Theatre Major & Student-Run Groups
Question: What is the theatre community like at Barnard? Do a lot of students participate in the department and/or in extracurricular theatre groups? And how easy is it to join various groups?
Answer: So excited to hear from someone interested in theatre! I'm a current theatre major here, and I'm also on the board of the King's Crown Shakespeare Troupe (one of the student-run theatre groups at Barnard/Columbia). You can get involved in theatre through the Barnard theatre department/major and/or through student-run theatre groups.
Theatre is "housed" at Barnard, meaning that any undergraduate student at Barnard or at Columbia will take classes within our department. However, you do NOT have to be a theatre major to take theatre classes; practical classes like acting workshops, playwriting workshops, etc. are popular with many non-majors too.
There are two tracks within the theatre major: research and performance. On the research track, your senior thesis is usually a more traditional written thesis. On the performance track, your senior thesis will be centered around a performance, wherein you will specialize in acting, diretcing, playwriting, design, or dramaturgy.
Personally, though, I think some of the most fulfilling theatre happens in the realm of student-run theatre groups. There are at least a dozen theatre/performance groups on campus, most of which put on one or more shows a semester. Many of these groups are part of CUPAL, the Columbia University Performing Arts League, which provides a wide range of opportunities to get involved.
Getting involved in theatre is very easy! Many groups (the Shakespeare troupe for sure, I can attest) look to get first-years involved and bring them into the performing arts community. Most student groups host auditions and interviews during the first week of classes, over the span of three days. No matter how you choose to get involved - as an actor, a stage manager, a costume designer - the theatre community can easily become your home here. It certainly is for me!
- Aydan Shahd '20
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