"We strive for excellence in theatrical production, guiding ourselves and our audience to insight into and empathy for God's world through authentic and compassionate stories of diverse human experience."
By articulating dramatic narratives through the lens of our reformed Christian faith, the Calvin Theatre Company seeks to aid our audience in developing insight into and empathy for individuals and cultures different from our own. The theatre provides us space and time to welcome the stranger into our midst and to recognize ourselves in their stories.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Calvin Theatre Company (CTC)
The audition process
Why do I have to audition or interview to be in CTC? What’s the audition like?
Why do I have to audition for the company and then also audition for every production?
Why can’t I do it all at once?
In high school, I performed in every production. Will I get cast in college?
Plays & venues
What kind of productions do you do?
How do you choose your shows?
Where is the Gezon Auditorium and Lab Theater?
I keep hearing all these acronyms—like "SM"," ASM", "TD"—what do they mean?
My major and minor are not in theatre. What can I gain by being involved in CTC?
CTC stands for “Calvin Theatre Company.” It is both a 1-credit class (classes meet on Monday afternoons from 3:30 to 4:45pm) and a fully-functioning theatre company.
CTC produces two plays a year (in November and April) and many of the company members are involved in the CAS interim production (January/February).
Students are involved in every aspect of production from performing a role onstage to working backstage in stage management or sound board or light board operation, in helping to build the set or helping paint it, constructing costumes, or helping actors change their costumes backstage.
No. Theatre, by its very nature, is an interdisciplinary art form. Knowledge and expertise in many other disciplines are valuable to our productions.
Athletes and dancers can be wonderfully strong performers because of the physical training and control they possess. Likewise, students of history, literature, philosophy, political science, psychology, and religion can bring their field’s perspectives to the script and world of the play.
Visual art students can work in scenic painting, building props, helping to create costumes, or designing wigs and makeup. More experienced students may be invited to assist—or fully design—an aspect of a production.
Students interested in computer science and media technology can assist with technical aspects of the production: programming the light board and sound board and creating promotional videos advertising a production.
Yes, for the two main stage productions each year, one in November and one in April. We call ourselves a “company” because we produce theatre together while we emphasize the process and the people involved. Each production needs performers, technicians, and crews, and all of them are required to be in CTC.
For our interim (January/February) production, auditions are open to the entire student body.
No! Even if you’ve never even seen a stage play, you’re still invited to be part of the company. University and high school theatre are very different, so even if you were involved in every single production in high school, know that your experience at Calvin will be new and unique.
We’re looking for devoted, passionate, and creative students to be involved in CTC. The audition/interview process helps us find you! The audition is simple: you arrive at the audition room, select a monologue to read, and with a small group of students (five or six, usually) you’ll have an opportunity to present the monologue to the Director of Theatre. Once everyone in your group has presented his or her monologue, the Director of Theatre will tell you a little about our program, give you some time for questions, and will let you know your next steps. Do not be intimidated! Everyone in the company has interviewed! Interview/auditions are a time to do your best, have fun, and take risks. Just have fun with it!
Why do I have to audition for the company and then also audition for every production? Why can’t I do it all at once?
It would be convenient if this were the case. However, all the directors are not able to be at CTC auditions and some people auditioning for CTC may not want to audition for any or all of the shows. Additionally, specific show auditioning takes specific preparation and we want to give students time to be well prepared.
Directors look for performers who have prepared for their audition (reading the play, memorizing their monologue, etc.), are willing to work hard and take direction, and fit the type of roles available in the particular play being cast. Even if you have an impressive performance resume, an unprepared audition will supersede any Broadway credits!
But it’s important to remember that CTC is a production company, not just a performance company. Performing is one of the many aspects of what we do. If you are not cast, you’ll have the opportunity to learn another discipline in theatre. We want company members to be multi-faceted and be able to do a wide variety of things.
Oh, yes. In fact, the majority of opportunities in CTC are not performance responsibilities! Students can be part of many different crews: building scenery, electrics load-in (hanging lights), costume construction, scenic painting, publicity, house management, running crew (working backstage during the performances), running the sound or light board, stage management and assistant stage management.
It’s our hope that every student in CTC will have opportunities to get experience in several different areas of theatre. There are plenty of opportunities for everyone!
I want to work in the scene or costume shop for my crew assignment, but I know I don’t have any skills for this. Will they teach me?
Yes! Our professional theatre staff members are patient teachers (it’s required of them!) and part of their responsibility is to teach students theatre-related skills. Don’t know how to sew on a button? You’ll learn! Don’t know how to run a router or a table saw or focus an ellipsoidal reflector spotlight—you’ll learn that, too. (And you’ll even learn what it means!)
