7. California Institute of the Arts
Students usually flock to California Institute of the Arts for the awesome connections. Based in Los Angeles, the drama school is considered the “Juilliard of the West.” They offer an experimental conservatory, which allows students to stretch beyond their imaginations and hone their craft.
Students also spend time in the classroom, studying “critical studies” that are meant to help improve an actor’s global perception about the skill of acting. The Institute offers classic training and new age acting; directing and writing programs. Alumni include Academy Award winner, Kathy Bates, writer Roger Holzberg and theatre director Julie Taymor. Longtime lighting designer and CalArts alumnus Robert Barnhart was responsible for the spectacular light display during Lady Gaga’s showstopper, halftime show at Super Bowl LI.
A stickler for tradition, Northwestern introduces freshmen to necessary voice and movement classes during the first year, which gives the individual time to observe various acting classes and skills by different instructors. When they approach the sophomore year, students indicate which group they prefer and normally stick with that group until graduation.
The school teaches that theatre and dance “mirror the nature of life in all its rich variety” and have students learn practice, history, theory, movement, and improvisation to expand upon their liberal arts education. The faculty’s knowledge and professional backgrounds offer real-world experience in drama and theatre. Acting, musical theatre, costume and set design and playwriting are among the coursework. Alumni include Tony Award winner, Jayne Atkinson, actor Bruno Campos and comedian Billy Eichner.
A triple threat University, the drama and theatre program take advantage of its surroundings, by drawing from the faculty, University and Syracuse Stage to help students learn and hone their craft. All students are required to take courses in writing, regardless of their career choice. Freshmen aren’t allowed to perform on stage for a public audience until their second year but can help behind the scenes, learning costume design, set production and stage management. Auditions are serious stuff for undergrads because students have the opportunity to work at Syracuse Stage productions and when applicable, film roles. Students who get on stage at Syracuse, have the opportunity to work on as many as 30 productions in one year. Alumni include, writer Alice Sebold, fashion designer Betsey Johnson and producer Dick Clark.