Opinion: Please don’t cut the theater major

The minute that I joined the Calvin Theatre Company in the fall of 2012 was the moment that my life took a significant, beautiful, messy, wonderful turn. I did not know that this would be the case at the time. But since then, I have seen God’s plan and love for me unfold in ways that would not have been possible without the support of my theater family.

I thought I would join the company in a club capacity; it would be a great way to make friends, be involved in the Calvin community and try something new. As I found myself cast in a show two weeks into my freshman year, I also found myself enveloped in a group of people who cared deeply for each other, for their art, for their love of creativity. They, quite literally, received me with open arms. So I decided to declare a theater major at the beginning of my sophomore year. It was a decision that I have never regretted.

Theatre has taught me to work hard. It has taught me to persevere through unforeseen circumstances. It has taught me to manage my time well, to offer help, to dive into group projects. I have learned how to communicate effectively in front of crowds, to collaborate with other artists, to show up on time, to build and draw and paint and sew.

Theater has taught me how to relate to others, whether that be through silence, through conversation over a mug of tea, through dinners at professors’ homes. It has taught me that hospitality is important and that relationships are the most wonderful thing upon which one can focus one’s attention. It has, in short, taught me how to love well and that I am loved unconditionally.

Theater has taught me that strong mentorship is essential to creative success. I have learned more in the conversations with my dear professors than I have in many of my classes. They encourage me, hold me in times of grief, trust me to do my best, give me opportunities to do what I love, and lead me in prayer and meditation.

Theater has taught me to be still, that stasis and the act of staying quiet can cause more impact that constant chatter and noise.

Theater has taught me to embody empathy on the stage. It has taught me that everyone has a story.

Theater has taught me to stand tall with my feet planted firmly on the ground. Heart and head held high. Hands open. Eyes closed. Receptive to God’s blessings and the challenges that he chooses to present to me.

Theater changed my life. It has shaped me into a human being who is ready to take on the world and embrace grace and peace and love by examining life and humanity and suffering all at once. I don’t know of many other programs or fields of studies who offer this. Theater is a major that takes a college degree to another level. It says, “Now that you have the tools to create, create. Do something. You have the power to follow God’s leading and make art that is impactful and true.”

Please don’t cut the theater major. You have the opportunity to invest in something wonderful. Don’t waste it.