Ira Brind School of Theater Arts
Assistant to the Director
School of Theater Office
Terra Building Room 611 | 215-717-6450 | School of Theater Website
The Ira Brind School of Theater Arts of the University of the Arts (Brind School) is committed to developing the skills and professionalism of its students to prepare them for careers in the theater and related fields or for advanced study in graduate or conservatory programs.
The goal of the Brind school is to cultivate practitioners for the live theatre entertainment media, communications, and production. This is achieved by developing a practical knowledge and competence that include sensitivity to technique, artistry, and style, as well as an insight into the role of the theater arts in society.
All of the School’s degree programs employ a professional approach to training and highly rigorous standards for evaluation and retention. As with any theater program, production work may serve as an important means of gauging a student’s growth in his/her respective program. It is in the studio, however, where the primary efforts of both student and faculty are concentrated. The highly focused and demanding training is enhanced by appropriate courses in the liberal arts. These are of particular importance to the theater artist, who is charged with commenting on the human condition. The effectiveness of that commentary is dependent upon a sincere commitment to excellence in liberal arts.
The curriculum is conservatory-based, acknowledging that the focal point of training in both Acting and Musical Theater programs is the acting instruction, and that vocal and physical training are the principal support areas for this instruction. The first responsibility of the faculty is to invest students with a foundation technique – a rehearsal/performance process – which they will continue to refine and personalize as their creative development evolves. In the Theater Design and Technology and Directing, Playwriting, and Production programs, the focus upon technique holds true, supported by extended collaborative learning opportunities in production.
Opportunities for master classes, guest speakers, internships, and apprenticeships with many professional companies in the city and region are among the experiences open to students in all Brind School programs.
Each program has its own unique program goals, but the Brind School also recognizes goals shared by each of its four programs. Graduates of the Brind School:
- Will be passionate, pro-active and resourceful in pursuit of their chosen career and professional and adaptable in the execution of that career, with an appreciation of the demands it will make on them and their collaborators and an appropriate discipline to meet those demands.
- will have an informed historical perspective about the Theater and the Entertainment Industry and a keen sense of their place and potential in those spheres.
- Will demonstrate literacy in their ability to read, understand, conduct research and formulate critical views of dramatic literature and source material.
- Will have an informed sense of the world around them and the place of their chosen profession in that world. They will understand and embrace the responsibilities of the citizen-artist.
The School of Theater Arts is home to one of the nation’s most renowned stage combat programs, serving as host to the annual Philadelphia Stage Combat Workshop. It is one of only a handful of institutions that offers the option of an eight-semester sequence of combat training. One semester of combat is required for all BFA Acting majors . Although not a degree program in itself, students completing the requisite course of study are tested on campus each year and, if found proficient, certified by the Society of American Fight Directors. The program consistently ranks among the top three in the country, based on the number of certified stage combatants it produces.
Most facilities for the Brind School are located in the Terra Building at 211 South Broad Street. These include seminar and classroom spaces and studios for individual voice, speech, dance, movement, and acting instruction. The studios are well-lit and individually equipped with prop storage and audiovisual capabilities. Lockers and lounges are located adjacent to the studios. The newest performance venue, the Caplan Center for the Performing Arts, has a state-of-the-art flexible performance space with video projection capabilities also located in the Terra Building on the 16th floor. Additional performances are held at a number of sites: the ArtsBank, 240-seat theater at 601 South Broad Street also houses additional instructional spaces and the newly renovated Laurie Beechman Cabaret Theater; the University’s historic Merriam Theater (formerly the Shubert) at 250 South Broad Street, a 250-seat dance theater and a flexible studio theater space in Gershman Hall at 401 South Broad Street, where stage combat classes are also held. Design and technical support are provided by a production shop, a costume shop, a design studio, a lighting lab, areas for both property and costume stock, and a fully-equipped video editing studio. The Albert M. Greenfield Library contains books, journals, and videotapes devoted to the theater arts, which are available to students for research and coursework. The Music Library, which serves academic programs and interests in music and musical theater, contains scores, recordings, and listening facilities for recorded sound materials.
Students are assigned advisors when they enter the Brind School. Advisor lists are posted during the first week of the academic year. The advisor conveys information from the faculty to the student and counsels the student in artistic and academic matters. The student, however, is wholly responsible for fulfilling his or her artistic and academic obligations and for meeting the requirements for graduation.
All Theater students must check the call boards daily and will be responsible for all official notices posted there within 24 hours. The call boards are used for the posting of all rehearsal and crew notices, as well as Brind School and professional audition notices.
All Theater students, as per University policy , must maintain and frequently check their @uarts e-mail; at least every 24 hours. The University and the Brind School will make important announcements via e-mail and through the use of the online courseware.
