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  • Writer's pictureJulie Simons

DePaul University (Part 3)

All my theatre kids, this one's for you! Check out The Theatre School at DePaul University! I can't say enough good things about it! Plus, EVERY ACCEPTED STUDENT GETS A SCHOLARSHIP!

After the beauty of the Theatre School’s building, the first thing that struck me about DePaul’s Theatre School was its warmth. Theatre schools are - by nature - competitive. Getting accepted into the Theatre School IS competitive (there are a total of 370-380 students in the entire school) and requires either an audition or interview, depending upon one’s program. Even during the admissions process and certainly after enrollment, DePaul works hard to be supportive, nurturing, and familial. There's guaranteed casting for 3rd and 4th year Acting BFA students. 1st year Acting BFA students participate in tech and crew, and 2nd year Acting BFA students have their own shows called Intros.

Like the rest of the university, the Theatre School is also heavily influenced by the Vincentian ethos of community service and charity. Collaboration is stressed as a means of bettering community, and students are constantly asked questions like “How are you influencing the world for the better through your work? Why this play, why right now? How are you connecting?”

The Theatre School is home to three departments, all of which are roughly equal in size: Performance (Acting); Design & Tech (Stage Management, Costume Design, Costume Technology, Lighting Design, Sound Design, Scene Design, Theatre Technology); and Theatre Studies (Dramaturgy, Playwriting, Theatre Arts, and Theatre Management). 10% of students double major outside theatre school, and 40-50% do a minor outside theatre school. The only double major in the theatre school is costume design & costume technique because there is a lot of overlap between the programs.

The Acting BFA is the most structured program with a foundation year, a contemporary year, a classical year, and a final year split between musical theatre and other specific theatrical styles. DePaul is NOT the right fit for someone who wants traditional Musical Theatre, since they don’t offer dance or a musical theatre track. Students pursuing the BFA in Acting get exposure to musical theatre during their final year and can do vocal training with the MT faculty or professors in the School of Music.

Chicago has historically embraced theatre innovation (I know that’s an oxymoron) and storefront theatre. DePaul brings this into the Theatre School, where 50 new works are premiered every year during the Rites of Spring and more are workshopped in the Lab Series.

Like other colleges at DePaul, there’s an emphasis on preparing students to be working professionals. All majors other than actors are highly suggested/required to do internships. Theatre management students do at least 4 internships and can do more.

The Theatre School facilities are truly gorgeous. The building is 5 years old and LEED certified. Every space in the building was designed for performance (even the stairwell). The building houses 2 main theatres: the 100-seat flex Healy Theatre and the 250-seat Fullerton Theatre with a thrust stage that can be raised, lowered, or taken out. There are 10 acting studios, 4 movement studios, and specific studios for everything from makeup to light to sound to costumes. There’s also a Script Library with more than 10,000 scripts, and it’s updated yearly. Students also perform at the historic, 1300-seat Merle Reskin Theatre in downtown Chicago where DePaul partners with the Chicago Public Schools to produce children’s shows that thousands of school children attend each year.

DePaul does NOT participate in unifieds. They have their own audition process that requires students to participate in a class. Starting this year, acting students can submit video prescreens in order to be invited for an audition.


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