Regarding the COVID Classroom: At WVU, student safety is a leading
factor in our COVID classroom. Following University, state, and national health
organizations’ regulations, we have conducted our actor training in
a hybrid structure. A majority of classes are being held in-person and on-campus
with social distancing, face masks, and additional cleaning measures. All
classes conducted in studios comply with regulations on the number
of participants allowed in the space. Some classes are being held outdoors in
tents. Some classes are finding success being partially, or even entirely, online.
We anticipate continuance of this approach in the Spring of 2021 and will
adapt as new information and research is developed regarding the pandemic.
The Master of Fine Arts in Acting at WVU is an intensive three-year course of study preparing individuals for the industry through studio instruction and performance opportunities. The School of Theatre & Dance accepts a class of 6-8 actors to the program once every three years.
Applications are now being accepted for the Graduate Acting program beginning in Fall 2021. WVU is a member of U/RTA and will also be participating in this year’s auditions.
The small class size provides individualized attention while building an intimate, collaborative, and innovative ensemble. The process-oriented training is rooted in the conservatory-style structure and provides an environment conducive to risk-taking and experimentation. The program is committed to developing professional artists ready for industry careers under the guidance of core faculty and resident/guest artists with various expertise in the field.
The graduate acting ensemble serves as the core of the casting pool for 5-6 main stage productions, as well as multiple student and faculty workshop projects. They serve as leaders and mentors to undergraduate students in the classroom, studios, rehearsals, and performance. Assistantships are available, which include tuition waiver, a stipend of $13,500, and health insurance. Graduate students fulfill their assistantship through teaching in the classroom, publicity engagement and branding for the School, or working with West Virginia Public Theatre (our affiliate professional theatre).
The first two years are primarily dedicated to thorough training in the technique of the actor, while the third year encompasses additional focus of professional development for careers in the industry. In the Studio Acting Program, students are committed to a five-day a week conservatory- style schedule, attending classes in acting, voice, and movement. Additional course work includes study in criticism, research methods, dramatic literature and text analysis to supplement the practical studio work. The actor training is fundamentally rooted in the principles of Stanislavski but employs an eclectic methodology by immersing the student in various approaches such as the Sanford Meisner technique, Michael Chekhov technique, Viewpoints, and Biomechanics
In addition to meeting the graduate entrance requirements for West Virginia University, all applicants for the Master of Fine Arts in Acting must complete an interview audition. GREs are not required.
The first year is grounded in contemporary American Realism, Early Modernism (Naturalism/Realism), and Non-Realism in the 20th Century European Style drama. In the Acting classrooms, graduates are immersed in the techniques of Sanford Meisner, Michael Chekhov, and Constantin Stanislavski. Voice work focuses on anatomy and release through Fitzmaurice Voicework® and Linklater techniques, moving into foundations of IPA with the Knight-Thomspon Speechwork approach. Students begin their Movement training by looking at body function, habit, and impulse followed by a focus on creating ensemble through Viewpoints and solo and group original Composition. Scene Study is the weekly practice of presenting material supported by studio course work and is a key proponent to this program. Graduates not only develop an effective, collaborative, and healthy rehearsal process, they acquire the skill set of facilitating effective critique.
The second year is dedicated to work in Shakespeare and other period styles including Restoration comedy, Comedy of Manners, and Commedia. Voice continues to build on the foundations of Fitzmaurice Voicework®, Linklater, Rodenburg, and Knight-Thomspon Speechwork techniques as Shakespeare, text structure, vocal extremes, and accent acquisition are explored. Movement is explored through Neutral and Character Mask work and Laban Effort Qualities, and continues with a semester-long creation of a theatre company and original performance piece. Progression in Scene Study focuses on the application of studio foundations in seminal classical text.
The third year explores acting for film and television, voice-overs, solo performance, musical
theatre and staged violence. The third year requires each student
to articulate a professional artistic vision and to participate in creative work
advancing that vision. Possibilities may include the creation of original performance pieces, development
of individualized teaching pedagogy, or advanced explorations in specific
performance topics. Course work is also dedicated to industry and career
development skills. At the end of the third year, graduate students
present a showcase for agents and casting directors in New York City, hosted
by the School of Theatre & Dance. Fulfilment of the degree culminates in the
performance, written documentation, and oral defense of a thesis
The core of this training program is founded on the belief that authentic and truthful self-identity, aligned with the wants and needs of character, being rooted in developed craft, will create captivating and dynamic performances. Through training, the actor’s imagination and creative abilities merge with their technical skills, granting freedom within performance.