with Kaitlin Hopkins
Texas State University
with Kaitlin Hopkins
Kaitlin Hopkins and Jim Price
With Kaitlin Hopkins, Jim Price, and Tony Walton
Christopher Durang, John Augustine, and Kaitlin Hopkins
Kaitlin Hopkins and the class of 2014
Kaitlin Hopkins, Jim Price, and John Fleming (Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications)
Texas State University
Kaitlin’s journey at Texas State, as Head of the Musical Theatre program, began in the Fall of 2009 when she created and launched a new BFA degree in Musical Theatre. “I am often asked how I got here, and why I was willing to leave my career in New York and Los Angeles to work with young artists. In March of 2009, I was on tour with Dirty Dancing: The Musical playing the role of Baby’s Mother. When the tour completed, I planned to go back to New York and start rehearsals on the Broadway revival of Bye Bye Birdie.” Kaitlin received a call from the Chair of the Theatre Department at Texas State, Dr. John Fleming, who is now the Dean of the School of Fine Arts and Communications. “Texas State was interested in offering a new BFA degree plan in musical theater and my qualifications and background seemed to suit their needs. I was surprised, but very intrigued.” Texas State wanted to create a program designed and run by industry professionals which would train the top young artists in the nation. “Now they really had my attention.” Along with her husband, Jim Price, Kaitlin flew to Texas to meet with the department.
Kaitlin identified three principles that were absolutely necessary to build a successful program. These included: the commissioning and development of new work, the implementation of a guest artist program to supplement the curriculum in a significant way (today, 10-14 industry professionals a year offer master classes, mock auditions, etc.), and a commitment to recruiting faculty who would only serve the musical theatre students, rather than farming classes out to the music or dance schools. “If Texas State was interested in everything being under the same departmental umbrella, we had a deal. This would allow us to fully integrate the curriculum, and create a degree in musical theater that would be innovative, comprehensive, and current.”
“The rest is a magical adventure… at least it felt that way to me.” Five months later Kaitlin and Jim were living in San Marcos, Texas (30 miles south of Austin), with two corgis, a house, and a plan to recruit their first incoming class. “My mission was to provide holistic and individualized training in musical theater performance, encouraging integrity and self-reliance, while preparing our artists for the current professional market. All we needed now was a new state of the art facility.” Texas State was committed to making that dream a reality as part of their vision for the future. In 2014, Kaitlin was proud to direct the production of Anything Goes that opened the 58 million-dollar performing arts center.
Kaitlin’s teaching philosophy is grounded in a number of principles: 1) training the individual from a holistic approach 2) creating a safe environment for students to “fail forward,” so they can approach their work from a place of fearlessness and joy of process 3) communication and collaboration 4) training from an acting perspective, whether through dance, song, or scene. “I believe curriculum should be ever evolving and changing as our industry changes.”
Additionally, Kaitlin’s husband, Jim, has been a Broadway performer, a writer and composer. The previous year Jim Price had been a Lark Playwright Fellow, in New York City, along with Katori Hall, Tina Howe, Carson Kritzer and Kenneth Lin. “We met doing a musical called Bat Boy in 2001, and our collaborations, from acting, to teaching, to new work development, have been inspiring.” After helping to develop the curriculum for the musical theater program, and serving on the MT faculty, in 2015 Jim created and launched Texas State University’s MFA in Dramatic Writing program.
In the Fall of 2009, the goal was to create a nationally recognized pre-professional training program, recruiting the top talent and academic scholars in the country. Today, Texas State University’s musical theatre program is ranked in the top ten training programs in the nation. “I believe as educators, if we challenge ourselves every day to push past what is comfortable and easy, it enables us to create an environment where discoveries can be made in a dynamic but safe environment, allowing students to take creative risks. It is an ever-evolving process to be an effective teacher, and I feel lucky to be engaged in that process.”
For more information on the musical theater program and its curriculum, please visit www.theatreanddance.txstate.edu.
Articles and Interviews
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"Symposium focused on women who make a difference through their efforts to create, sustain, and grow performing arts education and featuring an expert panel of women taking a closer look at the current financial state of the educational and professional arts environment. Moderated by acclaimed playwright Theresa Rebeck."