B.F.A. Acting / Musical Theatre
During the student’s first four semesters in the program, progress will be assessed in terms of the student’s:
- Individual artistic progress in the program;
- Contribution as an ensemble member to the artistic progress of his/her classmates;
- Compatibility with the goals and methods of the department; and
- Potential for meeting the rigorous demands and intense competitiveness a performance career.
All departmental reviews, auditions, and mainstage performances can and will be used to evaluate a student’s standing in the program. The faculty will also base its assessment on each student’s daily work in scene study and voice and movement classes. Musical theatre majors will also be assessed based on work in required music and dance classes. The performance faculty will decide to continue, probate or discontinue each student with specific attention to this assessment. Other factors may also be considered.
An acting or musical theatre major may be placed on any status at any time during his/her time in the department. Some reasons that a student’s status may change independently of the scheduled review process include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Unsatisfactory grades in any required course work, rehearsals, or performances.
- Failure to adhere to the mandatory audition and “perform as cast” policies.
- Failure to submit a permission to participate form and obtain approval BEFORE accepting a role in an outside production (please see Extra-Departmental Productions for more information and form)
- Unsatisfactory work in a cast or on a crew.
- Failure of a voice jury.
- Any action by which a student fails to remain in good standing in a program in the School of Humanities and Sciences or at the college.
Students will present scenes with partners to the entire performance faculty and other faculty members and students who wish to attend according to the following schedule:
- First Review Scene: at the end of the first semester of the first year students present “open” scenes with partners. No scene may run longer than five minutes.
For the remaining review sessions, students will work on texts which will most commonly be drawn from contemporary realistic drama. Scenes and monologues will be chosen with the actor’s current training goals in mind.
- Second Review Scene: at the end of the second semester of the first year, students present a scene with a partner. No scene may run longer than five minutes.
- Third Review Scene: at the end of first semester of the second year, students present a scene with a partner. No scene may run longer than seven minutes.
- Fourth Review Scene: at the end of the second semester of the second year, students present a scene with a partner. No scene may run longer than seven minutes.
These presentations, as well as the singing reviews for musical theatre majors, will be evaluated by the performance faculty. The faculty will meet as a group to discuss each student’s progress and to determine his/her status based on his/her review presentation and overall participation in the program.
The general goals of the first year of acting training are to introduce students to the potential of their voices and bodies as expressive tools (in voice and movement classes) and to begin the process of engaging their imagination for the purposes of identifying and playing strong actions in improvised and scripted scenes (in scene study class). By the end of the first year, acting students should be able to:
- make believable and logical choices regarding actions, objectives, and obstacles;
- achieve unselfconscious concentration on the dramatic situation and their partner;
- move without distracting personal tensions or mannerisms; and
- use their voices in a healthy way, with an initial awareness of effective breath support and appropriate speech choices.
The general goals of the second year of acting training are to develop specific characterization skills, and to deepen acting, voice, speech, movement, and analytical skills. By the end of the second year, acting students should be able to:
- play actions and objectives that are believable, logical and emotionally compelling;
- respond to their acting partner with immediacy, flexibility and passion;
- convey the text effectively according to its logic, conventions and structure;
- speak with vocal freedom and resonance supported by breathe, and speak text with clarity and precision appropriate to space and material; and
- use movement skills to create vivid physical characterizations not limited by personal habits and patterns.
The purposes of requiring freshman and sophomore B.F.A. acting and musical theatre students to present scenes at review are the following:
- to provide each student with an objective assessment of his/her artistic progress through a consensus of the entire performance faculty;
- to introduce each student to the experience of being critiqued by people other than his/her scene study teacher and his/her scene study classmates;
- to introduce each student to the concept of product as an end result of process; that the expected final step in the creation of a role is the sharing of the results of the process with an audience at a specified time;
- to introduce each student to the experience of an audience responding to his/her work on a role and to practice using this response advantageously; and
- to introduce each acting student to the commitment, courage, stamina and concentration required to share his/her work on a role with an audience.
In semesters five through eight there will be ongoing review of each student’s progress. If at any time a student’s progress and discipline are found to be below the faculty’s agreed upon standards, the faculty may recommend any of the sanctions described under “Review Status.”
