Questions Arise With Theater Dept. Recruiting

The Tow Center. /

   It’s late Fall and early Winter for College students and if you look across campus, you’ll see students scurrying from building to building, loaded with coursework, and anticipating the dreadful finals week. This time of year also means that it’s time for the auditioned-based programs to start recruiting new students for the following academic year. 

   With interview and audition season starting for incoming High School Seniors, transfers, and everybody in between, there are some differing views on how effective the admissions outreach is for the Bachelor of Arts Theatre Program at Brooklyn College.

   The theatre department as a whole at Brooklyn College houses 7 sections. These include a BFA degree in Acting, BA degrees in Theatre and Design and Technical Theatre;  MFA degrees in Acting, Directing and Design and Technical Theatre; as well as a minor in general theatre. Each program has their own concentration of the arts and is headed by different chairs respectively. 

   “I don’t believe many people know [about the program]. There’s no way that people are willing to go to a program that they know little to nothing about, and that applies for most schools,” said Heavenly Perez, a local High School Senior at the nearby Edward R. Murrow High School. Perez says she did not hear much about the Brooklyn College Theatre program while applying to colleges this Fall, and would have liked to have heard more about during her process.  

   In response to the outreach of information on the program, one of the Co-Chairs of the BA program, Laura Tesman, explains that the program chooses to stay small. She says her program “functions in a cohort model so everyone gets to know each other.” She also explains that the program is meant to be smaller in order to allow for a more hands on experience for each student in the program. 

   “One of our solutions is to keep our numbers manageable so that we can give students focused attention and guidance through the degree,” says Tesman. 

   The admissions process is simple: applicants are interviewed twice a year, a majority being interviewed every February for the following Fall semester, and a few interviews that happen every November for the following Spring semester. Admissisions include up to 25 students per year, with 70% of students transferring from other majors or students working to double major. 

   Some , however, disagree with the idea the department isn’t doing its due diligence to recruit prospective students. Brooklyn College student Nia Blizzard, who is earning her second undergraduate degree in theatre, after already obtaining a degree in Psychology, says she was very aware of the program and was excited to start a new chapter as a part of it. Blizzard, class of 2021, is a Texas native and applied to Brooklyn mainly for the renowned theatre program. 

   “It’s the whole reason I applied!” she says.

   Alumni are doing their fair share to help promote the program. “I know the program has grown under Laura Tesman and allows the students to create work and do work that speaks to the world,” said MFA Acting alumni Marcus D. Harvey, who teaches at various performing arts High Schools and Universities in the city.

   As a teacher, director and acting coach, Harvey is well aware of all the good done by the program, for example the  interview process for applicants, and the new Leonard and Claire Tow Performing Arts Center on campus. Harvey is a staunch advocate for the theatre department and ensures that his students know that the performing arts program at Brooklyn College exists and should be considered when applying to colleges. 

   As a new applicant season is upon the BA Theatre program, Tesman stresses the fact that the arts are largely underfunded in public schools and institutions, and that it’s hard to gain a full faculty, let alone the personnel needed to reach out to potential students–high schoolers or transfers alike. Tesman says that they do their best every year to raise awareness of the program, and always end up with hundreds of applicants. 

   Aside from funding, Tesman noted that the program is in a good place and that there is plenty of interest from potential students. While some might say that there’s a lack of information about the BA theatre program circulating to prospective students, those within the program as well as chairs of the department are in agreement that those who are interested will find it just fine. 

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