Department of Theatre Arts
Suffolk County Community College
A Work in Progress
Revised March 2011
The Theatre Student Handbook is designed to give you the information you need about the Suffolk Theatre Program when you need it, before you start your assignment. It is by no means complete. What it attempts to do however, is to provide general information, guidelines and procedures. During your course of study at the college, this handbook will be expanded and carefully developed into a comprehensive document. As new information becomes available, it will be updated on the department web page. Students should check for updates each semester.
This handbook will become your theatre “bible”.
Table of Contents
Section I: Academic Program
Welcome and Introduction 5
Program Purpose and Mission Statement 6
Faculty and Staff 7
What Does It Take To Be a Theatre Major? 10
Definition of “Good Standing” 11
General Information 12
Audition Policy 16
Audition Script Loan Policy 18
Required Production Assignments for Majors 19
Post Mortem 21
Industry Night 22
Production Selection Process 23
Irene Ryan Audition Scholarship 30
American College Theatre Festival 24
Theatre Club 26
Long Island Shakespeare Festival 27
Section II: Production Program
Casting Agreement and Rider 30
Production Staff Agreement and Rider 32
Department Grading Sheet 35
Production Position Job Descriptions
Irene Ryan Audition Scholarship 25 Stage Manager x
Assistant to the Director x
Wardrobe Master/Crew x
Makeup Artist/Crew x
Master Electrician/Lighting Crew x
Properties Master/Crew x
Sound Technician/Crew x
Student Designer Qualifications and Requirements x
Section I: Academic Program
Welcome to the start of your life in the theatre!
You are fortunate! Unlike some disciplines, Theatre careers begin in college with the study and active participation in the art form. It is important to remember how people oriented and collaborative the form is. The relationships you create now will stay with you throughout your journey. To paraphrase a lyric from the musical Chicago -you simply can not do it alone!
“A few boards and a passion” is what some have said is all it takes to have a successful career in the field. Experience tells me that the passion required must translate into focus, hard work and full commitment in order to succeed.
Your training here can be life transforming. It is you responsibility and opportunity to join the community that has been telling the important story for thousands of years.
Revel in the challenge!
Charles Townsend Wittreich, Jr.
College Director of Theatres
Chair, Department of Theatre Arts
Theatre Arts Program at Suffolk
The purpose of the Theatre Program is to provide each student with an academic and “hands on” introduction to all aspects of theatre. Though students may pursue a particular interest by choosing a specialized sequence, it is the belief of the faculty that students need a thorough background in all areas of theatre as well as a strong introduction to the liberal arts and humanities before becoming a specialist.
Interested students are able to participate throughout their time at Suffolk in various capacities: performance, technical production, design, stage management and directing assignments, based upon individual interests, abilities, and talents.
It is with these beliefs in mind that the faculty crafted a mission statement for the department in the spring of 2000.
The Department of Theatre Arts promotes intellectual curiosity and artistic exploration through theoretical understanding and practical application in the disciplines composing collaborative works of dramatic art. Through personalized mentorship and exemplary instruction, students are encouraged to cultivate their full potential as life-long learners. Students will be prepared for further education or employment in the field. In support of the College’s mission of excellence, the department is committed to producing theatre of the highest caliber, creating an enriched learning environment.
The department provides an academic and artistic environment for both majors and non-majors in which they will develop intellectual and artistic skills. We afford students the opportunity for creative thinking, problem solving and exploration in an atmosphere that values artistic integrity, understands failure as well as success and respects cultural heritage. Through personalized mentorship by faculty and staff, students will master individual skills through classroom and production work to create collaborative works of art.
The department provides high quality theatrical productions that offer entertainment to the Suffolk County community and bring distinction to the College.
The program strives to maintain an equal balance between classroom study and production, with an emphasis upon successfully completing the degree.
