San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater announced earlier this week that it will begin partnering with Oakland's Mills College on a new theatre curriculum starting in fall 2014. This will be a new major and minor offered by the college, which currently has only a dance department (which lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating dance department in the country). Mills hasn't had a theatre program since 2004, when the school closed its dramatic arts department due to a budget deficit. The new program will be offered in the expanded and renamed dance and theatre studies department.
Photo: "Lisser Hall, Mills College, Oakland, CA" by Curtis Cronn on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.
"This innovative theatre major with ACT combines the artistic discipline and training of an intense studio program and the intellectual rigor and scholarly breadth of a first-class liberal arts college," said Mills provost and faculty dean Kimberley L. Phillips.
Half the courses will be taught on campus at Mills, the rest in ACT's studios in downtown San Francisco. Majors either enroll in ACT's San Francisco Semester program, a four-day-a-week intensive program for a full semester, or register as a part-time student at ACT while completing their BAs at Mills. (Students in the program reportedly do not have to pay additional tuition to ACT on top of their Mills fees.)
"The San Francisco Semester will let ACT offer an intensive educational experience and cultural adventure to college age actors," said ACT conservatory director Melissa Smith. "The semester stands alone, but is designed as a deep, immersive experience that is also a natural next step after our Summer Training Congress and a perfect precursor to our MFA program."
Students minoring in theatre studies will be able to design their minor with an emphasis on drama or physical theatre, drawing largely from the theatre component of the existing curriculum of the Mills dance department.
Since taking on producing the shows she wanted to see while in college, this month’s Featured Member and two-time Lemonade Fund benefit producer, Megan Briggs, exemplifies how a theatre artist can blow past the constraints placed on early actors to create her own play and develop works that support the field. Read all about her here.