“You start with the faculty and the strength that they have and how they train students,” said Jonathan Michaelsen, chairman of the Theatre and Drama Department at IU.
According to the recently surveyed crowd of the Princeton Review, IU’s theater program corresponds with these objectives. The Theatre and Drama Department at IU was recently ranked one of the top 10 college programs.
For aspiring Neil Patrick Harrises and Idina Menzels on campus, knowing how the IU theater program stacks up to other colleges might be a wise idea.
However, Princeton Review studies rely on student opinion rather than strictly statistical data; they are peer reviews of the topics at hand and do not always reflect the actual quality of a program.
John Kinzer, director of audience development, said many of the other colleges in the ranking are smaller schools, causing IU’s honor to be proportionally a good thing. For a large school such as IU, Kinzer said it is an amazing feat to be capable of drawing large amounts of its student body to partake in the viewing and producing of productions.
“We try to consistently produce at a very high level,” Kinzer said. “I think if you were to travel around the country and see other theater productions, you’d notice that.”
Kinzer said the production selections are carefully taken into consideration prior to the season.
“Play selections are driven by the academic mission and also try to challenge the directors,” Kinzer said.
In addition to paying close attention to the plays produced, the program also tries to prepare actors and stage technicians for the real theater world by providing proper training in various areas.
“What I like about the department of theatre and drama is the broad-based education and the variety of each year’s productions,” sophomore Rachel Fernandez said. “All theater and drama students are required to take an introductory script analysis, production, lighting, costuming and acting class. That way, you have a solid foundation in multiple theatrical disciplines.”
Drew Bratton, arts administrator of the Theatre and Drama Department, said program directors try to give students a full perspective.
“The program is not just focused on the student,” Bratton said. “What we’re trying to do is teach them about the craft in its full variety. The students hone the skills that they want, but they can express it through the entire medium of theater.”
Kinzer explained that the program consists of diverse professors who each teach in their own way to provide different perspectives to the students.
“We are not sending performers into the world without proper training,” Kinzer said.
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