CCRI’s theater program offers students the opportunity to explore the theatrical arts academically, professionally and in performance. “I had a very profound experience helping people discover themselves as actors or lovers of theater,” said Ted Clement, CCRI theater program coordinator.
CCRI’s Associate in Fine Arts degree in theater offers two tracks: performance and technical. Both tracks combine liberal arts general education courses and fundamental theater arts courses. General education requirements fulfill the theater student’s need to develop conceptual and communication skills necessary for successful transfer and completion of a Baccalaureate of Arts degree or a successful professional career. Clement explains, “The structure is to start students as theater majors from the beginning.”
Fundamental coursework in theater not only prepares students to understand the process through which plays are created, but helps them comprehend the roles played by the dramatic arts in their local, national, international and multicultural communities. Practical instruction in the performing and technical arts offers students a hands-on opportunity to participate in the theater and prepares them for future careers.
“This program is a professional training program designed to lay the groundwork, serving as the first half of a BFA degree,” explains Clement. “Our graduates leave us with considerable expertise, a clear career path and a strong sense of achievement. We also proudly serve a huge population of students from a variety of non-theater majors. We endeavor to share the experience of theater with the entire CCRI community. All things for all people, depending on what you’re looking for. It’s a place where students find community, collaborating in their art in the variety of classes they’re experiencing. A lens to look at life and a way to express it.”
The CCRI Players, originally the Gamma Tau Players, is the longest continually existing student group at CCRI. It is governed by an elected group of student officers, guided by a constitution, and supported by faculty advisor Bert Silverberg. “The productions staged by the CCRI Players and presented to the community provide the laboratory experience that enables students to pursue lifelong learning by exploring the forms of expressions through which we interpret ourselves and the world,” says Clement.
They offer a four-show season during the school year, including three faculty-directed main stage productions and a student-directed project. This year they begin with Green Day’s American Idiot in October, then Joshua Harmon’s Bad Jews in December. They’ll present Bethany Henley’s Crimes of the Heart in February, then close in April with a student-directed one-act festival. They also house the CCRI Summer Repertory program, which is an intensive, seven-week program open to students, alumni and the general public during which two Shakespeare shows are produced entirely by students. The program also serves as a recruiting opportunity for high school students.
Student Frank Gilleese, who was nominated in Motif‘s theater awards for 2018 Male Performance, College, feels a sense of family here. “The CCRI Players is an organization that focuses on providing a loving environment that accepts people of every walk of life and gives students the chance to be theater artists and experience the art form in a safe place,” says Gilleese. He is passionate about the “plays, musicals and 10-minute shows they do throughout the year, as well as opportunities to go to the KCACTF festival to compete and grow among other talented artists.”
Gilleese can’t say enough about the camaraderie within the group. “The program accepted me right from the beginning and gave me a chance to be a part of the experience, and I am thankful for the program every day!” He reflects briefly and adds, “I’ve grown as a person and made some great friends along the way who inspire me to be the best I can be on stage and off.”