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MFA Acting Concentration: The Arc of the Training

Year One:  Foundations

In the first year of training, we establish foundations.  Process takes precedence over performance.  We begin a daily regimen of practice with voice, speech, movement, singing, Alexander Technique and scene study. Clown, mask, or other workshops often supplement at this stage.  Much of the work is about the actor becoming freer, more personally available, more fully expressive.  Basic tools for effective approach to a script are also practiced, mainly with modern realistic texts.  Theatre history, theory, and research skills are studied.  Some first year actors may be cast in CBT productions.  Most first year actors begin to work in the CBT in A Christmas Carol.  In the spring term, work in productions or projects begins more in earnest.

Year Two:  Transformation

In the second year, basic tools are applied to more complex tasks and material.  The actor’s increasing freedom is directed into more varied forms; voice and speech work extend into use of heightened language and dialects; work on availability of self moves into work on character transformation; work with modern realistic material moves to work with period and style.  A major emphasis of the year is effective use of language.  With some exceptions, actors are quite continuously either in Clarence Brown productions or projects.

Year Three:  Integration and Graduation

The third year is about continuing the training, integrating the work of the first two years, working in the CBT, and graduating into the profession. Studio work continues, but is more about putting the craft together than breaking it down into components.  Actors take fuller control of their creative process.  Each actor develops and realizes a Project in Lieu of Thesis that culminates with a performance component.  Production work becomes more prominent, and faculty begin to work in more of a coaching capacity.  Actors have opportunities to teach undergraduate beginning acting classes, and/or to assist senior faculty with Directing, Play Analysis, Introduction to Theatre, Shakespearean Text, Movement, or other classes. The Clarence Brown Theatre season is selected with a greater eye to finding featured roles for third year actors.

In the final term, focus naturally shifts to graduating and entering the marketplace.  The industry showcase model is undergoing rapid change among MFA programs nationally, primarily due to digital transformation of the marketplace.  We no longer do a live New York showcase.  However, we provide strong support in a variety of ways:  we host guest agents, casting directors, and alumni on campus and in webinars.  We support each actor in networking, building a personal professional website, and targeting specific markets where they intend to reside after graduation.  We support external auditions and develop film clip material for marketing purposes.  We expect to produce and widely distribute a digital showcase in the coming years.  We have much to do to stay current and optimize our approach to professional entry, but we are working hard to do just that.

For your interest, go to MFAShowcase.com, to see our group website and access the individual sites of recent graduates.