Professional Theatre Residency


Jack Cirillo Performance 696-2511
Lang Reynolds Production 696-2546
Mike Murphy Production 696-2517

Course Description, Credit hours

Catalogue description: Supervised off-campus contractual work-study arrangement with external agencies or theatrical institutions. (1-4 hours)

All BFA Theatre majors must complete this course to fulfill the degree requirements for a Bachelor of Fine Arts in the Arts with a concentration in Performance or Production. Participation in a Professional Theatre Residency is the beginning of a student’s professional career and deserves careful consideration.

Declared B.F.A. Theatre majors may apply to enroll in THE 490 after successfully completing THE 295 Sophomore Review.

Students identify, apply, or audition for, and complete a residency or entry-level position with a professional entertainment production company, vendor, or contractor.  Credit hours for professional training programs or workshops may be granted by special permission of the academic advisor and School Director.  Credit hours earned is variable, depending on the type, length, and significance of the project to the student’s long-range goals.


THE 295 Sophomore Review and/or permission of the academic advisor and the Director of the School of Theatre and Dance.

The Academic Advisor supervises and evaluates the project. Students should enroll in the proper section number for their advisor.

Proposal: All residency offers, or positions require the approval of the student’s faculty advisor prior to registering for THE 490 course credit.

The proposal package is submitted to the advisor and Director of the School of Theatre at the time an offer is made by the residency organization and is evaluated as part of the student’s final residency grade (see “Grading” for details). The Residency Proposal package must include the following items:

  • Completed Residency Advisor Approval Form (PDF)
  • Letter of intent
  • Completed Student’s Learning Objectives and Goals Form (PDF)
  • Professional Resume
  • A copy of the employment contract, agreement or formal offer and any supporting materials
  • Calendar showing your travel dates, contract dates and return date
  • Request for university excused absence (if required. See below for details)
  • Documentation of a focused job search including support materials for a minimum of two additional submissions, applications, auditions, or formal job queries.

Computer Requirements: An active email account and Blackboard access are necessary for the completion of course requirements.

Student Learning Outcomes/Objectives

A Residency provides students with an opportunity to put into practice skills they have learned while in school. In addition, the residency should provide students with an opportunity to enhance those skills, increase the student’s professional network, obtain the perspective of a professional work environment, and benefit from a mentor or supervisor’s experience and advice.

To gain maximum benefit, the work experience must have a supervisor or mentor available to provide coaching and evaluation of the student. Before the residency begins, the student should develop several learning objectives to be met during the work experience. Learning objectives are specific, measurable statements of what the student hopes to accomplish or learn during the residency. Each learning objective should center on developing a specific professional skill, job competency, or a broader knowledge of a specific segment of the entertainment industry.

Program Level Learning Outcomes

One of the Department of Theatre program goals is to prepare students to present competitive portfolios and a repertory of advanced skills necessary for entry-level careers or advanced study in the performing arts and entertainment industry. The residency experience is a synthesis of all program-learning outcomes with specific focus on the student’s knowledge of and adherence to professional practice including etiquette and conventions, decorum, protocols, managerial chain of command, legal issues, and ethical standards specific to the performing arts and entertainment industry.

Due prior to acceptance
30% 10%    Accepted application. Letter of intent, Residency learning Objectives form, professional resume, copy of contract or agreement.
20%    Additional residency applications (minimum requirement: 2 additional applications) job description or posting, application letter, email correspondence, any supporting materials
On site requirements
Progress reports are due every two weeks of the residency. The professional journal is maintained throughout the residency and submitted with the personal assessment. 
35% 5%    Progress Reports Submitted via email every two weeks during the residency to the instructor of record.
15%    Journal entries should be of a professional nature and adhere to the Guided Talking Points described below.  The journal is submitted with the final package.
15%    Supervisor’s Evaluation submitted to the approved residency supervisor.
Self reflection and documentation 35% 15%    Personal assessment of the overall experience and the residency learning objectives and goals.
10%    Company Profile Package Company: operations manuals, rehearsal schedules, souvenir programs, organizational charts and other materials that help define the size, scope, structure, and operations of the company
10%    Residency Showcase/Roundtable All students are required to provide a public presentation of their residency experience.  See Residency Guidelines and Handbook below for details and grading rubric.

