MFA in Acting
The Acting Program at CalArts, offers classically centered training with an eye toward the future, designed for preparing young artists for the performance challenges of the 21st century. The aim of this program is to guide students in becoming versatile, well-rounded theater artists who have the skills to chart their own creative and professional paths. Accordingly, the program seeks talented performers who are engaged with their imaginations, guided by their passions, and compelled to speak their stories.
Reflecting the rapidly evolving landscape of contemporary performance practice, the Acting Program has moved beyond the training structures used for preparing actors for repertory theater companies. Instead, the actor of the 21st century needs to be highly versatile, able to work in any number of forms, styles and settings. This actor must be technologically literate, have a strong command of body, voice and speech, and be equally adept in theater, film, television and emerging media.
The Acting Program provides comprehensive training for sophisticated actors and theater artists who make strong connections between the physical and the mental. Students in this program learn how to analyze texts, understand acting methodologies, and develop their bodies, voices, emotions and minds as instruments for performance. They also come to appreciate the value of hard work, self-discipline and accountability. In addition to coursework, acting students hone their skills by performing in studio projects, student-directed scenes and plays, and full productions directed by faculty, student directors and guest artists.
During the final year in residence in both the BFA and MFA programs, students enroll in Acting Studio for the Camera, an intensive class, and also sharpen their auditioning skills. The final semester culminates with a showcase production in which graduating students perform for professionals in the theater and film industries.
The three-year MFA Acting Program is designed for advanced student actors who are adventuresome, imaginative, and highly motivated. The admissions process is very competitive. The program’s curriculum focuses on all facets of each actor’s art and technique. It also strives to question commonly held assumptions about theater while exploring new possibilities. During the first year of the MFA program, students take courses in speech, voice and movement, and clarify and refine acting techniques and personal aesthetics. In the second year, the emphasis is on classical texts, Shakespeare and other style work, while the third and final year is devoted to performance. Additional coursework can include seminars in play analysis, history of the avant-garde, contemporary drama and other topics.