The MFA Acting program provides a range of resources and techniques for students to explore, helping each individual actor to grow and mature. The curriculum proceeds from a deep exploration of the text and takes students through both rigorous training and free improvisation.
Working primarily in laboratory situations, this search takes many forms, drawing upon traditions as varied as Commedia dell’Arte and the techniques of Stanislavski, Brecht, Brook and Grotowski. It demands meticulous training of the voice, physical dexterity, a keen analytical mind, and a willingness to discover new approaches to acting. The acting faculty is diverse and exciting in their viewpoints and holds a wide breadth of experience. Students can expect to be mentored by the likes of Andrei Serban, James Calleri and Ulla and Niky Wolcz.
Although all periods and styles of drama are examined, special attention is given to the classics, including Greek tragedy and comedy, Shakespeare, Molière, Chekhov, Beckett and Ionesco. The study of the past is intended to provide a foundation for a re-examination of the present, and as a starting point for creating a theatre of the future. A new focus on the contemporary theater of today is now being examined and explored by all students.
Ensemble work and collaboration are fundamental to the training while constant individual attention is provided to monitor each student’s individual progress.
The training offered at Columbia University provides graduates with the skill set necessary to succeed in classical, contemporary modern and experimental theatre, as well as in television, and film.
Acting I-IV; Acting Techniques I and II; Acting Studio I-IV; The Art of Acting; Viewpoints; Voice and Text I and II; Voice and Shakespeare I and II; Collaboration; Dance; Scene Study I and II; Stage Combat; History and Theory of Performance; Acting for Camera; Clown.
The thesis year is made up of four major components:
Acting Thesis Project : This full-scale production is presented by the third-year MFA acting class and is directed by a faculty member or guest director. Recent directors have included Diane Paulus, Andrei Serban, Karin Coonrod and Yuriy Kordonskiy. There is no written thesis required to supplement this project.
Industry Showcases: In the spring of the third year, industry showcases are held in New York and Los Angeles for agents, managers, and casting directors. Students work throughout the third year on material selection and scene preparation.
Professional Development Workshops: Throughout the third year, students participate in professional development workshops to prepare to enter the profession. Recent workshops have been held by such professionals as Anson Mount, Marci Phillips, Todd Thaler, and Chandra Thomas.
Classic Stage Company Young Company: Third year MFA acting students and recent graduates audition for Classic Stage Company’s Young Company, which is entirely made up of Columbia-trained actors. This company, which is Classic Stage’s Education and Outreach program, performs Shakespeare productions for NYC schoolchildren and participates in teacher-training workshops. Click here for a video on the CSC Young Company production of Twelfth Night.
AEA Eligibility: All third-year MFA Acting students are eligible to join the Actors Equity Association through our partnership with Classic Stage Company.