What secondary schools have the best or most acclaimed Technical Theatre Design and Production department
I plan on majoring in that field, I want a school that would grow my education instead of using my education as an excuse for free labor. I have a great standing knowledge on the matter, I want to earn expertise in this field. A school that starts with their student already knowing the basics.
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Theatrical production and design is such a great field, good for you to recognize it is your passion! However, I'm confused, are you talking about "secondary" schools, which are high schools, or "post-secondary" schools, which are colleges and universities?
Either way, my advice to you before anything else, is to watch how you say things. The phrase "...grow my education" is fine, but the " ......instead of using my education as an excuse for free labor." No school would respond positively to that phrase, so please don't use it when communicating with any of them. Whatever their program is, no school of any standing is out to use its student population as "free labor". You may not agree with their program, but I highly doubt that is their intent. (Just don't apply to schools you think use its students as free labor. ) Instead, focus on what you DO want to get out of your education--improve your skills, have more responsibilities, be given opportunities to learn from professionals, and so on. Be positive. Remember, you are going into a very competitive field, so having a reputation as someone who is capable, polite, hardworking, and open-minded about their abilities will be an asset. People skills matter in all fields.
As for finding programs, it sounds like you have experience in theatrical design and production already, so I would talk to the adults or teachers you have already worked with. They will know first hand about programs and could give you some ideas of where to start. With their help and a little research, along with your portfolio and academic record, I'm sure you will find a school that recognizes your experiences and abilities and will not make you relearn the basics. (Be sure to keep a detailed portfolio of your experiences, along with references to back up your claims of theatrical design knowledge.) Remember, in looking for colleges or universities, it is your responsibility to do the research and find a school that meets your needs, your interests, your academic abilities, your finances, and your vision of your future.
I know this might have not been the advice you were looking for, but I hope this helps. Best wishes.
I understand your sentiment about, "using my education as an excuse for free labor." In order to avoid, look into schools that have a separate "Theater School Season," rather than a school that only has, or has a very large professional producing or presenting wing attached. Learning theatrical practices is not all about sitting in a classroom and listening to a semi-famous theater professional talking about their art. It is about walking the walk, so to speak. You want to be hands on, in the weeds, making the decisions, all while being in a secure, educational environment where failure is not just tolerated, but encouraged.
I've found the "free labor" issue comes up when schools tout their "work alongside real theatrical professionals" in their recruiting literature. Typically the "working alongside" is more about taking notes, getting coffee, and saying yes to everything. It's a great experience, to have once or twice, but it's not one you want for four years and are paying money for.
Also, for undergraduate education, look at schools that don't have a graduate theater program, as grad students typically will be assigned productions first and undergrads can be an afterthought.
I attended Utah State University, graduating with a BFA in Theatre Design, emphasis in Set & Costume. Many alumni have gone in to work for Broadway, Disney, etc. The design program is staffed with faculty that consistently work in the professional arena and challenges the students in preparation for the demands if the industry. Yes, I also put in many hours of work that received zero compensation, but going the extra miles paid off. Many great contacts and opportunities emerged from my vigilant efforts, not to mention a more tenacious work ethic, which serves one very well in the professional arts.