February 22, 2011

Student Theatre Organizations Respond to Dept. Cuts

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As the Department of Theatre, Film and Dance adjusts to a reduction in University funding, students in the performing arts differ on how the cuts have impacted their undergraduate experience.While some students said they were unaffected by the cuts, others said that changes to the prop, costume and scene shops and the reduction in mainstage productions at the Schwartz Center would pose challenges.Timothy Ostrander, props coordinator, said students would be adversely affected by a reduction in the resources provided by the scene, prop and costume shop.“We’ve seen a lot of people with a lot of skills go away, and that’s a big loss not just to the department, but to the students who come and work on shows,” Ostrander said.Rachel Meyer ’11, general manager and president of the Melodramatics Theatre Company, said her group’s ability to produce shows will be hampered by the cuts.“One of the major ways we’re going to be affected is with props and costumes because their departments now have so few people,” Meyer said. “Now, they don’t have the time or resources to go out to storage lockers. It’s going to put a large strain on the staff there.”Ostrander said that the ability of the prop department to assist student groups has been limited by the cuts, but said that he hopes students will step in to fill the gaps.“The scale of what we can do is limited … but this will hopefully be an opportunity for students to come in and help,” Ostrander said. “ … The focus should be on the students and giving them a meaningful learning experience and it had been more of a focus on getting the shows built and getting them up.”Some student groups — including Risley Theatre — receive funding from outside sources and said they were not affected by the cuts.   “Fortunately for Risley Theatre, the budget cuts haven’t affected us that much. We’ve been able to get at least as much [funding] as last semester. But we’ll see this semester if it’s impacted it,” Jennifer Pierre ’13, one of the general managers of Risley Theatre, said.Student theatre groups are not the only form of production being impacted by the changes. The number of mainstage productions at the Schwartz Center was reduced from six to four shows.However, some students saw increased opportunities for roles in smaller shows. Lindsay Cummings, a Ph.D. candidate, said that students have been making the best of the situation.“It’s been wonderful to see students creating those opportunities for themselves,” Cummings said.

Original Author: Emily Coon