What is unique about the Skidmore College Theater?Unlike most liberal arts theater programs, students who major in Theater at Skidmore receive a Bachelor of Science degree. This reflects the fact that Theater is a pre-professional program. Out of the 120 college credits required for graduation, Theater students take a minimum of 41 credits in Theater and most students find themselves taking as many as 60 credits in theater. Typically, in a 120 credit Bachelor of Arts program students take 30-36 credits in theater and in a Bachelor of Fine Arts (conservatory) program, students take 90 credits in theater. We believe that the best possible education for a theater artist is to combine serious theater training with a rich and well-rounded liberal arts education. At Skidmore, Theatre majors fulfill their choices for all-college liberal arts requirements, enjoy intensive theater training, and still have room for a variety of electives.
Every Friday afternoon all theater students and faculty meet in Theatre Company. Here we have discussions about the program and many announcements of upcoming activities. A number of guests are invited to speak and workshops are occasionally presented. The core of the Company meetings involves presentations prior to the opening of each production. Directors, designers and actors discuss their work and their goals and sometime present short scenes. After each production closes a critique takes place in a subsequent meeting.
What kind of Productions does the Skidmore Theatre present?The Department of Theater produces a wide variety of events, showcasing eclectic material from all over the world and ranging in period and style from the ancient to the contemporary, from the realistic to the abstract, and from the classical to the post-modern. Our primary goal in planning our season to offer appropriate opportunities for students to test their skills as artists and to experiment with different styles and genres.
Seminar Productions: Every semester we present two large productions, one on our 348 seat Thrust Stage and one in our flexible Black Box theatre (50-120 seats). These have an academic component in which we explore the historical, political, social and economic background of the play and a variety of guests from both on and off campus are invited to seminar classes. While the black box show is mounted in approximately six weeks, the main stage show goes into rehearsal at the same time allowing for a nine week rehearsal period. This allows for a great deal of exploration and experimentation and more closely approximates the amount of tie which goes into a professional production. Occasionally, guest directors, actors, designers or composers participate in these productions. Productions are directed by faculty or guest directors. Typically, the spring black box production is directed by one or two senior directing students. Productions are designed by faculty or guest scenic, lighting and costume designers or, whenever possible, by qualified students.
Workshops and Senior Projects:Three to five smaller productions are done each semester, usually in one of our acting studios. These are generally generated by directing students. Projects are proposed in written and oral presentations and are selected by the faculty.
Both seminar productions and all workshops hold unified auditions during the first week of classes of each semester.
Free Hour Theatre: Every Friday afternoon following our Theatre Company Meeting,anyone with an idea can reserve an acting studio for a presentation. In this past we have had new play readings, poetry readings, sound designer/choreographer projects, puppet show, short plays, etc.
Faculty Lab Production:At the end of each semester a faculty member may choose to create a small production. Actors may be invited or might be asked to audition. These are projects which are self-contained – they are created, produced and performed by the small company created by the faculty member with no expectations of the sort of support associated with our larger productions. These might be presented in the Black Box Theatre or they might be site-specific.
Guest Productions: Each year one or two professional guest productions are brought to the campus and are performed in one of our theatres.
Often, when producing the work of a living playwright, we have sought to bring the playwright to campus to participate in the seminar process. Recently playwrights Tina Howe, Mac Wellman and Aaron Davidman participated.
In recent years, in addition to the productions listed above, theatre students have created and staged musical original productions for an annual AIDS benefit and there have been annual productions of Vagina Monologues for V-Day. Occasionally theatre students are invited to participate in Home Made Theatre productions in Saratoga.
Our season runs from September through May, concurrent with the Skidmore College academic calendar. Every summer SITI (Saratoga International Theatre Institute), created by Anne Bogart and Tadashi Suzuki, is in residence in the Skidmore Theatre for their four week training program.
Do I have to audition to be admitted to the theater program?No. Skidmore Theater operates within the greater liberal arts setting of the college, as opposed to a conservatory training program. Students do not have to declare a major until the end of their sophomore year, and everyone is encouraged to become involved in the Theater Department, whatever they may decide to major in. All classes are open to students who have met all prerequisites. Some upper level classes may be taken only with the permission of the instructor.
Do you do musicals and train musical theater performers?Musical productions are not regularly produced by the department, although, depending on the director's interests and the available abilities of students, we have staged some musicals and many plays that incorporate a good deal of music. Students interested in studying musical theater are encouraged to take appropriate courses in the Theater, Music and Dance Departments. Private voice lessons are available in the Music Department. Students interested in musicals also have the opportunity to participate in the Cabaret Troupe, a student-run organization that performs a musical on campus each year.
Are auditions for departmental productions open to all students?Yes, combined auditions for the seminar and workshop productions are held during the first week of each semester and are open not only to theater majors and minors, but to the entire student body and, at times, community members. First-year students are encouraged to take part in auditions. Typically, our productions involve first-year students, sophomores, juniors and seniors. Occasionally professional guest artists perform with students. Obviously student farther along in their training are more likely to be cast in a variety of roles.
