Hailed as the school that “trains the most versatile 21st-century theatre artists”, the school believes, all of the real training, “starts with you.” Juilliard Drama School is a program laden with classical training and rigorous studies of the masters, including Chekhov and Shakespeare. It is rich in technique and helps students learn every aspect of the entertainment industry. The degree programs offered are the Acting Program and the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program.
The acting program offers a four-year conservatory program, drama related studies and requires 24 credits from Juilliard’s Interdivisional Liberal Arts curriculum. The playwright program is under the direction of Marsha Norman and David Lindsay-Abaire and offers one-year, tuition-free, graduate level fellowships to four or five writers. Students must be selected to continue the program. Alumni include, Academy Award winners Viola Davis and Robin Williams, and composer Philip Glass.
3. SUNY Purchase
You’ll have to stay on your toes at The Conservatory of Theatre Arts and Film at Purchase College, which is an extremely competitive program. The campus is only 40 minutes from New York City and offers a professional program to acquire a BFA in Acting. A strict school, the program requires 100 percent dedication and professionalism.
During the first two years, students study theatre history and work on developing imagination, motion and vocal strength. It’s during this time that students need to make an impression on the faculty, or they could lose their spots. Years three and four, students continue learning the principals of the theatre trade, but they finally get to use their skills on the stage. The Purchase Repertory Theatre productions provide a broad range of theatrical training, and the plays are directed by visiting professionals and faculty. Expect long hours juggling classwork and rehearsals. Alumni include TV personality, Al Roker, actor Billy Baldwin and singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson.
2. NYU / Tisch
Another school that tends to lead the pack is New York University, Tisch Drama Program. Similar to Juilliard, the undergraduate program, offers students a rigorous conservatory training with critical academic curriculum. Utilizing resources in the Big Apple, students get the opportunity to work in professional productions led by internationally recognized faculty and Tony-winning theatre artists.
Acting, musical theatre, stage production, set and costume design, management, and directing are offered at NYU. The school is known for its tough auditions and strict coursework. For a true community of the arts, NYU stands tall among the prospects. Alumni include director and Tony Award winner, Mel Shapiro, Tony award-winning playwright Neil Simon and Academy Award winner, Woody Allen.
1. DePaul University
Another school that focuses intently on classical training is DePaul University. This school is climbing the drama ranks due to its broad range of techniques and training opportunities that are rich in discovery and academics. The curricula blend technique training from a variety of the masters including Konstantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski and Sanford Meisner, who both developed critically acclaimed acting methods and movement disciplines including Tai Chi and yoga. Freshmen spend time focused on learning various training techniques and production assignments.
After the first year, students then begin to advance their sophomore, junior and senior years, developing and refining their skillset. Students get a chance to work in the Chicago theatre circuit and connect to entertainment pros via faculty, working pros, and alumni. But, the stand out for DePaul is that every applicant is considered for a Theatre School Scholarship of up to $25,000 annually. Alumni John C. Reilly credits DePaul’s scholarship program as the reason he is working today. After a fire burned down his father’s business, Reilly was faced with quitting the program, but because of scholarship assistance, he was able to finish school. Other alumni include, actors Gillian Anderson and Judy Greer.
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