Current high school seniors interested in studying theater came to Case Western Reserve University from Oct. 7-9 to learn about the department and audition or bring their portfolio for review to be awarded one of four full tuition scholarships for a major in or one of two $10,000 scholarships for a minor in theater.
There are two of these weekends each year, and the first one attracted 15 perspective theater students from all over the country; 15 current CWRU students hosted them, showed them around campus and talked about their experience with the theater department.
Prospective students can apply for the scholarship under any discipline: acting, directing, playwriting, stage management, set design, light design, costume design, dramaturgy and/or technical theater.
“This program struck me as very impressive from the moment that I first visited the campus last April; it seemed to provide so much opportunity and the members of the [CWRU theater] program seemed almost like family,” Jack Marks, a senior at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky, interested in pursuing acting, said.
Christopher Bohan, visiting assistant professor of Theater, co-director of Undergraduate Theater Recruitment and coordinator for the weekend, shared that his favorite part of the weekend was not the audition or interview on Saturday, but actually getting to host a workshop with the prospective acting students on the Friday night.
“I…introduce them to the foundation of the technique they will learn if they decide to study theater at CWRU. I walk them through a series of physical exercises during which I present them with obstacles they must overcome. Instinctively, they start doing, instead of pretending. It is always fun to watch them ‘act’ without knowing they are ‘acting,’” Bohan said.
“My favorite part of the weekend was getting to know the prospective students and showing them how awesome our program is. All of the students who are interested in theatre here at Case are just as passionate about theatre in general as those of us presently at Case,” said Paulina Martz, a first-year theater major and host to a prospective student.
“My favorite thing was Saturday night, when we got to see ‘Barefoot in the Park’ and a performance by IMPROVment. My least favorite was also Saturday night, when I was extremely tired and wanted nothing more than sleep,” Marks said.
One reason why this scholarship is so attractive for those interested in theater may be because the flyer that prospective students see boasts that CWRU’s undergraduate drama program is “a top 25…as ranked by Hollywood Reporter.”
“Our undergraduate theater program isn’t that well known because it is assumed that a school that is so S.T.E.M. focused wouldn’t have a strong focus on the arts as well. Yet, CWRU has one of the top Master of Fine Arts acting programs in the country and the same faculty that teaches our MFA students teaches our undergraduate students…. Our undergraduate students have the opportunity to audition for, and act in, our MFA productions at The Cleveland Play House,” Bohan said.
But to win a scholarship, not only must the student pass their audition; the department desires students who know what opportunities CWRU can offer them, in and outside of Eldred Theater.
“We are looking for talented, hard working students who have done their homework on CWRU…. They know that college isn’t just a place to become a better actor, it is a place to become a better person,” said Bohan.