With the Theater Department at Minnesota State University, Mankato currently performing “Wounded Healers”, it’s important to recognize the value of the theater program and the degrees that students can obtain through them.
Graduate Assistant Morgan Benson is working towards her Master of Fine Arts in acting.
She is currently working at MSU as a teaching assistant and as a box office manager. She says, most times, people believe that theatre a risky degree, when in reality it isn’t.
“What I really love about general theater degrees is that you get to work in every single department that gets to make up a theatrical performance. You work with lights, sound, set construction, set design, costume design, costume construction,” said Benson. “You get directing experience [too], so really you get a little flavor of all these elements so you can see what you like best. A theater degree reaches beyond acting.”
Furthermore, earning a theater degree prepares students for the workforce in unseen ways.
“What I love most about it is that it makes you such a well-rounded person. You can sew, you can use a table saw, you can wire things together electrically,” said Benson. “You learn to take an idea and turn it into a reality.”
This skill set opens a range of career options due to the variety of skills students learn from their classes.
“I really think that it makes you such a strong communicator. You can walk into any interview and tell them ‘I can take any idea and turn it into a reality on a budget and timeline’ and when you work with that type of mentality, I think it makes you a marketable person in many business industries. And that’s what theater is,” shared Benson. “You produce a product on a budget and timeline. You make it happen, no matter what.”
For Benson, what inspired her to pursue a theater degree was creating change through storytelling.
“I think people only change when they can relate to something, an idea, or a person. When you see these stories being told, it’s just a way to create a positive change. I feel like it’s doing good and it’s a purposeful thing as a human being to do,” said Benson.
In the future, Benson hopes to create positive change through the use of storytelling as an educator.
“I want to teach full time at some point and to help people view the world with curiosity instead of judgment,” said Benson.
The stigma around theater programs doesn’t live up to the value it holds. Benson encourages students who are considering joining the program to see what they can get out of the program.
“I encourage people to look past that and really look at it and see what you’re getting out of the degree,” said Benson.
Header Photo: The MSU Theatre Department delivers a wide range of degrees for students to obtain (Courtesy Photo)