We do a lot of things! Directors and designers talk about their process and their concepts for the productions. Guest artists discuss their work and give you opportunities to ask questions. Theatre practitioners lead workshops on voice and movement. We have fun, too—Festive Cheer, the Christmas party, is a tradition we’ve had for years!
We won’t joke around here. The answer is “Yes.” But, experience in theatrical work provides skills and creates discipline. People who work professionally in theatre have a reputation for being punctual, hard working, and creative problem-solvers. You will learn how to manage your time better. Some CTC members continue to be involved in CTC, make excellent grades, and even work a part-time job. It can be done.
We do set limits on rehearsal time, so you are not in rehearsal too much each week. But theatre work—whether you’re onstage or offstage—takes a lot of commitment and time. There’s a t-shirt available for sale online that says, “I can’t. I have rehearsal.” There is quite a bit of truth in this saying. If you are cast in a production, expect to rehearse for a couple hours every weeknight evening and some Saturdays from the week following auditions to opening night. (This depends on the production and your role, of course. It also varies according to director.)
If you are in a crew, you will work at least twenty hours on your crew work, in addition to helping with strike after the production is over. If you are in a running crew, you will be expected to be at each dress rehearsal and each performance for the entire run of the show.
We do all types of plays! From classics including Greek tragedies and comedies, Shakespeare and Russian plays, to musicals, to theatre for youth, to new works, you’ll experience a myriad of genres during your four years in Calvin Theatre Company!
One of our distinguishing traits is that we prioritize new works. We’ve staged new adaptations of Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility, Walter Wangerin Jr.’s novel The Book of the Dun Cow and Professor Gary Schmidt’s Newberry Honor young adult novel The Wednesday Wars, new translations of Hungarian playwright Andras Visky’s works Disciples and Backborn, works by alumni including The Cries of Wolves (Moriah Ophardt, ’09), and an adaptation of stories about David from 1 & 2 Samuel.
We believe that the best plays are ones about which the directors are passionate. Directors review scripts and literature and then present them to the other theatre faculty and staff members. In order for a play to be chosen, all members have to agree that it would be an appropriate for a season and our company.
Both are located in the Spoelhof Center, although the Lab Theater is under the chapel. Directions and parking information for the theatres are here.
Acronyms are everywhere at Calvin University…and in the theatre! Here are definitions of the few acronyms, as well as some theatre vocabulary we use a lot around here with which you should be familiar:
AD: Assistant Director or Assistant Designer works with the director or designer on the production; responsibilities vary depending on director/designer.
ASM: Assistant Stage Manager assists with stage management responsibilities.
Crew View: Opportunity for crew members to watch the show, usually held the week before opening, just before the first technical rehearsal.
First Tech: The first technical rehearsal, with lighting, sound, scenery, special effects, and full running crew, that is often stopped by the stage manager to correct technical issues. A “Wet Tech” refers to a technical rehearsal with performers. “Dry Tech” refers to a technical rehearsal without performers.
Dramaturge: The literary expert of the theatre who aids in research on the history and background of the play and participates in the creation of the production. In addition, the dramaturge is the audience's best friend because she or he writes introductory notes to the play and perhaps produces a lobby display to help the patrons understand the background and process of the production.
KCACTF: The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide which has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.
TD: Technical Director manages all the technical (lighting, scenery and sound)
aspects of each production. Our TD is Steve Haase.
Sitz Probe: A seated, not staged, musical rehearsal where the singers and orchestra or pit rehearse together for the first time.
SM: Stage manager provides organizational, logistical, and technical support to the director during the rehearsal process and is responsible for the running of each performance. In CTC, Stage Managers are students.
Strike: to remove a set piece or from the stage ("Strike that chair.") To "strike the show" is to disassemble the entirety of the set, return all equipment to storage and leave the venue as it was before the show was set up. May be used as a noun to refer to the event at which the show is struck. All CTC members are required to be at each strike, which occurs immediately after the final performance of a production.
If you hear other non-theatre acronyms at Calvin and wonder what they mean, visit this link.
Being involved in theatre can teach you a lot, even if you have no intention of working in theatre professionally after college. Business consultant and blogger Tom Vander Well has written an excellent post about his experience as a theatre major and how it helped him succeed in life. Even if you’re not a theatre minor, you can benefit from what you’ll learn in CTC. Check out his post to find out why he considered his education in theatre at a Christian liberal arts university so beneficial.