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Arts & Culture

University Theatre’s Workshop Series Connects Students, Community to Theatre Production

Costume Crafting Night is one of the most popular events of University Theatre's workshop series.
Costume Crafting Night is one of the most popular events of University Theatre's workshop series.

At NC State, students, faculty, staff and the local community getting involved in theater is as simple as signing up for one-time courses. 

Launched in the fall semester of 2023, University Theatre’s workshop series offers opportunities for those groups to learn about different theater topics. The programs are free of charge to all participants. 

“The series is a collection of workshops and masterclasses focused on specific theater and theater-adjacent topics in short and bite-sized portions,” explained Joshua Reaves, University Theatre’s director. “The idea is that these workshops require no experience. The content or topics may range from amateur to advanced content, but are crafted to be available for those who have never walked into a shop or a theater.”

These are crafted to be available for those who have never walked into a shop or a theater.

Mia Self, University Theatre’s assistant director of acting, directing and academics, explained that many NC State students are interested in theater, but the time commitment often becomes an issue. 

Many students find it difficult to fit extra academic courses into their schedules, but the workshop series removes that barrier and allows students an opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise had to learn and get involved with University Theatre. 

“It’s going to be more flexible for people to step in and out of content, and isn’t the high pressure of committing to a class when students are so consumed by grade considerations and that kind of thing,” Self said. “You can show up, play around with the content, it’s not going to impact your grade, it’s not going to jettison your schedule and it ideally will be a fun and enjoyable experience.” 

Reaves explained that the workshop allows students, faculty and the community to delve deeper into specialized topics. 

The workshop regularly hosts costume crafting nights that allow participants to bring in their costume design projects, get feedback and use the theater’s equipment to work on them. Previous programs have also included accents and voice acting workshops, makeup design and more. 

For example, before Halloween, University Theatre hosted a “zombies, blood and gore” makeup workshop. 

A connection with the community has been an additional benefit of the workshop series. Programs often include lecturers and performers from local theater productions, which allows students interested in pursuing theater as a career outside of school to network and, in many cases, find employment opportunities. 

“Being able to bridge that gap between the community and the students helps to prove to our students and to our community that we’re part of the same theater family,” said Danica Jackson, University Theater’s assistant director of performance. “It’s much less than six degrees of separation for a lot of us. The fact that we’re also able to bring in former students shows the community that we’re not just dedicated to students doing these things and having fun with us, but this is a real investment in their future.”

University Theatre’s leadership has also seen the workshop increase the local community’s interest in attending theater productions, particularly ones they’ve helped with through the workshop series. 

“That’s what we’re finding,” Reaves said. “Once they get into the building, they’re like, oh yeah, I want to see this show. Part of these workshops happen within the shops or the spaces within which we’re currently under rehearsal or in production. So the community is able to see what’s going on.”

As University Theatre looks to grow its presence both on campus and beyond, the workshop series will continue to be vital in making the theater more accessible to all. 

“We’re really excited,” Reaves said. “This series is built to serve our mission. Our mission is not  to do shows. We just happen to do shows to build community. That’s what we do. The workshop series is able to accomplish this in a very different way than our productions and other events do. We are excited about another way to bring students together.”