DePaul University Theatre School > Conservatory > Graduate Conservatory > Acting > Curriculum

Curriculum

MFA Acting

First Year

Graduate Acting I (3 quarter hours, 3 quarters) Beginning with a series of exercised and improvisations, the class introduces the acting student to the basic components of the acting process. Scene work forms the backbone of this class.

Graduate Voice I (2 quarter hours, 2 quarters) Foundation work consists of breath work, skeletal alignment, and the development of free voice flow. Classes include a regimen of intensive group exercises, and attention is paid to the expansion of each actor's individual expressiveness. The fundamental work is inspired by the Feldenkrais® and the Lessac System and is further influenced by the writings of Cicely Berry and Patsy Rodenburg.

Graduate Voice I (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Actors will continue to explore fundamental skills acquired during Fall and Winter Quarters. The actors learn the first half of the progression of exercises in Kristin Linklater's Freeing the Natural Voice. The focus is on connecting acting impulses to the voice. Graduate Speech I (1 quarter hour, 1 quarter) This course is designed to open awareness regarding the placement of the vocal resonance and the shaping of vowels and consonants.

Graduate Speech I (1 quarter hour, 1 quarter) Objectives are to extend the use of phonetic symbols to describe the speech of self and others, to explore an ever widening range and flexibility of choice in pronunciation, to develop a more acute “ear” for the music of vowels and consonants and to apply the work to texts.

Graduate Movement I (2 quarter hours, 1 quarters) Movement based on the technique of yoga as a means for the discovery of body mechanics, physical alignment, self-use and over-all self-awareness. This class will also meet two extra hours with a different instructor to concentrate on the imaginative use of self, to explore physical improvisation and to explore movement techniques that will aid the student to use themselves more freely and expand their range of expression.

Graduate Movement I (1 quarter hour, 2 quarters) Work focuses on full body awareness through Feldenkrais® movement lessons and through the study of anatomy. The emphasis will be place on deepening the actor's kinesthetic awareness and on developing a more articulate physical instrument, understanding the restrictions of habit, exploring dynamics and increasing the ability to make dynamic choices.

MFA Workshop I: Actor as Entrepreneur (2 quarter hours, 3 quarters) Workshop is a flexible laboratory time period designed to accommodate a number of possibilities of workshops, lectures, and demonstrations with guest artists mainly from the Chicago theatre community and beyond. Workshop also accommodates a number of projects generated by the MFA Acting students themselves. As workshop is a process class, projects may or may not result in a showing.

Graduate Seminar (3 quarter hours, 3 quarters) This is a reading and writing course which covers the entire history of western theatre starting with the Greeks and continuing through Shakespeare up to most current new scripts. It is also a survey of current theatrical trends in Chicago, New York, and the nation. It encourages the student to develop a critical voice in viewing professional productions and reading classic and new plays.

Improvisation (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This workshop is designed to introduce the student's to the foundation of the training program: Spolin-based improvisational work. There is a particular emphasis on the use of games as a stimulus for spontaneity, strong playing relationships and trouble shooting within the rehearsal process.

Meisner Technique (2 quarter hours, 2 quarters) This class will introduce graduate actors to the Sanford Meisner approach to acting. Meisner's approach gives actors a step-by-step progression of structured improvisations designed to stimulate instincts and impulses, sharpen concentration and listening skills and strengthen the imagination. Further exploration focuses on the actors' ability to develop given circumstances, emotional preparation and personalization.

Rehearsal & Performance I (3 quarter hours, 1 quarter) First year graduate acting students become an ensemble cast under the direction of a faculty or guest director to create and perform in a full-length and fully-staged production in which the year’s core training is synthesized and presented to the School community.

SECOND YEAR

Graduate Acting II: Heightened Language (3 quarter hours, 3 quarters) The course in Classical Acting joins the emotional, physical and imaginative life of a role with the technical skills needed to express that character to its fullest. This is achieved through rigorous foundation work and applying the basic tenets of acting to the acting of plays in verse; making strong choices that are grounded in the text, establishing a connection to the scene partner, listening and responding to what is happening in the scene. Using scenes and monologues, the students work closely with the instructor to bring their physical and vocal instruments to meet the demands of the material, and integrate the work done in other classes.

Graduate Acting II: Contemporary Focus (3 quarter hours, 3 quarters) This course explores the world of archetype, performance and magic in drama across boundaries of time and tradition. Inspired by folktales, myths, oral poetry and rituals from many traditions, the students develop original and play-based theatrical work both solo and ensemble. Resources include the traditional stories of African, Asian, South American, European and American literature, as well as plays from modernity that explore a mythic or folkloric basis. Exploration also includes a broad swath of tragic-focused and comic-focused dramatic material from Restoration through 1950. The students select scenes from plays that follow tragic and comic shapes and perform them in scene study form.

Graduate Voice & Speech II (2 quarter hours, 3 quarters) Intensive, individualized work on the development of the full range of the actor's voice. The second half of the Linklater progression is explored in depth. Texts are chosen that place greater demands on the actor's growing emotional and vocal capabilities.