Faculty and Staff
Charles Wittreich, Jr., Chair and Director of Theatre
AS, Suffolk County Community College
BFA, Penn State University
MFA, University of Missouri, Kansas City
Maureen D’Elia, Performing Arts Coordinator: VanNostrand Theatre
AS, Suffolk County Community College
Stephen Green, Theatre Technology
BA, SUNY Albany
MFA, North Carolina School of the Arts
Jason Kankel, Lighting Design and Technology
BA, California State Univ., Chico, CA
MFA Mason Gross School of the Arts
Steven Lantz-Gefroh, Director, Acting
AA, Lake Region Community College
BA, University of Missouri, Kansas City
MFA, Yale University
Jo Curtis Lester, Director, Acting
BFA, Cornish College
MFA Ohio University
Lachlin Loud, Scenic Design and Technology
BA, Humbolt State University
BSLA, California Polytechnic State University
MFA University of Missouri, Kansas City
Andrew Wittkamper, Costume Design and Technology
AS, BA, Indiana University
MFA, University of Massachusetts
Joan Cook, Graphic Designer
AS, Suffolk County Community College
BS, Empire State College
Clarita Love, Wardrobe Supervisor
Ray Reardon, Technical Director: VanNostrand Theatre
Rozanne Block, Theatre Secretary
Iris Mosher, College Aid
Theatre Faculty Emeritus
The College’s fiftieth anniversary milestone reminds us that the Department of Theatre Arts is uniquely woven into the fabric of the institution as a testament to the work of the founding faculty. They are a remarkable resource not only for their collective wisdom but more importantly their humanity.
Wayne Pevey ……………
Richard Johnson is a graduate of the University of Texas. Among the many SCCC theatre productions he has directed are Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry IV Part I, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, As You Like It, Hamlet and Measure for Measure, Moliere's The Learned Ladies, The Miser and The Doctor in Spite of Himself. The Fantasticks, Mother Courage and Blythe Spirit are among the more contemporary plays he has directed here. After 30 years of service at Suffolk County Community College, he retired from his position as teacher, Chair of the Theatre Department, Director of Theatres, and Coordinator of the Performing Arts Series. Richard is artistic mentor for the Long Island Shakespeare Festival.
Harriette Novick ……………
David Miller celebrates more than 40 years at SCCC. He teaches Acting I, Acting II, Understanding Theatre and Introduction to Human Communication, and is a founding member of the Theatre Program at SCCC. He holds a BA from Miami University (Ohio) and an MA from the University of Minnesota. Professor Miller has directed over 60 productions at the college, including four plays by Neil Simon (Barefoot In The Park, California Suite, Biloxi Blues and Brighton Beach Memoirs). He has worked and/or studied with Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Dustin Hoffman, Sandy Dennis, Jessica Tandy, Hume Cronyn, Homer Abegglen, Charles McGaw, Bobby Lewis and others.
Barbara Baird received a BA in Theatre from Syracuse University and an MA in Theatre and Design from Smith College, in addition to study at Carnegie Mellon University and doctoral study at Penn State. During the past 30-odd years at Suffolk County Community College she has directed and designed costumes for many plays including The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, Everyman and The Oresteia. Costume design includes The Tempest, one enduring piece from which surfaces in Noah.
Marilyn Goodman ……………
Faculty In Memoriam
Shirley Cox ……..
Caroline Arvani ……….
What Does It Take To Major in Theatre?
Staking your claim as a Theatre Major requires a high level of passion and commitment in order to succeed. The study of Theater Art will enlarge your appreciation and understanding of a wide range of dramatic literature, theatre history, performance dynamics, and critical thinking in both live theatre and drama on screen. In addition to developing your skills of close reading and disciplined analysis, the practical work will encourage your creative abilities, technical expertise and your capacity for collaborative teamwork. All these skills are central to the study of theatre, and also highly valued by employers.
What Theatre Majors Learn:
Here's a list of twenty-five skills, traits, and qualities of personality that you will acquire as a result of your commitment to the study and practice of theatre. They are necessary for a successful career in theatre or any other line of work for that matter.
