The Department of Dramatic Art and the Division of Dance may close the curtains on its name in January after undergoing curriculum changes.
The UCSB Faculty Legislature, a subcommittee of the Academic Senate, will vote Nov. 2 on whether to rename and redesign the undergraduate program, which would be titled the Department of Theater and Dance. To complement the new name, the department is reorganizing the curriculum to offer four new emphases as well as moving to a new building in December.
The department will hold a meeting during Winter Quarter to inform its students about the changes.
The process of transforming the department began in June 2005, after the UCSB External Review Committee recommended a name change that the faculty agreed would represent the program’s dual focus on theater and dance. Professor Simon Williams, chair of the department, said the new name, if approved, would officially be used beginning July 1, 2007.
“One reason for the name change is that ‘dramatic art’ is rather stuffy,” Williams said. “Our department is about more than just drama.”
Williams said the new name would reflect the importance of dance in the program and – with the accompanying additional classes – will show students how to “understand life as a form of theater.”
Under the proposed redesigned program, students would have to declare an emphasis in design, directing, playwriting or theater studies – a requirement not currently in place.
Of the four new emphases, Williams said he expects theater studies would be the largest because it would provide the broadest perspective. He said the other emphases would be much smaller programs giving students more personalized instruction.
The proposed design emphasis focuses on lighting and set creation, while the playwriting specialization would offer intense training in composition. Williams said the directing program in particular has to be small since the department does not have the resources to put on many plays by student directors.
Williams said he expects the new emphases would help graduating students get hired in their profession of choice or when they apply for graduate programs. He said that previously declared students would still be able to graduate under the stipulations of their original declaration.
Due to the varied interests and specializations of faculty members, Williams said, the redesigned department would offer classes ranging from performance studies to world theaters. The department would maintain its current curriculum, but would restructure classes to coordinate with new emphasis.
Sevi Khosharay, a first-year theatre major, said she looks forward to the changes as they will provide new avenues of theatrical study.
“I’m really excited about the new classes,” Khosharay said. “I can’t wait to explore every aspect of theater.”
Williams said he is optimistic about the department’s future.
“The department has a very promising future,” Williams said. “We’ve strengthened the B.A. academic program. It’s not a default degree anymore, it’s a major degree and a unique program.”