Grading Policy

  • A = 90 – 100%
  • B = 80 – 89%
  • C = 70 – 79%
  • D = 60 – 69%

Grading rubrics for each element are included in the descriptions furnished by the student’s advisor and are summarized in the Residency Handbook and Guidelines below.

Residency termination dates vary widely. Therefore, the final grade posting for all summer residencies is deferred to the beginning of the fall semester. In most instances the fall semester shall be the semester of record for students enrolled in THE 490 Theatre Residency. However, students may enroll for credit in the spring or summer semesters depending on schedule demands and residency opportunities. Students will NOT receive a residency grade until all required documents are filed with the teacher of record (advisor).

Acceptable Residency Sponsors

The sponsor or employer must be an established organization with practices, policies, and production qualities in line with prevailing industry standards and policies consistent with federal guidelines.  Residency duties and activities should support and advance the student’s career objectives.

Students who wish to apply THE 490 credit for enrollment in specialized training leading to certification, extended workshop participation with recognized regional, national or international specialists, or other activities must discuss such options with their faculty advisor prior to applying for THE 490 credit hours.

Plagiarism Policy/Academic Honesty

The university defines plagiarism as “Submitting as one’s own work or creation any material or an idea wholly or in part created by another.” Academic honesty includes all journal entries and the description of duties performed or completed within the residency. Any deviation from this standard will result in a lowered or possibly a failing grade.

Attendance Policy

Students completing a professional residency represent Marshall University. Successful students will create opportunities for other students. Consequently, all students are expected to maintain a high professional standard throughout the pre and post residency process as well as on the job. Any unexcused absence or failure to complete assignments accepted during the residency will result in a failing grade.

Excused Absence for Off-Campus Residencies

If it is necessary to miss classes to fulfill the terms of a residency contract or commitment, a request for an excused absence should be included in the residency proposal package. Once the proposal is approved, it is the student’s responsibility to request an excused absence from the School Director. Requests must be emailed to the Director prior to the start date of the residency and must include the following information:

  • Student’s name
  • Advisor’s name
  • Name of employer
  • List of all missed classes including class title, date and time
  • Name and email of each instructor

The School Director will forward a digital copy (PDF) of the signed college sponsored excuse (CAM) dean and chair signatures are require) to the student’s MU email address. It the student’s responsibility to forward this excuse to all teachers prior to any missed classes. Be aware that instructors have the right to refuse a college sponsored excused absence received after the scheduled absence. Students are responsible for making up all missed assignments and work.

In addition, students must inform the instructors of all courses affected that the instructor will receive a University Excuse Absence. The dates of the project should be included in that email. A copy of the instructor’s email should be forwarded to the School Director as soon as the proposal is signed by the student’s faculty advisor.

Statement for Disabled Students

Marshall University is committed to equal opportunity in education for all students, including those with physical, learning and psychological disabilities. University policy states that it is the responsibility of students with disabilities to contact the Office of Disabled Student Services (DSS) in Prichard Hall 117, phone 304 696-2271 to provide documentation of their disability. Following this, the DSS Coordinator will send a letter to each of the student’s instructors outlining the academic accommodation he/she will need to ensure equality in classroom experiences, outside assignment, testing and grading. The instructor and student will meet to discuss how the accommodation(s) requested will be provided.

If discrimination or accessibility is denied by a residency employer, please alert your academic advisor and visit or contact Disabled Student Services Office at Prichard Hall 11, phone 304-696-2271.

Financial Agreements

Most positions are unpaid or receive a small stipend. Any financial agreements are solely between the student and the sponsoring company. The MU School of Theatre and Dance cannot accept responsibility for financial arrangements for this project. However, students are advised to review the Federal Residency Guidelines (see link below) and consult a faculty advisor before finalizing a financial agreement with an employer. There are several resources on-campus to support off-campus summer projects. Applications for funding are often due early in the previous semester. It is to the student’s advantage to explore campus opportunities early in their career. Start with the Director of Theatre or your advisor.

Resume Preparation The professional resume is often the first exposure a candidate has for consideration at the “Next Level”. Resume’ formats in theatre vary from those one might see in other professions. They should be tailored to meet specific goals. Students have developed a general resume for Sophomore Review. They will be expected to develop a resume’ specific to the position they are seeking as a member of a production company. A copy of the resume’ the student used during the audition/interview process must accompany the application.

