Find Community and Creativity with a Degree in Theatre Arts

Luis Valdez, playwright and founder of El Teatro Campesino, in conversation at a San José City College Theatre Arts event in 2017.
Luis Valdez, playwright and founder of El Teatro Campesino, in conversation at an SJCC event in 2017.

Oscar Wilde said, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

At San José City College, we couldn’t agree more with this iconic playwright, poet, and writer. Our Theatre Arts Program is dedicated to making a difference through art — and creating a space that allows students to feel a strong sense of belonging on and off the stage.

If you choose to do an AA-T Degree in Theatre Arts at SJCC, you’ll find your creative community and get started on a path to a fulfilling career in the arts. And it’s important to remember that theatre arts isn’t just for actors.

Let’s explore just what theatre arts means, and why you’ll want to join the Theatre Arts community at SJCC.

What is Theatre Arts?

It’s also often referred to as dramatic arts or spelled “theater arts.” And it’s in the performing arts family — along with music, and dance.

Performing artists are actors, musicians, and dancers, of course. But there’s so much more to it than those three roles.

And there’s also a lot more to theatre arts. Like the other performing arts, it’s a collaborative art form at its core. So there are many supporting and complementary fields within the dramatic arts.

It includes every element of the art form — from lighting to make-up and costume to set design. Actors will find their home on the stage, but they aren’t the only type of artist who thrives there.

Now let’s talk about what theatre arts means at SJCC.

SJCC’s Theatre Arts Program Offers Unique Opportunities

San José City College offers one of the most unique programs in the Bay Area, where students can complete an Associate Degree in Theatre Arts. 

The SJCC Theatre Arts program states: “The core values of our Theatre Arts program are personal integrity, social justice, and examining how art imitates life.” These principles guide every aspect of the program — and it shows.

If you join the theatre arts community at SJCC, you’ll study theatre in a traditional classroom setting but you’ll also participate in lively productions. Most importantly, you will learn to create and examine art that makes a difference.

Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans: A Salsa Fairytale — San José City College's successful children's theatre touring production in 2019.
Cinderella Eats Rice and Beans: A Salsa Fairy Tale — SJCC’s successful children’s theatre touring production in 2019.

Theatre Arts at SJCC Prepares You for the Real World

Course offerings and requirements in the program include classes like theatre history, beginning acting, film, and technical theatre. The dynamic and passionate group of faculty who teach these courses make the program truly exceptional.

These faculty have also created a variety of opportunities that will give you real-life experience. This is one of the many things that sets SJCC Theatre Arts apart from other programs.

You can learn valuable skills and gain the confidence to succeed on the stage, in the theatre, or even in film. Here are some of the programs that help students prepare for the real world of theatre, so they can unleash their brilliance.

  • Children’s Theatre Tour: This program allows students the full experience of a touring production. They perform for young audiences of up to 400 people. Anita Reyes, Head of the Theatre Arts department — said of the program, “This experience prepares students for a professional tour; they rehearse in one space and then they have to adapt to perform in a new space with a different stage, sound and lighting experience. This program also gives a variety in terms of style. We do a mix of straight plays as well as musicals.”
  • Bi-Annual Productions: While faculty members assist in productions, students play a huge role in every aspect of it. From make-up, to costume design, to lighting — no matter what your theatre interests are, you can get valuable experience by participating in an SJCC production.
  • Work-Study Program: Thanks to this program, students can get paid to work in the Theatre Arts department. They can choose from 8 different roles which include Stagehand and Light Board Operator. SJCC graduate Nicolas Sanchez, a passionate Stage Manager, completed two consecutive years in the Work-Study program. “I felt really grateful that there were multiple positions to choose from,” he said. And “these theatre arts positions can make students more competitive after graduation as it will enhance their skills.” Sanchez graduated from SJCC in 2020 and is currently working on his BA in Theatre Arts at San José State University.

