SHU Theater Arts Program: One of the Best in the Country

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BY ASHLEY ENGLE

Staff Reporter

On Sept. 6, “OnStage Blog” posted their popular yearly blog that has been dedicated to theater programs across the country. On this specific blog post, Sacred Heart University was given the honor of being ranked number 21 for the top 25 bachelor theater programs of 2018–2019.

The program has earned rank due to the numerous fields students are able to involve themselves in, from acting, directing, producing, and writing to being a part of backstage crews, such as makeup and hair design.

The director of the performing arts program, Jerry Goehring, expressed on Sacred Heart’s website his happiness over the honor and how far the program has come to get to this point.

“We really take great pride in the program’s development, and we are beyond excited to have received such a high ranking from ‘OnStage Blog’ recognizing our academic program which focuses new works,” Goehring said.

One of the new works is the student-run program called “TheaterFest.” This program gives theater students the opportunities to branch out from acting to write a play of their own and direct another student’s production.

Students put their own ideas into a script for a show. These shows are then put on by other theater students in an elimination-style competition. The last remaining show gets a budget, costumes and set for a full-fledged production.

Even if certain plays do not make it to  the last round, it is still a great experience in which students can hone their skills, become better writers, and continue being creative. OnStage Blog noted Sacred Heart’s creativity in particular, citing the TheaterFest as one of the distinguishing factors contributing to the university’s ranking.

Students have discussed their own experiences within the program and how it continues to grow as the years progress.

“For the Theatre Arts Program to be honored as one of the top 25 Bachelor programs of 2018–2019 is such a badge of honor for me,” said junior Mary Campione. “It shows how all the hard work we have put into this program is finally paying off.”

Campione has been an active member of the theater community since she joined during her freshman year. She has had many roles, such as acting in “The Comedy of Errors” and working as a light board operator for “Be More Chill.”

Members of the theater program have been proactive in extending their time and heart into organizations to help not just make a difference but raise awareness.

“I have focused on smaller projects like food and clothing drives, but this semester we are branching out,” Campione said. “The Theater Arts Program is working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention this year to help raise awareness of the tragedy that is suicide. My main goal is to help erase the stigma around mental illnesses and emphasize the importance of kindness in the world.”

Sophomore Jay Williams spoke about goals he has for being involved with future productions.

“Due to my schedule, I haven’t been able to do as much as I wanted to. However, I am still pretty involved in various areas. For example, I have done hair and makeup crew for ‘Noises Off’ and ‘In the Heights,’” Williams said. “As my time in the Theater Arts Program goes on, I hope I get the opportunity to act on stage in at least one show before I graduate, and maybe even be in a head position for hair and makeup crew for a show.”

The program maintains its strength by the supportive environment that has been created within it.

“My best experiences have honestly been with the people. I’ve made my best friends in this program in such a short amount of time because everyone here is so genuine. At the end of the day, this program has the most supportive atmosphere,” said junior Victoria Vacca.

The theater arts program’s latest production, “As Bees in Honey Drown,” runs from Sept. 27-Oct. 14.

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