“…I am extremely impressed with the level of talent, preparedness, and professional behavior that I find in every student I audition from Western Michigan’s Theatre Program—amazing young students.” —Ron Wilson, Director, Case Western Reserve University-Cleveland Play House MFA Acting Program
The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Acting offers a wide range of opportunities with focus on performance, vocal and physical development, and script analysis.
Acting classes cover all genres of theatre, include camera and voice-over, and are designed with a personalized focus in mind. An impressive student-to-faculty ratio makes this personalized training a key component of our success. Master classes with nationally recognized, professional artists expand the academic experience beyond the classroom.
Students receive a wide array performance opportunities in the department’s nine-show season, offering experiences in three different theatre spaces. Onstage experience is also provided through department-supported, student-directed Footlight productions, directing classes, as well as Activate: Midwest New Play Festival held each summer.
Preparing your audition
What you will need for the audition
Prepare two, approximately 1-minute monologues for the audition (please see below) and bring two sets of clothing to the audition day. You will wear one set of clothing for the monologue audition, and one set of movement clothes for the callback.
The audition is in three parts (exact times TBA):
Part I: The Monologue Audition
The first part of the audition process is a traditional monologue audition where you will perform one of your two prepared monologues before the panel of performance faculty. You will be given 90 seconds for this task. At the end of the 90 seconds, you will be asked to stop, whether or not you have finished. It is strongly advised that you finish sooner. In fact, we prefer a strong 30 to 45 second monologue! Included in your 90 seconds is your introduction, which includes your name, the name of the play, and the character you will be playing.
Within 45 minutes of your monologue audition, you will be informed if you have been called back or not. If you are called back, you are then scheduled for a second Group Movement audition in the early afternoon of the same day. If you are not called back, you are free to leave at that time.
Part II: Group Movement Callback
You will change into your movement clothes (This means clothing that is non binding, allows free movement, and in which you are comfortable rolling around on the floor.) and be prepared to “play”. What we mean by this is that you are fully available, physically and mentally, to explore the creative possibilities of performance. The Group Movement callback is an opportunity for you to work directly with performance faculty who will be leading you and your group through a series of exercises exploring your physical and creative capabilities. This is not about “acting,” or “putting on an act,” but about you as an individual and the range of imagination and creativity you bring. There is no right or wrong answer. What matters is willing and authentic participation.
This callback is not a test, an improvisation, or a performance. It is more like playing games, with performance faculty as the leaders. It is a chance for us all to get to know each other a little better, as creative and enthusiastic individuals.
Part III: The Interview
After the Group Movement callback, you may be invited to an interview. (An invitation to an interview does not necessarily mean you will or will not be admitted). The panel of performance faculty will meet with each individual student. The content of your interview may vary according to the monologue audition, your performance in the group movement callback, or the details of your academic record or performance experience. For example, you may be asked to work on one specific thing from the monologue you did in the morning. You may be asked to do your second monologue. You may be asked specific questions about the Group movement callback, or about your education or experience. Finally, at the conclusion of the interview, you will also have the opportunity to ask the faculty any questions you may have.
Our goal is to get to know each student's personality and potential, as well as share the strengths and opportunities of our program. We want the best possible match, so that you may select the program best suited to develop your individual voice.
What happens after the audition?
After all the auditions are completed for the year, the performance faculty meets to sort through admissions files and audition data for 600-1100 applicants. Difficult decisions result in offers made to a class of twenty actors, and a ranked list of alternates. The initial twenty students will be informed within two weeks of the last audition date (generally in late March), via email or phone. Please ensure that we have accurate contact information for you so that an offer will not be delayed.
Choosing the perfect monologue takes work.
We encourage you to seek out coaching and work extensively on your audition. A monologue should show off who you are and the best work always comes from the actor’s ability to personalize the material. When preparing your audition, be sure to use material that is relatively within your age range and understanding. We suggest that you focus on contemporary, realistic scripts in selecting monologues.
Your monologue should be no longer than 1 minute. 45 seconds is ideal.
Your monologue should be one in which you are actively working to impact the character to whom you are speaking. Monologues in which you are not talking to a specific person, or if the person you are talking to is unimportant, or a monologue in which you are telling a story, are never as effective as monologues in which you are actively and immediately trying to change or get something from your unseen scene partner.
Wear clothing that is simple, professional, and comfortable. Do not use costumes, dialects, or props. A chair will be provided for you, and you may move, stand on, or sit on the chair. You may also lay it down. Please do not throw the chair.
Make sure your introduction is clear. Tell us your name and the names of the plays from which you are doing material. Keep you energy up, being careful that your performance does not become too intimate or passive. Equally important is that a high-energy piece not become about shouting. We encourage you to engage your body – feel free to move as appropriate to the material.
If you live more than 200 miles from campus, you can apply via video submission.
The Department of Theatre makes annual awards of scholarships in several categories and for varying amounts. These are made in recognition of the variety of talents necessary for success in the performance, design, technical, stage management, and arts management areas of the theatre.
Alumni from the WMU Acting program have gone to study at graduate programs such as ART/Harvard, Yale, Cal Arts, New York University, Florida State University, University of Connecticut, Case Western University, Northwestern University, The National Theatre Conservatory, University of California at San Diego and Irvine. Professionally, our Theatre Performance students have performed on Broadway in West Side Story, The Women, Beauty and the Beast, Shanandoah, Kiss Me, Kate, Gypsy, The Pirate Queen, Taboo, Jersey Boys, Into The Woods, Ragtime, and Spamalot. They have also performed with The Steppenwolf Theatre, The Goodman Theatre, Classic Stage Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Royal Shakespeare Company (England), Disney, and have been seen on television in Lost, Weeds, Desperate Housewives, Six Feet Under, Boston Legal, and the National Tour of Forbidden Broadway, The Drowsy Chaperone, and Cats, just to name a few.
For further information on Department of Theatre majors or the minor, email Debra Gambino, academic advisor.