Emory & Henry College and Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va. signed an agreement Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, that continues a collaborative arrangement aimed at enhancing professional theatre education for E&H students.
The agreement, which was signed by Dr. Rosalind Reichard, E&H president, and Richard Rose, producing artistic director for Barter Theatre, establishes a variety of programs that connect E&H students with the professional actors and staff at Barter.
The programs include a mentor program that allows E&H students to "shadow" the work of a Barter professional and an observation program, which allows students to observe daily rehearsals, productions meetings and performances throughout an academic year.
"For the students, it gives them the opportunity to understand the professional theatre in ways that I can tell you that programs like Yale, Carnegie Mellon, and a lot of the Julliard and professional training program students don’t really get," said Rose. "They have a connection and understanding of what it means to be a professional actor, scene designer, costume designer, sound designer, or stage manager in ways that almost no other program in the United States gets to do."
Other features of the agreement include an audition and review process involving Barter personnel to help monitor the work of students in the E&H theatre program, professional workshops conducted by Barter professionals, instructional tours for students of Barter facilities, and E&H student participation in technical activities at Barter.
"We’re a program embedded in a small liberal arts environment,” said Dr. Kelly Bremner, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Emory & Henry College. “What we can offer, that no other school in the region has to offer, is our students get that liberal arts focus on theatre, then they get all kinds of professional experience.”
E&H senior Anna Bailey of Greensboro, N.C. is majoring in acting and has completed three mentorships with Barter Theatre professionals. She says the hands on experience she gained through the partnership has prepared her for the rigors of her chosen profession.
“Barter Theatre provided me with my first professional job, and opportunities like this are rare and it re-enforced the lessons I was learning in the classroom on a daily basis,” said Bailey.
In the past few years, the E&H Theatre Department has received several national accolades. The IveyFiles.com, which focuses on higher education issues, listed Emory & Henry College one of the top five colleges in the nation where no audition is required for aspiring actors. In addition, Mademen.com, a website devoted to men and men's issues, ranked Emory & Henry second among the top 10 acting schools in Virginia.
In addition, E&H theatre graduates from 2012 were able to find 100% job placement in professional work either on stage or backstage.
Emory & Henry College will break ground on the Woodrow W. McGlothlin Center for the Arts in April of 2013. The showpiece of the arts center will be a 450 seat main theater, as well as a more intimate studio theater.
With its unique beginnings during the Great Depression, Barter Theatre, one of this nation's oldest professional non-profit theatres, is located in beautiful historic Abingdon, Va. Today, Barter offers a variety of musicals, classics, comedies, dramas and new southern and Appalachian plays performed February – December yearly on two stages: Barter Theatre and Barter Stage II. Barter Theatre continues to be one of the nation's most vibrant and exciting professional theatre experiences.