Acting Program | Chicago High School for the Arts

Acting Program

The Theatre Acting Program is designed to train actors in a wide range of skills, techniques and experiences that provide a broad overview of theatrical performance, practice, history and literature. The overall arc of the program is to begin by establishing a foundation in the first year, moving into progressively more challenging work in years two and three, and finally exploring each student's unique artistic voice in the final year. As this is a new program, it is understood that this arc and the specific courses listed below may change as the school, the program and the students develop. However, the end goal remains to provide a high level of instruction and experiences that prepare students for further study at the college level or entrance into the profession.


1st Year - Foundations

Acting I (2 semesters)
Using improvisation as a basis for the fall semester, students will explore a connection to the self and their ensemble. They will begin with exercises and techniques developed by Viola Spolin to explore and heighten their connection to sensory life, environment and relationship in order to develop their creativity, imagination and understanding of human behavior. They also will develop skills related to scenic objectives, listening, impulse, problem solving, physical and verbal communication and given circumstances. Building on the work of the fall, students will begin to work with text using Story Theatre and Documentary Theatre works in the spring semester. They will be expected to take all the skills they have developed in the first half of the year and to apply them to the text.

Movement IA and IB (2 semesters)
Movement in year one will focus on the fundamentals of body awareness and control, sense, and awareness through movement. The fall semester uses yoga as a means to discover body mechanics, physical alignment, connection to breath, and self-awareness. The spring semester will explore full body awareness, connection to imagination and impulse, and greater physical control through yoga and other techniques with an emphasis on the ability to sense and establishing awareness and focus through movement.

Theatre History and Literature I (2 semesters)*
This class is a survey of Western theatrical history, drama and practices from Classical Athens through the Restoration. Students will study the social, political, cultural and historical influences of each period to understand the context in which theatre was created. Likewise, they will explore the means by which theatre was produced and practiced including theatre companies, acting styles, design and architecture. They also will study the dramatic literature of each period including a critical analysis of each text.

Voice and Speech IA (1 semester)
The focus of the Voice and Speech I class is to create a greater awareness of and connection to the actor's natural voice. Further, it is to free that natural voice toward greater psychological and physical connections and improved self-awareness, imagination, expressiveness and embodiment. Students will focus on breath and vocal production, opening the physical channels of communication, exploring physical alignment, and releasing tension to begin to build vocal strength and connect the voice to creative impulses. The first year also will introduce basic diction.

Theatrical Stagecraft (1 semester)
Theatrical Stagecraft will provide students with an overview of the theatrical production process with an emphasis on exploring the various components and responsibilities associated with production, theatrical organizations and the fundamental skills required for serving on a stage crew (sets, lights, costumes, sound, props and make-up).


2nd Year - Realism

Acting II (2 semesters)
Scene study and acting techniques with an emphasis on 19th and 20th century realism in the fall semester and short plays in the spring semester. This course will include elements of dramatic text analysis to aid the student actor in creating rich and detailed characters, relationships and theatrical environments.

Theatre History and Literature II (2 semesters)*
A continuation of the first year's study with an emphasis on 19th, 20th and contemporary Europe and the United States.

Movement IIA and IIB (2 semesters)
An exploration of movement through space and in groups. Specific courses include Viewpoints technique in the fall semester and Contact Improvisation in the spring semester.

Voice and Speech IB (1 semester)
A continuation of the work begun in the freshman semester.

Theatrical Design (1 semester)
A continuation of the work begun in Theatrical Stagecraft, the emphasis of this course is on the various design elements of production (scenery, costumes, lighting, sound and props) and the process of creating a design based on a theatrical text.

 

3rd Year - Periods and Styles

Acting III (2 semesters)
Scene study of various theatrical periods with an emphasis on texts with heightened language and physicality including the works of William Shakespeare and Moliere.

Voice and Speech II (2 semesters)
The focus is on refining the actor's use of their voice through deepening their experience of resonance along with clarifying vowel and consonant articulation. Basic elements of speech will be explored to help the actor bring vocal clarity, energy and point of view to any text.

Professional Development (2 semesters)*
Preparation for college auditions and/or entrance into the profession including an overview of the business of acting and audition preparation.

Stage Combat (1 semester)
One semester focusing on basic weaponry combat and the integration into scene work.

Physical Comedy (1 semester)
One semester of movement focusing on commedia dell'arte.


4th Year - Artistic Voice and Further Exploration

Acting IV (2 semesters)*
Scene study work of 20th and 21st century works with an emphasis on works by classic American playwrights, such as Miller and Albee, and those who experiment with theatrical forms, such as Ionesco, Beckett and Rivera.

Senior Project (2 semesters)
The creation and presentation of two senior showcases. In the Fall, students will present an Audition Showcase featuring monologues to be used for college and professional auditions. Following that, students and instructor will devise an original one-act play as a final ensemble project to be presented in the Spring.

Advanced Theatrical Stagecraft & Design (1 semester)
The application of stagecraft and design techniques to the Senior Project and other productions.

Singing for Actors (1 semester)
An introduction to musical vocal techniques, harmonic singing and Musical Theatre repertoire.

Dance for Actors (1 semester)
A foundation in dance technique with an emphasis on ballet, jazz and Musical Theatre dance.

Directing (1 semester)
An introduction to the work of the director with an emphasis on text analysis and working with actors on scene study.

On-Camera Techniques (1 semester)
An introduction to the skills and techniques needed to act for the camera as well as an overview of the audition process for film and video.


* - Credit bearing course required for graduation

Students must achieve at least a D in every Conservatory course every semester or they are in jeopardy of repeating the ENTIRE YEAR'S Conservatory sequence in the following year. This may result in a student not graduating on time.