1. Oral Communication Skills
2. Creative Problem Solving Abilities
3. More than a "get it done" attitude
4. Motivation and Commitment
5. Willingness to Work Cooperatively
6. The Ability to Work Independently
7. Time-budgeting Skills
9. Promptness sand Respect for Deadlines
10. Acceptance of Rules
11. The Ability to Learn Quickly-- AND Correctly
12. Respect for Colleagues
13. Respect for Authority
14. Adaptability and Flexibility
15. The Ability to Work under Pressure
16. A Healthy Self-Image
17. Acceptance of Disappointment - And the Ability to Bounce Back
19. A Goal-Oriented Approach to Work
22. A Willingness to Accept Responsibility
23. Leadership Skills
25. Enjoyment of the Work
Definition of “Good Standing”
General Good Standing Criterion
In accordance with college standards, good standing shall be defined as a level of academic performance and departmental involvement which MUST be maintained in order to grant the Theatre Major eligibility for participation in departmental productions,
A Theatre Major shall qualify as being in good standing by maintaining the following:
If placed on academic or disciplinary probation by the college you are automatically in Poor Standing.
A Major GPA of 2.5. (C+); a Cumulative GPA as set forth by the College
Satisfactory participation in 1 production per semester for a minimum of 4 sequential assignments.
Have not exceeded allowable absences or lateness’s in ANY departmental course.
Have not engaged in disruptive behavior (see definition in College Student Handbook) in the Theatre Department or elsewhere on the premises of Suffolk Community College.
Active participation and attendance in department functions including post mortems, ACTF respondent sessions and guest lectures/workshops and field trips.
Theatre Majors who fail to achieve and/or maintain good standing status (i.e. faltering grades, poor attendance record, and disruptive behavior) will be prohibited from being cast or assigned any position in departmental productions. You will have one semester to reestablish good standing. If there is no improvement you will be formally dismissed from the program.
All students in the Acting Sequence (except those in a probationary semester) MUST audition each semester. Those who do not will be formally dismissed from the program.
Co-Curricular and Extra-Curricular Good Standing Criterion
Participation in co-curricular or extra-curricular activities is for the serious Theatre Student and requires a higher standard. In addition to the General Good Standing requirements, student who whish to participate in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) MUST:
Maintain a Major GPA of 3.0 (B); a Cumulative GPA as set forth by the College
Earn a grade of B or better in production assignments (regardless if you are taking credit or not) and Production Lab.
Failure to maintain this higher standard will preclude participation in co-curricular and extra-curricular activities EVEN IF YOU WERE A KCACTF NOMINEE! There are ABSOLUTELY no exceptions to this policy.
Advisement: Your academic advisor is The Director of Theatre. Any questions concerning your schedule or “issues” that cannot be resolved at the local level should be brought to his attention. All Theatre Majors are expected to maintain high academic standards. Failure to do so will jeopardize the student’s standing in the department and the College - See definition of “Good Standing”
Theatre Faculty: There is a close working relationship between faculty and students at SCCC. We are proud of this. Students are invited to discuss with any faculty member matters pertaining to course content, grades, performance or any other matters pertaining to theatre. We are here for you, take advantage of us.
Company: A “company attitude” prevails on all productions. There are no divas or stars. Stage managers, technicians, actors, etc. are all equal. Working together toward the common goal of a successful production is what the “company” attitude is all about. “Prima donna” attitudes will not be tolerated.
Attendance and promptness: Theatre demands teamwork and consideration for other company members: everyone's individual success depends on the group as a whole. Because of this, it is particularly important that you strive never to miss a rehearsal, a performance, a costume fitting, or a crew assignment. Be on time all the time. There is no more important rule of the theatre. You must be on time. Time is a precious commodity in theatre and must be used effectively. Are you getting the message?
Commitments Are Promises: During your time at SCCC you will often audition for roles in plays, work on crews, sign your name to lists of volunteers for ushering or Theatre Club business, or agree to meet with fellow students or an instructor in connection with courses you are taking. Every time you do one of these things, you are making a commitment; that is, you are placing your reputation on the line by promising to see something through to the end and to do your best at it. When you keep commitments, people will notice and respond favorably: if you consistently break commitments, your reputation will suffer with the faculty and staff (as well as with those people who will be your most valuable job contacts in the future – your fellow students).
Student stage managers and crew heads: Though as stated previously all students working on a production are equal, some are more equal than others. Among the most important members of the company are those students who have been selected by the faculty to serve as stage managers, assistant directors, dance captains, design assistants, and crew heads. Students in these positions need the cooperation of all other members of the company if they are to be able to fulfill their duties. You are expected to give them this cooperation.
