The Professional Actor Training Program
"I'm thrilled to be working alongside a faculty of master teachers and accomplished professional artists, and with a cohort of courageous and dedicated students. The training is grounded in tradition and deep practice, and yet pointed toward the unknown, the undiscovered, and the impossible. We graduate actors who are ready to work, and poised to shape the future of theatrical storytelling."
- Jeffrey Fracé, Head of Acting
The UW Professional Actor Training Program (PATP) is a renowned three-year MFA program that has produced dynamic artists and creative leaders for over forty years. The vision for our program includes an emphasis on contemporary performance and generative work built upon the program's longstanding foundations in technical craft. Performers in our cohort will investigate the rapidly evolving role of acting, theatre, and the performing arts in a changing arts field and the larger world. What does it take to be an art-maker in the 21st century? How do actors instigate and embody critical questions for contemporary audiences? This program leads to a Master of Fine Arts in Acting, and prepares actors to embrace their potential as creative originators and collaborators, navigate their role as industry entrepreneurs, and hone their skills as critical thinkers and agents of change within their communities.
The faculty is composed of successful theatre professionals who pursue research that moves the field of theatre forward, and who teach at the highest level. We center our training in theatre, from the premise that such foundations provide a model for understanding and exploring other media as well. Actors will receive rigorous training and practice in movement and vocal techniques, explore analysis of scripts and storytelling structures, and work within studios exploring a variety of approaches, from the traditional to the experimental, including but not limited to Stanislavski, Suzuki Method, Viewpoints, Linklater, Archetypes, and Alexander Technique. Devising and project-based learning will form an important part of our new pedagogy, as we believe in the actor’s voice, agency, and power in the creative process. We also teach our actors how to teach, as we believe that the most successful artistic practice involves learning, doing, and teaching, all feeding one another.
Above all, the PATP strives to inspire life-long exploration and inquiry into the creative spirit that informs the actor’s work.
The training day is from 9:30am to 5:30pm, often followed by evening and weekend rehearsals and performances. Our program is structured to immerse students in an ecosystem of craft and creativity, informed by the professional and research experiences of the faculty. While sharing certain features of an acting conservatory, in that there are classes in the fundamentals of stage craft, text analysis, voice, speech, and movement, we center theatrical research and creation, aiming to lead the field of live performance in new directions that better express our shared humanity and build the kind of communities we want to live in. Accordingly, students are exposed to collaborative and interdisciplinary practices for creating original work, and mentored through the creation of new solo and ensemble projects.
SEE A SAMPLE COURSE OF STUDY (Update will be posted soon)
During their course of study, each student appears in at least six productions, two self-generated solo shows, and extensive scene and technique classes. While centering our training in theatre, we also provide our students with screen-acting opportunities and audition coaching. We also provide business and career coaching for the independent generative artist, such as crafting vision statements, grant writing, personal finance, and project budgeting. The third year of the program focuses on preparation for the professional industry as well as deepening investigations into the unique interests of each student.
Prominent artists in the fields of theatre, film, and interdisciplinary new media often lecture and lead workshops with our students. PATP students receive a great deal of individual mentoring and meet for feedback with the entire acting faculty at the end of each quarter.
Our acting training emphasizes physical approaches to the craft of acting. Techniques include but are not limited to Alexander Technique, Suzuki Method, Viewpoints, Michael Chekhov, and Contact Improvisation. We view speaking as a physical act as well, approaching vocal work with active and embodied techniques such as Linklater, Roy Hart, and Suzuki; we also offer two quarters of singing as a pathway to greater vocal expressiveness and enlivening the connection between presence, breath, and intention. The legacy of Stanislavski endures in the American theater, and we believe it’s valuable for actors to understand the evolution of his technique and applicability of his later work on Physical Actions. That said, we resist boilerplate acting theory – there is no one way to act – but we do work individually with each student to help them discover and refine their approach to bringing their utmost to their performances.
MFA actors appear in at least six productions during their time in the School of Drama. Productions cover a wide breadth of period, genre, and style, in order to offer our students the maximum number of opportunities to practice the skills they are gaining in their training. Productions may be from old or new plays, or they may be devised. Some are directed by the MFA directing students, some by faculty members, and some by outside professional artists.
All MFA actors during their time in the program will teach three or more quarters of undergraduate acting. “Nothing teaches like teaching,” and we remain committed to deepening the actors’ understanding of their craft by mentoring them as they learn to teach their craft. In addition to coursework in pedagogic principles, MFA actors act as teaching assistants to senior faculty members, eventually developing their own courses and running their own acting studios while in the program.
Seattle is a vibrant arts city, with numerous professional theatres and presenters showcasing everything from Broadway tours to cutting edge local as well as international performance. The UW School of Drama is connected to all of these organizations including Seattle Rep, ACT Theatre, On the Boards, Base Experimental Arts, Seattle Theatre Group, 5th Avenue Theatre, Washington Ensemble Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Theatre, Book-It Repertory, Intiman Theatre, and Café Nordo. Independent cinema thrives here, anchored by the Seattle International Film Festival and Northwest Film Forum. Seattle also has a strong visual arts scene, with several gallery districts and multiple world-class museums. And then there’s the music scene, made famous by grunge and sustained by every imaginable genre in venues too numerous to count. Artists often refer to Seattle as an incubator city, a little apart from the spotlight of Los Angeles or New York, where no idea is too crazy to try out and where an adventurous and supportive community encourage each other to take risks and “fail better.”