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The Actors Studio Drama School MFA  Program

Guided by the methodology that has its roots in the “system” set forth by Constantin Stanislavski in his three groundbreaking books, An Actor Prepares, Building a Character and Creating a Role, the Actors Studio Drama School involves three years of intensive study in the dramatic arts.

Continuously evolving, the “system” informs the curriculum of this unique dramatic arts degree program. Whether an aspiring actor, director or playwright, you will begin your three-year exploration by studying the actor’s craft and developing a shared language. In the first year you will be consumed with learning the methodology and language, as well as training in your craft. In the second year, you and your fellow MFA candidates will immerse yourselves in unique and specialized training. Working together as an ensemble—actors, directors and playwrights—in your third year, you will apply your knowledge and skills in a Repertory Season.

Year 1: An Actor Prepares
In the first week of their first semester, the Orientation Week, the students are introduced to the communal world of the theater as students and teachers spend their first week in an informal introduction to the program's philosophy process and intentions. In these first classes, the students encounter another unique feature of the program: they are setting out on a side-by-side journey―as actors, directors and playwrights together―learning the common language that will enable them to collaborate productively, harmoniously and seamlessly. It is during this Orientation Week that the ensemble nature of the Actors Studio process will emerge, and, more important, the teachers and students will begin to know each other.

Year 2: Building a Character
Armed with the technical fundamentals they will use for the rest of their educational and professional careers, the students move now from the preparation of their instrument (themselves) to the preparation of the role. Now a mysterious stranger enters the student's life―a “character,” with his or her own needs and desires and life, and way of proceeding through it. Creating that character is the task of the second year. Stanislavski deliberately chose a verb more readily associated with the artisan than the artist. “Building a Character,” with its sense of bricks and mortar and its clear implication of methodical, craftsman-like construction is the mandate of the Second Year.

Year 3: Creating a Role
The focus of this year is the formation of all the students into a repertory group. While they continue their common and specialized courses, the students develop and collaborate on the dramatic material, which will be presented in their Third-Year Repertory Season, a weekly series of scenes, one-act plays and, if possible, full-length plays, some of them written by our playwrights, and all of them directed by our directors and acted by our actors.

View the MFA Curriculum

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