Curtain Closing On Theatre 100
Stage enthusiasts and fun gen ed seekers may have already discovered that Theatre 100, the much-appreciated arts gen ed class, will no longer be offered after the spring 2019 semester.
Theatre 100 features a combination of live performances by eight Master of Fine Arts (MFA) students — who are members of the course-specific Theatre 100 Company — and lectures about the history of theatre. Professor Sebastian Trainor said the graduate acting program’s administrators stopped admitting actors to the course because they realized the course model was unsustainable.
Trainor described the perks of the program for Theatre 100 Company members, including completely waived tuition, teaching assistantships (like the acting company itself), a stipend at the end of the program, and funding for international travel opportunities vital to the actors’ enrichment.
For these reasons, Penn State decided to stop admitting MFA acting students to the program when funds became limited. Without these students to provide an acting company, THEA 100 will naturally cease to exist in its current form.
The MFA acting program at Penn State is a five-semester degree, and new admissions were cut four semesters ago, so this fall marks the Theatre 100 Company’s final semester. The class will be offered in the spring, but without the graduate actors.
When Dr. Hellen Manfull started the class in 1973 at University Park, 25 students enrolled. It grew exponentially, and now packs 800-student classes into the the State Theatre downtown.
When general education requirements were implemented on campus during the 1960s, the class originally known as ARTS 01 served as an introduction to the arts, featuring “grad teaching assistants who put on plays during parts of it,” according to Trainor.
When professor Annie McGregor took over, the program began to house the arts teaching assistantships as they are recognized today.
If you were banking on this unique opportunity to cover your arts credit, don’t lose sleep. While THEA 100 is loved for its quality performances, a modified version is scheduled to arrive for the fall 2019 semester.
Find the class under its new name, THEA 101. The new course will allow students to cover a general science (GS) credit in addition to the currently standing GA credit. This change should please students who don’t want to waste time covering only one particular gen ed requirement.
The class will aim to engage students in short-term activities, including scene excerpt performances. It’ll be broken down into five three-week modules that will include sets of in-class, online, and recorded projects.
Sociology and anthropology foundations will come together to construct a new theme of “performance and society” — the GS portion of the new class.
Dr. Jeanmarie Higgins has a background in theater history, criticism, and theory and will be teaching THEA 101. She said she views the course as a pilot without a “heavy emphasis on tests and quizzes but instead performance,” allowing students to focus on channeling their inner Kerry Washington or Owen Wilson instead of studying for hours.
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