Theatre Student Experience
Baker theatre students have ample opportunity for involvement in and out of the classroom. Small class sizes allow maximum interaction with classmates and professors. As part of the theatre curriculum and the entire academic experience, students have access to many activities beyond the classroom.
The Baker Department of Music and Theatre boasts two unique spaces in which students receive a premium theatre education. The first is Rice Auditorium, a large performance space that seats nearly 1,000. Rice Auditorium houses primarily main-stage, faculty-directed shows. The second performance space on campus is Darby-Hope Theatre, a much smaller black-box theatre. In a small space with an audience capacity of about 50, Darby-Hope provides a unique opportunity for the student-actor and technical designer. A space alterable to the traditional proscenium, thrust, or in-the-round stage, Darby-Hope provides actors an intimate performer-audience experience.
Each year, the Department of Music and Theatre hosts a series of productions. Each season features at least two main-stage productions per semester, directed by a guest director or member of the theatre faculty. Student-directed and student-produced shows are held throughout the year. Campus productions are diverse, ranging from ancient Greek and Shakespearean plays to modern works. The genres often include tragedies, comedies, musicals, melodramas, mysteries and farces.
Students interested in directing generally begin with positions as assistant directors for faculty and student-produced productions. To be eligible for a lead directing position, you must first complete a directing course. If you are interested directing, you will work with theatre faculty to plan your production. They will then guide you through the directing process. Opportunities for student directing include the Senior Capstone, second-season productions, and independent student projects.
Both theatre majors and nonmajors audition for roles in Baker's productions. During auditions, majors are prepare monologues, preparing them for the audition process in professional theatres. The audition process also includes improvisational activities and cold reading, allowing students to meet other students interested in theatrical arts.
Students interested in technical theatre have many opportunities to practice their craft. Student designers and constructors create professional-quality productions. Possibilities in technical theatre include set design and construction, lighting, costuming, makeup, sound and props.
Stage Management & Theatrical Administration
Students interested in the behind-the-scenes areas of theatre have opportunities to work on theatrical productions and to organize and promote the theatre season on campus. Student stage managers gain practical experience working with faculty in organizing and executing the logistics of a theatrical production. Students are also instrumental in scheduling, planning and promoting theatrical productions.
An improv and comedy group started by two Baker students, Loud Noises provides theatre students and theatre enthusiasts the opportunity to practice their theatrical skills in a less structured and often funnier environment. Students audition to be in Baker’s improv group each year. Throughout the year, students practice the art of improvisation and perform throughout the semester.
American College Theatre Festival
Each year, Baker enters at least one campus production for consideration to the American College Theatre Festival. Professionals from around the region judge each show and select actors and designers to compete at the regional festival. The show can also be selected to travel to the festival. At the festival, students compete for a spot in the national festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The festivals also allow students to attend workshops and audition for summer stock and internship opportunities and to interact with fellow theatre scholars from around the nation.
Internship & Summer Stock
Baker students gain real-world experience by pursuing internships at area theatres and by acting or working in technical theatre at summer stock theatres around the region and nation. Past students have had these experiences at the following theatres:
- Kansas City Repertory Theatre
- Coterie Theatre
- Unicorn Theatre
- New Theatre Restaurant
- Disney World
- Theatre in the Park
- American Heartland Theatre
- Shakespeare in the Park
- Brownville Summer Theatre
- Starlight Theatre
- Topeka Civic Theatre
The Department of Music and Theatre plans at least one theatre-oriented Interterm each year. During this three-week session in January, you could visit professional theatres and see shows throughout the area or as a travel opportunity, take part in a campus or traveling production or learn about a new genre, technique or style in theatre.
As a student of theatre, it is not only important to make theatre but also to observe and appreciate theatre. Baldwin City has an active community theatre and is close to many professional, student and community theatres. Kansas City, Lawrence and Topeka boast the most theatre-going opportunities. The Department of Music and Theatre arranges trips to professional theatres in Kansas City to provide students the chance to observe professionals at work.