By JAI-LEAH GARCIA
As seniors continue their long haul to the finish line, each major has a different requirement that they have to complete, which is typically in the form of a research project or a thesis. UMW’s theatre department has a different approach towards preparing students for their futures: working on a senior project.
Senior theatre major Jackson Miles focused his portion of his senior play on the upcoming production, “Ordinary Days,” that will run in Klein Theatre from February 13-23.
“The [performance-focused] senior project for the theatre department requires us to audition for all the productions and once we are cast in something, that becomes our senior project,” said Miles. “In your junior year, there is a senior project seminar that they outline what you have to do including your proposal.”
While many other departments have their own ways of allowing students to fulfill their final credits before graduating, the theatre department allows for creativity, innovation and a personal touch from each senior in the medium a journal or a blog recording process.
“It’s more of a reflective project that hopefully will be able to help us in the future for future work,” said Miles. The senior research project can be as rigorous and dynamic as the student pleases. In this case, Miles focused on character analysis in the embodiment of his character, Jason, through scene by scene analysis.
“I’m used to doing character analyses, but it was a little tough to get started with this one just because I would get lost in trying to get all the details down,” said Miles. “A lot of it is defining key relationships and plot points for the show as a whole to know what to really emphasize…”
Beyond his choice of medium, Miles is granted even more freedom. The criteria behind the project are all decided by the students.
“We actually decide on the criteria that we are going to be graded on,” said Miles. “What I decided is that I will be writing my character analysis, scene by scene analysis, rehearsal notes, self-care routines and self-reflection.
For Miles, the journal has become a guide on how he has honed his skills over the course of his project.
The senior project not only provides experiential learning for actors, but it also allows students who focus on design, directing, playwriting and more to reflect on their coursework and get experience.
“Right now with where my journal is at, I’m definitely going to be using it for future work that I get as a reflective tool to know what I did right in rehearsal or what I learned in the process,” said Miles. “I’m a little mad that I haven’t used a journal in previous shows that I’ve done because it has helped a lot.”
Once the curtain drops, Miles will turn his journal over to a jury of three faculty members who will then assess his analysis and project as a whole.
“I think the theatre department does a really good job in preparing their students for work in the industry after college,” said Miles. “The senior project along with these other classes helps create these extraordinary opportunities.”