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From voice acting to Shakespeare: 10 outstanding summer programs for actors to sharpen performance skills

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From voice acting to Shakespeare: 10 outstanding summer programs for actors to sharpen performance skills

A teacher and a group of drama students rehearsing during a performing arts class.

School is out in a few months, but that doesn’t mean you need to take time away from studying your craft. If you’re looking for something that’s more serious than camp but less of a commitment than college, these summer acting programs offer both broad and specific training tailored to whatever branch of performance you’re interested in focusing on. And don’t worry—you’ll still have plenty of time for barbecues and fireworks.

This list from Backstage highlights programs that the publication recommends for building performance skills in a variety of disciplines.

Prepare you for the stage or screen

With locations in New York City, Los Angeles, and on the web, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts‘ summer training intensive offers two-week, four-week, and five-week programs with distinct objectives. The NYC branch focuses on performing and creating for the stage and screen; the two-week option, for example, features classes on acting for film and musical theater. The L.A. location, on the other hand, hones in on film and television work, specifically. Both the four- and five-week intensives offer courses on blocking, auditioning, rehearsing, scene study, and improv. Tuition ranges from $1,250 to $3,750 (plus more, if housing is needed)—a relatively reasonable price tag for such a robust curriculum. 

Learn Shakespeare

If you’re looking to master the Bard and take a vacation across the pond, consider enrolling in the summer acting intensive at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, offered through Performing Arts Abroad. Along with classes on movement, voice and speech, textual interpretation, and stage combat, participants get some serious perks: airport pickup; housing; tours of London and the Bard’s birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon; and the chance to attend three theatrical performances. It all culminates in a presentation of students’ work by candlelight at the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. This program promises both an education and an adventure. 

Study voice

The University of California, Los Angeles‘ Voiceover Camera Acting Summer Institute is open to students in grades nine through 12, regardless of educational background. The two-week intensive gives participants the chance to strengthen their voice work across screen disciplines. Professors teach classes on voiceover, Shakespeare, and on-camera acting. You’ll also get practical experience performing with a microphone and in front of the camera. Students walk away from the experience with a VO demo reel and a self-taped audition. This year’s application deadline is June 1, with options to participate in sessions starting June 30, July 14, or July 28.  

Dive into physical acting

NYC’s Stella Adler Studio of Acting has been at the forefront of theatrical training for 75 years—and its five-week Summer Physical Theater Lab is as rigorous as they come. Running July 8 through Aug. 9, the intensive demands 16 hours of participation per week (plus rehearsals). Students focus on working “to strengthen and relax the actor’s body, expand the actor’s movement vocabulary, and open up their physical imagination.” The program costs $1,750, but it’s a reasonable price, considering it’s helmed by legendary performance artist and mime Bill Bowers. The studio also invites a stacked roster of performers to speak as guests. 

Sharpen your Broadway chops

The Boston Conservatory at Berklee offers two intensives for students aged 15–25 who want to learn how to bring the house down. The Musical Theater Dance Intensive takes place from June 17 through July 6; the Musical Theater Acting Intensive follows shortly after from July 8–27. Each component costs $2,720 (with an extra $2,400 tacked on for housing), making this one of the pricier programs on this list. But training with acclaimed Berklee faculty like Broadway star Laura Marie Duncan is well worth the expense. 

Work on your comic timing

Chicago’s Annoyance Theatre Training Center hosts a two-part summer intensive for Chicago residents looking to strengthen their funny bone. The program is divided into two parts: Intensive 1, which takes place on a single day; and Intensive 2, which comprises improv classes that meet 20 hours per week for eight weeks. Hosted multiple times throughout the spring and summer, this program offers the most flexibility of any on this list. Each intensive costs a total of $600 (with the option to enroll in a payment plan), making this choice quite the bargain. 

Learn puppetry

The Summer Intensive Puppetry Training program at the Sandglass Theater in Putney, Vermont, guides students through all aspects of the craft, from construction to manipulation. Running just shy of two weeks (July 14–27), the intensive highlights how “the puppet, as a theatrical medium, evokes the worlds of our dreams and memories, offering many metaphorical possibilities.” Tuition is $1,450, with an additional $500 for housing and $155 for communal dinners that take place Monday–Friday. Putney is a highly walkable town, complete with its fair share of restaurants, shops, hiking trails, and watering holes, giving Sandglass’ program a charming summer camp feel. 

Perform cabaret

Hosted annually at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, the Cabaret & Performance Conference boasts an array of showcases from professional cabaret artists, as well as training and development programs for students aged 15–18. The O’Neill defines cabaret as “any kind of live performance in an intimate space that breaks the fourth wall,” so there’s sure to be a variety of techniques and approaches on display. Though this year’s application deadline has already passed, aspiring cabaret performers should keep the O’Neill’s program in mind for 2025. 

Clown around

Offering 35 hours of class time (plus rehearsals), Dell’Arte International‘s Clown Core summer workshop is designed to help students of all skill levels “discover the unique clown that is already inside.” Situated in Blue Lake, California, among the North Coast redwoods, the program has two options for attendance: Group A meets from June 10–14, and Group B from June 17–21. The workshop is hosted by 25-year industry vet Michelle Matlock, the first Black performer to create a clown character for Cirque du Soleil. While attendees are responsible for securing their own housing, the program organizes a Facebook group where classmates can team up to find accommodations. 

Master Chekhov technique

The National Michael Chekhov Association‘s Training Intensive Workshop in Las Cruces, New Mexico, offers general training and certification programs for educators, directors, actors, and designers alike. As the name suggests, the program focuses on Michael Chekhov’s well-established acting technique, which is centered on the concept that emotion should be grounded in physicality. The workshop offers up to 76 hours of instruction (including lectures, improv rehearsals, and practice sessions). Tuition varies based on experience: $1,225 for college students; $1,375 for actors, educators, and coaches; and $1,675 for those looking to become certified.

This story was produced by Backstage and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.

Article Topic Follows: Lifestyle - Stacker

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