Do I have to be a theatre major to perform or participate in Hesston’s productions?
No! We encourage all students to participate in productions at Hesston. College is a wonderful opportunity to explore new fields and try new things. Our theatre department draws students from all disciplines. We have had nursing students, aviation students, disaster management students and a variety of other majors as well as theatre majors. International students have found a place on our stage as well. In addition to on stage, there is always a need for assistance back stage. Students have enjoyed assisting with costume design, light and set design and stage management. Theatre is a team effort and all are welcome and appreciated!
What is the typical production schedule?
Production schedules vary. The student-directed one-act plays usually rehearse for three weeks. A full length play will usually rehearse for four weeks and a full length musical usually will rehearse for five weeks. Rehearsals are typically Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday evenings also begin earlier so that students are able to participate in Campus Activities Board activities or other campus activities. Depending on the role, practice outside of rehearsal including memorization and character development are also important. However, the main reason that a student comes to Hesston College is for an education and your time is important and valued. We make every effort to assure that your time is not wasted.
What are the advantages of coming to Hesston to study theatre?
There are many advantages to coming to Hesston to study theatre. Our department is small, but we see that as an advantage. Faculty and staff come to know students on a personal level and can assist individuals in studying specific subjects of interest. Special projects and one-on-one attention give students at the freshman and sophomore level many opportunities to explore their interests that would not normally be available to them in larger departments or four-year institutions. In addition, our trend has been to produce shows that focus on acting skills, giving young actors the opportunity to explore and stretch their individual talent.
Does Hesston offer any distinctive courses?
Hesston offers several distinct courses. Drama in the Church, which looks at how theatre principles can be used in worship, is a course that is not offered in many college settings. However, theatre, by its nature, offers a different way of seeing things. In addition, theatre is a form of communication and what better message to communicate then the Good News! These concepts naturally fit into the worship service and allow congregations and individuals the opportunity to see things in a new light.
Our directing course is also something that is distinctively Hesston. Students who enroll in this course spend the first part of the semester doing in depth study on directing. They meet one on one with the theatre director and are given assignments and projects that begin to flex their directing muscles. During this time students begin to read through one-act plays to find a piece that they want to direct. Directors go through the full process of casting the show, organizing production meetings, communicating with their design staff and running rehearsals. The project culminates with a full production of their one-act play over Thanksgiving weekend.
Finally, at Hesston we are a small enough department that if there are particular interests that the student wants to explore and current courses do not reflect that specific interest, faculty can develop curriculum that addresses the student’s area of interest. Through independent study, students may be eligible to receive credit for their work.
Theatre seems like a limited field for professional opportunities. Do theatre and stage skills translate to other professions?
Theatre develops a broad range of talents–organizational and management skills and the ability to work with a broad range of people to accomplish diverse tasks–that apply to almost any profession. To learn more about specific production roles (directing, acting, managing the stage) and their applications in other fields, check out “What Can I do with a Theatre major?”
I’m interested in theatre but I want to major in something else. Does Hesston offer any courses that would allow me to explore my interest without making a big commitment to the major?
Theatre Appreciation is great way to explore theatre without any commitment at all! In this course, there are a lot of hands on projects that introduce students to the different areas of theatre including playwriting, costume, lighting, set and sound design, stage management, directing and play analysis, as well as a brief overview of theatre history. In addition, students in this course are exposed to different plays and musicals in college, community and professional theatres in the area. A 100-level course, this class introduces the student to the theatre art form while taking into account the fact that this is not their major area of interest. However, if an interest is sparked, the student can decided to pursue additional opportunities.
Drama participation is also a way for students to get involved without a lot of commitment. Students enrolled in this course can receive one to two credits for assisting with play productions. Students can receive credit for being in Hesston productions, being on tech crew or by helping to build the set, work with costumes or helping with publicity.