Ignite your spark . . .
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting ignites your imagination by unleashing your sense of truth and creative instinct. Our program delivers precision-based Meisner training and we use effective contemporary techniques to prepare you for a professional career that includes self-generated work and the development of artistic community.
During your time at Shenandoah, you will be immersed in every facet of actor training, experience hands-on studies in all areas of performance and production. At the end of your four years, you will emerge as a well-rounded theatre artist prepared for a complex and ever-evolving industry.
Launch Your Acting Career Here
The BFA in Acting at Shenandoah University offers contemporary training, immersive performances, and a history of broadway, television, and theatre alumni.
Specialized Training in Acting
Your specialized training includes:
- Meisner Technique with Director of Acting Scott Hudson
- Full two-year program of the Sanford Meisner technique in acting
- Shakespeare, Stage Combat and Period Styles
- Exposure to classical text and training
- Acting for the Camera and Film
- Upper level experiences in performing for the lens and film performance projects
- Scene Study
- The application of the acting skill set to the canon of textual works by master playwrights from the Modern period forward
- Voice and Speech, Accents and Dialects, Voiceover
- Strengthening and preparing the instrument for all facets of spoken word and vocalization
- Movement, Body Awareness and Contact Improv
- Awakening and strengthening the physical life of the actor in order to move freely in all performance settings
- History, Script Analysis, Playwriting and Directing
- A full complement of textual study which allows the acting student to fully understand theater in its historical and writing contexts, with an opportunity to work artistically from the eyes of the director and to facilitate a classroom directing experience
- Technical Theater Studies
- Study of stage craft, lighting, costuming, make-up and film crew work, with practical lab components attached to each
- Prep for the Profession
- Teaching the practical aspects of developing and managing your career, including creating reels, websites, audition repertoire, headshots and resumes
- Capstone Performance Experiences
- Connecting you to industry professionals, through agent and casting director workshops, auditions, showcases
- Elective Opportunities
- Liberal Arts
- Arts Leadership and Management
- Technical Theatre
Minor in Music, Theatre, Dance or Music Composition
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre or Dance for all Shenandoah University students.
Shenandoah also offers a new minor in Music Composition for conservatory students who wish to build composition skills and enhance their creative music-making experience while pursuing other degree programs in the conservatory.
Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
Learn More about Conservatory Minors
Declaring A Minor
Shenandoah students work with their Academic Advisor to declare a minor. Academic Advisors will continue to work with students to ensure that they fulfill all of the requirements to complete the minor.
Incoming students should not indicate their intended minor on their Shenandoah application; applications are for intended majors only.
After completing an internship at the Kennedy Center in Special Events, I realized my true passion was in Arts Administration. My professors supported my decision 100% and tailored my coursework so that I would be prepared for the next step.”
Megan Raham | Acting ’16
The Career & Professional Development staff helps Shenandoah students search and apply for internships related to their major and career goals. Internships differentiate you as an applicant in your future job searches, provide hands on experience in your field, allow you to sample different career paths for your major, and help you find a specific position that fits your passion before graduation.
The academic year includes a large “fringe” performance calendar of student-driven productions, as well as activity among our academic organizations. Some of these organizations include:
- Shut Up, It’s Shakespeare – focused on producing classical plays
- The Loaf – award-winning improvisational troupe
- Playwrights – weekly production of new student works
- Alpha Psi Omega (APO) – theatre honors fraternity
- Phi Mu Alpha – male singing honors fraternity
About The Loaf
The Loaf, founded in 2009, is Shenandoah’s best and only improv comedy troupe. Each Loaf member chooses a bread name and represents an individual slice of bread, but when the group is together, we assemble to form one big Loaf. Members play short form games, perform long form improv scenes and specialize in musical improv. The troupe hosts themed shows once a month and produces digital shorts called “Biskits.”
