What is the process to apply for entrance into the theatre program as a first year student or transfer student?
All first year and transfer applicants to any of our theatre majors must provide supplemental materials (resume, goal statement, reference letter, photo) and must audition and/or interview for entrance. All BFA applicants must submit a video audition via the Creative Supplement. These video auditions are viewed by the faculty and a limited number of students will be invited to participate in a live audition either at Chapman University, in New York or Chicago (this is the choice of the applicant). For those who cannot make it to campus or our off-campus audition sites, the Creative Supplement audition will be viewed as the final audition and a decision will be reached based on this video audition. Because of the interactive nature of the in-person audition, live visits are highly recommended.
Department faculty and the Admissions department will review each applicant, and both must accept each applicant. In addition, Screen Acting applicants will also be reviewed by the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts as part of the admissions process.
Are the auditions to get into the program also the auditions to get into the BFA program(s)?
Entrance to the department is by degree program. An applicant auditions specifically for the BFA Theatre Performance or BFA Screen Acting, or interviews for the BA Theatre (Theatre Studies or Theatre Technology) degree program.
If I am not certain of which degree program I wish to pursue, must I choose one?
All applicants must select a degree program upon applying to the Department of Theatre: Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theatre Studies or Theatre Technology, or Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Screen Acting or Theatre Performance. Please read the information in this FAQ document and review the curriculum of each program (see Academic Programs for more information) to determine the degree that most closely suits your interests and goals. Because the audition/interview process differs for BA and BFA applicants, it is important to know which program you are applying for.
However, in the Creative Supplement, you may indicate that you wish to be considered for one of the other degree programs if not accepted to the program of your choice. If you are not accepted to the degree program of your choice, but have indicated interest in another degree program, you will be considered for that degree program also.
I auditioned for one degree program and was accepted, but I want to change to the another degree program in theatre. How do I do this?
Students must enter Chapman in the degree program in which they were accepted and may not change their degree program or area of study prior to entrance. Should you wish to change your degree program once you have entered Chapman, you should discuss this with your advisor and Chair. An application and interview/audition process is required to change your theatre degree program.
Can transfer students audition directly into the BFA programs?
Transfer applicants may audition for the BFA programs. Typical BFA program completion time for transfer students is three years from entrance to Chapman but this depends on the level of acting technique demonstrated at the audition and on an evaluation of theatre coursework completed at prior institutions to determine transfer eligibility towards the BFA degree program requirements. Coursework in acting is sequential and offered over four years. If a transfer student enters the BFA program without prior theatre coursework or for screen acting without coursework in acting and in film/film studies, it may take four years to complete either BFA degree program.
What is the difference between a BA and a BFA degree?
Before discussing the differences, it is important to note the ways the programs are similar. All theatre degree programs require a student to take core courses in theatre studies (history and literature), directing, theatre technology (BA and BFA Theatre Performance) and acting. A student with a degree in theatre is required to be educated in all elements that go into the making of theatrical productions. (The BFA in Screen Acting is slightly different in its core—see question below on the difference between BFA Theatre Performance and BFA Screen Acting.) The primary difference between the BA and BFA programs is the degree of specialization.
The BA degree provides a background in all areas of theatre, and allows a student to specifically tailor his or her theatre studies in the areas of greatest interest, such as technology, directing, stage management, playwriting and areas of theatre other than acting, although students may take up to 5 to 6 acting courses towards the degree. The BA degree is 47 credits, and provides the most flexible choice of courses and topics that can be studied in addition to the core requirements. It is an excellent degree for students interested in dual majors, and who want a broad background in theatre. The BA program requires that students meet a minimum ongoing GPA of 2.0. The BA program provides skills that enable students to enter the profession in a number of ways, and also is a strong background for students who wish to pursue further education at the graduate level.
The BFA programs focus specifically on acting, and require 78 credits. Our BFA degrees are pre-professional acting training programs that requires in-depth study of acting, voice, movement and text analysis. The BFA programs are also structured sequentially in acting studies, so there is less flexibility for the student to choose when specific courses are taken. If a student does not follow the acting course sequence, it may take additional time to graduate. BFA students are expected to maintain a 3.0 GPA. Both BFA programs are designed to hone and develop acting technique and prepare students for careers in performance.
What is the difference between the BFA Screen Acting degree and the BFA Theatre Performance degree?
Again, before discussing the differences, it is important to note the ways the programs are similar. Both BFA degrees are pre-professional degrees focused on acting training, including work on acting technique, voice, movement, text analysis and professional preparation. Majors in either program have opportunities to act on stage and to be involved in film projects.
The BFA Theatre Performance degree is offered by the Department of Theatre and requires core curriculum studies in theatre studies (history, theory and literature), stage directing and theatre technology, as well as two elective choices in other areas of theatre. As a BFA Theatre Performance student all of your major courses are in the Department of Theatre.
The BFA Screen Acting degree is an interdisciplinary major offered jointly by the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts and the Department of Theatre. The core curriculum focuses on film studies, including film history and film production skills (editing, directing, screenwriting) and offers opportunities to take two electives at the upper division level in either film or theatre. As a BFA Screen Acting student, approximately half of your required major classes are in the Department of Theatre and the other half are in the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
We highly recommend that prospective students review the curriculum of each program in the catalog (BFA Theatre Performance, BFA Screen Acting) prior to choosing their degree program for audition purposes.
Are there scholarships available for theatre students?
The University provides Academic Merit Awards to students who qualify based on their academic achievements. The Department of Theatre has a limited number of American Celebration Talent Awards for incoming first year and transfer students. Students must be listed as theatre majors on their admissions applications to be eligible for a Talent Award. Consideration for Talent Awards is given at the audition/interview and students are notified of these awards either with their financial aid package or shortly thereafter.
