Northwestern State University has received approval from the State Board of Regents to transition its current Bachelor of Science in Theatre Design and Technology Concentration into a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Production and Design.
According to Assistant Professor of Theatre Technology/Technical Director Robert Richoux, the new program was suggested by the National Association of Schools of Theatre which accredits college and university theatre programs as the BFA has become the industry standard.
“There are so many areas of focus within theatrical production and design and the overall goal is and will remain to produce confident and knowledgeable students who will be able to enter any area of the theatrical production and design industry, whether it is lighting, sound, costumes, hair and makeup, scenic, props, painting, technical direction or stage management,” said Richoux, who wrote the program proposal along with Jessica Parr and Karn Richoux.
“We felt our current degree did not equally allow students in all areas flexibility and specialization in their studies. When the bachelor of science concentration was developed, it had primarily scenery design and construction classes at its core, which does not always serve our costume, hair and makeup, lighting, sound, and stage management students as well.
Robert Richoux said the program had many classes that were offered on a two-year rotation as Special Problems in Design and Technology, so students transcripts did not showcase the skills that they learned such as costume patterning, wig design, sound design, metal fabrication and more.
The purpose of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre: Production and Design is to prepare students for a professional career in technical theatre, according to Richoux. Specific objectives are to develop well-rounded students with basic skills in all areas of technical theatre as they begin their education at NSU, prepare students for professional technical work in the theatre and entertainment industry by allowing them to specialize in their areas of interest as they progress at NSU and articulate critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills in theoretical and practical applications in Technical Theatre. The program will also give students practice interviewing in the theatre industry to prepare for life after graduation, maintain a strong network with industry professionals to give students a variety of experiences, classes and contacts beyond graduation from NSU and cultivate an appreciation for all aspects of theatre and dance.
The BFA in Theatre: Production and Design will be the only program of its type at a postsecondary public institution in Louisiana. It will allow Louisiana residents seeking the industry standard degree to remain in state.
Robert Richoux said the program will provide specialized coursework and professional training to improve job opportunities for Louisiana students as well as students in neighboring states. The arts and entertainment industry needs employees with production and design skills. Graduates may go directly into the workforce in a variety of fields, from film costume designer to recording engineer to stage manager. Graduates will also be well prepared to go on to graduate study and continue their education at the master’s level in related fields. Through the tax credit program, Louisiana’s motion picture industry has benefitted from long term commitments that employ people for longer periods and create recurring revenue streams within the state.
Pictured: Northwestern State students, left to right, Antoni Rogers of Covington, Liam Gardner of Gonzales and Drew Davis of Livingston work on a sound design project in the A.A. Fredericks Auditorium.