Theatre arts department retools curriculum

Hannah Vanderhooft – Staff Writer 

The Dordt University Theatre Arts Department plans to initiate a new curriculum next fall.

After going through a routine curriculum revision during the 2019-2020 academic year, the department looked at how their current benefitted the students involved in the department and productions. 

“It helps us use the people that we have and allows us to leverage the gifts that are in our department right now,” Laurel Koerner, the department chair of the theatre department, said. “For instance, dance classes are now being offered.” 

These dance classes will be taught by Robin Suing, theatre arts department assistant. This year, she worked towards a master’s degree in dance education and has overseen Unfinished: A Dance Concert 

In addition to the dance classes, a first-time offering, the department with provide more technically specific classes. Previously, technical theatre was taught in large, three credit, survey classes. 

Now, 1.5 credit “Applied Craft” classes will allow students to focus on different skills, such as stage management and lighting design. 

“This will allow for curriculum and co-curricular activities to interface a little better and give students more leadership in the program,” Koerner said. “Hopefully it will allow for more  opportunities for student-initiated projects, for us to be able to say, ‘Yes,’ and for us to support them well.” 

Photo Credit: Robin Suing

The curriculum changes will not drastically affect current majors and minors. The registrar and theatre departments are working together to make sure students who have already fulfilled requirements do not need to take repeated classes. 

Anna Janssen, a sophomore with a theatre minor, looks forward to her next semester.

“The change in classes matches more of what is going on outside in the real theatre community,” Janssen said. “I think I will feel more prepared and have a better, larger understanding of theatre with the changes being made.” 

While the curriculum rewrite removes multiple emphases for majors, it allows for a more diverse path to a degree. 

“We just wanted to make sense of what it meant to get a Bachelor of Arts in theatre,” Koerner said. “I think this curriculum rewrite has helped made it clearer for us and students.” 

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