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B.F.A. Acting / Musical Theatre

Following a review by their area faculty, students are considered in good standing if they meet or exceed the competencies for their area. Students in good standing are making satisfactory or better progress, and are engaged, collaborative and productive, demonstrating their developing skills in all aspects of their work. The area faculty will provide support and help identify resources for all students throughout the review process.

Students who are not making satisfactory progress, or are not meeting one or more of the area competencies will be placed on probation.  In addition to not meeting the competencies, students may be placed on probation for other issues, including but not limited to: unprofessional behavior, poor performance in major courses, demonstrating an unwillingness to engage in the work in classes or production, failing to fulfill responsibilities in classes or production, or exhibiting actions or behaviors that are detrimental to the learning atmosphere.

Students placed on probationary status for the first time should make a detailed plan for improvement based on the written feedback. The identified areas of concern will be considered at all subsequent reviews. At the end of any semester on probation, a student may be changed to good standing status, remain on probation, or be discontinued from the degree program.

If a student is placed on probation for more than one semester, the student should consider alternate majors at Ithaca College and must meet with the Academic Advising Center and the Assistant Dean of Humanities and Sciences to develop a plan for changing majors if the need arises.

A student may be discontinued from the major if they have continually failed to meet standards or competencies expected in their particular major after one or more semesters on probation, and a change of major is required. Additionally, students who have exhibited behavior that is unprofessional or detrimental to the learning atmosphere may be discontinued at any time.  Students have the option to self-discontinue and change their major rather than have the departmental action move forward and become a part of their record.  Students discontinued from the B.F.A. majors may not audition or interview for readmission into those programs. A student may choose to change their major outside of the review process at any time, and should inform the area coordinator of the program via email. Some new majors have specific admission requirements and these must be followed prior to approval of the change of major. Details can be found here.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For competency-based concerns and issues regarding professionalism, in most cases, students will not be discontinued from the major without one semester on probation.  For egregious behavior or unprofessionalism, in accordance with the Student Conduct Code, students may be discontinued from the major at any time. 

Appeal Process:

Students who are discontinued from a major may appeal the decision only if extenuating circumstances exist which the area faculty were unaware of at the time of the review. The appeal must be sent electronically to the area coordinator and the department chair within two days of receipt of their discontinuation letter, and be typed, double-spaced, and may not exceed two pages.  Additional materials may accompany the appeal letter, such as medical documentation or other supporting documents detailing the extenuating circumstances. The appeal will be considered by the area faculty and the chair, whose decision shall be final. 

The performance area's review process is a comprehensive review that encourages growth and artistic progress based on clearly expressed criteria for the B.F.A. programs in acting and musical theatre.

NOTE: Students in the musical theatre program have additional review criteria in the areas of music and dance that can be found here and at the end of this document.

During review week each semester, typically the second-to-last week of classes, scenes are presented for evaluation by the performance faculty. These scenes (not to exceed five minutes in length) are developed in scene study class, with partners and material assigned by the scene study teacher, with the students' individual training goals in mind. In the first semester review, "open scenes" are used, which are provided by the teacher. Thereafter, scenes are most commonly drawn from contemporary or modern realistic plays involving age-appropriate characters.

Instead of regular morning studio classes during review week, an 8:00 a.m. warmup takes place each morning. All freshman students attend warmup on each day, whether presenting or not. For sophomores, only those students whose scenes are being presented attend warmup. For both classes, scenes begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. All freshmen and sophomores are expected to attend both/all the presentation days for their class's scenes, regardless of whether or not they perform on that day. The faculty and other students observe the work in a laboratory atmosphere, and the scenes are video-recorded for evaluation purposes. Review may be attended by all departmental majors, all Ithaca College faculty, and all departmental staff. Special guests are welcome at review only by invitations of the chair and/or area coordinators. Non-majors, parents and/or guardians will not be granted permission to attend review.

