ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y., April 4, 2007 — Curtains up! A new bachelor of arts degree in theater has been added to the curriculum at St. Bonaventure University, offering a balance of theater text and production history, and performance technique and technical theatrical application.
The bachelor’s degree in theater requires 48 hours of coursework and production in theater. Text-based courses in global production history and aesthetics, surveys in American and European theater history, the history of musical theater, and the combined research and performance-oriented senior capstone project, offer theater majors at SBU the opportunity to fully explore the foundations and applications of theater arts.
“Practical studies in acting, voice and movement, period styles, directing and technical theater and design provide students with a true ‘hands-on’ understanding of how theater is created and presented,” said Dr. Ed. Simone, chair of the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and director of the theater program.
“The establishment of the bachelor’s degree in theater is the realization of a dream of offering a degree to complement our century-long theater production history and the strong presence of the arts in our liberal arts curriculum,” said Sr. Margaret Carney, O.S.F., S.T.D., president of the University. “This new offering is also an excellent complement to our existing programs offering bachelor’s degrees in visual arts and music.”
“We are very pleased to be able to offer this high quality program for students interested in majoring in theater,” added Dr. Michael Fischer, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “This program should be very attractive to current and prospective St. Bonaventure students.”
The theater program currently offers 15 courses, two to three professionally directed production opportunities annually, as well as extensive scene and monologue work, and a cast of the national theater honor society Alpha Psi Omega.
Theater productions are rehearsed and staged in two fully equipped performance spaces: the intimate 114-seat Garret Theater and the larger Rigas Family Theater in the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. Other facilities include a large rehearsal and classroom studio, a fully equipped scene shop, and a computerized sound cue editing and playback system.
“St. Bonaventure’s facilities for teaching and producing theater exceed many other institutions our size already offering the degree,” Simone said, “and we’re already planning for new spaces for workshops, offices and classes.”
Recent SBU Theater productions have included “A Christmas Carol,” “The Devil’s Disciple,” “The Cover of Life,” and “Reckless,” as well as original productions, including “The Inner Above,” a play based on Shakespeare’s works, and “What Are You Thinking?” by Mexican playwright Xavier Villarrutia. SBU Theater also performed the area premieres of Mary Zimmerman’s “Metamorphoses” and a production of “Dog Stories” by the award-winning Chicago playwright Keith Huff, who came to SBU to see the production and teach theater workshop classes.
Huff was amazed to learn the University didn’t offer a theater major at the time.
“To have encountered the level of commitment and skill from students actors who were concentrating in other academic disciplines was absolutely astounding,” he said.
Records of theater performance at SBU go back to 1875, when the first theatrical performances took place. Theater courses, first offered in the early 1970s, and the establishment of a theater minor in 1999 have already provided a solid foundation for students seeking a firm foundation for further study in theater and for students who wish to apply this knowledge to other areas, including studies in literature, education, pre-law, political science, philosophy and history.
“My connection with theater at SBU impacted my college experience in a very positive way, and enhanced my academic career greatly,” said Patricia Ryan Lampl, a member of St. Bonaventure’s Class of 1977 and an Emmy-nominated TV producer and author.
“Theater provides the same relationships people generally associate with sports — teamwork, friendship and discipline. My enthusiasm for a theater major at SBU is boundless.”
2005 graduate Phil Ortolani is confident the new theater major will “allow future generations at SBU to encounter an even better experience than the remarkable one I had.
“As I begin graduate studies to become an English teacher, I look forward to using the skills and experiences I learned as a theater minor at SBU. My only regret was there was no theater major at the time for me to pursue,” Ortolani said.
Approved by the University’s Faculty Senate last fall, the major has recently been approved by the New York State Department of Education.
“We have made a strategic decision to increase the presence of the arts on campus, and this program follows closely on the heels of the approval of the music major and in advance of the art history major, which will be submitted for state approval later this semester,” said Dr. Stephen D. Stahl, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. “I am excited that we are developing programs to take full advantage of our spectacular facilities.”