When it comes to molding the contemporary theater professional, The New School is used to setting trends. The university has a rich history of innovation, from Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop in the 1940s, which paved the way for students like Marlon Brando, Walter Matthau, and Elaine Stritch, to today’s Artist-in-Residence program, which brings award-winning talent like playwright Sir David Hare to the university. Starting this fall, a new generation of undergraduates will carry on this tradition as the first class in a new degree program: The New School for Drama’s BFA in Dramatic Arts.
The pre-professional program stresses studio-based work as well as hands-on work with the city’s artists—and in a locale famed for its world-class performing arts, the opportunities are endless. Scheduled to launch in fall 2013, the bachelor’s program has a star-studded ensemble to provide artistic and professional guidance. Jon Robin Baitz (Other Desert Cities) will lead as artistic director, and Sarah Jessica Parker, director Doug Hughes, and playwright John Guare will serve as members on the advisory board.
“The New School for Drama is in the middle of one of the world’s most vibrant communities of fantastic theater professionals and artists,” says Parker. “I can’t imagine a more exciting, more promising, and more opportunity-packed setting for young artists to begin their careers.”
The New School for Drama’s BFA program offers instruction in acting, writing, directing, aesthetic inquiry (philosophical reasoning and comparative analysis of visual art and media), and creative technologies. To prepare students for success in their careers, the program incorporates partnership opportunities with groups from New York City’s unrivaled arts scene into the curriculum. The degree provides students with communication and reasoning skills that can be applied in a variety of industries and fields.
“The BFA will develop a generation of articulate, thoughtful, and literate theater artists versed in the practice and history of their disciplines,” says Baitz. “With this program, we are launching an ongoing investigation into the future of American theater and exploring how to educate artists who make relevant, ambitious, and collaborative work.”
Students will be trained in all aspects of the dramatics arts and have the opportunity to choose from four areas of primary study—Acting, Directing, Playwriting, and Creative Technologies. The four-year, 120-credit program includes core courses in writing, critique, and global theater history as well as a class on aesthetics. Students will also learn to see drama in relation to the theater scene and its social context. In addition to undertaking traditional coursework, each student will participate in a two-semester collaborative studio research project that engages with the community and will spend a year developing ensemble-based theater projects. Students can also minor in subjects taught at Parsons, Mannes College, Jazz, or Eugene Lang College to complement their chosen area of study.
Students in the BFA program will collaborate with influential New York City theater groups, including The 24 Hour Plays and Naked Angels. The New School for Drama will also partner with a variety of service organizations like Refugees International on documentary theater projects that address pressing social and humanitarian issues.
Auditions for the new program are being held in New York (February 2–3), Chicago (February 4–6), Los Angeles (February 9–10), and San Francisco/Oakland (February 11–13). For more information, visit newschool.edu/drama/drama-bfa-major or email DramaBFA@newschool.edu.