Ali has really enjoyed the challenges associated with all aspects of theatre. Watching her tackle Shakespeare, Ionesco, and all manner of writers and roles and develop a level of confidence and maturity is incredible. Her academic growth has been equally impressive and we believe her theatre experiences have absolutely underpinned her intellectual and academic development.”
— Emily, Theatre Parent

The Theatre Department engages students in a unique project-based curriculum that focuses on theatre and performance studies.

In addition to regular and intensive work in the acting studio, Theatre students will explore up to twenty topics in the discipline, including all facets of stagecraft and scene design, directing, makeup, auditioning and professional business, dialects, stage combat, improvisation, on-camera, playwriting, circus, and more. This model is supplemented at every stage with an integrated look at some of the most important dramatic texts in the canon. Projects will culminate in a showcase of the students’ work. Examples include: Scene Design: Finished Model, Circus: Workshop Production, and Stage Combat: Final Showcase.

Acting Studio is at the core of our work in the Theatre Department. These classes will meet between three to five times per week. Acting classes are divided into three sections, Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced. Those students who enter the program as freshmen can, in general, expect to progress sequentially through the acting curriculum, spending their last two years in Advanced Acting. Examples of a student moving ahead of traditional trajectory or vice versa, will occur from time to time. As with all departmental evaluation processes, the department chair will maintain consistent communication with the student about their progress.

Performance Opportunities in the Department of Theatre vary from year to year. Annually, we will produce a Fall Play, a Spring Play, a Shakespeare Festival in January in conjunction with the Department of Musical Theatre, as well as several other performance opportunities based on the Projects in which our students are engaged. These opportunities may include one to two Directing Showcases, a Circus Project Culmination, a reading of Playwriting finals, and others.

Guest Artists will work with our students an average of two times per year for immersive project experiences. While our department faculty is made up of working professionals from the Chicago Theatre Community, the Academy is extremely proactive in finding other artists to engage with our students. Guest Artists may work on Projects such as On-Camera, Circus, Playwriting, Stage Combat, Improvisation, and others.

Supplementary Work in the department includes two years of a free-period singing class with Musical Theatre Department Chair Emeritus Patricia Rusk. This class meets once per week during a student’s free period during academic classes and is required study for second and third year students in the program. First and fourth year students may opt into this class with the approval of the Department Chair.

Play Attendance is another highly integral piece of our curriculum. Chicago has one of the most vibrant theatre scenes and we will plan to provide students with the opportunity to attend, at least, six professional plays during the school year. These productions are carefully selected to intersect with our course work and will, as often as possible, include plays that we are reading in the Theatre Curriculum. In addition to attending the productions, we will provide opportunities for students to interact with production staff and cast members of the attended plays.


More about the Theatre Department

Other semester-long classes and workshops that occur during a student’s tenure in The Academy Theatre Department include Script Analysis, Stage Management, Voice & Movement, Makeup for Stage and Screen, Costume Concepts, Circus, Combat for Stage and Screen and Playwriting.

The Academy Theatre Department routinely invites guest speakers and resident teaching artists to connect students with the wider landscape of the industry. Recent and upcoming lecturers and instructors include Peggy Roeder, Leah Urzendowski, Anthony Courser, Adrian Danzig, Sylvia Hernandez-DeStasi, Kevin Beverley, Alex Aguilar, Orion Couling, Sara Gammage, and others.

*Course titles reflect transcripts for the 2017-2018 freshman class.