The Theatre School > Conservatory > Summer High School Training Program

Summer High School Training Program

Experience Conservatory. Experience Chicago.

In light of the current COVID-19​ outbreak, we are excited to move the 2020 Summer Program ​to a virtual platform​!

Request Information  Apply Now For Summer 2020

Program Overview

Our Virtual Summer Program is designed for rising 11th and 12th grade students who want a taste of intensive conservatory training that supersedes limitations and unlocks the riches inherent within uncharted creative territory. While this is a non-college credit program, students will dive into the rigor of conservatory training and begin to prepare for the college audition and interview process. 

For three weeks (Saturday June 27 - Saturday July 18) students will create an online ensemble and study one of four concentrations - acting, comedy arts, design, or directing - with Theatre School faculty and some of the most accomplished theatre/film professionals in the business. As a student of the program, the primary coursework will stretch and challenge you to grow in your area of concentration while master classes and workshops will allow you to explore other interests. The classroom faculty-to-student ratio varies from 1:7 to 1:10.

Our Summer Program faculty are hard at work creating an amazing online training experience! This new platform is opening up connections to top industry professionals and experiences that would otherwise be unavailable and we are beyond excited to share them with you.​

"I have grown because I was able to learn and experiment by doing. I was able to let go of personal barriers and self-doubt so now I feel less timid to create my own opportunities."

- Acting Student, Summer 2019


The acting concentration is designed to mirror the undergraduate conservatory BFA Acting program and give students a sense of what it would be like to attend The Theatre School. You will learn acting techniques that are rooted in the physical, collaborative, expressive, improvisational approach that makes Chicago actors distinct around the world. We will prepare you for stage and screen, with special attention given to the college audition experience and monologue preparation as you prepare for the next steps of your artistic journey. Check out this guide and sample schedule for a sneak peek at this summer's acting concentration!
The comedy arts concentration is designed to prepare students to be performers, directors, and content creators through the academic study  of the history and techniques of comedy. As a reflection of the BFA Comedy Arts major at The Theatre School, summer students will test material in front of an audience, digest their response, and then learn to revise and rethink in order to be successful storytellers and communicators. At The Theatre School, we consider Chicago to be our classroom. As one of the nation's best comedy scenes, our classroom is hard to beat. Check out this guide and sample schedule for a sneak peek at this summer's comedy arts concentration!
Meet Dean Corrin and Liz Joynt Sandberg, Co-Heads of Comedy Arts for the Summer High School Training Program
The design concentration introduces scenic, costume, lighting, sound, and media design disciplines and allows students to focus on their particular area(s) of interest. You'll learn the foundations of theatrical design with a particular emphasis on the creative and collaborative process. We'll challenge you to create designs that illuminate the essence of the story by going beyond simply decorating the walls. You'll create several portfolio-worthy projects by the program's conclusion. Check out this guide and sample schedule for a sneak peek at this summer's design concentration!
The directing concentration is designed to introduce and investigate the role and function of the director in theatrical collaboration. What does it mean to direct a play? What does the director actually do? Through play readings, creative exercises, and theatrical compositions you will discover how script analysis, visual storytelling, and dynamic staging are tools the director uses to ignite a script and inspire captivating work from actors and designers alike. Check out this guide and sample schedule for a sneak peek at this summer's directing concentration!

"The professionals who taught us were incredibly friendly and went out of their way to give us many extra opportunities to form connections and learn, as well as providing an honest view on how their job functioned."

- Design Student, Summer 2019​

Program Information

The summer 2020 session will run from Saturday June 27 to Saturday July 18.

Classes will occur Monday through Friday in blocks between 11am and 5pm central daylight time. Saturdays will consist of various professional masterclasses, group projects, panels, and the final showcase presentations on Saturday, July 18th. Select evening programming may occur, while remaining mindful of our coastal and international students. Students will have a meal break between classes and depending on coursework, may have a free period during the day. 

Examples of master classes and panels featured during our summer 2019 program include: Wellness for Theatre Artists, Radical Inclusivity in Theatre, Contact Improvisation, Photoshop, Stage Combat, Backstage 101, and The Business of Theatre - Managing the Delicate Balance. 

