After dwindling for several years, MVNU’s theater department is undergoing a reconstruction. Assistant Theater Professor Ryan Long shared her vision for the program’s future.
When Long first came to the program, it was down to just a few students. The school planned to stop offering the major and Long questioned this decision. Long discovered there was little to no student recruitment outside of persuading students enrolled as undecided to take the major.
Recruitment for theater students is different from other majors. “Much of the recruitment takes place at multi-audition events” she explained. At these events, many schools and potential students converge together in one place at the same time. Students can audition for multiple schools in one day, saving time for both candidates and colleges.
Since coming to MVNU, Long has been attending these types of events to recruit new students and is also changing the curriculum to attract more interest.
One of the biggest changes is the new exchange program with Kings College in New York. As part of the Best Semester program with the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, theater students can now spend an entire semester studying in drama in New York City.
Other curriculum changes are a natural response to the end of J-term. Long explained, “without J-term there are fewer opportunities for students to direct their own work” and she is working to adjust the way shows are done to make up for this.
Long also noticed a lack of variety in MVNU’s performances, so she implemented a mix of one classical play, one contemporary play and one musical each season. Long hopes to keep a balance of comedy and drama, family-friendly and mature shows to provide the widest possible range of experience for enrolled students.
The drama department is also adding a new course titled Intro to Vocal Performance and Phonetics. Long explained that while singers have plenty of opportunities to learn about things like projection and articulation, non-singers were left behind.
The class will be open to majors and non-majors alike and is encouraged for other communications students who are interested in radio, sportscasting or any other vocal performance.
Long says it is “really exciting to see students get excited about changes to the program, to go out and tell people about what we offer and see their response.” There are currently three students enrolled as theatre majors at MVNU with many other students involved in the program.