Written by Kristi Hawkins
Azusa Pacific University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts degree was featured recently as one of the country’s Top 25 BFA Acting/Performing Programs of 2018-2019 by OnStage Blog. Each academic year, OnStage Blog examines BFA in Acting programs across the country and ranks these programs based on their comprehensive performance curriculum and innovative acting opportunities within the degree.
“Through in-depth technique and training, we educate students to excel in all forms of theatrical and on-camera performance,” explains program director Kirsten Lundin Humer.
The program is designed for students who desire to act professionally in theater, film, television and new media. Azusa Pacific University’s Department of Theater Arts was one of the first departments to create a BFA in Acting for Stage and Screen—training for equal acting excellence on-camera and on stage. Developed in 2010 and launched in 2011, the BFA has grown from 30 majors to 110 majors.
“The degree is valuable because you have to be able to act in all genres in order to make a living,” states Jill Brennan-Lincoln, chair of the Department of Theater Arts. “Since our proximity is 30 minutes from Los Angeles, we want our students to have a real experience in LA with professionals in the industry.”
The department’s faculty are indeed professionals. Jill Brennan-Lincoln has been featured on shows like Gilmore Girls, Desperate Housewives, and Boston Legal, and Kirsten Lundin Humer is a professional voice artist and vocal coach, certified with and currently teaching during the summers for Patsy Rodenburg (Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre) in New York City. Dr. Rachel Tracie, theatre historian, was recently published by Palgrave Macmillan (Christina Reid’s Theatre of Memory and Identity). The faculty include professional directors/choreographers, professional theater designers from Los Angeles, and professional actors. Due to the connectivity of the faculty, BFA students have a direct line to real world jobs.
From their work with Oahn Nguyen in APU’s 2018 production of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, two APU BFA in Acting students have been cast in Jane Austen’s Emma and Big Fish at the critically-acclaimed Chance Theater of which Nguyen is the Artistic Director.
In the fourth year of BFA training, seniors act in a film with a professional film/television director and perform in an industry screening in Los Angeles, ensuring that they leave the BFA program with relevant experience, professionally filmed performances, and industry contacts or representation.
What is the desired outcome of such a dynamic, industry competent program? “We want to create industry innovators who will make an impact in the world,” articulates Brennan-Lincoln.
Arts advocates can help keep the rigor and excellence going by attending student productions. “Come see the shows,” petitions Humer. “If people in the community come see the shows, they help train our students, and they’re supporting the students’ work by providing an opportunity for students to apply the technique they are learning in the classroom for a live audience.”
To attend a theater production or learn more about the program, visit apu.edu/theater.