Theater majors performing in and out of the classroom

While science majors memorize content from an anatomy textbook or do experiments during labs, Taji Steele, a sophomore theater major, had to memorize and analyze Shakespearean dialogue for the theater department’s production of “As You Like It.”

At play rehearsal, Steele listened to her director giving the cast notes as attentively as one would listen to a professor in a lecture hall.

Junior theater major Delaney Winslow (left), pictured in a scene from “As You Like It,” said she has found a family in the theater department at Seton Hall.
Photo courtesy of Claudia Emanuele

“We have to have a certain amount of hours working in the shop, but we also have to do to it for the theater major,” Steele said. “It becomes difficult when you’re in a show because you’re spending hours after classes in rehearsal, and it cuts down on the time you have to study.”

Steele said that she had to learn how to balance her academic schedule with her rehearsal schedule, but added that some requirements for her major align with the classes she takes.

Steele also said that the amount of time she spends in rehearsal has limited her ability to participate in other clubs and activities.

Delaney Winslow, a junior theater major, said that during a rehearsal for a show, completing assignments can be hectic.

“I try to get my homework done pretty far in advance when I’m in a show, but sometime I forget and have late nights,” Winslow said. “I focus a lot more on organizing my plans and work when I am in show, which helps.”

According to Steele, Seton Hall has been the perfect place to encourage her passion for theater of all types, despite the scheduling conflicts.

“Other schools were more content specific, like musicals or plays, and we have a little bit of everything here,” Steele said. “I like having options to decide what I want to do. You’re not confined to one area where you would be in other schools.”

Steele said at Seton Hall, she has been able to learn things like set building and lighting as opposed to just acting techniques.
Associate professor of theatre Peter Reader said that Seton Hall’s theater program employs what he calls “experiental learning.”

“You are learning by doing, acting, painting, and dancing, and you are applying that to your experience in theater,” Reader said.

Reader also said that at SHU, theatre students are learning all the aspects of a production.

“In terms of design, it’s trying to understand how the whole thing comes together,” Reader said. “They can understand the complexity involved in the different parts of a performance and how people come together.

In his classes, Reader said that he isn’t limited to teaching theater at face value.

“I’m not trying to teach one subject, I’m trying to teach the culture and how it informs the human condition,” Reader said of what he hopes students take away from his classes. “Cultural diversity in theater is used to bring ideas to areas of social oppression and communicates ideas of hope for things to be better than they are.”

Reader said Seton Hall’s proximity to New York City has been an asset to the theater program.

“We’re trying to combine the theater major with the New York experience, and also internships [in New York City],” Reader said. “Students can take a train to midtown and walk to the largest theater center in the U.S.”

Steele also commented on Seton Hall’s proximity to New York City and how it helped her choose Seton Hall.

“I came mostly because of the proximity to New York so I could always have opportunities off campus,” Steele said.

She added that she felt Seton Hall’s size was a factor in her decision-making. “It’s also a small enough campus where I get the close enough attention to feel confident.”

Winslow knew Seton Hall was home when she attended a rehearsal for the 2015 production of “Little Women” at Seton Hall.

“I actually had a friend in the theatre program here before I made the choice,” Winslow said. “She got me in to check out a rehearsal for ‘Little Women’ and everyone was so warm and inviting that it really sold me.”

Alyssa Schirm can be reached at alyssa.schirm@student.shu.edu.

Author: Alyssa Schirm

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