So no matter what part of the theatre interests you, you’re sure to find a way to get real world experience. And you’ll be ahead of the curve when you graduate from SJCC.

SJCC’s Commitment to Social Justice Inspires Audiences

The Theatre Arts department is dedicated to social justice, and San José City College is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). So the program taps into one of it’s strongest communities to stay true to this value.

The program offers a Chicanx/Latinx Theatre class — where students can explore this identity and tell their stories. They even have the opportunity to showcase their own original work.

When asked about the unique programs that SJCC offers, Reyes said, “I trained and worked with world renowned theatre company El Teatro Campesino with Luis Valdez, and sharing that love of an art form that calls the audience to action on a cause, is my passion.”

A passion to inspire audiences is a huge part of the essence of the Theatre Arts program. Because SJCC and its faculty are committed to this in every production, course, and project.

The debut poster introducing a new Theatre Arts course at SJCC — Chicanx/Latinx Theatre.
The debut poster for a new Theatre Arts course in 2017.

The Theatre Arts Community at SJCC is a Family

The close knit community that the Theatre Arts program provides for students is truly incredible. Through productions, coursework, and projects — students create powerful bonds. And it is this strong sense of community and collaboration that helps students achieve their goals together.

Former theatre arts student, Sanchez spoke fondly of his time with the program, when he said “the theater is like a second home. Once a Theatre Arts student becomes involved in productions or classes, it makes it challenging to leave the space as students come to love the theater and the memories that are shared with others.”

Reyes echoed the same idea, and reminded us that these environments are cultivated mindfully and intentionally — so that students can thrive. “I want to provide a space for students. My dream is for the campus community to find a second home in the theatre department. If you are looking for a place to build friendships and build community — come to the theatre. All are welcome!” she said.

Love and Information, the fall production at SJCC in 2015.
Love and Information, the fall production at SJCC in 2015.

An Associate Transfer Degree in Theatre Arts Leads to a Creative Career

If you find your chosen family at SJCC you’ll certainly have a hard-time leaving them after graduation. But no matter what, they will leave you forever changed.

This supportive family of faculty and peers will have prepared you for life after San José City College. When you complete an Associate Degree in Theatre Arts, you’ll be ready to continue your creative education, and be on the path to a great career.

An AAT Degree in Theatre Arts is a Degree with a Guarantee

One of the best things about the Theatre Arts program at SJCC is that all of its requirements are designed to help you succeed. Because they fulfill the lower-division requirements for students who want to transfer to a California State University (CSU).

And SJCC partners with the Degree with a Guarantee program — so students can even qualify for guaranteed admission to a select number of CSU’s when they complete their AS Degree in Theatre Arts.

Nicolas Sanchez completed his AS Degree in Theatre Arts at SJCC in Spring 2020.  He participated in the Work-Study program as a Stage Manager and transferred to SJSU to study a BA in Theatre Arts.
Nicolas Sanchez completed his AS Degree at SJCC in Spring 2020. He participated in the Work-Study program as a Stage Manager and transferred to SJSU to study a BA in Theatre Arts.

Theatre Arts Provides a Path to Creative Degrees and Careers

If you would like to pursue any performing arts degree after your AS degree, Theatre Arts opens up a broad range of degree opportunities. Here are a few common choices for Theatre Arts students.

  • BA in Theatre Arts
  • BA in Technical Theatre
  • BFA in Acting
  • BA in Film
  • BA in Performing Arts
  • BFA in Musical Theatre

Any of these bachelor’s degrees in theatre arts will lead you to a creative career where you can continue to take risks, create art, and make a difference.

The Theatre Arts Program at SJCC Will Make a Difference in Your Life

The Theatre Arts program at San José City College helps students tap into their brilliance in so many ways. It is guided by principles of integrity, social justice, and examining art with a critical eye — so it’s sure to make a long-lasting impact on your life.

So if you’ve always dreamed of a future in the theatre or in film, and you’re looking for your creative tribe — check out SJCC’s Theatre Arts program now!

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