B.F.A. acting/musical theatre review may be attended by all departmental majors, all Ithaca College faculty and all departmental staff. Guests are welcome at review only by invitation of the chair or the coordinator of the acting faculty. Non-majors, parents and/or guardians will not be granted permission to attend review.
Skill Overview for Actor Training
PLEASE NOTE: These are all possible points of consideration used in review evaluations:
- Organization/time management
- Willingness to take risks
- Assimilation of technique
- Text analysis skills
- Overall writing ability
- Stage presence
- Moment-to-moment adjustment
- Ability to play objectives
- Ability to play tactics
- Ability to play stakes/importance
- Ability to affect and be affected by partner
- Transformation into character
- Understanding of material
- Ability to play structure of scene
- Ability to play choices consistently
- Emotional availability
- Emotional range
- Standardization, when called for
- Use of language to achieve objectives
- Overall alignment
- Head/neck usage
- Cardiovascular endurance
- Ability to transform into character
- Use of space
- Ability to maintain skills under pressure
- Ability to prepare and play effective material
- Ability to "cold read"
- Capable of playing a wide variety of roles
- Capable of playing a limited range of roles
- Extremely limited
- Not castable at this time
A Note to all Acting and Musical Theatre Majors
Your goal in coming here is to become a better performer. Our goal is to help you. We have expertise and experience that you don’t yet have, so your relationship with us is that of client to professional. We will do everything we know how to do to help your acting become more believable and more interesting to watch.
Young actors are often rewarded for being precocious and clever. We seek to move you beyond those qualities so that you actually get an audience to care about your character’s situation. The audience will care about your acting if you understand your characters thoroughly, identify with them imaginatively and project them vividly through your movement and voice. To do these things, you must exercise your intellect, your imagination, your breath, your bones and your muscles. If you manage to set these systems into coordinated action, your passions may also get a chance to flourish.
You may have come to Ithaca with no technique at all—or with technique that is flawed or simplistic. Or your technique may already be quite sound. While we do not profess to have the magic key to good acting, we can, among the various faculty, point you in some directions that will make your acting more exciting, more plausible, more fun for you to do and more reliable. Reliable in the sense of having a methodology that you can use in a variety of situations—especially in situations where you are given little or no guidance.
You will have learning experiences over the next months and years that will reward you, experiences that will frustrate you, even experiences that may seem threatening to you. Often times the hardest part of creative work is overcoming your fear of failure. Failure is an inevitable part of the creative process. If you let yourself fail on a grand scale, accept un-defensively the suggestions made to you in the wake of your failure, and decide how you want to change things for next time, you can have a lot of fun failing. And a lot of success.
To be specific, in your first two years, you will be taught to let go of some old and much loved habits and tensions and rationalizations about your acting, your voice and your movement. You will be taught to pursue character objectives that you would never pursue in your own life, and you may be required to say or do things as your character that you would never say or do in your own life. You will be taught to analyze and specify and justify the minutest aspects of character behavior. You will be taught to embrace hopeful, positive acting choices just when you are feeling your most pessimistic. You will be taught to move very freely and very precisely. You will be taught to use your voice and to make speech sounds in ways that may be unfamiliar to you. You will be expected to inspire the trust and confidence of your classmates that you will meet your shared obligations. You will be expected to give credit where it is due in your writing and research so that you will be taken seriously when you become the sole creator of your artistic accomplishments. If you develop a reputation as a plagiarist (an intellectual thief, really), no one will believe you when you do create something original. You hope, after all, to be recognized for what you create—not for your ability to masquerade as someone else, imitating or appropriating their work. Where is the satisfaction in that?
There may come times when you feel alone or alienated or confused or envious or inadequate. You may feel competitive with your peers. You may feel misunderstood and unappreciated by your teachers. The first thing to know is that these are feelings that you create within yourself—nobody else gives them to you. When you have these feelings, you can do two things: fall victim to them, or do something about them. Talk to your friends, talk to your family, talk to us. We are very much on your side. We want you to succeed. When you succeed, we succeed as well. We are committed to teaching you the skills of voice, movement and acting that will enable you to realize the unique artistic potential which is yours alone. The most responsible thing we can do for you is to react honestly to your work, both when you take a step forward and when you take a step backward. In the end, however, you will be the author of your success.
—Department of Theatre Arts Acting Faculty