All students are required to serve on production crews in their second through fifth semesters. Crew assignments and calls are scheduled and monitored by the Production Manager.
All crew members are expected to be prompt for crew calls. Lateness will not be tolerated. Attendance at all crew calls is mandatory. There are no unexcused absences permitted. A student who misses a crew call without prior permission from the Production Manager will receive an F for the semester in the corresponding course.
Crew Courses: , , , ,
Productions and Auditions
The Brind School presents at least 12 major productions a year – four in our Mainstage series and four or more in our Studio series, and additional performances in the Platform series. These include comedies, dramas, and musicals. Plays are selected based on the educational and competitive needs of the current casting pool, the design, and project assignment needs of our production students. The program has also distinguished itself in fostering new work including Equinox, an annual festival of student-written plays.
All students in performance majors are required to audition for all Brind School productions and to accept roles as cast, unless excused as provided for in the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts Student Handbook.
Attendance at Performances
It is a requirement that all Brind School students either attend or participate in every Mainstage production during the academic year. Attendance will be officially viewed as required assignments for all Primary Studio/Core Courses. Students should consult the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts Student Handbook or individual course syllabi for specific information on this requirement.
It is a requirement that all students enrolled in or either attend or participate in every Studio and Platform Series production during the academic year. Students should consult the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts Student Handbook or individual course syllabi for specific information on this requirement.
Students in the Brind School are expected to attend all classes, studios, workshops, rehearsals, and crews for which they are registered or otherwise committed.
Generally, the Brind School does not make a distinction between an excused and unexcused absence. Rather it recognizes that in the course of a student’s studies, circumstances may arise that, in the student’s judgment, may require absence or lateness. The general policy of the Brind School is that any number of absences that result in the student missing more than the equivalent of two weeks’ work will result in failure or require withdrawal from the course in question. This standard may be somewhat more restrictive for acting studios.
Students should consult the individual course syllabi or the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts Student Handbook to see how this policy applies to the course’s number of weekly meetings and contact hours.
Students in the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts may not participate in any theater projects outside the University prior to completion of six semesters in the Brind School. Even students who have achieved Senior (U4) status must formally apply in writing to the Director of the Brind School for such permission in advance of auditioning or interviewing for such work. Students involved with such projects without the director’s authorization will receive a grade of F in their major studio and be restricted from moving forward in their core classes (see “Minimum Grade Requirements”). A second occurrence may result in dismissal from the School. Instructors are specifically directed not to allow the absences nor scheduling arrangements that may provide such opportunities.
Physical Demands of the Program
The Theater Arts program is physically demanding. Good health and its maintenance are of paramount importance to an actor.
Occasional illness or injuries are, of course, justification for short-term absences. Specific chronic physical or emotional disorders that impair attendance or ability to function within the program over a longer period of time should be covered by a formal leave of absence.
In either case, the student should confer with his or her advisor and/or University Health Services as soon as a potential health problem arises.
Professional Standards and Behavior
Students are expected to maintain high standards of professionalism in studio, classroom, rehearsal, and performance commitments. Professionalism in rehearsal and production is a factor in the grading for Acting studio. Failure to follow directions and absence from or lateness to rehearsals, performances and related activities may result in Academic Censure including lowering of grade or course failure.
Minimum Grade Requirements
A professional training program and an academic institution have goals that are at once mutual and distinct. Within a traditional university, a student receiving a grade of C may feel that he/she has done “adequate” work and is entitled to continue in his/her course of training. As a university, UArts recognizes this right. By the standards required of professional training, however, an “adequate” grade does not suggest a student’s viability within the industry. Further, the world of play production is a meritocracy – i.e., being in a play is not a right; it is earned by a consistently demonstrated work ethic, command of material, and strength of skills. As such, the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts has developed the following standards by which the purposes of both the academic experience and the requirements of professional training and production will be served.
Students must complete THEA 151 Survey of Theater Arts in order to be eligible for casting in Brind School productions in the spring of their Freshman year. A student who withdraws from or fails Survey of Theater Arts will be ineligible until they repeat the course and earn a passing grade. See course syllabi for further guidelines or clarifications.
To remain in good standing for casting consideration or production assignments in the Brind School, a student must receive a grade of C+ or better in the core courses listed below. In the view of the faculty, a student whose work fails to meet this level of achievement will be considered non-competitive by professional standards. The following grades may result in the actions indicated:
Grade of C or C - in core courses:
- The student’s academic record will evaluated by the Academic Standards Committee (refer to “Academic Standards ” for more information);
- Student is placed on Casting Restriction or Production Restriction.
