• Kellie Sink

A new theatre minor available at Minot State

Minot State University recently made changes to the theatre arts curriculum. What was recently a major, is now a minor and two concentrations under the direction of Aili Davidson Smith, associate professor.

“We’ve had a communication arts minor with an emphasis on theatre in the past with old catalogs, and it was a combination of communication and theatre courses. Now, we streamlined it and made it just theatre,” Davidson Smith said.

Some students interested in communication, theatre, or those involved in main stage productions and Campus Players’ productions may major in other areas. With the theatre minor, these students have the opportunity to study theatre as well.

“They (students) approached me a few years ago and asked, ‘Why isn’t there a theatre minor?’ Then we went through the curriculum and got this theatre minor approved last year,” Davidson Smith said.

Due to the new minor, certain courses have been changed — they have been streamlined or merged together — but the same content is still available. The courses included in the minor can be beneficial to many different majors.

“A lot of the Class B schools in this area hire English teachers and then require them to direct the one act play that MSU hosts. A lot of times these English teachers have never taken directing or acting. They don’t know their stage direction. It’s not their fault, but this would provide them an opportunity to become more knowledgeable in an area they are going to be encouraged for or that’s part of their contract,” Davidson Smith said.

Theatre arts teaches collaboration and communication between directors, designers, and stage managers. According to Davidson Smith, those skills are then carried through to a professional level where the students will end the class making fewer mistakes in those areas and preparing them for a future career.

“I do think that the job market is looking for people who know how to collaborate and know how to communicate with others, and they’re not just sitting in a cubical typing up a memo or a report,” Davidson Smith said. “A lot of theatre artists go off and become project managers for publicity companies. There’s just a lot of fields that it can enhance and relate to.”

Along with education, the broadcasting and professional communication major is one the new theatre minor compliments well.The directing class encourages those students to look through a different lens and viewpoint creatively. In theatre, more rehearsal time is allowed for experimenting and editing to find the right camera angle for an audience.

“Acting for the camera or directing for the camera — and I’m not a broadcasting person —however, fascinates me. Looking and seeing the similarities between live theatre directing and behind the camera shooting a film, video, or commercial and how those elements can overlap —that’s kind of the fascinating part about both disciplines, I definitely think it would enhance production majors, anyone who’s on or off camera,” Davidson Smith said.

For students who choose not to declare the theatre minor or concentrations, they are still encouraged to audition for the mainstage shows offered during the academic year. The previous fall production of “Almost Maine,” directed by Davidson Smith, included students of many different areas of study outside of theatre such as history, education, music, and art.

“I think it’s a fascinating time to see where this is headed. I think we would have had a lot more minors in the past if we would have offered it,” Davidson Smith said.

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