Is there a theatre minor?
The Department of Theatre does not offer a theatre minor at this time. For students with an interest in Theatre Technology, it is possible to complete an interdisciplinary cluster (Theatre Technology for Cinematography) as part of the general education program.
Is there a jury process for the BFA degree programs?
BFA students participate in an assessment process in which the performance faculty members discuss with each student his/her progress in academics, acting training and meeting professional standards. Students who do not meet department standards in each area are given a remedial plan to address any issues that have arisen. It is the goal of the faculty to work with each student so that he/she completes the BFA program successfully. There is no “cut” process, but, in some instances, a student may be advised that another degree program may better meet his/her needs.
Can theatre students double major?
There are certainly students who double major. As noted above, it is not difficult to pursue a double major with a BA degree. However, students in BFA programs may find it difficult to manage two full majors and complete both degrees in the normal four-year time span because of the sequential nature of the acting training and potential conflicts with required courses in their second major. While not impossible, it is not recommended that BFA students double major. BFA students who choose to double major may incur additional tuition fees and/or additional time beyond four years to complete both degrees. If you want to pursue a double major, please consult the Chair of Theatre to discuss this.
Can non-majors be in Department shows?
Department of Theatre productions (often referred to as main stage productions) are open for casting to theatre and screen acting majors only so that students within the department have the opportunity to perform in productions and apply the acting techniques they are learning in their classes in performance. Non-majors may become involved in back stage roles, with the approval of the production manager. There are, however, many performing opportunities at Chapman through student organizations such as the Coalition of Artistic Students of Theatre, Chapman On Broadway, the Player’s Society, and other campus-wide student organizations.
Can theatre majors be in Dodge College of Film and Media Studies projects?
Yes. Many of our majors are involved in various projects at Dodge College as actors and as technicians. These range from being in scenes for directing classes to working on graduate thesis films. Casting at Dodge is open to all, and the department tries to facilitate opportunities by posting casting notices and letting theatre majors know about them. Just as in the industry, it helps for students to network with Dodge majors and find opportunities to be involved.
Can freshmen (First Year students) be in the main stage shows?
Freshmen theatre majors are not eligible to audition for Fall main stage productions in their first year, as these shows are usually cast in the previous spring. Also, when beginning their education at the university level, students need time to become acclimated to the college environment and the expectations of the faculty and the university. Main stage production rehearsals require a time commitment of 5-8 weeks of evenings and weekend time in rehearsal and performance, and it is important for freshmen to have time to experience all that is offered by the college experience and not be tied up for that length of time in their first semester. This process also provides freshmen with the opportunity to watch the main stage productions and have an understanding of what the program is that they have entered. Freshmen may audition for Spring shows and are eligible to audition for the fall College of Performing Arts Chapman Celebrates production (which is an approximately three-week time commitment). They may also audition for shows produced by student organizations. Many freshmen also get involved in student film projects, or in short scenes done by theatre directing students. There is rarely a lack of opportunities for those who wish to perform! Auditions for spring semester productions are in November and are open to all enrolled theatre majors.
How many department main stage productions are there in a year?
The Department produces four main stage shows each year, and a student directed one-act festival in the spring. In addition, in the fall the College of Performing Arts puts on a large-scale musical revue, Chapman Celebrates, which involves many theatre students as actors, singers and technicians.
What other performance or production opportunities are there for Chapman students, whether majors or non-majors?
The Coalition of Artistic Students of Theatre (CAST) is a student group that is affiliated with the Department. Membership is open to anyone on campus. The group organizes student run productions open to all students, and organizes other activities, including workshops and guest artists. They produce events such as the 24-Hour Play Festival, From the Ground Up (which produces original student works), Guerilla Shakespeare, and Beyond Stage (which does musical productions). There is also a student chapter of USITT (United States Institute for Theatre Technology), which organizes events and activities in technical theatre. Students can get involved in any number of student organizations, such as Chapman On Broadway or the Player’s Society. Film students at Dodge College hold open auditions for student projects ranging from short class projects to graduate thesis films.
Are there internship opportunities for theatre students?
Many students find connections with alumni through the department and others find opportunities within the community on their own. The Chapman Career Development Center can also be of great assistance in finding opportunities for internships in the entertainment industry. Faculty members can also help students network into professional opportunities. In addition, we have a bulletin board dedicated to informing students of the internship opportunities that are sent to us. Our students have held internships at a wide variety of entertainment companies and theatres across the United States from Sony Pictures and DreamWorks to Cirque du Soleil and Center Theatre Group.
Can a student work professionally while a theatre major?
The department does not have a mandate against professional work while enrolled at Chapman, however, there are strict class attendance policies in all theatre classes, and a student’s grades are affected by attendance. If students are often missing classes for professional work or auditions, they will find that they will be unable to meet the academic standards of their degree program. No excused absences are allowed for professional work. Students who have opportunities to work professionally while in school are encouraged to look into taking a leave of absence to accommodate the work if such work interferes with their academic requirements. Students are also encouraged to use the academic breaks in winter and summer to work professionally.
What’s unique about the theatre program at Chapman?
The Chapman Department of Theatre is a mid-sized, competitive and rigorous theatre training program that offers highly personalized education, small class sizes, strong faculty mentorship, and opportunities for leadership and creative expression. We encourage a diversity of interests, provide a wide range of opportunities, and celebrate student initiative.
The Department focuses only on undergraduate education, and students work closely with faculty members who are active working professionals and scholars in the field. The Department’s interdisciplinary collaboration with the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts creates many opportunities for our students to take part in student film projects, both as technicians and actors. And our location in Southern California creates a synergy with the entertainment industry that is hard to match in other locations in the country.