Academics and Performance

Balancing Academics and Production

Theater Studies is in the first place an academic department. Its primary goal is to create a challenging and stimulating core for your liberal education. Prioritize your classes.

In addition to full commitment to course work, majors and minors are encouraged and expected to engage in the practice of theater. The thrust of our program has always been to link scholarship and reflection with artistic work. Your theatrical education happens centrally in classes, but a great deal more is learned by participating in productions and by observing rehearsals and shows. Production is the laboratory for your work in class.

Managing your time

Time management is necessary for any successful undergraduate career. For theater students it is particularly critical, because the work takes quite a bit of time, so balancing involvement in productions with academic work requires planning. Your top priority should be your education. While Theater Studies faculty certainly support active engagement in shows, we expect of you what we expect of ourselves: that class work by day must not suffer because of doing theater by night. When you get the balance right, there should be an exhilarating synergy between your practice of theater and what you study in classes.

Balancing is an important life skill. You must develop the discipline required of theater professionals, who typically lead double lives. Like professionals in every field who are engaged in a variety of projects and responsibilities, theater artists must learn to make hard choices.

  • Plan carefully your theatrical commitments for each semester. Consider your course load. Map out your schedule. Decide what you can reasonably do with energy and focus.

  • Be selective. Theater majors are often tempted to grab impulsively at every opportunity. Over-commitment can adversely affect your health, your grades, your concentration, and the quality of your theater work.

  • Theater Emory and Theater Studies advise that you involve yourself in only one multi-week production per semester.  

  • In order to balance your Emory career successfully, you may sometimes have to say no to projects. Learning how to say no -- even to friends, even to good opportunities, even to work you admire -- is part of learning how to be successful, in theater and in other endeavors. Taking on too much can limit what you learn, inhibit growth, and keep you from doing your best work.

    • When you sense that doing something offered you will be too much in addition to everything else you're doing, say no.

    • Resist arm-twisting.

    • When others pressure you to bail them out, whether for course projects or student theater productions, say no when you should, no matter how desperate the plea.

    • Do unto others: don't pressure friends to take on additional work when they are already substantially committed.

    • If you need to give something up in order to achieve your academic and artistic goals, be sensible enough to do that. 

Academic Expectations

Learning how to balance your academic work by day and your production work by night is part of your theater education. We will hold you to the same standards as teachers in other departments. In general, here are three academic facts of life as a theater major or minor.

  • Late work cannot receive full credit.

  • You will not be given special consideration because of work you are doing with Theater Emory or student theater.

    • "Rehearsal was intense last night" or "I'm in a show," or "We're opening tonight" or "It was tech weekend" -- none of these are excuses for absence, for not getting a paper or journal in on time, for not doing the reading, for not being ready to perform or participate, etc. The department expects class attendance and timely submittal of assignments even in the throes of rehearsal and performance.
    • Slipping grades, chronic submission of late work, and irregular class attendance lower your stock among the faculty -- and may lead to fewer opportunities, since Theater Studies and Theater Emory are in communication about student classwork.

Just as rehearsals progress in a cumulative way toward performance, a course is a structured learning experience in which lessons and skills build on each other. Each assignment prepares you for the next step. For this reason, it is crucial to stay current with the syllabus and keep up with deadlines.

  • Doing assignments out of sequence hampers your progress. You may miss out on making vitally useful connections. Papers, reports, and performance assignments should be ready when they are due. It is not simply a question of getting the work in by the end of the semester: timely work is of the essence.

  • Falling behind is detrimental to the group, to the course, and especially to your learning. You cannot completely "make up" late work -- there will always be a loss of educational value if an assignment is out of synch with the course.

  • Turning work in substantially late is almost guaranteed to limit what you can gain from doing it.  Please understand: your homework isn't for us; we don't benefit from it.  It's for you. It's crucial to your mastery of the subject.

  • Handing in long overdue work at the end of the semester makes a mockery of learning as a sequenced process. Don't undermine your education by procrastinating or punting.

  • Get assigned work in on time.

If you find yourself struggling in a class:

  • Take action. Avoid avoidance.

  • Speak with your instructor.

  • Consult with your department advisor.

  • Keep going to class, even when you are not fully prepared. Don't hide.