The Loaf competes in the College Improv Tournament every year and won the national title in the 2018/19 competition. In 2017 the troupe brought back Loaf alumni (or stale bread as they are called) to perform with current slices to raise money and bring the Upright Citizens Brigade to perform and lead a workshop at Shenandoah. The group also hosts standup nights, holds open rehearsals where anyone can join in and play improv games, and invites female members to perform a male dance number in lip sync as the Loaf lady boys.
Playwrights is an organization that produces student written, directed and acted short plays every week. Entirely student-run by a representative producer from each grade, Playwrights strives to create performance opportunities outside of the Conservatory Performs season, offering a chance for students to dip their toes in writing and directing, and a way for students to come together and enjoy new works. Several pieces that started on the Playwrights stage have even gone on to compete in festivals (New York WinterFest, Samuel French Off Off Broadway Play Festival). Like The Playwright’s Performance on Facebook and follow @playwrightsperformancesu on Instagram for more information.
About Alpha Psi Omega
Alpha Psi Omega National Theatre Honor Society is an American recognition honor society for participants in collegiate theatre. Alpha Psi Omega (APO) sponsors events and service initiatives including The Welcome Back Show and The Alphies, Guerilla Theatres, the Ira Lindberg Harris LipSync for your Life, Conservatory Clean-Ups, and volunteering on campus as well as throughout the Winchester community. In addition, APO is constantly working to raise funds for two national philanthropies: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The American Cancer Society. Get social with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @ShenandoahAPO for more information. Every talent now we lend!
You will join a small class of 12 to 16 peers (selected from hundreds of auditions) and learn the complete Meisner Technique as you progress through the levels of Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman and Adept. Along with movement, voice, speech and acting training, you will have extensive study in improvisation, period styles and application of acting for the camera.
Learning support services are available to all students in every course at Shenandoah. Free peer tutoring with a student who has previously succeeded in the course is available for any course across the university. The Writing Center is available for every stage of the writing process from thesis development to proofreading and bibliography assistance. The Math Enrichment Center is available for math and science assistance. Professors and Academic Advisors across the university also have office hours and open door policies to ensure Shenandoah students succeed academically.
- Taylor Bloom ’17 – The Simon & Garfunkel Story (National Tour)
- Charles Brice ’09 – Black Angels Over Tuskegee (Off-Broadway); Blue Bloods; Chicago Fire; How to Tell You’re a Douchebag
- Jessie Goodman ’12 – Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park; Equus at Pittsburgh Public Theater
- Ned Greene ’13 – Walt Disney World
- Matt Miller ’15 – Bio Theatre Ensemble
- Scott Monahan ’11 – National Pepsi Commercial; Anger Management with Charlie Sheen; It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; I Was a Teenage Wereskunk
- Niki Morrissette ’10 – Contemporary American Theater Festival (understudy Tamara Toony); Great Ceasar (female vocalist in band)
- Josh Schauder ’09 – Glee
- Karen Stanley ’11 – August: Osage County at Virginia Repertory Theatre
- Harold Perrineau ’82 — Lost
Nick Nerangis ’04 is currently the lead male actor in “Spent,” a full-length film noir that premiered in Los Angeles in October. Nerangis’ most rewarding experience was being awarded the Best Actor Award at the World Music and Independent Film Festival. Nerangis’ advice to future students is, “You will succeed in a very competitive field only if you set your goals and pursue them with every fiber of your being.”
Performance Opportunities & Ensembles
Rigorous Performance and Production Calendar
- 3 musicals
- 3 non-musical plays
- 1 holiday gala
- 1 opera
- 1 senior showcase
- 1 film
- End-of-semester coursework presentations
- Directing projects
- Performance forums
Shenandoah Conservatory offers more than 300 live performances each year for our student and community audiences. The conservatory also sponsors professional performances on-campus, as well as faculty-led trips to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to see professional performances throughout the academic year.
Shenandoah Conservatory Performances
Ensembles & Performing Groups
Shenandoah Conservatory is home to more than 30 performing groups — including instrumental, vocal, and dance ensembles — that present numerous performances every year. These performances take place throughout Shenandoah University’s vibrant campus on its various stages, including a concert hall, recital hall, proscenium stage, black box studio, outdoor amphitheater and more, to venues and performance spaces in the Northern Shenandoah Valley and around the world. Ensembles constantly engage with Shenandoah’s dynamic faculty and an array of distinguished guest artists through residencies, workshops and unique performance opportunities.
