The Theatre Department at SRU currently has three areas of concentration: Acting, Design & Technology and Arts Administration. Now, with accreditation from NAST (National Association of Schools of Theatre), the department is hoping to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting starting in the Fall of 2019, with the program being sent forward from SRU’s Council of Trustees to the PA Board of Governors for approval.
The prospect of being the first PASSHE school to be fully accredited and offer this degree has department professors excited about the future.
“We really strive to create professionally prepared performers through our program, and this BFA in Acting is a step towards meeting that goal,” theatre professor David Skeele said.
Skeele has been at Slippery Rock for 25 years and has seen his department evolve over the time he has been here. He is particularly excited about the new avenues that will be presented to students who chose to pursue a BFA in Acting here at SRU.
“I truly believe that there has never been a better time to be alive as an actor; there are just so many opportunities to pursue and different fields that you can work these days,” Skeele said. “Everything from on stage performing to working in the video game industry and web-series are mediums that you can get involved in. This BFA in Acting will put Slippery Rock students on the inside track to finding jobs and success moving forward.”
The implementation of the program coincides with the hopeful completion of renovations to Miller Auditorium. The degree will be 78 credits in addition to 42 credits in liberal studies. There will be a strong emphasis put on musical theatre, with the main concentration being contemporary musicals as opposed to more classical productions.
Students will have to audition for the program and will be held to high standards implemented by NAST. These quality standards and rigorous training sessions are seen as promising by Department Chair Rebecca Morrice, who is thrilled about the advantages students will have upon graduation.
“This is a great way to get students out there and for us to interact with other accredited universities,” Morrice said. “Parents are always asking us ‘Is my kid going to be able to get a job?’. With this accreditation, our program has openly acknowledged quality compared to non-accredited programs and gives our students a better education than before.”
The accreditation process took over two years to be completed. Representatives from NAST will conduct a review of the program every five years to make sure they are following set standards and the students are displaying significant growth.
Other changes include producing a main stage musical production every year and a more concise cycle of courses for students. Slippery Rock will continue to feature Shakespearean plays in their curriculum and allow student-run productions to be put on in the future.
“A big part of this is attempting to add more to the culture we already have here on campus,” Deanna Brookens, theater professor said. “We want the community to come out and see all the hard work our students are putting in on each show as they prepare for their future careers.”
The department’s first main stage production is “In the Forest, She Grew Fangs” and will run from Oct 20 to Oct 26. Later in the fall, they will put on Peter Morgan’s chronicling of the aftermath of the Watergate scandal in “Frost/Nixon”. The show will run from Dec 1 through Dec 7.