Production Program
Theater education is based upon an integration of formal academic and studio classes, exposure to master works and master theater artists, experimentation with new forms and ideas, and extensive production experiences. In the Skidmore theater program we attempt to offer an appropriate balance of these elements.

It is in our productions that students have the opportunity to test out that which has been learned in the classroom and the studio. We believe strongly that the learning of theater is very much an experimental hands-on experience with our principle focus on the process of production rather than the product.

The principle role of our productions is to serve the educational needs of Skidmore's theater students. By taking full advantage of all elements of the production program, these students are consciously preparing for the next stage in seeking a life in the theater. However, the productions are not merely exercises for theater students. Every student involved in a Skidmore theater production is expected to accept full responsibility for the work offered to the public. We strive to make every production a celebration of the very best theater that we can share with an audience.

We take our responsibility to the Skidmore community very seriously. Although our work is always open to the public, it is the Skidmore community to whom we as artists are immediately responsible. To this end we attempt to offer the very best theater we possible can in order to both entertain and educate our audience. When possible, we also offer a variety of seminars, critique sessions, informal talks and guest lectures in order to help the college community to understand the power and potential of the theater and all that we are doing and it's relevance to a liberal arts education.

In order to best serve the educational needs of our program we support a well-balanced production schedule which deals with a wide variety of play choices, production styles, and scales of production during the course of each semester and each year. This offers a choice of approaches for given projects and enables students to experience a variety of performance space types and sizes. We attempt to explore a wide range of significant play and production choices which involve diverse historical period, styles, theories, methodologies, etc. We encourage students to use all aspects of the production program to grow throughout their four years here. One of our goals is for students to be exposed to many aspects of production and to understand the integration of all production elements. Some productions are faculty supervised while others are not. Some productions employ a relatively rigid organizational structure while others do not. Some productions are more heavily budgeted than others. Different levels of productions have differing rehearsal and performance periods. It is our hope and belief that each student will have opportunities for an appropriate production experience each semester.

Each faculty, guest and student direct has his or her own particular methodology for teaching, staging, working with actors, using space, etc. Each, of course, has also had different experiences and has different taste in material. We celebrate this diversity and encourage student actors to work with as many different directors as possible in classes and on productions.

Types of Productions

Seminar (Thrust Stage) Productions

Seminar Productions tend to be the largest scale productions of the academic year. In each semester we produce one Seminar Production. Performances of this production are scheduled as late in the semester as possible. This affords the maximum amount of rehearsal time.

As with most undergraduate theater programs, we rehearse our productions for three to four hours each night for four to five nights each week. In the final week of rehearsal we tend to work six days straight, including long weekend hours. Unlike most college theaters which mount a "major production" in six weeks, we extend this process to nine weeks. The principle reason for this is simple. In the professional theater productions typically rehearse for four weeks prior to opening. However, these weeks consist of six eight hour days. The final week involves working for ten hours each day. Not only do professionals have far more time to rehearse -- they are people who bring years of training and experience to bear on their work. We feel that we can best approach our ideals with the extended period we allot for rehearsal.

Each Seminar Production has an important academic component. Typically, one night a week for the first seven to eight weeks of rehearsal, members of the production meet in order to explore all aspects of the play. The background of the play is explored fully through readings, guest lectures, field trips, discussions, film viewings, etc. Among the topics investigated might be: the playwright; the history of the production; the political, social and economic issues with which the play deals; appropriate stylistic approaches; the time and place in which the production is set; the conceptual underpinnings of the work; etc. The director and designers express their ideas to the class at various stages of the production in order to fully involve students in the collaborative process.

Typically, the Semester Production is performed in the Janet Kinghorn Bernard Thrust Theater. There are usually seven or eight performances over two weekends.

Seminar Productions are directed by faculty members or guest artists and often designed by faculty or guest designers. Trained and experienced student designers are invited to design sets, lights or costumes whenever possible. Generally, faculty and guest directors and designers will invite students to serve as assistants.

Students participating fully in Seminar Productions are eligible to register for TH 250 (Production Seminar) or, if they have senior class status, TH 376 (Senior Project).

Studio (Black Box) Productions

Studio Productions are smaller in scale than Seminar Productions. They tend to have smaller casts and less complex physical requirements. These are productions which we feel can be well managed in a six week production period. They often have limited physical production elements. Stock scenic elements, repertory light plots, and "pulled" costumes may be used as the principal solutions.

One Studio Production is scheduled for a period about six weeks into each semester.

Although faculty members and guest artists may direct Studio Productions, qualified student directors may be invited to submit proposals for the Spring Studio Production. Scenery, costumes and lights may be designed by faculty members, guest artists, or qualified invited students. At least one member of every team of director and designers will always be a faculty member or guest artist. Students are eligible for design opportunities after having successfully completed appropriate courses and experiences as assistant designer.

Studio Productions are performed in the Studio Theater, or Black Box. Generally, six to eight performances are scheduled over one or two weekends.

Students participating fully in Seminar Productions directed by faculty are eligible to register for TH 250 (Production Seminar) or, if they have senior class status, TH 376 (Senior Project). Necessarily, the academic component involves seminar classes which continue to be held after the close of the production until the end of the semester.

Student directors are expected to have completed both directing courses, served as assistant director to a faculty or guest director on a Skidmore Theater production, and directed at least one workshop. Student directors submit proposals following established guidelines and defend their proposals in oral presentations. It is not unusual to have two directors sharing a bill with two short plays in the Spring Black Box production.