Call Board: Check the Master Call Board outside the Theatre office daily for notices, crew meetings, schedule changes, etc. It is the primary means by which good communications are maintained. All notices will be posted by 12:00 noon daily. It is your responsibility to check the Master Call Board daily. Make it a habit.
Auditions and Casting: It is expected that all majors in the Acting Sequence will attend all auditions. Majors in the Technical Sequence must audition during the semester that they are taking Acting 1. All persons auditioning are responsible for having checked the callboard for the rehearsal and performance schedule. Understand that by auditioning, you are agreeing that if you are cast you will make yourself available at all required times. If selected for a role, no matter how big or small, you will accept willingly.
Audition Preparation: Scripts for College productions can be checked out of the Theatre Office prior to the start of auditions. Scripts are checked out on a 24 hour basis. A deposit is required for all scripts. (Due to past losses and misplacement of scripts, the deposit has come into effect.) Please see Audition Preparation on page 17 for more detailed information.
Conduct: All Theatre Majors are expected to conduct themselves with propriety outside of the theatre. (Acting is for the stage and not the Babylon Student Center.) Your conduct both on and off campus reflects on the good name of the Department of Theatre.
Non College Theatre Assignments: The Director of Theatre must approve work on off-campus theatre productions. Work at community theatre is discouraged. Community theatres are established in various locales to provide opportunities for theatrical expression as an avocation and they rarely meet the standards of professional excellence expected by the faculty. Not only does a commitment to community theatre group cause scheduling nightmares, involvement undermines the carefully laid out course of training at the college.
Work Schedules: You will soon find that working during the school week becomes difficult. If you are cast in a show you will have rehearsal every weekday night. It is suggested that outside work should be confined to weekends. Outside work schedules should remain flexible due to production needs. (Time off from outside work should be anticipated when weekend production work is needed. You will be given ample notification.)
Smoking: All County buildings are designated as Smoke Free Environments! Besides the obvious health risks, smoking seriously puts the voice in jeopardy: the major instrument of acting!
Eating and Drinking: Food and beverages are not permitted in the following areas:
Shea Theatre Auditorium and Stage areas
Theater Classrooms 122 & 117
Costume and Properties storage areas
This rule will be enforced!
Note: The Sole Exception is that performers may have sealed bottles of water in the wings during rehearsal.
Access to stage and house: Once the house has opened (i.e., when the audience members have been allowed to take their seats for a show), cast and crew do not go through the auditorium for any reason. Visitors are not allowed backstage before or during a performance. Family and other guests may not visit with you backstage before or during the performance. Non-Company members are not allowed backstage unless special arrangements are made with the approval of the Director. With approval you may escort loved ones through a backstage tour after the performance to show off your handiwork. Actors must NEVER come out into the house or lobby in costume or makeup to meet with friends and family (to do so is most amateurish!)
One exception to this rule is the children's theatre production, when the cast, still in character, sometimes say good-bye to the children in the lobby after the performance. If you are in doubt about whether this rule applies to a production you are in, ask the Director.
Safety: Safety is a number one concern, as we don’t want anyone to be injured. Observe all safety regulations as posted and explained in all theatre areas. The theatre makes use of many machines, tools, materials, etc. that can be dangerous. Do not attempt to work with anything unless you have been shown the proper safety procedure.
Alcohol and drug use: Use of alcohol or drugs during classes, rehearsal, performance, crew calls, or while operating college equipment is a violation of the SCCC Student Code of Conduct and will subject you to discipline, up to and including expulsion from the college. Furthermore, use of alcohol or drugs, which affects your behavior in these situations, will have a negative affect on your reputation for reliability.
Non Majors: Students who are not theatre majors are expected to conform to all rules and regulations governing theatre majors. Non theatre majors are encouraged to involve themselves as much as possible in all aspects of production.
Show Attendance: Theatre Majors are expected to see all College theatre productions as often as possible. Theatre majors who are not involved with running the show are entitled to a ticket for each performance if available. These tickets may be obtained at the box office with your student I.D.
