Summer Programs in Acting and Musical Theatre by Robynne O'Byrne
Hey Juniors! If you are seriously considering applying to college for acting or musical theatre, now is the time to start thinking about doing a summer theatre program. The vast majority of kids who are accepted into the top acting and musical theatre programs have participated in at least one rigorous summer program. Attending one of these programs offers you several benefits.
- Many of the more competitive summer programs offer serious training by experienced faculty. Often the faculty come from BFA programs at colleges around the country. By participating in a summer program you can receive excellent training around monologue work, acting, voice and dance technique and audition preparation.
- Some of the programs are offered at universities with strong BA or BFA programs. Attending one of these programs can give you a good sense of the program at the school in which it is offered. For example, UCLA has a summer program that is staffed by the UCLA faculty. Students attending the UCLA summer program have an opportunity to learn a great deal about the program as well as to become familiar with the faculty. The faculty also has a chance to become familiar with you, which can be an advantage when you’re auditioning down the line (if you made a good impression that is!).
- Many summer programs allow you to meet faculty from different BFA programs across the country. You can get exposure to many different teaching styles and learn a great deal about the programs in which the faculty teaches. For example, The Performing Arts Project (TPAP) offers an excellent summer program for both theatre and musical theatre and the teaching faculty is comprised of professional actors and faculty members from a wide variety of BFA programs. Attending a program such as TPAP will allow you to make connections with all of these faculty members and also help you decide if you are interested in applying to their programs.
- Attending a rigorous summer program also gives you an opportunity to discover whether or not a conservatory style program is interesting to you and whether you are more inclined toward pursuing a BA or a BFA. For example, my son Sam (currently a sophomore in the Acting program at Carnegie Mellon) attended the musical theatre summer program at the University of Michigan the summer after his junior year in high school. Heading into the summer Sam was convinced he wanted to pursue a BA so that he could get a broad education while also focusing on theatre. After spending three intensive weeks at MPulse Sam realized that he really wanted to pursue a BFA. He also learned quite a bit about both the University of Michigan and the industry as a whole. Sam was exposed to people involved in many aspects of the industry and realized that pursuing a BFA in Acting would prepare him for many possible jobs within the industry.
- Attending a summer program away from home indicates to faculty and admissions counselors that you are capable of being away from home and that you are serious about your discipline. Also, you will have an opportunity to experience what it is like to study your craft full time. You’ll make connections with other students interested in pursuing the arts and get a sense of how your skills and talent compares with other students auditioning for top programs.
There a many good summer programs out there. Some are audition based and some simply require an application. Which sort of program you choose depends a great deal on your objectives. If you are interested in learning more about summer program opportunities here is a good resource:
This is not a comprehensive list. If you would like some advice or guidance on choosing and applying for a summer program feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.