Columbia College Chicago

Acting with International Performance Study, BFA

In this highly focused BFA program, you’ll gain a worldview of theatre history, tradition and culture, and learn European theatre techniques. You’ll take part in master classes during your semester abroad, which will also feature training in Shakespearean techniques and contemporary British drama. Upon your return to Chicago, you and your classmates will interpret and perform a contemporary European script or devised performance, synthesizing the techniques you’ve learned abroad.

You’ll be trained in a range of acting styles, including the Stanislavski System, which implores the actor to contemplate motive and fully experience the character they play. To this approach, we add physical theatre, viewpoints, stage combat and on-camera techniques.

Our Theatre Department produces about 40 productions a year, so you’ll perform often and in a range of productions.

What to Expect Your First Year

Theatre students from all disciplines and majors come together in two first-year Theatre Foundation courses. In your first-semester Theatre Making course, you’ll explore the artistic processes of theatre making within the contemporary landscape of the discipline. You’ll be part of a small cohort of students from all backgrounds working together in a collaborative atmosphere. In your second-semester class, Performance, you’ll work with faculty to learn specific performance techniques in voice and movement.

At Columbia you’ll be on stage right away. Through our “NewStew” performance projects series, all first-year and new transfer students will audition and have the chance to participate in one of five shows created specifically for new students.

What to Expect Your Last Year

During your senior year, you’ll be preparing to enter the industry as a professional actor. Three classes are specifically designed to support your transition: Self-Management and Freelancing, Professional Survival, and How to Audition.

If you’re interested in acting in television or film, you may choose to take An Actor’s Guide to Hollywood, in which you’ll spend 10 intensive days in Los Angeles networking with industry professionals, including artistic directors and agents, and learning to audition there.

You’ll be encouraged to intern in a professional theatre and to audition for the Senior Showcase, in which you’ll have the opportunity to exhibit your talent for an audience of local industry producers and directors.

BA vs. BFA: What’s the Difference?

Put simply, Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs generally require fewer credits within the major than Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs. This means BA students have greater flexibility to include electives and minor courses of study, while BFA students follow a more focused and rigid path.

All Theatre students admitted to Columbia College Chicago start in the BA track. Eligible students will have the opportunity to audition for BFA programs during their first or second year of enrollment.

For requirements and more information about this program, visit the course catalog.

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

By studying in Chicago, one of the greatest theatre cities in the world, you’ll immerse yourself in the acting scene. You’ll see productions regularly and network with the city’s best actors. You’ll also have the opportunity to study abroad in London and learn to audition in LA. We encourage students to intern behind the scenes, in production and in box offices to get a full picture of what makes the theatre industry work. Our Theatre Department puts on approximately 40 productions a year, giving you the opportunity to continually hone your skills throughout the program while learning every aspect of theatre.

What are my internship options?

Internships for credit are strongly recommended for juniors and seniors. The emphasis of internships is based on placing you in a professional theatre setting and expanding your awareness of the industry by doing behind the scenes work, such as administrative duties, fundraising and outreach.

We host two internship fairs each academic year, with attendees ranging from prominent theaters like Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens and the Goodman to small storefronts and everything in between.

Our faculty’s strong connection to the Chicago theatre scene and their work with companies throughout the city helps us continually build internship opportunities.


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