Theatre Program at Southern Oregon University

My name is Sean O’Skea. I am the professor of design
at Southern Oregon University. Hi, I’m Jackie Apodaca and I’m
the head of performance at SOU. My name is Lori Kurutz. I’m the associate
professor of costume technology. I’m Brendan McMahon. I’m the professor of movement in the
theatre program here at Southern Oregon University,
Oregon Center of the Arts. I teach acting and business of acting
and I run the performance program here at the university. This program is…we work
together day and night. It’s a really,
uh, a program in which the students and the
faculty and the staff are very connected. I have not worked someplace where the
faculty is as devoted to the students as they are here and where the students
are as hardworking as they are at this university. Something that’s really important here
is that we have an established connection to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Our BFA students go on to work as actor
interns at the festival and are able to play roles on the Oregon
Shakespeare festival stage. This isn’t to come here was very much
hinged on the proximity to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I’d been going to the festival ever
since I was a small child and I really wanted access to all the
festival had to offer. And the BFA was the
perfect place to do that. It prepared me to audition
for the festival and when
I was accepted I feel like I was ready to go into the
rehearsal rooms and show my stuff. And I felt very prepared
and very well trained. The professors and faculty at SOU are
certainly experts in their fields. They even take downtime in between classes
to stay active working in the field. I thought the stage combat class is
really cool because it was taught by Toppo who is our stage combat director. And
during the time I was taking stage combat, he actually was going back and forth to
New York because he was choreographing a play that happened to be a runner up
for a Tony Nomination for best play that year. So it was really cool to have a professor
that was literally like working on a play that was being nominated for
a Tony. It was like, what the heck. In the costume construction sequence
we start out with pattern drafting and draping and learn fine shirt making
techniques and trouser making and then in the second year this is where
the skills really develop. The students learn how to build
a three piece men’s suit by hand. These are couture methods and this is
what really gets people the jobs after they graduate. I love the Costume Department here at
SOU and I love the theater department at SOU because there are
so many opportunities. I never touched a sewing machine before
I came here and now I’m sewing these like just like big costumes from scratch. I take things from fabric on the bolts
to a real garment that someone can wear. We’re really five or six
different departments in one
because you can come here and be a performer or as
many students want to do, but then we have the Shakespeare
studies and musical theater minors. We have design and technology opportunities. Students can come and be a stage manager
they can be a technical director. They can do costume construction, costume
design, set design, scene painting, light and sound design of course,
and all of the technical support of that. So we do it all here. When I started at SOU,
I was not certain where I wanted to go, but I instantly felt at
home in the theatre family. It’s unlike any other production
environment I’ve ever been in, but it prepared me in so many ways for
every production environment I’ve been in since. The strength of our program is the quality
of the students that we attract and they come here for the quality
of the program that we offer. So this building is never dark. We are operating full time as a production
house and we are always working on creating a production. Students are working on student devised
and directed productions and of course we have all of our main
stage productions as well. Here you get to learn a little bit
of everything. I do lighting mostly, but I’ve learned a lot of carpentry,
some stage makeup, projections, things like that. And it really sets you up to have so many
skills other than just what you focus on while you’re here.
And it comes in handy quite often. They make it really easy for you to
set yourself up to have a career path, whether it’s just in theatre
or doing something else. People here really are here to help each
other grow and to make beautiful art. It’s a fantastic environment.
If you really want to work, you really want to be in something with
a group of people who can support each other and grow together.


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