The Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University is currently accepting applications for the 2014–2015 academic year. The final deadline for applications will be Jan. 11, 2014, with auditions scheduled for February in Chicago, New York, and Seattle as well as in Washington, D.C.
Under the guidance of Michael Kahn, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and one of this country's most respected acting teachers, the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting (ACA) at The George Washington University offers a Master of Fine Arts degree to develop actors for the classical theater and trains up to 16 students each year. The ACA's one-year intensive graduate program (consisting of 59 credit hours) focuses on the specific craft of acting Shakespeare and other classical texts.
Instruction includes acting, voice and ear-training—in particular the challenges of speaking verse—movement, mask, the Alexander Technique, text, and stage combat, as well as dramatic literature and theater history. ACA students also receive a unique opportunity to learn and interact with members of the Shakespeare Theatre Company's accomplished classical acting company. Training includes performances in the ACA repertory productions and its Showcases in Washington, D.C., and New York City.
An alternative to traditional MFA acting programs, the ACA helps professional actors who want to strengthen their skills in these specific disciplines. "The actor who can perform the classics with confidence—who can meet the technical demands of performing classical dramatic texts—can perform anything," writes Kahn in his introductory letter. "To best develop the necessary skills to succeed in this challenging discipline, where the full range of an actor's abilities are brought into use, students must train in an environment wholly devoted to the classics. While many other schools offer a three-year MFA in acting with limited attention given to classical theater, the ACA provides students the only one-year program that focuses exclusively on training to perform the works of Shakespeare and other classical playwrights."
The ACA's highly physical, rigorous training is part of a true immersion program, with many contact hours between students and a professional faculty. Its curriculum consists of five full days of classes and rehearsals for 12 consecutive months, including performances of fully-staged ACA productions. Beginning in mid-to-late August and finishing in mid-July, the training involves 44 weeks of instruction, with classes beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. Actors are in rehearsal on Saturdays as well during the summer term. This 59-credit degree is divided into three terms: fall (17 weeks), spring (15 weeks) and summer (12 weeks).
In addition to receiving ongoing feedback in classes, students meet twice during each semester with individual faculty members. These conferences allow for private one-on-one conversations to clarify student progress, define areas for growth, and develop strategies for improvement and change.
Joining ACA's faculty are members of the Shakespeare Theatre Company's acting company, as well as other working professionals, actors, scholars, and artists who understand the challenges that must be met by the next generation of classical actors.
To receive a master's degree, applicants to the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Academy for Classical Acting at The George Washington University must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning as well as demonstrate a strong foundation of study and practice in theater and a willingness to undertake rigorous classical theater training. All applicants must meet the requirements for graduate study at George Washington University.
Applicants without an undergraduate degree who have demonstrated professional commitment through their work in theater are eligible to apply to the program; such applicants, if accepted, receive a Certificate of Completion in lieu of the MFA degree. Tuition and fees are the same for certificate and degree students.
Auditions are scheduled for Saturdays in February: Feb. 1 in Washington, Feb. 8 in Chicago, Feb. 15 in New York City, and Feb. 22 in Seattle.
December 27, 2013