New CMC associate degree for theater available this spring

Staff report
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Colorado Mountain College will begin offering an associate of arts degree with a theater emphasis, starting with the spring semester at CMC’s Spring Valley Center in Glenwood Springs.

The program will allow college thespians to earn a two-year degree emphasizing real stage experience, which they can apply toward entry-level jobs or transfer to a four-year program.

Gary Ketzenbarger, associate professor of theater and speech at Spring Valley, helped put the program together, and believes it will be important for student recruitment and retention.

CMC is working on an articulation agreement with the University of Colorado-Boulder’s theater department, which Ketzenbarger said would guarantee graduates of CMC’s theater program the requirements to major in theater at CU.

“A lot of the four-year theater programs are all over the map in terms of requirements,” said Ketzenbarger, a CU alum himself. “CU’s are much closer to our own, so this articulation agreement will really create a pipeline into the CU program, where CMC students can finish their junior and senior years.”

Dr. Deborah “Sunny” Schmitt, assistant vice president for academic affairs, arts and sciences at CMC, said the new degree program has taken many months to develop.

“It’s a lot more prescriptive program than some of our other associate programs, but we want our students to take all the theater classes they can so they can transfer to CU,” she said.

The program will have a strong emphasis on theater appreciation. Each theater production class requires 60 hours of participation in set construction, scenic artistry, costuming, lighting, sound and stage managing for CMC Theatre performances.

With an associate degree, graduates can qualify for jobs such as lighting and sound technicians, stage managers and actors, or might also direct a community-based play, Ketzenbarger said

He said there is a great demand for stagehands and other backstage occupations along the state’s Front Range, and he hopes to see a CMC vocational program to help train those workers in the near future.

The increase of independent and foreign films, plus the advent of Web-based movies, could also increase employment opportunities for actors, producers and directors, he noted. Jobs in those professions may grow by 11 percent from 2006 to 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The new emphasis should also help promote the Spring Valley theater program to the Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen communities, he said.

“Hopefully, we’ll get even more people come up to see our shows,” Ketzenbarger added.

This fall, approximately 30 students are taking theater classes at Spring Valley, he said. With the new emphasis next spring, he hopes to have around 50 students.

“I’d like to see three or four main stage shows each season and one or two student shows,” Ketzenbarger said.

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