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Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman Theatre Introduces New Major

Furman Theatre Department Chair Maegan Azar recently announced that the department will be revising their Theatre Arts major and adding a new Theatre Studies major.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Fleming
Alysha Matthews ’24 (left) and Houston Hearn ’27 (right)

On Mar. 19, Theatre Department Chair Maegan Azar announced revisions to the Theatre Arts major and a new major, Theatre Studies, in an email to theatre-interested students.

“These changes and revisions have been created based on student input and feedback,” Azar said. An external evaluation conducted in Jan. 2020 found that the department needed to revise the structure of their major, especially in terms of the practicum requirements, which evaluators found “represent a significant amount of students’ time and labor and are a primary source of hands-on education in the field.”

Due to COVID-19, the department was not able to further consider the results of the evaluation until 2021, when the faculty and staff began to discuss what changes should be made. The external evaluation, along with End of Semester Practicum Surveys, Mid-Rehearsal Check-in Surveys and Senior Exit Surveys, resulted in the decision to revise the existing major and create a new one.

Azar stated that the new Theatre Studies major is intended for students who are interested in theatre but may not intend to go into a career with it. With fewer courses, it is suited to allow students to double major.

“The new Theatre Studies major is a great opportunity for students to balance their interests in other subjects and majors outside of our department and combine that knowledge with analysis and interpretation of theatrical works,” Azar said.

One change that will affect all majors, regardless of if they stay on the existing Theatre Arts path, switch to the revised one, or to Theatre Studies, will be a revised practicum requirement.

Previously a 0-credit course graded only by a satisfactory or unsatisfactory, practicum will now be either zero, one or two credits, depending on how big of a role the student takes on in the production. Faculty members will create rubrics to ensure students understand their responsibilities and expectations for the role they hold in a production. Additionally, practicum will now hold a letter grade that can impact a student’s GPA, regardless of if they are majoring in theatre or not.

Theatre Arts major Allison Dewberry ’27 working backstage as an Assistant Stage Manager.

Allison Dewberry ‘27 plans on switching to the revised Theatre Arts major.

“I’m excited that practicum will start to impact my GPA,” Dewberry said. “I also hope that having the choice of zero, one or two credits will help both students and the department know how much work (students) can take on.”

The new Theatre Studies major will also help students apply their competencies in theatre to other career fields.

“Since (the Theatre Studies) major requires fewer courses and fewer Theatre Practicum credits, students will hopefully be able to do more work across disciplines,” Azar said.

Theatre Arts major Sara Lowe ‘26 is considering switching to Theatre Studies, citing the increased freedom in class selection.

“The Theatre Arts major is set up so that you get a well-rounded perspective of theatre, so you are required to take a lot of classes in many different niches, which is great, but doesn’t leave a lot of room for double majors to take the theatre electives that they want,” Lowe said.

She added that being a double major can limit the theatre classes she can take.

“Switching (to Theatre Studies) would make me feel like I have more of a say in what I am learning,” she said.

Theatre faculty members will work over the summer to implement these major changes in time for the Fall 2024 semester, which is when students will have the option to switch to the revised Theatre Arts major track or to the new Theatre Studies major.

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About the Contributor
Savannah Jones
Savannah Jones, Arts, Campus, and Culture Editor
Savannah Jones is a junior Sociology and English Writing major. She has worked with The Paladin since the fall semester of her sophomore year. She loves being able to report on the latest riveting Arts, Campus, and Culture happenings and guiding the next generation of talented Paladin writers. When not buried in books or hunched over her email inbox, she enjoys forcing her loved ones to watch cat videos and movies she enjoys. 
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