After viewing the scenes, the faculty meets to discuss student progress and share feedback. The following week, in place of one scene study class, each student meets individually with their scene study teacher, receiving a written report providing specific feedback on strengths and areas for growth, identifying areas that need special attention, and concluding with the performance faculty's assessment of their status. Please also see the Department of Theatre Arts Review Policy for competencies and degree requirements specific to your degree.

During the student’s first four semesters in the program, progress will be assessed in terms of the student’s:

  1. Individual artistic progress;
  2. Contribution as an ensemble member to the artistic progress of his/her classmates;
  3. Compatibility with the goals and methods of the training; and
  4. Potential for meeting the rigorous demands and intense competitiveness a performance career.

Evaluation of progress is based on all facets of the student’s work: classwork, review presentations, productions, and overall professionalism. In the first year of the program, while a reasonable level of artistic and technical growth is expected, particular attention will be paid to the level of professionalism with which the student addresses their work.

We do not have a cut system at Ithaca College. We have a comprehensive review that provides specific feedback for instructional purposes to encourage growth and artistic progress based on clearly expressed criteria for the B.F.A. programs. Reviews allow all the faculty to see the work of every student each semester. Here we can provide instruction on areas of growth that are positive, as well as identify areas that need special attention. If, in this process, the faculty determine that a student’s performance does not meet the established criteria or competencies, taking into account the student’s potential, they may place a student on probation to help them to focus their energies. If an area of concern persists, the faculty may remove a student from the B.F.A. program. These circumstances are rare – but do occur, and normally after a student has been given ample feedback and time to address the concerns outlined during probation. Our review procedures are outlined clearly on our department website here.

ACTING COMPETENCIES:

The general goals of the first year of acting training are to introduce students to the potential of their voices and bodies as expressive tools and to develop the ability to engage their imagination and intellect in both scripted and improvised work. 

By the end of the first year, performance students should have made progress toward:

  • making believable and logical choices regarding actions, objectives, and obstacles; 
  • achieving unselfconscious concentration on the dramatic situation and their partner; 
  • moving without distracting personal tensions or mannerisms; and 
  • using their voice in a healthy way, with an initial awareness of effective breath support and appropriate speech choices.

The general goals of the second year of acting training are to develop specific characterization skills, and to deepen acting, voice, speech, movement, and analytical skills. By the end of the second year, performance students should be able to:

  • play actions and objectives that are believable, logical and emotionally compelling; 
  • respond to their acting partner with immediacy, flexibility and passion; 
  • convey the text effectively according to its logic, conventions and structure; 
  • speak with vocal freedom and resonance supported by breath, and speak text with clarity and precision appropriate to space and material; and
  • use movement skills to create vivid physical characterizations not limited by personal habits and patterns.

Review for all performance students (acting and musical theatre) includes auditioning for each semester’s productions, participating in callbacks, and performing as cast.

At the end of the fourth semester review, all continuing performance students sign the “Showcase Agreement” confirming their understanding of the expectations of professionalism that extend through semesters five through eight. If a student’s level of professionalism or achievement in the program fails to meet the criteria and standards set by the faculty, an acting or musical theatre major may be placed on any status at any point in their career in the department. Additional sanctions (e.g. removal from casting for a semester, removal of permission to participate in Showcase, etc.) may be implemented to uphold the standards of the department and to serve a pedagogical purpose, such as providing the student a chance to regain footing in the training process (or academics) if it has been lost.

To maintain good standing throughout their time at Ithaca College, performance students are expected to attend responsibly to their work and the department policies, observing such practices as:

  • Maintaining passing grades in all required coursework in the department.
  • Adherence to the mandatory audition, callback and “perform as cast” policies.
  • Timely submission of faculty-signed Request for Permission to Participate forms BEFORE accepting a role in an outside production LINK (please see Extra-Departmental Productions for more information and to access the form).
  • Responsible and contributory work in a cast or on a crew.
  • For musical theatre students, effective completions of their singing reviews and vocal juries. (see below)
  • Avoidance of any behavior that would sacrifice their good standing in the School of Humanities and Sciences or at Ithaca College.

