Our program meets more than distributional requirements. It challenges students to look at the possibilities of performance. A multi-disciplinary approach to training ensure that our students are proficient in all areas of the theatre. We educate students to understand the societal, cultural, and academic contexts of creating theatre in the 21st century. We encourage experimentation and the use of technology while providing a strong foundation of classical and traditional texts and styles. From the Greeks and Shakespeare to devising and puppetry, we don't just work outside the box...for us, there is no box!
Promoting excellence in a diverse community by providing quality academic and CE/WF education in drama and performing arts in an urban multicultural setting and a global society.
Why El Centro Drama?
Diverse and exciting offering of courses: We train students to create theatre that is forward-thinking, challenging and imaginative, preparing them for entry into competitive careers or advanced training programs. We emphasize collaboration and critical thinking, which prepares students to work in interdisciplinary contexts and as contributing members of their future communities. We offer numerous opportunities for hands-on learning, allowing our students to participate in productions from the very beginning of their training. Small class sizes - we value a deep level of mentorship and active engagement with our students, as teachers and advisors.
The Drama program is comprised of and encourages multiple perspectives, including but not limited to those shaped by race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, class, ability and national origin. Partnerships with local and national theatres, providing workforce training and specialized internships.
Why Study Theatre?
The study of theatre equips a student with a broad range of communication and organizational skills applicable to many careers, including those in the performing arts. The theatre major's presentation skills, ability to perform in public, and control of the voice and body provide a solid basis for working effectively with others.
Theatre also develops the ability to concentrate intensely, to listen introspectively, observe keenly, solve problems creatively, think critically, develop a project collaboratively, work independently, work under pressure, meet deadlines, and to maintain composure when faced with the unexpected.
Well-developed communication skills enable graduates to contribute and to succeed in many professions. For example, the ability to put feelings and impressions about the world into words is needed by such diverse professionals as a theatre critic and a drama therapist.
A sample of representative skills and abilities follows:
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What Theater Majors Learn
THE ADVANTAGES THEATRE MAJORS HAVE FOR ALL JOBS
You need to be aware of the many skills you learn as a theatre major. Really. You're a better candidate for employment than perhaps you know. And you need to be sure you let prospective employers know how well you are prepared-- better prepared, in fact, than students who majored in most other fields.
- Oral Communication Skills: Many students find that theatre helps them develop the confidence that's essential to speaking clearly, lucidly, and thoughtfully. Acting onstage teaches you how to be comfortable speaking in front of large audiences, and some of your theatre classes will give you additional experience talking to groups. Furthermore, your work on crews has taught you that clear, precise, and well-organized oral communications are best. Oral communication skills are so important to some employers that they often send management trainees to special workshops. You already have an advantage.
- Creative Problem Solving Abilities: Most people expect theatre students to exhibit creativity in such areas as acting, design, playwrighting or directing, and many companies do recruit creative thinkers. But employers are not always aware that theatre experience also helps you learn creative problem-solving techniques that are applicable to manyjobs. Tell them! Most major companies believe that a creative problem-solver will become a good employee. That's you .
- Motivation and Commitment Few other disciplines you study will so strongly help you develop motivation and commitment.
- Willingness to Work Cooperatively: Your work in theatre companies teaches you how to work effectively with different types of people--often very different types! Theatre demands that participants work together cooperatively for the production to success; there is no room for "we" versus "they" behavior; the "star" diva is a thing of the past. Your colleagues will usually let you know when you violate the team spirit of a production. In theatre, it's important that each individual supports the others involved. Employers will be pleased to know that you understand how to be a team player.
- The Ability to Work Independently: In theatre, you're often assigned tasks that you must complete without supervision. Crew chiefs. Directing. Putting together this flat, finding that prop, working out characterization outside of rehearsals. It's left up to you to figure out how best to achieve the goal.
- Time-budgeting Skills: When you're a student, being involved in theatre forces you to learn how to budget your time. You need to schedule your days very carefully if you want to keep up your grades while you're busy with rehearsals, work calls, and the other demands that theatre makes on your time.
- Initiative: Personnel managers call people who approach work with initiative and enterprise "self-starters," people who do what needs to be done without waiting to be asked, without needing to be told. The complexities of a theatrical production demand individuals who are willing to voluntarily undertake any task that needs to be done in order for the production to succeed. In theatre, we're all self-starters. We learn how to take initiative, to move a project from initial concept to finality--and to do it well.