Generally, only Senior Theater Majors who have completed TH 332 (Advanced Directing), directed one or more workshop productions, and have served as assistant director on a faculty directed production are eligible to apply to direct a spring studio production. Other work which demonstrates production, design and technical skills will be taken in account as well. The successful candidate will have shown significant interest in directing throughout his or her academic career as well as a commitment to developing his or her craft through various curricular and extracurricular activities. Past accomplishments in class work and workshop productions will also be considered in evaluating each candidate’s artistic vision, maturity, communication and organizational skills.Students who wish to have a project considered for the Spring Studio Production or a Senior Project in Directing (as a Workshop) must to notify Alma Becker of intent to apply early in the fall semester. Six (6) copies of a completed application along with three (3) copies of the text for you project (if applicable) will be submitted by a deadline late in October. Late Proposals will not be considered. Each applicant will give an oral presentation of his or her project to the faculty in early November. The Studio Production will be announced simultaneously with the workshop selection as soon as possible.

Workshop Productions

Workshops are an opportunity for student directors and actors to develop their craft and to experiment with theater forms. They tend to be the earliest production opportunities for directing students and offer acting students a chance to grapple with specific challenges in great depth than is always possible in larger productions. There are usually three Workshops offered each semester. Late in each semester, students submit written workshop proposals to a combined student/faculty group for discussion. In consultation with the theatre faculty, the faculty workshop supervisor will select three workshops based upon the qualitiy and appropriateness of the proposals

Playwrights' Lab

When one or more students have written plays (often in our Playwriting class) we often offer a Palywrights' Lab. This is an opportunity for the playwright to see a staged reading or simple production of the work. These are usually rehearse for two weeks and present one or two performances. This is another opportunity for student directors and actors.

Free-Hour Theater

Studio B is reserved every Friday afternoon after Theater Company Meetings from 3:30-5:30 for the presentation of any theater work by students. Reservations are on a first-come-first-served basis. The space can be scheduled with Kathy Mendenhall. Lary Opitz should be notified so that announcements can go on our website.

End of Semester Faculty Projects

Ocassionally faculty members will create a small production at the end of the semester. Students may be invited to participate in these or auditions might be held late in the semester. These projects may be site-specific works or they may take place in the Black Box. The company formed by the faculty member will be responsible of all production elements involved in the work.

Theater Company

Theater Company is, by definition, made up of everyone who participates in the production program throughout the semester. Students may chose to formally register for the theater Company class in order to earn academic credit. Students registered for Company are required to attend all Company Meetings. Each member of the class will be required to work on at least two productions during the course of the semester. Details of this requirement are determined by the Production Manager. Enrollment in the theater Company class is in no way a requirement for anyone who wishes to work on one or more productions.

Everyone is invited to participate in Theater Company Meetings which are held every Friday afternoon. These meetings cover many activities including: announcements; conceptual presentations by directors and designers of upcoming productions; critiques of all productions; staged readings; open discussions about department plans and policies; presentations of short theater pieces; viewings of relevant films; and workshops.

Additional Production Opportunities
All students are encouraged to seek out opportunities for production work outside of the Skidmore theater Program.

There are a number of other production organizations that function in the area throughout the academic year. Among them are:

  • Capital Repertory Company: a professional regional theater in Albany. Trained Skidmore students have served as technicians, management interns, and, on rare occasions, actors.
  • Home Made Theater: a community theater group that produces plays throughout the year in the Little theater at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Students are welcome to audition and often serve in technical areas.
  • The Cabaret Troupe: a Skidmore student organization that produces a musical in the Dance theater each semester. Many theater students have actively participated in these events.

Students are encouraged to chose their production activities carefully in order to insure appropriate growth and to avoid becoming over-extended to the detriment of grades, health, and the qualities of the experiences.

Students who chose to work full-time with a professional company during a given semester or during the summers are eligible for as many as nine academic credits for each experience.

Attitudes and Priorities

Students working actively in the Skidmore Theater production program are considered to be artists. As such each has responsibilities to him or herself, peers, faculty, audiences and the art itself. Specific responsibilities are learned with each new experience. Student artists are expected to abide by all established guidelines for requirements and responsibilities. Perhaps the most important and overriding responsibility of every artist in our program is that which directs us to act ethically and to treat fellow artists with respect and consideration.

We believe that education is our greatest responsibility. Students, faculty and guests are expected to understand the absolute priority of both theater and non-theater classes. Production responsibilities are never an acceptable excuse for canceled classes, missed classes, or inadequate or incomplete classwork or assignments.

Students are expected to respect the priorities established regarding our production program. These priorities mean that the productions with the highest priority recieve our greatest and most immediate attention.

Our two seminar productions each semester serve nearly all theater students as well as other students. These productions are part of our curriculum. They are neither co-curricular nor extra-curricular. While in production they have the highest priority and the needs of the black box seminar will have the top priority until it opens. Once it opens the main stage production has priority.

After the seminar productions come our officially designated workshops. As with our seminar productions the upcoming workshop has priority over other workshops until it opens.

Scheduled Free Hour Theater productions are another important extension of our work, but department seminar production and workshop needs have priority over them in terms of production elements, time, and space.

Any needs of independent projects and senior projects will only be considered after all of the above priorities are dealt with. These projects will only have access to space and production needs after the needs of departmental productions are met and after consultation with the department chair. These productions should in no way be in conflict with departmental productions. This involves scheduling, the use of theater spaces, actors and crew members and any department equipment, props, costumes, etc.