Described by students as an environment that supports creativity, engagement, inspiration and free expression, the CSUN Theater Department gives students and faculty the opportunity to develop theater skills and work as a team .
âI’ve always been interested in theater, but being Asian American, I never revealed it to my parents or any of my friends,â said Jihae Son, a CSUN alumnus. “I’ve always had this in mind, but I decided to specialize [in] theater after my first semester.
Son was originally interested in the educational accreditation program, but after taking her first acting course at CSUN, she changed her specialization.
âIt was mainly the way the class was structured,â Son said. âIt really provided the experience and what it means to act and what it means to be in [the] theater environment.
Son is grateful for the mentors she has had at CSUN throughout her teaching career. She praises the dedication of Professor Mathew Jackson, who taught her new skills that involve theater and the field of work.
âHe’s amazing, not just because he was my teacher, but because he creates an incredible space for the managers,â Son said. “I definitely learned a lot about how to be a manager, how to organize, how to send emails in a professional manner, how to make resumes – you know all these kinds of mannerisms.”
Son said the teacher and now department head Ah-Jeong Kim provides a great learning environment in his classes.
âProfessor Kim is an incredible scholar. She mainly teaches theater history classes and she makes it so fun, âSon said. “Everyone loves AJ [Ah-Jeong Kim] because her enthusiasm is passed on in her lectures – it’s amazing how she teaches.
The department assists more than 250 theater students and graduates each year. Each semester, the theater department brings together more than 100 students who work with professors, staff and professional guests to create theatrical works for the stage. This includes pieces like “The Tempest” by Shakespeare, “Legally Blonde: The Musical” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”.
Whatever their specialty, all CSUN students have the opportunity to participate in auditions.
According to department chairman Ah-Jeong Kim, the goal of CSUN theater department is to offer several courses in performance, directing, design, technology, management, theater, history and more. Again.
âThe undergraduate program allows our students to experience the treasure within themselves,â Kim said in an email to Sundial. âAfter graduation, they are prepared for graduate studies, work in professional theater, government programs and [work in a] popular entertainment industry.
Kim said students had the opportunity to act, direct, design sets, make costumes and wear makeup.
Current student and CSUN Theater Guild President Roderick Villegas explained how CSUN teachers have provided support throughout the pandemic and how they have incorporated their personal experiences into their lessons.
âWhat I like about CSUN is that professors are encouraged to work on shows in the field in which they work,â Villegas said. âThe educational base is fantastic for me and especially during the pandemic we have so many teachers who are really involved with the students and really care about what is going on. “
Teacher and director of the play “Everybody” Larry Biederman is from numerous training programs across the country such as the Williamstown Theater Festival, the Old Globe Theater in San Diego and Cal State University Fullerton.
Biederman said classroom challenges teach students to see obstacles as innovation rather than discouragement.
âI often tell them that the word ‘no’ is an invitation to a better idea,â said Biederman. “I hope this concept and spirit will be useful to them in their life.”
According to Biederman, the classes would be useful to students not only in terms of directing, but also aesthetics and criticism.
âI think I would like to stress that we hope our major will help students in the theater field, but will also prove applicable in any business,â Biederman said. “I hope this concept and spirit will be useful to them in their life.”
Biederman said the department faces hurdles due to COVID-19, especially when it comes to adapting relevant theatrical skills to the online format.
âThe challenge of covid is obviously that we are teaching a live, collaborative art form from a distance,â Biederman said. “Through recordings, speaking from the neck upwards rather than the whole body.”
Biederman said âEveryoneâ will be the first play with live actors and an audience since the start of the pandemic. Proof of vaccination or negative test results 72 hours prior is required for admission to all shows and masks must be worn at all times.
“[The actors] will be unmasked on stage but at a safe distance and we will use masks to address the audience, âBiederman said.
During the fall semester, the drama department will be open in person for assistance Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The department is located at Nordhoff Hall, on the southwest corner of CSUN.
For more information on how to get involved, visit their administrative offices, located in Nordhoff Hall 110 or send an email to [email protected]