The Theatre School > Conservatory > Graduate Conservatory > Acting
The Theatre School’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Acting program is highly truthful, expressive, and physical. Informed by our Chicago roots, we prepare actors to work on stage and screen all over the world.
Download the MFA Acting Viewbook
Students learn from a distinguished faculty of working professionals who possess a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty has spent many years developing powerful curricula that mine a diversity of ideas from Stanislavski, Spolin, Grotowski, Shurtleff, Lessac, Linklater, Yoga, Tai Chi, Feldenkrais® Method, Laban, mask work, and more. Students are inspired through unique points-of-view within a comprehensive progression of acting, movement, and voice and speech curricula.
Equally important to the training students receive in the classroom is the opportunity they have to synthesize that learning in the production process, with each student completing seven production assignments during the three year program.
The Theatre School admits a diverse acting pool and encourages applicants inclusive of all gender and sexual identities and expressions, including their intersection with racial and ethnic identities, as well as the multiplicity of identities in our ever-evolving society. For more information on how The Theatre School strives for equity, diversity, and inclusion, read our
diversity action statement.
The first year experience is about expanding the size and specificity of the actor’s skill, imagination, and drive. Courses are designed to increase and refine actors’ access to their imagination, help actors explore their bodies and expand their range of movement, and to better understand and refine the voice. Self-generated ensemble work is presented in winter and spring quarters. Production work begins in the spring quarter with a first-year ensemble Studio production directed by a guest artist.
The second year training takes a two-level journey in classic and modern technique and scene study of texts from the Greeks to Shakespeare to plays currently in production nationwide. Movement and voice and speech work continue to refine the actor's technique while also focusing on period style and dialect work. Second year actors enter the Acting Company and are cast each quarter in our production season.
The third year puts the work in the context of the profession and connects the student to artistic and industry leaders. The actor’s entrepreneurial spirit is further refined through company created works and independent cinema experience. Courses integrate the work of the first two years into practical professional application and introduce the business aspects of the profession: investigating self-promotion, the acting business, making industry contacts, theatre company creation, and producing theatrical work. Production work culminates in the Thesis Project and Graduate Showcase.
For the thesis, a student may choose to remain in the casting pool for spring quarter Theatre School shows or opt-out of the casting pool in order to pursue an independent project instead. Both options require a written thesis and a reader from within the Theatre School community.
Under the guidance of the faculty, graduating actors prepare a showcase production—usually a series of scenes and monologues—which is presented in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles for casting directors, talent agents, producers and directors from theatre, film, and television. The
Graduate Showcase includes a series of alumni networking events in each city to introduce and connect our graduates to our large alumni network.
“Personal discovery is the basis of any artistic training, and essential to the art of the actor. The Theatre School demands graduate students to discover the true landscape of their being in theatrical art.”