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High School Master Class

Saturday, June 20, 2020 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Saturday, June 27, 2020 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
student on Meany stage facing an empty theater

High schoolers! Expand your theatrical horizons this summer with a FREE two-day master class designed to flex all of your theatrical muscles and give you a glimpse into every aspect of theatre-making and dramatic scholarship, from acting to directing to design to dramaturgy. 

The UW School of Drama Master Class is a two day event (June 20 & 27, 1 - 4 pm) for high school students interested in learning more about theatre arts and performance. No prior theatre experience is required--whether you are a total beginner or a seasoned pro, you will get something out of this class.


This interactive online class will take place via Zoom and will culminate in a virtual reading of several scenes from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat (2015) by Lynn Nottage (reading is open to students in the class only). During the sessions, students will be introduced to the interdisciplinary and transferable research, performance, and communication skills that UW Drama students cultivate. 

Registration is limited to 75 students to ensure small group instruction and collaboration in three 25-person teams. Session 1 (June 20) will provide an overview of the various production roles (e.g. acting, design, dramaturgy, etc.) necessary to produce a play, as well as textual analysis, physical exercises, and theatre games. At the end of the Session 1 participants will be assigned research tasks to complete over the following week. In Session 2 (June 27) students will share the research and preparation they conducted as homework and perform their readings. 

REGISTRATION CLOSES AT 11 PM PDT ON THURSDAY, JUNE 18. A wait list will be created once the course is full. If you have already registered but now find that you cannot attend, please let us know so that we can give your slot to someone else.



Upon registration students will receive access to a digital copy of Sweat (2015) by Lynn Nottage and a short study guide. Participants are asked to read the play prior to Session 1, as the text will serve as the basis for instruction. Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Sweat made its world premier at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2015. The play was inspired by the playwright’s interviews with residents of Reading, Pennsylvania, a city struggling with a 40% poverty rate due to the post-NAFTA loss of local manufacturing jobs. Community members face the everyday impact of federal legislation and a changing global economy, including addiction, incarceration, racial tensions, and the weakening of organized labor. 

Lynn Nottage is a contemporary African-American playwright and the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Nottage graduated from Brown University and the Yale School of Drama. She is currently a Professor of Playwriting at Columbia University.


Monica Cortes ViharoMonica Cortés Viharo is a doctoral student in the School of Drama at the University of Washington, and recipient of the McNair Graduate Fellowship. Her research focuses on the creation, performance, and impact of Documentary and Political/Activist Theater. She earned a BA in theater and political science from the University of California at Berkeley and is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of Puget Sound. Monica is an actor (SAG/AFTRA) and company member of eSe Teatro, a public speaking consultant, and serves on the executive board of UAW Local 4121, the labor union representing all UW academic student employees.

Semaj MillerSemaj Miller is a 2020 graduate of the University of Washington Professional Actor Training Program (MFA, Acting). Semaj is an actor, director, producer, and educator from Chicago. His work in Chicago includes two world premiere productions by Pulitzer Prize-nominated writers, 3 Joseph Jefferson Award winning productions, and he is an Artistic Associate of Black Lives, Black Words. He has performed at Syracuse Stage, Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatist, Black Ensemble Theatre, Remy Bumpo, Silk Road Rising, ETA Creative Arts Foundation, Redtwist Theatre, Raven Theatre, and many others. In addition to his work onstage Semaj has developed after school programs for high schools in the Chicagoland area teaching acting, poetry interpretation (often Shakespeare and Tupac in rep), and directing in underserved communities. He was an Associate Speech and Drama Coach at Thornridge High School for 6 years.

Jordan TwaddleJordan Twaddle is an MFA design student at the University of Washington School of Drama, studying scenic design. While previously having been an educator, he has worked in the Franklin and Nashville area with high school and community theatres--such as Pull-Tight Theatre and Independence High School theatre. As part of his undergraduate studies, Jordan examined musical theatre through the phenomenological lens. 


Who can sign up for this class? 

This class is designed for Washington state high school students (including 2020 graduates) who are interested in learning more about theatre. The class will be opened to non-Washington state students if space allows. If you do not live in Washington, but would like to take the master class, please sign up and note your out-of-state status. You will be notified if space is available.

How much does it cost?

Nothing. This class is free.

Do I have to come to both sessions?

Yes. The class is designed as a two-session arc. You will not be prepared to participate in the second session's activities unless you also attend the first session.

What if I only want to act (or direct, design, etc.)?

This class is designed to broaden your theatrical horizons and help you get a sense for every aspect of theatre-making, even the ones you might not be interested in pursuing as a career. Theatre is a collaborative artform. Even if you know for sure that you only want to pursue one aspect of theatre, we hope you'll see this as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of your collaborators' work--we guarantee, it will make you a better collaborator. But don't take our word for it. Listen to (Hamilton creator) Lin Manuel Miranda's advice for people pursuing theatre in college: "The answer is this: Study all the things that you don't want to go into in theatre. Study lighting. Do all the things. For my theatre major, I did makeup, I ran lights, I did sound design, I sewed costumes, and that stuff comes in incredibly handy when you work with other people. Theatre is all about collaboration, so you have to actually understand a bit of the job your collaborators are doing, so that you can speak to them fluently."

What if I don't have theatre experience?

That's great! We welcome you into this class. No prior experience with theatre is required.

What type of technology will I need to participate in this class?

This class will be conducted on Zoom. You will need an internet-enabled computer with a camera and audio.