Senior Matt Weinglass may be able to direct and sell out plays with the Sherwood Players, but he will not graduate from UCSB’s theater program.
On Dec. 8, Weinglass was voted out of the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program by a six-member faculty board. Weinglass is the head of the Sherwood Players, an independent student theater group. He directed the troupe’s four UCSB performances, most of which contained violence, nudity and sexual content.
Weinglass had already been put on probation for failing to attend a required audition for a one-act production. He said his removal from the program was unusual for a senior with a 3.5 GPA.
"My speculation is that, number one, [the BFA faculty ] doesn’t like the [Sherwood Players’] material," Weinglass said. "We take on controversial issues and graphic material. They don’t like the press we get and the audience we get."
Weinglass said prior to missing the audition, he had been on probation several times for "needing to work harder." He added that students start out in the program on probation.
"I was put on probation five times, and four times they took it back," Weinglass said.
Dramatic art Asst. Professor Irwin Appel declined to give specifics on Weinglass’ dismissal, but said poor audition attendance was grounds for removal from the program. Cutting students from the program improves results, he said.
"It’s like theater boot camp. We see great results. Participants are prepared to go on to act in L.A. – to act in professional theaters," Appel said.
The BFA program is highly competitive and many students are removed, usually in their sophomore year, dramatic art Undergraduate Adviser Marilyn Romine said.
"In the first year of the program, more students are accepted than can be accommodated to give them a chance," Romine said. "We watch to see if they can handle what the program provides."
Weinglass said being removed from the BFA program at this late stage is a serious hardship.
"I only had two more quarters – three more classes. I’d been getting A’s and B’s," he said. "I had finished the basic drama degree; now there’s no way I can finish with an emphasis. I wouldn’t be in college if it wasn’t for this degree – I would have graduated last year."
Weinglass and the Sherwood Players will continue to produce plays on campus, though he said his dismissal is a setback for the group.
"I’m going to continue running my production group," Weinglass said. "It makes a statement that we probably won’t be able to work with the BFA."