Theatre Department announces changes with semester switch

Jackson Mainellis

Big changes are on the horizon for Augie as next year’s monumental semester transition draws closer to of program and department changes. The switch from trimesters to semesters puts Augustana in uncharted waters.

One department that will be among the most changed is theater. The theater arts department has reformatted its show schedule to account for the new timeline that semesters bring to Augie.

There will still be three main stage shows and three studio shows directed by students, along with one or two more potential studio shows from other groups outside the theater department.

Six main shows fill out the department’s roster, the first being “Noises Off” in October, “She Kills Monsters” in November, a children’s show during J-term, the year’s musical “American Idiot” in May and studio shows sprinkled in throughout the school year.

The new, tighter schedule poses some real challenges for the department next year. Junior theater student Tristan Odenkirk spoke more about the scheduling difficulties.

“With so many shows at the beginning of the year, the directing duties will have to be strategically split amongst the professors, due to them not being allowed to teach too many classes and directing shows at once,” Odenkirk said.

Odenkirk elaborated from the student perspective as well.

“With just a month between shows, it’s unheard of in an academic setting. The lesser amount of time between performances will put tighter decision-making processes on students as they will have to choose between overlapping rehearsals and auditions for different shows,” Odenkirk said.

On trimesters, students had more time to decide and fewer crunch-time worries to contend with.

Another challenge the theater department faces is J-term. The three-week period is too short to produce a show, leaving the students with little to do. However, the children’s show put on during this time may help to remedy this.

Despite the challenges of the looming transition, the theater department remains hopeful for bigger and better things in the new school calendar.

More options are available to choose from than ever before with an increased quantity of shows, roles and opportunities for students to perform in or be involved with.

According to Assistant theatre arts professor Shelley Cooper, the new semester schedule will mimic the abundant, opportunity-laden theater industry more than the old trimester schedule and possibly prepare students even better than before as they prepare to head out into the world of professional theater.

Cooper is confident that the semester change will impact the theatre department in a positive way. The new musical theater concentration major is launching alongside the transition and will be led by Cooper herself.

In addition to the new musical theater concentration, the transition also brings multiple other new concentrations to the theatre arts major, giving students more options than before to focus their major.

“There are a lot more offerings now, and students can really focus on their chosen areas with semesters,” Cooper said.

Although the semester transition may bring a more hectic fall term for theater students, the coming abundance of new options and opportunities should more than make up for it, resulting in an even brighter future for Augie theater.