Interest in design and stage management with the theater program at California Baptist University has casued a resurgence among students in these off-stage roles.
The theater program at CBU offers training in a wide range of theatrical designs and specialties.
Among these are sound design, lighting design, stage managing, wardrobe, hair and make-up and directing.
Roles working in these specialties are open for students to fill, should they have an interest in doing so.
However, because of a decrease in interest among students for student-run design in the last several years, the theater program filled those vacant spots with faculty and staff.
CBU’s latest show “Into the Woods” consists of students in the major tech positions — sound design, lighting design, hair and make-up and stage managing.
“I’ve always felt that there’s no better way to be a designer than to be given a design,” said Lee Lyons, professor and director of theater. “Our students go through training to become these designers and this year we were fortunate enough to have students who were prepared and wanted to take on these roles.”
Stage managing is one exception to this; the assistant stage manager and stage manager positions are always filled by a student.
“Stage managers are top students who are usually upper-division students but we have given it to lower-division students who have a strong interest in stage managing,” Lyons said.
“If a student is ready, then we’re ready and we try to give them plenty of opportunity to show that.
“Some students leave here having managed four shows and some have left after managing just one.”
This year, the CBU theater program has seen students fill technical roles in every production so far, including major design roles, such as sound design and lighting design.
Students say they’re honored that the professors trust them enough to give them the opportunity to show where they want to go in their career fields.
“A lot of our shows recently are student-driven and it’s really cool because they really push us to show our talent and allow us to do what we’re passionate about,” said Tianna Mason, senior theater major.
“Allowing us this freedom lets us decide if this is really what we want to do, because if it isn’t, we’re going to back away from it instead of giving it our all.”
Lyons added that major universities allow students to take on these design roles in smaller, blackbox productions but CBU is different because all of the students’ work is seen on the mainstage and sometimes as many as 2,000 people are in the audience to see them.
Mason has filled the role of sound designer for “A Christmas Carol,” which ran last semester, and is currently the stage manager for “Into the Woods.”
Mason will be among nine graduating seniors from the theater program at the end of this semester.
The theater program will be holding its third annual Courtyard Shakespeare Festival at CBU during the summer and return to Wallace Theatre in the fall.