/UM Theatre Department recognized as top program in Alabama by OnStage Blog
Graphic by Bell Jackson

UM Theatre Department recognized as top program in Alabama by OnStage Blog

By: Sarah Clayton

On Feb. 28, Onstage Blog recognized the University of Montevallo’s Theatre Department as the top theatre program in the state of Alabama for their 2021 edition.  

Onstage Blog posts an annual list every year to recognize universities and schools across the country, and Montevallo had the privilege of being on the list this year. The list of schools was compiled by a committee consisting of students, educators, parents and alumni alike. 

Other online rankings of theatre programs base their rankings on the region, like best programs in the South, while others like this list are compiled by each state. They have criteria for each list that is compiled and then added up to recognize a school or university. 

Chairman of the Theatre Department, Dr. David Callaghan, had this to say on the recognition, “It was very nice to heat this news. I think the nature of any recognition like this is you have been working for a number of years and then at a given time somebody making these kinds of assessments acknowledges it.  It was a very nice recognition of the collective endeavor of the theatre department.” 

This recognition can create this lasting impact within the department as it effects faculty, students, and incoming students as well.  

Callaghan asked alumni and other students about how they felt about the recognition and most of them felt proud of being a part of the University. 

“It is possible that a particular prospective student, especially from another region, might look a little closer at us now after reading the article, but ultimately it comes down to the work that we do, the training, the education we offer here at Montevallo,” said Callaghan. “In the field of higher education these types of recognitions do encourage people to take a closer look, certainly, and that’s a positive thing.” 

The article acknowledges how now is a good time to get into theatre. 

Callaghan went into more detail. 

“The field/industry is rebooting, reenergizing, there is all this change happening and it’s going to be an exciting time ahead. We are seeing a lot of interest from prospective students, and the temporary changes of the past year did not shut down recruiting students who are interested in studying theatre, so that’s awesome,” said Callaghan.  

The article does not really list specific reasons on why the universities and schools were the best of the best. They went off seven-point criteria for the committee to go off. 

“There are so many great theatre programs offering theatre training, but they are all different, so when you are looking for a program, you are looking for a place that fits best with you,” said Callaghan. 

“We do things in our specific way and I believe we do a very good job at meeting students where they are directly, finding out what they are interested in, where they see their future, and mentoring them towards a path after graduation individually within the holistic curriculum we offer all students. We feel our majors are extremely prepared for the next step of their artistic and personal journey after graduation,” he continued.  

 Callaghan said he hopes that students have had a good experience being at Montevallo as well as growing as an artist and as a person. 

 “Being an artist is a way you look at the world and we eventually translate that into actual jobs and what we do in our longer-term careers,” said Callaghan.  

Callaghan also added that there was still a possibility for growth within the department. 

“I can’t envision a department, a theatre, any kind of artistic producing organization that couldn’t grow and improve,” said Callaghan. “It’s married with the idea of curiosity, as you can do really good work in this field or even great work at times, but there’s always something ahead of you. 

“There’s always more to learn in our field and that possibility makes for a rich and fulfilling life. There’s always something new happening, so we should never stop learning and growing, as it truly enriches our lives!” 

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Sarah Clayton is a writer for The Alabamian. She is a third-year senior theatre major who enjoys all things theatre related. When she is not writing for The Alabamian or busy with classes she enjoys listening to music, reading, making TikToks, watching movies or TV shows she has already seen and hanging out with friends.