Experience the world-renowned Shenandoah Conservatory. Study with master teachers – more than 100 professionals in music, theatre, dance and arts management.
Shenandoah Conservatory’s prestigious faculty is dynamic, creative, and passionately committed to the highest levels of artistic excellence. A deeply caring community, they mentor students with a wealth of professional expertise, balancing rigorous expectations with compassion and wisdom. At Shenandoah, you will study with, and perform for, award-winning composers, Metropolitan Opera singers, Grammy Award winning conductors and international competition winners. You will learn from leading scholars in music and premiere works created by accomplished dance artists and cutting-edge directors. Shenandoah Conservatory’s faculty embodies the highest levels of professional accomplishment and the deepest commitment to furthering the artistic growth and creative aspirations of students in every discipline.
Director of Acting; Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Visiting Associate Professor, ActingFull Biography
Head of Acting Pedagogy; Associate Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Adjunct Instructor, TheatreFull Biography
Application & Audition Information
Shenandoah University works on rolling admissions. Applications are reviewed individually and holistically. Submit your application, review required admissions materials, and find our admissions standards.
Admission to Shenandoah Conservatory is highly competitive. Not only must students be academically admissible, they must also complete and pass the mandatory audition/portfolio review and interview process. Audition dates are limited and may fill and close well in advance of the audition date.
Guest Artist Opportunities
The Acting program provides numerous opportunities for you to interact with guest artists, senior agent/casting directors and other industry professionals. During the 2018/19 academic year, acting students connected with more than 40 artists and industry professionals through residencies, workshops, virtual meetings and more.
Workshops, Speakers, Teleconferences
- Stephen McKinley Henderson – Residency with the renowned actor, director and master teacher for all acting majors made possible by the John and Marjorie Lewis and the Lewis Gift for Excellence in Acting.
- Abbey Theatre of Dublin – A Q&A with Caitríona McLaughlin (assistant director of The Abbey Theatre and director of “Two Pints” by Roddy Dowle) and “Two Pints” cast members Liam Carney, Philip Judge and Laurence Lowry.
Acting Majors Senior Agent/Casting Director Workshops
- Jeffrey Dreisbach, Casting Director, McCorkle Casting, LTD
- Judy Bowman, Casting Director, Judy Bowman Casting
- Hannah Gordon, Talent Agent, HCKR Talent Agency
Classroom Guest Artists, Guest Speakers & Teleconferences
Prep for the Profession
- Giles Jackson, Shenandoah University School of Business – Entrepreneurship/Marketing/Internships
- Rejoyce Lunceford, CPA and Shenandoah University School of Business – It’s Only Money – Personal Finance 101
- Emily Burner, Executive Director Shenandoah University Office of Alumni Affairs – Using SU Resources
- Richard Pierce, Director for Academic Computer Technology – Technology and Marketing/ Web sites
- Cait Eagan, M.F.A. in Musical Theatre Student and Work Study Contributor – Web Site Building 101
Professional Guest Teleconference Speakers
- SAG/AFTRA – Mid Atlantic Regional Office with Jane Love
- AEA – LA, CA with Pate Loeb, AEA Representative and Professional AEA Stage Manager
- AEA – NY, NY with Sarah Goldrainer, AEA NYC Representative and Professional AEA Actor
- AEA – Chicago/Midwest with Luther Goins
- Mary Lou Quinlan, NYC Advertising CEO, Marketing Expert, Writer and Key Note Speaker – Self- Marketing and Why It Matters
- Russell G. Jones, AEA/SAG- AFTRA Broadway/Television Actor – Building Professional Content and Branding
- Joselin Reyes, NYC/ Atlanta AEA/SAG-AFTRA Actor, Instant Family, MacGyver – Working the Atlanta Market, Theatre and Television
- Angela Lewis, NYC/ LA, CA AEA/SAG- AFTRA Actor. Amazon’s “Snowfall’ – Building Acting Career from Industry Tier One to Tier Two
- Maki Bordon, NYC AEA Actor, Signature Theatre – Moving to a New Market and Establishing a Professional Career after BFA
