Head of Performance
In the acting program students gain strong training for work in a wide array of venues. Voice, movement and acting training cover many styles including period and contemporary realism, Shakespeare, Restoration and 19th century. Work in classes prepare actors for both stage and film work. Acting students work closely with the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, providing them with a great introduction to American regional theatre.
The first year of Conservatory is about discovery. Classes in acting, voice and speech, movement, stagecraft, text analysis, and make-up are all designed to help discover what it means to be an actor and establish the basis for a personal technique. Methods include centering and aligning, vocal production and phonetics, games, exercises, improvisation, and scene study. First-year students do not perform publicly but do present scene work for the Conservatory at the end of the year.
The second year of Conservatory is about exploration. Through highly contrasting styles of dramatic literature the basic technique established during the first year is stretched and strengthened. Classes in yoga, neutral mask, and physical characterization are added to the core of acting and voice and speech. Second-year students join the casting pool and are now eligible to perform in the Conservatory season.
The third year of Conservatory is about application. The work in contrasting styles becomes even more ambitious. Skills acquired in the previous two years are applied to Shakespeare, Restoration' and Edwardian drama. Voice and movement classes develop even more specific skills in dialects, period movement, and stage combat. A directing class is added to the basic core.
The fourth year of Conservatory is about refinement and looking toward the future. Interview, audition, and cold reading skills are developed. Acting for the camera, commedia dell'arte, and clown are investigated. Toward the end of the year, fourth-year students present themselves in a showcase in New York and Los Angeles for agents, producers, and casting directors.