The actor is the central spark to the art of theatre…
The Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting at Shenandoah Conservatory is designed to nurture the young artist with this premise in mind by training talented, disciplined actors aspiring for a professional career in theatre. 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, and at the end of your four years, you will emerge as a well-rounded theatre artist prepared for a complex and ever-evolving industry.
Your specialized training includes:
- Full two-year program of the Sanford Meisner technique in acting with Master Teacher in Acting and Professor of Theatre Larry Silverberg
- Two full years of private studio coaching with acting faculty
- Shakespeare, stage combat and period styles exposure to classical text and training
- Acting for the camera and film with upper level experiences in performing for the lens and film performance projects
- Scene study with 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, and voiceover training that strengthens and prepares the instrument for all facets of spoken word and vocalization
- Movement, improvisation, body awareness and contact improv training that awakens and strengthens the physical life of the actor in order to move freely in all performance settings
- Role playing and simulation opportunities with corporate, medical, government and military organizations, as well as first responders for the training of professionals in a myriad of settings
- History, script analysis, playwriting, dramaturgy and directing a full complement of textual study which allows the acting student to fully understand theatre in its historical and written contexts with an opportunity to work artistically from the eyes of the director and facilitate a classroom directing experience
- Technical theater studies in stage craft, lighting, costuming, make-up and film crew work with practical lab components in each area
- Prep for the profession teaching in the practical aspects of managing and running your career by creating reels, websites, audition repertoire, headshots and resumes, and more
- Capstone performance experiences connecting you to industry professionals through agent and casting director workshops, auditions and showcases
- Elective opportunities in areas such as dance, singing, instrumental performance, writing, liberal arts, arts management, technical theatre and communications
- Rigorous performance and production calendar including 3 musicals, 3 non-musical plays, annual holiday gala, opera, senior showcase, film, end-of-semester coursework presentations, directing projects and performance forums
Learn More About This Program
Our Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting program is the next generation in acting training. We use effective contemporary techniques to prepare you for a professional career and our rigorous process refines both your instinct and skills.
Shenandoah’s Acting Program, alongside Mass Communication majors and the Music Production and Recording Technology Program, are participating in an annual cross disciplinary campus film project, where students bring together their interests and abilities from each of their disciplines to create a motion picture.
The first of its kind, Shenandoah’s new acting program incorporates realistic acting with application in real world training exercises.
Sally Anderson, as our program coordinator in simulation and training, has considerable experience with simulation at many levels: in the medical field, both as a standardized patient and as a standardized patient educator; in the area of first responders (police, SWAT, and EMT training divisions) as a trainer and reenactor; and several years working with the Virginia Department of State, also as a trainer and re-enactor.
Military, Law Enforcement, and Medical Partnerships include:
The Department of State, Diplomatic Security Division
- US Embassy attack simulations
- Created five training films & three self-defense films.
Global Emergency Group- Simulations for United Nations Members
- UN members traveling to Southern Sudan
- Roadside market land mine explosion
- Medivac lifting of wounded
US Border Patrol at Harpers Ferry, WV
- Green screen filming for training scenario
- 300º Simulator interaction with weapons
Winchester Police SWAT team: Hostage Situational Simulations
- Airport with active shooter
- Hotel drug bust
- School bus hostage situation
- Train with elderly passengers
- Domestic disputes
- Home invasions
Winchester Police EMTs- Fire and Rescue
- Department School shooting scenarios
- Moulage (gunshots, lacerations, bruises & fractures)
Frederick County EMTs
- Role-play for final training exercises
The Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy
- Final exams for VA police officers
Winchester Medical Center
- Disaster Drill
Shenandoah University Medical Programs
- Physicians’ Assistant
- Respiratory Care
- Athletic Training
- Department of Psychology
Frederick County Legal System
- Voir Dire– Jury Selection
- Witness Interrogation
Minor in Theatre
Shenandoah Conservatory offers minors in Music, Theatre, and Dance for all Shenandoah University students. Acceptance into conservatory minors must be approved by the Division/Department Chair, and some minors require an audition.
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.
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
Performance Opportunities and Ensembles
Shenandoah Conservatory offers more than 400 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 is home to more than 20 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.
Adjunct Assistant Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Assistant Dean for Student Learning; Associate Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Associate Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Master Teacher in Acting; Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Interim Director of Acting; Professor, TheatreFull Biography
Students interested in this program should also look into these other majors, graduate degrees, minors, and certificates.
These minors complement this program well:
Most students in this program choose to continue their education by earning a graduate degree:
Application and 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.
During the academic year there is 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
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.