Graduate Movement II (2 quarter hours, 2 quarters) Movement work focused on the exploration of effort/shape and how to function within the boundaries of form. Period dances, manners, and clothing will be explored and the creation of specific worlds (styles) will be emphasized.

Graduate Movement II (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Movement work designed to further the work in period dances, manners, and the creation of specific worlds (styles) with an emphasis on the student taking greater control of this research and its implementation into acting. Full Body awareness through movement lessons is continued. Imaginative use of self is also channeled through character mask work.

Stage Combat (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Students learn the fundamentals of hand-to-hand combat and weaponry with a focus on developing skills safely and effectively for the stage.

MFA Workshop II: Actor as Entrepreneur (2 quarter hours, 3 quarters) Workshop is a flexible laboratory time period designed to accommodate a number of possibilities of workshops, lectures, and demonstrations with guest artists mainly from the Chicago theatre community and beyond. Workshop II increases the number and scale of projects generated by the MFA acting students themselves. As workshop is a process class, projects may or may not result in a showing.

Rehearsal & Performance II (5 quarter hours, 3 quarters) Graduate acting students are continually involved in rehearsal and performance of plays in the Showcase, Chicago Playworks, New Directors, and Studio production series.

THIRD YEAR

Graduate Voice & Speech III – Musical Theatre (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Students continue to develop professional skills through singing.

Graduate Voice & Speech III – Music, Voice & Language (4 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This course will explore personal express through extension of the voice in pitch, range, and tone. Students will explore and present texts and songs. Heightened and poetic texts will be highlighted.

Voiceover (4 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This course is professional preparation for the field of voiceovers. Actors will work in a studio to learn techniques related to this aspect of the acting profession.

Graduate Movement III - Pilates (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This class offers the student a chance to further learn about efficient patterns of motion while creating an evenly conditioned body. Pilates helps the student develop strong core muscles and build strength without “bulking up.” This class will draw upon the student’s previous movement classes by challenging their awareness, levels of inquiry and physical decisions in a non-theatrical movement class.

Graduate Movement III – Yoga/Feldenkrais (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) By returning to yoga and/or Feldenkrais as advanced students, actors will be able to practice and experience these lessons at a much higher level than they could in their first year. They will be at a level of physical discipline that allows them to work with high awareness, inquiry, internal motivation and self-authority. Returning to these classes in the final year will help the actor build a lifelong commitment to maintaining a “strong” physical practice.

African Dance Elective (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Students will explore African dance, including West African dance styles, songs and rhythms, ethnic groups from which the dances and songs originated, and the relationships between various West African tribal rhythms and movements.

Company Creation (6 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Students follow two pathways: The path of creating empowers the class to imagine and rehearse and original piece of theatre through and invented process. The path of producing introduces the class to tools necessary for mounting theatre in Chicago or elsewhere.

On-Camera Seminar & On-Camera Practicum (6 quarter hour, 1 quarter in conjunction with DePaul’s Digital Cinema Program) A film acting class that consists of scene studies emphasizing the actor/director relationship, the relationship between camera and performer, casting, blocking for the camera, and scene analysis. Students will collaborate on the creation of short independent films, which will provide sample “reel” material for both actors and directors. This collaboration will give students a unique perspective into the process of creating a film, learning what takes place on both sides of the camera.

Audition Techniques (2 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This studio-based class introduces the student to multiple forms of audition practiced in professional theater as well as those forms practiced in film, television, and commercials. Students train rigorously with monologues, cold readings, callback scenes, copy reading, and reader-style auditions in weekly class simulations. The course will cover methods for researching and attending auditions, finding and preparing suitable material, as well as handling the audition process professionally and successfully. Class includes discussions of “type,” “color-blind casting,” and ethical concerns of auditions.

Professional Preparation Seminar (3 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This course follows on the Audition class from Fall Quarter by bringing the students into simulated auditions for weekly guests who include professional casting directors, casting agents, talent managers, artistic directors, and filmmakers from Chicago and beyond. Feedback will focus on empowering the actors to strengthen their approach, courage, effectiveness and flexibility in the casting process as felt in the “real world.”

Rehearsal & Performance III (6 quarter hours, 1 quarter) Graduate acting students are involved in rehearsal and performance of plays in the Showcase, Chicago Playworks, New Directors, and Studio production series in the fall quarter.

MFA III Spring Production (6 quarter hours, 1 quarter) This course represents the summit Rehearsal and Performance experience of the MFA degree. The class returns to working as an acting ensemble under the direction of a prestigious guest director on a fully-staged playscript or theatrical project. The play or project appears at a major venue with full design, dramaturgy, and technical collaboration with The Theatre School’s other Programs. Chicago press and theater VIPs of all kinds are invited to the work.

Graduate Showcase. At the end of each year, The Theatre School hosts a series of events to showcase the work of our graduating actors. Under the guidance of the faculty, graduating actors prepare a showcase—usually a series of scenes and monologues—which is presented in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles for casting directors, casting agents, producers and directors. A series of alumni networking events in each city connects students to our large alumni network.​