Grades of D, D+, or F in core courses, or in THEA 152 - Script Analysis :
- The student’s academic record will evaluated by the Academic Standards Committee (refer to “Academic Standards ” for more information);
- Student is placed on Casting Restriction or Production Restriction;
- Student receives no course credit for an F grade, elective credit only for the grade of D or D+;
- Upon faculty recommendation, a student may be prohibited from advancing to the next semester of other core training class(es) until the course has been repeated with a grade of C- or better;
- Both the original grade and repeated grade will remain on the transcript.
Please note that while Withdrawing from a course may not place a student on probation, it is not a passing grade. Therefore, a W grade in a course prevents a student from moving forward in the program.
Refer to individual programs for a list of core courses:
The School keeps students abreast of their progress by personal contact and review. A student will be warned if his/her performance in class is below par as defined by the instructor’s expectations expressed in the class syllabus, rules, etc. Such warning may be issued as a part of ongoing studio critiques, in a formal verbal fashion at the student’s in-person evaluation (or jury) or in writing as a follow-up to that evaluation. A student may also receive such warning if he/she lacks seriousness of purpose, demonstrates attitudinal behavior that proves disruptive to the ensemble or educational process, is excessively tardy, is not prepared to work in class, or is not seriously committed to professional training.
In the School of Theater Arts, progress from one semester to the next is based not only on successful completion of coursework but also on the faculty’s positive assessment of the student’s potential for a career in the professional theater.
This assessment is recorded through a process of in-person and written evaluation. Students whose grades in core classes (see “Minimum Grade Requirements”) are less than C- may not be permitted to move on to the next level of training in that area. Because the curriculum is frequently integrated (i.e., what is being taught in speech or dance may directly parallel what is being taught in acting studio) the student may be prevented from moving forward in those disciplines as well.
In all degree programs, both the student and the Director’s Office will be provided with copies of the written summary of the student’s evaluation. A student who has not shown satisfactory improvement may be asked to leave the program.
In the BFA Acting program, in-depth evaluations will be conducted in semesters two through five. These in-person evaluations will be held with the student’s acting, movement and speech teacher present and will focus specifically on the student’s work and progress through the program. Ideally, these sessions should recap the ongoing input the student has received throughout the term in studio.
As a follow-up to these sessions, the student will receive a written evaluation reviewing the points covered in person and including a statement on the student’s status in the program (i.e., re-invitation assured, contingent upon further improvement, or in jeopardy).
By semester six, as an outgrowth of Audition Technique class, Acting majors will be required to prepare up to six monologues of predetermined styles, two of which they will be asked to present at a Junior year, Spring semester jury. A professional headshot and resume must be presented at the beginning of that semester in order to qualify for this jury. Both in-person and written feedback will follow and the student’s success in this jury will have a major impact on their final grade in the Audition Techniques class.
The BFA in Musical Theater employs a jury system by which students are evaluated. Musical Theater jury exams are held at the end of semesters one to seven to evaluate students’ progress. Each student is required to prepare a minimum of five songs (three for first-year students) to be presented before a panel of Musical Theater faculty. It is expected that these songs be fully developed musically and dramatically. After completion of the jury, the student receives a written evaluation from each member of the panel.
Junior musical theater majors must be approved at midyear to proceed to advanced acting technique. Not being approved for such study, however, will not impede the student’s progress toward graduation.
Initial evaluations in the BFA for Directing, Playwriting and Production are conducted at the conclusion of the first year and throughout the second year. The student will convene with her/his advisor and head of program. During these first evaluations, the primary issues dealt with will be the student’s satisfactory performance in production lab assignments and aptitude in the areas of stage management and dramaturgy. The first evaluation in a student’s third year will focus on the student’s progress and a statement submitted by the student discussing the areas of emphasis that have drawn his/her primary interest. Evaluators will consider how effectively the student has demonstrated skills in those areas. By the end of the third year, evaluations will focus on the student’s declared area of emphasis.
Mid-semester evaluations and individual advisement appointments for Design and Technology Program students will take place in each semester. Each student will meet with his or her advisor and/or Head of Program to discuss academic progress and overall artistic development. Each student is also required to present his or her accumulated body of work in display or portfolio format at a formal Portfolio Review at the conclusion of each semester. Finally, each student will meet with the gathered faculty at the end of every academic year for a formal review.
The purpose of the Design/Technology evaluations in the first year is to track, assess, and discuss a student’s academic progress and artistic development by reviewing a portfolio of assignments produced in first-year coursework. Beginning in the second year, the evaluations will also consider work produced in production assignments for Brind School Mainstage, Studio, or Platform series productions. Evaluations in the third and fourth years are informed by the student’s focus area (technical direction, lighting, sound, costume, or set design) and address student progress towards professional standards, measures, and practices.