Where are audition announcements posted?Audition announcements are posted on the Theater Web Site. Sign-up sheets and character descriptions for auditions are posted on the call board in the main hallway of the second floor of the JKB Theater. The sheets are posted on the Wednesday of the first week of the semester immediately after the Theater Meeting.
What do I need to do to prepare for an audition?Usually, students are asked to prepare a two-minute contemporary monologue, either comic or dramatic. About eight bars of a song is required (without accompaniment). Monologue material should be within the age range of the actor.
How does the audition process work?There are usually two stages in the audition process – combined auditions and callbacks. Following the first stage of auditions on the first Thursday and Friday evenings of the semester, a callback list of actors still under consideration will be posted in the lobby. When a student auditions, she or he is making a commitment to that production schedule in its entirety. Callbacks are usually held on either Saturday or Saturday and Sunday during the day. At the end of callbacks a cast list is posted. Actors must initial their names on the cast list. Callbacks for the Workshops are posted at the same time. Workshop callbacks are usually on Monday and Tuesday evening.
Can I work on more than one show in one semester?If responsibilities for each show do not conflict, yes. In fact, members of Theater Company routinely choose to work on both of the seminar productions in different capacities (such as acting in one and doing technical work on another). As long as rehearsal and performance times do not overlap, students are able to act in more than one production (for instance, the Black Box seminar and the last Workshop).
May I receive academic credit when cast in a production?Students who are cast in any faculty directed seminar production are eligible to take TH250 (Seminar Production) for 1, 2, 3, or 4 credits. Seniors may take TH376 for 3 credits. Other students may choose, if cast in any seminar production, to use this as the fulfillment of half of the Theatre Company contract. Seminar classes are generally held from 6:00-7:00 on Monday evenings and often involve guest speakers, discussions, and reading and writing assignments.
Can my diverse interests in a variety of theater areas be accommodated?Absolutely. We offer courses of study and hands-on experience in acting, directing, design, stage management and technical theater. Students are encouraged to branch out and experiment in different areas of theater. It is possible to act one semester, stage manage another, and direct a show a third semester. You should make your interests known to your faculty advisor early on, who will be happy to work with you in creating a course of study that can satisfy your needs. In addition to acting, directing and designing, many of our graduates have gone on to work as stage managers, dramaturgs, producers, technicians, etc.
I'd really like to get involved, but I'm not an actor. What can I do?There are opportunities to work in all areas of production: painting, construction, running crew, properties, costume, make-up, stage management, sound, design, directing, theater management, lighting, etc. At the beginning of the semester plan on attending the Theater Meeting on the evening of the first day of classes and the first Theater Company meeting on Friday at 2:30 during the first week of classes. There you will find out the best ways to begin working and you will meet the appropriate faculty members to speak to regarding your interests.
What acting method is taught at Skidmore?We believe in a multi-faceted approach to acting and we do not champion one single methodology. We encourage actors to train with a number of different people using various methods. The actor is then the synthesis, using appropriate methods for given plays, style or roles. We combine Stanislavski-based approaches (as interpreted by Strasberg, Meissner, Adler, Hagen, and Lewis) with a strong grounding in physical-based theater training (View Points and Suzuki training, both taught by a member of Ann Bogart's SITI Company). Classical work is also available in a number of upper level course. Students are also expected to take full advantage of our voice and movement classes.
How is the Skidmore Theater season selected?The two Main Stage seminar productions and the spring Black Box seminar production are suggested by the faculty directors and are chosen by the faculty. The spring Black Box production is proposed by qualified student directors in the previous semester and chosen by the faculty after written and oral presentations are reviewed. Workshop production proposals are submitted in the previous semester by student directors and selected by the faculty. The fall season is announced in April and the spring season is announced in December. Each faculty and guest director works differently and ideally, actors will work with a range of student, faculty and guest directors over their four years at Skidmore in both classes and productions.
What opportunities are there to study abroad or at other institutions?A number of students take advantage of our Shakespeare Programme in London and Statford-upon-Avon in the fall semester of their junior or senior year. This is a program co-created by Skidmore College and the British American Dramatic Academy.
We also regularly send students to The National Theater Institute in Connecticut.
Quite a few of our students spend a fall semester at the Moscow Art Theatre in Russia.
Comedy training is available at Second City in Chicago.
The Gaiety Theatre School in Dublin, Ireland, offers a semester-long conservatory program.
In addition to our Shakespeare Programme, BADA offers a London Theatre Program and Midsummer in Oxford.
In the future we expect to send students to the prestigious Central/St. Martins School in London to work side by side with British conservatory students.
We have strong connections with Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, MA and send students on their intensive and semester-long programs.
Film studies are available at NYU during the summer and at University of the Arts London.
Theater courses are available at the Skidmore Acalá program in Madrid, Spain.
Students studying in the Skidmore Paris program may attend one or two classes at L'Ecole Jacques Lecoq.