Letter of Intent A letter of intent will be expected of intern applicants. This letter, addressed to the theatre faculty, shall detail the reasons the student has for selecting a particular experience as being worthy of THE 490 Theatre credit. The letter will describe the career opportunities perceived by the applicant for considering a particular production company or workshop. It will also identify how specific responsibilities with the organization can be assessed by the student, immediate supervisors and the faculty.

Employment/ Contract and Support Material The student shall present documentation supporting the extent of their activities with the sponsoring organization. Support should include copies of their contract, contract dates, company policies, operations manuals, season/company brochures and other documentation relating to their activities. Those students attending workshops, training programs or certification sessions should include admission letters, contracts, brochures and additional information as determined by their academic advisor. Information contained within these documents will serve as a basis to justify THE 490 Residency credit.

Identification of Immediate Supervisor Prior to applying for THE 490 Residency credit the student will identify a supervising professional within the organization who is willing to serve as their residency evaluator. The identified person will be the contact person for all communication between the faculty and company with regard to the student’s activity within the organization. Students will be expected to complete the Residency Supervisor Information Form

Intern Journal Students participating in this activity shall keep a journal of their experiences, insights, observations and learning opportunities. The journal should have regular entries. Journal entries should include descriptive accounts of operations and techniques; assessments of how activities may impact their training and experience; and/or personal comments concerning the total residency. A few simple, descriptive paragraphs per entry should be sufficient to describe your impressions. It is expected that journal entries will be made on a regular basis throughout the residency period. While daily entries are not required, the student should understand that 3-4 entries a week would minimally suffice. The journal should be submitted with the student’s package upon returning to campus.

Progress Reports All students are required to submit, via email using their Marshall accounts, a brief synopsis of their activities EVERY TWO WEEKS. The progress reports can reference the rehearsal/building process, practices used to maintain production standards, professional interactions with co-workers and staff among others. NOTE: Students may elect to simple send excerpts of their Journal to fulfill this requirement. Communication should be sent to both the Residency Monitor and the student’s academic advisor. Students are reminded that it is their responsibility to secure access to the internet.

Supervisor’s Evaluation Letter Upon completion of their contract period student shall request a letter of Evaluation from their immediate supervisor (identified above). The letter should be written on company letterhead by a resident professional associated with the company who had opportunity to work in a supervisory capacity with the intern. (Ex: Director, Designer, Technical Director, Box Office Manager, Producer, etc.) This letter may serve also as a portfolio inclusion for students, a reference entry on their resume, or a letter of introduction to future companies.

Personal Evaluation Students will submit an evaluation of the overall residency experience to their faculty advisor. The evaluation will examine both sides of the project. Positive observations may include goals that were met, surpassed expectations, new techniques utilized, contacts made, etc. Comments unfavorable to the experience are also encouraged. Appropriate comments may include a description of challenging working conditions, personality differences, organizational shortcomings, unfulfilled promises, etc. A statement of how both good and bad experiences can be used in future contractual situations would be appropriate.

Company Profile Package Students shall assemble a package of materials relating to their employment and activities with the participating company. The package may include company operations manuals, rehearsal schedules, souvenir programs, organizational charts and other materials that help define the organizational structure and operations of the company.

Residency Showcase and Roundtable All students are required to provide a public presentation of their residency experience. The primary forum for this activity will be student participation in an residency showcase and roundtable discussion at the beginning of the fall semester immediately following their summer experience. Students will be expected to present an informed discussion of their experience in concert with students who have had recent residency exposure. The basis for discussion topics will be centered on materials submitted as part of their residency dossier. Students may reference the audition/interview process, contract negotiations, the selection process, company profiles, practices, procedures and expectations, creative opportunities, similarities and differences between academic and professional approaches, and a critical evaluation of the overall experience. In addition to a verbal presentation students must be able to exhibit, via performance, static or visual displays, examples of their contributions to the overall creative effort. This can be accomplished by performing selections of roles, images of scenes performed, and/or detailed images of production/performance techniques utilized.

Students who graduate at the end of the summer or have not completed their contract obligations before Labor Day may be given an option to present via video, Skype, conference call, lobby display, PowerPoint presentation, or other media formats approved by the faculty advisor. Arrangements must be made through the teacher of record or faculty advisor prior to Labor Day.

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Marshall University
School of Theatre
One John Marshall Drive
Huntington, WV 25755

Telephone: 304-696-7184

Fax: 304-696-6582

Box Office: 304-696-ARTS (2787)

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