We are also delighted to announce the launch of our virtual 2020 Summer Program Wellness Initiative! The Theatre School is committed to the health and well-being of our community. This summer, students will be able to enjoy a series of classes specifically designed by our Artistic Director, Dr. Laura Biagi, for the care of young artists, including practical tips on nutrition, focus, good sleep and rest. 

Students are expected to attend and participate in all of their classes; complete all assigned coursework, homework, and projects; and participate in our end-of-program showcase. Summer Program students are expected to meet the same level of professionalism and respect for conduct as all DePaul students. View the DePaul Code of Student Responsibility.

A clear line of communication between students, their Faculty Head, and the Director is necessary to to maintain throughout the program’s entirety. Please make sure we have your most current phone number/email on file.

We work closely with students and their families on a case-by-case basis to best accommodate any special needs that a student may have. Please alert us as early as possible on the health questionnaire (accessible after the student is admitted) so that we have sufficient time to help make the program accessible to all students.

- Laptop or iPad

- Stable internet connection for synchronous coursework 

- Headphones

- Pens, pencils, and a notebook

- Comfy clothes

- Water to stay hydrated

- Concentration-specific kits will be provided and mailed to students when/if needed

"In class I was able to learn a lot about myself and theatre. The evening events provided new prospective to the work we worked on, but also on storytelling and its importance."

- Directing Student, Summer 2019

Summer High School Training Program Brochure - collage of pictures from 2018 summer cohort

Application Information

The application for summer 2020 is open; applications and materials should be submitted by March 1, 2020(After March 1, applications will continue to be reviewed until the program is full.) Applicants can indicate an interest in multiple concentrations, however students can ultimately only enroll in only one concentration: acting, comedy arts, design, or directing​.

In support of the transition from on-campus to our Virtual Summer Program, tuition has been reduced to $3,900. Need-based financial aid is available and can be applied for in tandem with the program application.

The Theatre School offers financial aid (in the form of scholarships) to students who demonstrate financial need. The financial aid application can be submitted as part of the application process. If a student is awarded a scholarship based on the financial aid application, the scholarship amount will be communicated in their acceptance letter.

We also encourage students to apply for additional outside funding. Your local charity groups (Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, National Honors Society, etc.), your school's Arts & Activities Fund, or your school's Parent Teacher Associations will sometimes offer financial support and can be an effective way to help reach your goal. Another way to gain financial support is through national scholarship foundations that target summer program funding for high school students.

Admission is open to rising high school juniors and seniors. All applicants must demonstrate permission from parents/guardians in order to enroll and attend the program.

International students are welcome! There are no additional application documents necessary to apply to the program as an international student, but all application materials must be in English or translated into English. The program is taught entirely in English and participating students must be confident in intermediate written and spoken English.

Application Materials

This is the first step in the application process. As part of the application form, you will need to submit your essay, resume, and photograph. Your letter of reference and high school transcript will be uploaded separately after you submit the application form.

The essay is part of the online application form will be in response to the following prompt:
How do you plan to impact the world through theatre?
As part of the application form, upload a brief list or description of your theatrical and/or artistic experience highlighting creative and artistic work accomplished, activities, and previous training.
The letter should be from someone who is qualified to speak to your ability to participate in this program such as a teacher, a director, etc. On the application form, you will have the opportunity to list the recommender's name and email address (you will be able to change/update this after submitting, if needed.) After you submit the application form, an email will be sent to your recommender prompting them to upload their letter to your application file.
Alternatively, the letter can also be uploaded by the applicant on the application portal after submitting the application form.

The photograph does not need to be an official headshot.

As part of your application, you will be asked to upload a copy of your student transcript. This can be an unofficial copy. Please use the "upload materials" section on the application portal to upload your copy. The transcript should be as up-to-date as possible.

"I have gotten to see my work on stage and learn to push for my vision. I feel more confident in my work and am ready to fight for my future."

- Playwriting Student, Summer 2019


Questions about the Summer High School Training program can be sent to Kayla Raelle Holder, Director of the Summer High School Program, by emailing More information about Kayla's work and experience can be found here.

2019 Summer Program students
Students of the 2019 Summer High School Training Program