- Promptness and Respect for Deadlines: Tardiness is never acceptable in theatre because it shows a lack of self-discipline, and more importantly, a lack of consideration for others. Being late for a rehearsal or a work call or failing to finish an assigned task on time damages a production and adversely affects the work of many other people. Theatre demands that you learn to arrive on time and meet scheduled deadlines.
- Acceptance of Rules: In theatre you work within the structure of a set of procedures and rules that deal with everything from shop safety to behavior at auditions, rehearsals and work calls. You learn that you must be a "good follower."
- Innovation: Even though we know how to be good followers, theatre artists learn when and how to break the rules. Innovation is central to the creation of theatre!
- The Ability to Learn Quickly-- AND Correctly: Theatre students, whether they're memorizing lines or learning the technical aspects of a production, must have the ability to absorb a vast quantity of material quickly--and accurately . Your work in college theatre will show that you have the ability to grasp complex matters in a short period of time, a highly-valued trait to employers. Note that part of this ability is another significant trait: knowing how to listen. If you don't listen, you're likely to make some major error that will damage the production.
- Respect for Colleagues: In theatre you discover that a successful production requires contributions from everybody who's involved. Mutual respect is essential. Working on a production teaches us to respect and trust the abilities and talents of our colleagues.
- Adaptability and Flexibility Theatre students must be adaptable and flexible. You need to be willing to try new ideas, accept new challenges, and have the ability to adapt to constantly changing situations and conditions.
- The Ability to Work Under Pressure: Theatre work often demands long hours. There's pressure--often, as you know well, a lot of pressure. It's important that everyone involved with a production be able to maintain a cooperative and enthusiastic attitude under pressure. The ability to remain poised under such tensions in an asset that will help you cope with stress in other parts of your life, including your job.
- A Healthy Self-Image: To work in theatre, you must know who you are and how to project your individuality. But at the same time, it's important to recognize the need to make yourself secondary to the importance of a production.
- Acceptance of Disappointment-And Ability to Bounce Back: Theatre people learn to deal with dashed hopes and rejection on a regular basis. Who hasn't failed to get a role he or she really wanted or a coveted spot on a tech crew? You learn to accept that kind of disappointment and move on. You try again.
- Self-Discipline: Theatre demands that you learn how to control your life. More than other students, you are forced to make choices between keeping up with responsibilities and doing things you'd rather do. You learn to govern yourself.
- A Goal-Oriented Approach to Work: Many aspects of theatre involve setting and achieving specific goals. In employer's terms, you've learned to be task-oriented and capable of finding practical ways to achieve goals.
- A Willingness to Accept Responsibility: Theatre students sometimes have an opportunity that is seldom given to students in other disciplines--the chance to take on sole responsibility for a special project. Being a production stage manager...a designer...a crew chief...a director. Students with other majors seldom have anything even close to these lessons.
- Leadership Skills: As a theatre student, you have many opportunities to assume leadership roles. You may, for example, assist a director or designer and lead other volunteers, serve as a crew chief, or even design or direct a production yourself. In the nuturing environment of theatre, faculty help you learn from mistakes so you become a better leader.
- Self-Confidence: Theatre training teaches you confidence in yourself. Your accomplishments in theatre show you that you can handle a variety of jobs, pressures, difficulties and responsibilities. You develop a "Yes, I can!" attitude.
- Enjoyment -- "This is Fun!": You've discovered already that theatre people mystify civilians when we say we're having fun. Non-theatre folk shake their heads when we tell them that, and they ask how it is possible to have "fun" in a job that keeps us working night after night, sometimes until after midnight, doing something that calls for a grinding rehearsal or work schedule day after day after day, that makes us miss going to a movie or a concert. "That's fun?" Yes. It is. We've learned how to find enjoyment in what we do. That's a valuable attribute. We can adapt that to other jobs, find ways to enjoy other activities.
It seems almost incidental at this point to mention that theatre majors also learn about theatre. Most students who choose a theatre major do so because their training will prepare them for a career in the theatre, and it will. Theatre students learn to use their voices and bodies and minds and hearts to make magic on stage. Clearly, though, they learn much, much more. Few people choose to set out on a difficult, demanding four-year course of theatre study because it will make them good candidates for employment in other fields. But it will. Far more than any other major, theatre is excellent training for virtually any job.
The trick is for you to recognize the advantages you have. And to be sure you educate any prospective employer! Make clear on your resume exactly what you have learned. Some employers may think that all an actor knows is just memorization and the ability to walk on stage without bumping into furniture, and tech people know only how to put up a flat. Tell them what else you've learned. Teach them! Let them know that a theatre major has had far more excellent experience than any other major could have accumulated.