One of the greatest strengths of the Theatre program at Sinclair Community College is its focus on the individual student, according to Steven Skiles, chair of Sinclair’s Theatre and Dance Department.
“We want to get to know our students,” Skiles says. “We want to get to know what their goals are. Do you want to go on to a four-year institution? Do you want to go straight to New York? Is it your dream to be an American actor living in London?”
“We try to engage students in those conversations,” he continues, “so that when they’re going through the program here, they also have a larger goal in mind that keeps them moving forward.”
Students in Sinclair’s Theatre program have a choice between three major tracks: performance, technical theatre, and a double major incorporating both. Even students who choose a single emphasis are required to take some courses in the other discipline, however.
“We like to give our students the opportunity to learn about as many different aspects of the theatre as they can,” Skiles says, “so that when they go out into the workforce, they have many different capacities in which they can fill positions.”
Hands-on experience is another major component of the Theatre program, according to Skiles.
“We’re a very practically-oriented program,” he says. “We want our students doing things; we want them involved in productions. On the stage, behind the stage, designing for the stage; we want them to be a very large part of our production season.”
Before graduating, students in both programs must complete a capstone: a portfolio showcasing their work in the case of technical students, and an auditions class for performance majors, which covers such topics as putting together a resume, cultivating and maintaining contacts in the theatre industry, and the various skills needed to put together a good audition.
But the most important responsibility of the program, according to Skiles, is in shaping and educating the theatre professionals of tomorrow.
“We’re not a program that says ‘This is what you have to do’ or ‘This is the approach you have to have as an actor,’” Skiles says. “I don’t want ten million actors out there approaching a role the same way I would. These are the theatre practitioners of the future, man, and we want to create proactive, engaging students who will move the theatre forward in ways that we can’t even imagine.”
The Theatre Department won raves for its production of “Women of Lockerbie” last spring and “The Crucible” this past fall. Upcoming productions include “Almost, Maine,” a romantic comedy by Tony Award-winning actor and playwright John Cariani, and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” currently the longest-running comedy on the London stage. Performances of “Almost, Maine” begin at Sinclair’s Blair Hall Theatre on February 24.