Help Keep St. Ambrose University's Theatre Major

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Due to economic concerns, St. Ambrose University is considering eliminating the theatre major and converting it into a minor. Removing the theatre major will rob many students of opportunities to take classes that will help them to develop and hone essential skills within and outside of the theatre world. 

St. Ambrose has produced many successful theatre alumni, including Emmy-award winning alumnus Brian Hemesath. Brian has designed costumes for shows on and off-Broadway, including Saturday Night Live and Sesame Street. Without the theatre major, Brian would not have attended St. Ambrose. Even if he had attended as a theatre minor, based off the current requirements, he would not have been required to take Introduction to Design. It may not have even been offered. Without a class such as this, how would Brian have discovered his interest in design? It would also be quite possible that the Costume Design class would not have been offered as theatre minors only need 3 elective credits, whereas majors need 15. These electives are where actors get to take Advanced Acting to better hone their skills, future lighting designers get to learn more about lighting in Lighting Design, and potential scenic designers are able to try their hand at scene designing in Scenic Design. Without the theatre major, we may not have Directing class. Directing doesn't only teach skills on how to block a scene or give notes; it teaches skills transferable to leadership of all kinds. 

Getting rid of the theatre major is not only a detriment to those interested in majoring in Theatre. Having a major gives the University a reason to hold classes. If money is a concern, it is likely that only those classes that are necessary (those that fulfill the minor) will be offered and it is quite possible that the number of faculty will be reduced. St. Ambrose University is a liberal arts college that prides itself on providing a well-rounded education to its students. Because of this, St. Ambrose requires all students to take at least one Creative Arts course. It does not necessarily have to be in theatre, but many students choose to take their required class in theatre. Removing the major and reducing the number of classes offered therefore impacts any student interested in taking a theatre course, regardless of major. Research has shown that there are many benefits to studying, observing, and participating in theatre. Being involved in theatre has been proven to improve academic performance in other subjects, such as math and science. It teaches valuable teamwork and communication skills not found in other classes. Theatre opens student’s eyes to experiences other than their own, helping them to be more empathetic and understanding of others. This is something that is essential to the success of all individuals, no matter what their career path might be. It is what helps us grow as a society.

It is not unlikely that getting rid of the theatre major would subsequently lead to a reduction in the number of full-time faculty. This would likely affect the number of productions we are able to hold here at St. Ambrose. One of the amazing things about St. Ambrose is the interdisciplinary participation we have, especially in the arts. People come here because they are able to be a part of band, choir, and theatre even if they aren’t majors. This is an indirect economic benefit that would be lost if the theatre department is cut.

Then there is the unbelievable impact this major and department have had on all of us who are a part of it. There may not be very many of us, but we all chose to make St. Ambrose our home because of theatre. Through our work together in classes, on-stage, and behind the scenes, we have all grown into a unique community and, I dare say, a family. Our major may be small, but that is what makes us strong and marketable within our careers. We have the opportunity at St. Ambrose to learn all forms of theatre, rather than focusing on only one aspect such as acting, which is commonplace at other larger institutions. Thanks to St. Ambrose’s theatre major, we have all learned or will soon learn about set construction, design, acting, stage management, and directing. We have become equipped with a diverse set of skills that make our resumes stand out from others. 

These are just a few of the many reasons the theatre major should not be converted into a minor. As you can see, getting rid of the theatre major at St. Ambrose University would not only be a detriment to the theatre department, but to the university as a whole. In this day and age where STEM majors are being overly emphasized and arts programs are being cut, St. Ambrose cannot justifiably contemplate cutting their theatre major and still take pride in its existence as a liberal arts school. 

Sign now to show that you stand in support of keeping the theatre major at St. Ambrose.