- Molly Collier, NYC Actor and Web Series Creator/Producer – Creating and Producing Your Own Content/ Web Series from Scratch
- Gloria Bonnelli, NYC Talent Manager – Agents and Managers: The Difference and How You Work Together
- Justin M. Laughter, Virginia Lawyers for the Arts – Protecting Your Intellectual and Creative Properties
Acting for the Camera
- Harrison M. Ford, AEA/SAG-AFTRA Actor, CBS Code Black – Establishing a Career in Media and Working on a Television Set Teleconference
- Johnny Woo, AEA/SAG-AFTRA Theatre and Television Actor – Self-submitted Audition Tapes and Eye Line Teleconference
Individual Telephone Interviews & Professional Contacts Arranged for Students
- Sarah Sidman, Vice President of Communications, Arts Fund (Seattle, Washington)
- Nidia Medina, Associate Producer & Director of the Studio at Theatre for a New Audience (New York City)
- Emily Lyon, Director, Dramaturg, Past Literary Director of Bedlam Theatre (New York City)
- Angelina Fiordellisi, Owner and Executive Director, The Cherry Lane Theatre, NYC
- Alex Sidtis, Managing Director, Upright Citizens Brigade, NYC
- Lyle Kessler, Actor’s Studio Member and Head of Playwright’s Program (New York City)
- Khathalisza Pandiji, Managing Director, Rattlestick Theatre (New York City)
- Daniel Talbot, Literary Advisor, Rattlestick Theatre (New York City)
- Aidan Connolly, Executive Director, Irish Center for the Arts (New York City)
- Emily Morse, Artistic Director, New Dramatist (New York City)
- Jose Carrasquillo, Artistic Director, Ford Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
- Graig Horness, AEA Stage Manager, Ford Theatre (Washington, D.C.)
- Shawn Randall, Studio Director, Ensemble Studio Theatre (New York City)
- Edwin Schloss, Independent Producer (New York City), Tony Award-winning Best Musical, “Grey Gardens”
- Madison Schultes ’19 (B.F.A. in Theatre Design & Production, Stage Management) – Stage managed actor and playwright of Broadway and Off Broadway, Nacy Hasty. Schultes also stage managed the work shop production of Hasty’s new play, “The Flight of Jackie Cochran” for Broadway producers in New York City in May 2019.
Make studying abroad the highlight of your college experience! Whether you go for a year, a semester, or just a few weeks, You will never forget learning in another culture! The Center for International Programs is here to help you plan your study abroad experience. Start your planning early to ensure the courses you complete abroad count toward your degree and you graduate on time.
Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program
The Global Experiential Learning (GEL) Program offers Shenandoah students a short-term, faculty-led, study-abroad experience for academic credit. These short-term, credit-bearing, faculty-led programs are offered winter break, spring break, and during the summer. If a course is not within your major, it might be used as an elective.
Shenandoah University is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP), a global network of 300 universities. This partnership allows students to study for a full semester or year at other member campuses abroad. By working closely with their academic advisors and the study abroad advisor, students can take classes taught in English abroad while receiving Shenandoah credit.
Shenandoah University also maintains direct partnerships with several universities around the world. These relationships allow students from SU to study abroad as exchange students and students from these universities to study at SU. All partner universities offer courses taught in English.
Fast-Track to Arts Management
Accelerated PALM Program
The Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is designed to provide future performing arts executives and artistic leaders with the industry skills required in the 21st century.
The accelerated program in Performing Arts Leadership and Management is available for current Shenandoah Conservatory undergraduates who, upon completion of their undergraduate degree, wish to obtain a Master of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management in just one year. Students who are accepted into the accelerated program will begin to take arts leadership and management courses during their undergraduate studies and register for internship during the summer between senior year and their final year of graduate study.