Company Ticket Privilege: Company members are entitled to 4 complimentary tickets per production. The Stage Manager will hand out request forms and will indicate deadlines. Do not ask for more tickets than you are allotted. If a company member does not use his or her comps they may give them to others (for Shea Theatre productions only) but must still use the request form. No “comps” will be given at the box office without the request forms. If it is determined that a student abuses his/her ticket privilege, that privilege will be taken away.
Offices: The Theatre Office and the Costume shop are for business. They are not social areas. The same applies to the Scenic shop Office.
Equipment Use: Do not request to use office telephones, computers, copiers or other equipment for personal use. The same applies to tools, costumes, lights, etc. Make sure all Theatre property remains in good condition. Return all tools, etc. to their proper locations after use. Report any broken or missing items immediately to the production area supervisor
Strike: All members of a production company are required to attend the strike of that production (i.e., the removal of the scenery, lighting instruments, costumes, props, and other equipment at the end of the run). The strike begins immediately following the final curtain of the last performance and ends when the technical director dismisses you. The length of the strike will depend on how much work we need to do, how complex it is, and how efficiently everyone works. Because of your strike responsibilities, friends or family with whom you wish to visit following a performance should try to attend performances on a night other than strike night.
Sign in and out with the person designated by the TD. Generally, you will be assigned specific tasks well before the strike. Make an effort to understand what is expected of you before the strike actually begins, take your work seriously, and when you have finished, look for others that can use your help.
Theatre is hard work and fun. We promise you both!
The Department of Theatre Arts Theatre has an open audition policy. All students of Suffolk County Community College, regardless of campus affiliation, are encouraged to participate in student theatrical productions. Directors operate on the principle that students giving the best readings during the audition process will be cast. There is no pre-casting at the Department of Theatre Arts. Notices of auditions dates are widely circulated throughout the college.
Auditioning students should be aware of theatre rehearsal practices. Rehearsals are usually held five evenings a week for six to eight weeks. Occasionally, afternoon rehearsals are held. Students should be available for weekend rehearsals during the week preceding Opening Night. Since understudies are not usually used, all actors must clear their schedules for all rehearsals and all performances.
Auditioning students are advised to read the script prior to auditions. Scripts are available at the Theatre Office and may be checked out on a 24 hour basis with a $10.00 returnable deposit. Most directors will want to hear selections from the play itself. (When a director requests preparation of other material, notices will be posted to that effect.)
Directors look for talent, reliability, interest and commitment. On some occasions, looks and height can be determining factor. Voice quality and body movement are important considerations, and the cast should always be balanced. Experience is not necessary, nor is it always available. Newcomers are welcome! Students should plan to attend 2-3 audition periods, and should explain any scheduling conflicts personally to the Director. Audition cards must be completely filled out.
The mission of the department promotes the casting of student actors whenever possible and as a general rule. All legitimately enrolled students of Suffolk County Community College have an equal chance at auditions. Students who have completed their degree at the College are generally ineligible to participate. Theatre Arts Acting Sequence curriculum students must appear on stage during their college careers. For academic purposes Theatre Arts Majors may be barred from casting if they do not maintain department standards (see Theatre Arts Good Standing document).
The casting of non-students is limited and restricted to certain specific situations. Examples:
Large cast shows for which not enough student actors are available.
When a professional actor is available for a specific role, it is believed that the professional will be able to teach while working. It is expected that student actors will benefit from the high level of skill demonstrated by the visiting professional.
The occasional need for a particular physical type as specified by the author in casting requirements.
The occasional casting of a faculty or staff member promotes an unusual teaching experience and enhances personal contact between students and the professional staff of the College.
A continuing student who had to take a semester off because of some legitimate duress reason for one semester only.
A continuing student who is taking a semester off for a non-duress reason and don't want to enroll unless cast? This type of student MUST enroll in Theatre Workshop (3 credits)
The casting of non-student actors must be carefully managed by the Theatre Office to achieve acceptable academic goals. Such casting should be infrequent, necessary and desirable. Such casting should be cleared with the Academic Chair of Theatre Arts before Cast Lists are posted.
To train participating students to the highest level of skills possible
To provide meaningful, worthwhile experiences for the largest audience possible
To these ends, auditioning students should expect to live up to the highest standards. Although we do expect to have fun, the primary goals of the Islip Arts Theatre are not social.
