Graduate School Acting Audition Tips
So, these notes from my time at Williamstown are becoming somewhat of a trilogy here on my blog. With that being said, here are the notes I took from a master class about auditioning for MFA Acting programs. Unfortunately I don't remember the name of the women who gave this master class, but I believe she worked on behalf of the URTA's. The tips are as follows:
1) With The University Resident Theatre Association Auditions (URTA's), you can audition for graduate schools all at once with one minute monologues. You typically do two contrasting monologues (1 classical, one contemporary. See previous post on specifics for what constitutes a "contemporary" monologues) for a maximum of two minutes. 800-900 actors typically come to the URTA's. Most programs take between 5-10 people.
2) All of the programs at the URTA's are MFA programs NOT MA programs. Note that if you're interested in graduate schools in the UK, they will typically be MA programs. MFA programs tend to be something unique to the US. An MFA is a terminal degree, while an MA is not because the terminal degree for an MA is a PhD. MA programs are usually one year, and MFA programs tend to be three (sometimes two) years. As one might expect, MA programs tend to be more singularly focused, while MFA programs are more broad with a heavier academic component. Some but not all programs will do satellite auditions.
3) You can audition for the URTA's more than once, but you do have to pay for the URTA.
4) Something important to note is that lots of MFA programs turn out GREAT musical theatre actors, so doing an MFA program doesn't necessarily mean ruling that career path out. Especially since many MFA programs actually have mandatory voice lessons and/or voice and speech as part of the curriculum
5) Usually people get their MFA's because they want to move past a certain career point such as wanting to teach at the university level. More and more colleges are mandating or at least strongly encouraging their faculty to have MFA's. An MFA is a good launching pad if you're stuck, and it'll expand your network significantly.
6) Sometimes they do accept people right out of college, but it's pretty rare. However if you're auditioning while still in college like I did, make sure that you have a clarity of why you going at this time in your life.
7) One of the biggest perks of certain MFA programs is that you get to act in repertory productions with major regional theatre, which quite often results in joining Actor's Equity before when you matriculate from these programs.
8) At the URTA's, it is typically recommended to have approximately 7 monologues prepared. Some can be well known, but you want to have one "wild card" monologue in the mix.
9) You should have about 20 printed copies of headshots and resumes (headshot glued to resume) prepared for the URTA's.
10) Schools will sometimes let you know pretty immediately if they're interested in you. There's often more back and forth between the candidate and the school in graduate school than there would be in an undergraduate program. They often give you a month to decide. Typically they'll let you know by the beginning of April at the latest.
11) Lots of acting programs offer tuition waiver, and most give some degree of aid. Whether it be need or merit based depends on the program.
12) Lots of grad schools won't accept people with a college GPA below a 3.0.
On a final note, many industry professionals recommend you only go to graduate school if you need two of these three things in your career or life: a. Craft b. Opportunity c. Network