Acting Program Description

A competitive liberal arts approach to training actors

Program created by Maureen O’Reilly (MFA, Professor Emeritus);  Jim Lortz (MFA, Professor); and Rich Brown (PhD, Professor); and developed by Beth Leonard (MFA, Professor) and Evan Mueller (MFA, Assistant Professor).

Description of the Acting Series

Our goal is to train students in a variety of specific methodologies and approaches to actor training, including, but not limited to: Stanislavsky, Grotowski inspired psychophysical work, musical theatre, classical style and Shakespeare, vocal production, commedia, personal performance, Viewpoints and Suzuki – all in service of developing the actor’s mind, voice, body, and spirit.

Completion of the Acting Sequence through the 300 level will help to satisfy (along with core requirements and other electives) the Performance Concentration for the Theatre Major (27 credits for 160 and the 200 and 300 series of acting classes).

If students continue into the 400-level Professional Preparation Program, it consists of an additional 15 credits (42 credits of actor training)

Outline of the Acting Series

Step One

THTR 160: Introduction to Acting.  Any student in the university may enroll in THTR 160.  If an incoming freshman or transfer student has taken a college level acting class and received a grade of (B) or higher, they may be able to waive THTR 160.  A “lot of experience” in high school theatre does not warrant waiving THTR 160.

*In order to progress to Step Two, students must acquire approval from their THTR 160 instructor to move forward.  Students will fill out applications for THTR 260 and the THTR160 instructors will select which applicants move forward, based on the student’s work in THTR 160.  Applications are available from THTR 160 instructors. Note: Two sections of THTR 260 are offered each fall.

Step Two

The 200-series consists of THTR 260: Acting Studio I, THTR 261: Voice Studio I: Voice & Breath; THTR 264: Movement Studio I: Grotowski.  All students begin the 200-series with THTR 260 during fall quarter; the first day of THTR 260 consists of performing an audition monologue to keep your spot in the 200 series.  THTR 261 and THTR 264 can be taken in any sequence winter and spring quarters.  Up to 48 students will go through the 200-level per year (24 students per class).

*In order to progress to Step Three, the 300-series, a student must have completed (or currently be enrolled in) all three of the 200-level classes.  Auditions for the next year’s 300-series occurs in the spring, usually mid-May.  Students submit auditions to the 300 series online.

Step Three

The 300-series consist of THTR 360: Acting Studio II: Physical Interpretation of a Role; THTR 361: Voice Studio II: Speech & Language; and THTR 364: Movement Studio II: Viewpoints & Suzuki.  Students can take THTR 360 and THTR 361 in any order fall and winter.  If students participate in Motley Crew or Theatre Ambassadors, they take THTR 360 fall quarter and THTR 361 winter quarter.  Two sections of THTR 364 are offered spring quarter.  Up to 36 students are selected to go through the 300-level per year (18 students per class).

*For those who wish to proceed to Step Four, the 400 Professional Preparation series, an audition is held spring quarter, usually in mid-May.  Students submit auditions to the 400 series online.

Step Four

The 400-series (Profession Preparation) consists of THTR 460: Personal Performance; THTR 461: Voice Studio III: Shakespeare; and THTR 464: Movement Studio III: Advanced Suzuki & Viewpoints.  Students accepted into the 400-series are expected to take all three classes.  Up to 16 students are selected to go through the 400-level per year.

Competitive Liberal Arts Training versus Conservatory Training

Conservatory training is much more specific and limited (for example, you might only study musical theatre, or just the Meisner technique).  Simply because we hold auditions, our program is not a conservatory.  At WWU in addition to your acting classes, you take a wide range of theatre courses in order to complete your major, and a wide range of GURs to complete your university requirements, composing a liberal arts approach to education.

Any student who isn’t accepted into the 300 or 400-series can meet with the acting professors to gain feedback, so they can consider auditioning again the following year.  At some conservatories, you are simply asked not to return, but not at WWU.

Before classes start each fall quarter, the acting professors will collectively meet with each student, one on one, to discuss the student’s strengths and weaknesses, so the student knows areas which need improvement before the next big audition.  Direct feedback is essential so that students aren’t surprised if they do not move forward in the program.

If you have questions about the acting program of WWU’s Department of Theatre and Dance, please contact Rich Brown at or 360.650.7320.