Part-time students are encouraged to purchase the College insurance plan, without which they are not covered for accident or injury during rehearsals/performances. Full time students are covered by the mandatory insurance plan. Off-campus personnel are not covered by College insurance.
Audition Script Loan Policy
The Department of Theatre Arts is pleased to make scripts available in advance of the audition and students are required to read the plays prior to auditioning for them. Scripts will be distributed on a first come first serve basis and are available for 24 hour loan with deposit. Should scripts not be available (i.e. they are all checked out) they are often available at the college and other local libraries. Please be aware that a limited supply of scripts are on hand and holding scripts beyond the loan period creates difficulty for the audition process and is very unfair to fellow students. To that end the following policies are in effect:
Audition scripts are only available for a 24 hour loan period and require a $10.00 per script deposit (cash only- exact change required). The office hours for script distribution are Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Students who check out scripts on Friday MUST return them Monday at
10:00 a.m. No Exceptions!
Students who hold scripts beyond the 24 hour (or weekend) period will forfeit the deposit and must still return the script. Those who do not will be unable to audition!
Once auditions are underway, scripts will only be checked out till 4:00 p.m. the day they are loaned.
Students must return scripts to the theatre office, Scripts may not be returned to stage managers, directors or anyone else.
Students who do not return scripts to the office WILL NOT BE PERMITTED TO AUDITION! This will be enforced!
The department will not copy scripts and students are forbidden to make copies on departmental duplication machines.
It is recommended that you call the office in advance to check on availability of scripts at 631-451-4163 to avoid a wasted trip.
Required Production Assignments for Theatre Majors
Theatre Arts majors are required to enroll in 4 semesters of Production Laboratory. In the lab you will execute the scenic, lighting and costume designs of the production program. The purpose of the production lab requirement is to insure Theatre Arts students’ posses a practical, working knowledge of the theatre and its crafts. Upon completion of the Theatre Arts Degree program, students will have worked in the following production areas:
Scenic Construction, Lighting, Costumes, Properties and Scenic Painting
In addition, you are REQUIRED to fulfill a cast or crew assignment per semester (with a minimum of four assignments prior to graduation). You should endeavor to be involved at some level on ALL productions.
You may sign up to receive academic credit for your hard work through “Theatre Workshop” (TH51). TH51 will fulfill one of your humanities electives.
There is no substitute for experience in theatre and TH51 fulfills that need. Learning by doing is what this course is all about. Becoming a member of a company of theatre artists requires collaboration and cooperation among people in all of the disciplines of theatre art. The ultimate goal is to offer the best possible production of a play or musical for the public.
Upon completion of Theatre Workshop students will have learned: Techniques of script analysis in preparation for a production, the relationship of your specific discipline to all other disciplines in a given production, to develop standards and practices for rehearsals and performances in all disciplines and how sustain the rehearsed production through the performance schedule.
In addition TH51 offers experience in the production roles of:
Assistant Directing and Designing
Sound Board Operator
Production specific specialties (i.e. Follow Spot Operator etc.)
Design (when qualified)
There are those rare individual who will resist doing anything other than the specific area of their interest. This program is not for them and they will be advised to change major
Following the closing of each production the department will hold a post mortem during the common hour most immediately following, usually the Wednesday after Strike. At this mandatory and full department forum, moderated by the Director of Theatre or his designee, discussions will engage the Company in an evaluation of the production.
• Were the standards of excellence expected, met by the production?
Why or why not?
• How do you know what the standards are?
It is expected that this evaluation process will help everyone in the department to clearly define what the standards of excellence are and how to use the experience in the next project.
At the end of each fall semester, students enrolled in Theatre Portfolio present final scenes and portfolios to the public. It is the first time students present their work in such a forum and every effort is made to have representatives from the industry and from other schools of theatre attend.
Industry Night is designed to help students showcase their work in a public forum which will prepare them for the next leg of the journey in this business.
Production Selection Process
Students are encouraged to discuss future play and musical choices with the faculty. The faculty chooses the season through discussion and consensus using the following criteria.
Categories in an Eight-Play (Two Year) Cycle