Twelve years after its inception, the Dramatic Arts Theatre Management class will lose its founder, and theater students may lose a chance to fully produce a play.
Dramatic Arts 191 began as a production theory class 12 years ago, and has since evolved into a course that requires students to host a full production by obtaining funding and the rights to selected plays, as well as by picking costumes and casting. The founder, Stuart McDaniel, will retire in December after 23 years at UCSB, and this quarter marks the last time he teaches the class, though he said he hopes it continues without him.
As part of the class, next week the 18 student producers will put on “Without a Hitch,” an interactive murder mystery play by Steven Biggs and Michael Coleman. The play will be showing March 15 and 16 at the Isla Vista Spot on Pardall Road at 9 p.m. Tickets for the performance are available through the Associated Students Ticket Office and from class members for $5 each.
“We chose [the play] by searching online and we eventually found one we liked and purchased the rights to perform it,” said Chelsea Long, a fourth-year dramatic art major. “The play is casino-themed and requires audience participation, so hopefully it will attract a crowd.”
Within the first week of class, students in DA 191 elect a production board, which includes a president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, to delegate different responsibilities.
“It’s neat to feel like you are actually in control of something although our collective backgrounds often lead to conflict,” said Cayah Haney, a fourth-year communication major.
DA 191 class members are responsible for raising all funds necessary to put on the production and booking a venue for their selected performance. While the class has already received $3,250 from A.S. Finance Board, and $30 from a fundraiser at Silvergreens, McDaniel said they still need $1,720 for the performance. They are hoping the UCSB After Dark program will provide the additional money.
McDaniel, who is also the principal public events manager for the Dramatic Art & Dance Department, said the subject matter of the class transitioned seven years ago from theory to hands-on production.
“I believe in learning by doing, especially in the theater,” McDaniel said. “About seven years ago, I decided that it was necessary to change my idea of a theater production class to an actual hands-on experience, which empowers students to put on a production of their own.”
Long said McDaniel, who teaches DA 191 once a year and DA 195, Principals of Stage Management during fall quarter, not only encourages creativity among his students, but also requires them to commit extra time to their production outside of class.
“One of the great things about having Stuart as a director is that he would never tell us what to do,” Long said. “He will jump in sometimes to keep us from going astray or doing something detrimental to the production, but overall we’ve had a lot of freedom in this class.”
While McDaniel said he plans to retire in December 2007, he wants the class continue after he leaves UCSB. McDaniel said future plans for the class have not yet been discussed.
Haney said DA 191 was the most unique classroom experience she’s had at UCSB.
“[DA 191] is interesting because it puts you in positions where you are actually doing something real,” Haney said. “You’re not just studying for a test or taking notes; it’s much more like a real world experience, and I think that’s important.”