ADDITIONAL COMPETENCIES FOR B.F.A. musical theatre students:

Musical Theatre students have additional competencies and criteria related to music and dance, and  must be able to:

  • demonstrate healthy vocal technique, increased range, competency in music theory, keyboarding and aural skills.
  • demonstrate the ability to perform a variety of musical styles and a synthesis of acting, singing, and movement/dance skills.
  • able to apply fundamental dance/movement technique (rooted in ballet, modern, jazz and tap) and the principles of biomechanics to performance.
  • demonstrate knowledge of dance vocabulary and dance in historical contexts in a variety of movement/dance styles.
  • demonstrate the ability to organize and manage their time, communicate and collaborate with others, act with commitment, maturity and self-discipline, and reflect other attitudes and values that are essential to professionalism in theatre.
  • demonstrate commitment, maturity, motivation and self-discipline consistent with the demands of the professional theatre.
  • maintain a repertoire of songs including professional audition songbook.
  • develop the skills needed for participating in professional dance classes, auditions, and rehearsals including appropriate etiquette and behavior.

For musical theatre students, additional information about progress in music, voice, and dance classes are considered as part of the review process, including singing reviews in the Department of Theatre Arts and vocal juries in the School of Music.

SINGING REVIEWS: Sophomore B.F.A. musical theatre majors are required to participate in a singing review near the end of the fall semester prior to acting review. Freshman and sophomore B.F.A. musical theatre majors are required to participate in a singing review near the end of the spring semester prior to acting review.

VOCAL JURIES: In addition to singing reviews in the Department of Theatre Arts, all freshman and sophomore musical theatre majors are required to do vocal juries in the School of Music in the second, third, and fourth semesters. Students should follow School of Music guidelines for vocal juries. Musical theatre majors must pass their vocal jury in order to pass their private voice class and move on to the next year of musical theatre training. 

NOTE: Musical theatre majors continue to have vocal juries in the School of Music during their junior and senior years as part of their private voice class requirements.

Singing Review Preparation and Procedures

Students should prepare two pieces that contrast in time period and style. These pieces should be chosen from the students' vocal jury repertoire and approved by each student's voice teacher.  Both selections together should equal no more than three minutes of music.

Students should prepare their singing review repertoire with their voice teachers and in sessions with the Department of Theatre Arts' staff vocal coach. The staff vocal coach may make repertoire suggestions for students, but voice teachers have the final word in all selections for singing reviews and vocal juries.

Singing reviews are open to faculty, staff, and students of the Department of Theatre Arts and School of Music. Singing review should be thought of as an opportunity for students to share their work. The faculty and other students observe the work in a laboratory atmosphere, and the scenes are video-recorded for evaluation purposes. Review may be attended by all departmental majors, all School of Music majors, all Ithaca College faculty, and all departmental staff.  Special guests are welcome at review only by invitation of the chair and/or the area coordinators. Students not majoring in BFA acting, musical theatre, or music; as well as parents and/or guardians, will not be granted permission to attend review.

Performance area faculty and staff will share their singing review feedback with the voice teachers of each participating student. Voice teachers will then discuss this feedback with students during their lesson time.

Areas of Assessment for Musical Theatre Singing Reviews  

Body Integration

  • Mannerisms and habitual tension patterns
  • Head, neck, shoulder (release/tension issues)
  • Breath and body work (release/tension issues)
  • Alignment issues (head, neck, shoulders, spine, pelvis, knee, ankle)

Vocal Integration

  • Working with the breath in support of the voice
  • Tension (jaw, tongue, face, etc.)
  • Sound/tone
  • Diction
  • Commitment to, investment in, and engagement with the material
  • Expressive connection with the material and self
  • Stage presence
  • Level of confidence
  • Ease 

Expressivity

  • Commitment to, investment in, and engagement with the material
  • Expressive connection with the material and self
  • Stage presence
  • Level of confidence
  • Ease 

revised 8/12/2016