Dr. Craven in The Secret Garden in his first semester.

The department produces three plays and two musicals throughout the academic year, and students are involved with every aspect – designing, stage managing, and acting. The theatre faculty has always viewed requiring students to get involved with these productions from the moment they step on campus to be a strength of the program, and of its graduates.

Apparently, this immediate hands-on involvement with shows is also an important factor for prospective students. Recently, I received an email from a potential student who said that having the ability to audition for shows as a freshman was one of the initial reasons he became interested in attending Florida Southern. And not only do the freshman audition, they also perform. In recent productions, freshmen have performed leading roles in their first semester of college. Talk about a quick adjustment to the start of the school year!

Our first show of the year is a play called Dividing the Estate by Horton Foote, directed by theatre professor, Paul Bawek. It will be performed the weekend of October 5th in the campus’s Loca Lee Buckner Theatre.  The play is “a human comedy about a greedy Southern family tangling over their 100-year-old Texas estate in the face of their declining wealth.” No doubt, this show will give the FSC students numerous opportunities to learn and grow, including many freshmen. What a wonderful way to “transition” into their new role of Florida Southern College student!

For more information about the Department’s Theatre and Dance upcoming events, please visit:  http://www.flsouthern.edu/visitors/festival-of-fine-arts.aspx