The Theatre School’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in theatre technology trains students in the execution and realization of a designer’s vision. Theatre Technology majors collaborate with designers and other technicians to create the set, props, light, and sound for theatre and entertainment productions.
Technicians are trained in scenery and props construction, rigging, drafting, welding, lighting technology, audio technology, pneumatics, hydraulics, automation, problem solving, and project management. Theatre Technology graduates are well-equipped to be the skilled labor force executing designs and serve in managerial positions. Employment is possible in theatre production, film, television, commercial scenic production, touring theatre and concerts, and many other areas of entertainment. All of the Theatre Technology training is based upon emulating the professional experience.
Students learn from a distinguished and award-winning faculty of professional designers, artists, and technicians both in the classroom and through individual guidance and advising during production work. Students receive formal and informal feedback from faculty through portfolio presentations and exhibits of their work each year.
The first year curriculum is taken in collaboration with other design and technical students and is an immersion into the culture of production and design. Students explore thinking metaphorically and abstractly with an appreciation of design and technology as an aesthetic distinct from other art forms and begin a drawing and technical drawing progression. Students complete three production crew assignments in our production season.
In the second year, students begin to focus on the specifics of construction and rigging scenery and lighting for the theatre. Students continue their technical drawing progression and complete elective coursework in other design or technical areas such as lighting and sound. Students work throughout the year on productions in our season as carpenters, electricians, props artisans, and assistant technical directors.
Third-year students start to develop a specific focus while continuing to hone their skills in the areas of lighting, scenery, and sound. Students explore period style elements through a survey of art, architecture, fashion, and furniture. Students typically work as master carpenters, master electricians, sound engineers, and assistant technical directors for our production season and work collaboratively with designers to implement and construct their designs.
The fourth year is a transition year, further developing students’ abilities and preparing students to enter the profession. Coursework includes preparation and study of the roles of managerial staff in theatre. Students typically work as technical directors in our production season and have the option of a professional internship of their choosing.
At the end of each year, The Theatre School hosts a Graduate Showcase event to showcase the work of our graduating design students. Under the guidance of the faculty, graduating technicians prepare a showcase exhibit of their portfolio – which is presented in Chicago for technical directors, artistic directors, alumni, and other members of the theatre, film, and television industries.
In addition to the theatre training curriculum, students complete 52 quarterly credit hours (13 courses) in the university's Liberal Studies Program. Courses are taken in theatre history, writing, quantitative reasoning and technological literacy, philosophical inquiry, religious dimensions, scientific inquiry, understanding the past, multiculturalism in the United States, and electives. These liberal studies courses are scheduled during the first three years of the program.
Every student receives quarterly evaluation and feedback from the faculty. Student evaluations are based on discipline, collaboration, professional potential, and progress in the program. Based on this evaluation, design students are continued from year to year at the invitation of the faculty. There are no pre-determined limits on the number of students returning to design programs. An invitation to return to the third year of a design program is for the duration of the respective program provided that all academic requirements are met, and that professional discipline is acceptable.
Four Year Curriculum
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