Two-Year Conservatory

Our 2 Year Professional Workshop includes 2 tracks: Acting & Musical Theatre

Both programs emphasis technique based in truthful storytelling, with a foundation in live theatre performance. Our aim is to support and educate our students, giving them the tools to become successful working actors and unique theatre artists with the ability to adapt to an ever evolving industry.

The First Year of study concentrates on the development of technical skills and an understanding of the actor’s working process, while The Second Year hones in on elevated texts, character creation, and professional performance. The program culminates in a series of Repertory Productions, and an Industry Showcase.

Classes are five days a week, approximately 6-8 hours a day. Admission is highly selective and continued study in the second year is by faculty invitation. Applicants to the Professional Workshops must be at least 18 and have a High School Diploma or an equivalent.


Classes offered at for the 2 Year Professional Workshop at Circle in the Square Theatre School are broken down into 4 sections; ACTING, MUSICAL THEATRE, MOVEMENT, VOICE AND SPEECH.


SCENE STUDY – This first year course aims to lay the foundation for an actor’s study of their craft as it relates to contemporary text. Actors will examine and explore a diverse range of contemporary plays and use scenes from them to build up a variety of tools and techniques necessary to the modern performer. Through preparing, rehearsing, performing and evaluating, actors will learn how to mine the text for given circumstances, objectives, action and events and use this work to create characters that undergo change.
Instructor: Benita de Wit

SHAKESPEAREAN SCENE STUDY – A course devoted to intensive scene work focusing on specific Shakespearean plays. Scenes are studied, presented, critiqued, and re-presented leading to greater facility in the use of his language and the presentation of his characters and stories. The culmination of the class is a fully staged Shakespeare play as a final project in The Festival of Theater. Instructor: Edward Berkeley

BROADENING THE CANON –  This class will introduce students to BIPOC playwrights that they may not be familiar with. Students will do research on the playwright, learn to discuss the plays with a critical, curious, and empathetic eye, and work monologues from the plays. The goal is that students who don’t necessarily fit the playwright’s racial, ethnic, or sexual (to name a few) identity realize that they can still support BIPOC playwrights and identify with the work they create.
Instructor: Nemuna Ceesay

THE ACTORS INSTRUMENT (ACTING TECHNIQUE I & II) – A study of kinetic and sensory exercises used to develop the actor’s instrument. The actor will build concentration and range and vividness of expression. Intensive training in relaxation compounded with accessing the actor’s memory through instructed use of the senses will cultivate the actor’s ability to portray various roles and situations.
Instructor: Jacqueline Jacobus

ON-CAMERA TECHNIQUE: ACTING FOR FILM –This course provides actors an environment to familiarize themselves with the process of acting in front of the camera. Primary emphasis is placed on learning the technicalities of acting for the camera while delivering the subtlety and nuance required of film acting: including learning to adjust the performance for specific shot size, acting on a mark, maintaining eye line, finding the arc of the character, and learning to maintain the integrity of the script while shooting out of sequence. Students will participate in a scene shoot filmed and edited by the instructor. Instructor: T.J. Mannix

BEYOND SHAKESPEARE – In depth examination of texts from Greece to now. For understanding scenic and character construction in varying styles and periods.An introduction to two of the giant lights of modern theater, Chekhov and Shaw, through text analysis, scene work, monologues, and background readings. For the first class, please read THE CHERRY ORCHARD in “The Plays of Anton Chekhov” translated by Paul Schmidt (Harper Collins paperback, available at the Drama Bookshop, Barnes & Noble, and online, new or used.) We’ll start by discussing your responses, and mining the text for Chekhov’s clues to actors. Then everyone will be assigned a scene in the play to rehearse for presentation over the next two weeks, followed by scenes from THREE SISTERS and UNCLE VANYA, and Shaw’s CANDIDA, MISALLIANCE and ARMS AND THE MAN.
Beginning with the basics of melodic and rhythmic notation, and advancing through intervals, chords, blues scales, and more, actors will learn all the skills necessary to teach themselves an unknown piece of music, communicate knowledgeably with music directors and accompanists, and interpret songs musically as well as dramatically. Course also includes weekly sight-singing, ear-training, and ensemble singing practice.

ACTING WORKSHOP – A first year scene study class focusing on works predominantly by modern playwrights. Actors are introduced to many viewpoints by having various lecturers. Emphasis is often placed on exploring the actor-director relationship within a scene.
Instructors: TBD

ALEXANDER TECHNIQUE – A basic approach to the actor’s awareness of the body as an “instrument,” as prescribed by the specific training method set down by the Alexander Institute.
Instructor: Daniel Singer


SINGING INTERPRETATION – Approaching song as an acting piece. Actors work on songs first as monologues and then focus on song structure as a tool for interpretation of musical pieces. Special attention is also paid to using physical techniques to achieve a truthful performance. Instructor: Sara Louise Lazarus with assistance from Musical Director Joseph Baker

MUSICAL PERFORMANCE – Applying all the techniques learned in Singing Interpretation, this second year musical theatre course focuses on audition preparation and polishing a performance. Emphasis is placed on building an audition song book that serves each individual actor.
Instructor: Sara Louise Lazarus with assistance from Musical Director Joseph Baker

MUSICAL THEATRE SCENE STUDY Students will explore scenes from the musical theatre canon. Building on the fundamentals of year one, this class focuses on cultivating each actor’s unique process through partner-based work and synthesis of song and spoken text. This class will cover a variety of styles and stories to stretch and challenge each student’s abilities while also strengthening their sense of self.
Instructor:  Alvin Crawford, Billy Bustamante with assistance from Musical Director Joseph Baker

SINGING TECHNIQUE – An approach to free and healthy singing for the actor. Actors will stretch their range and learn various vocal skills to create their own unique singing voice. Through different exercises and study of anatomy as it relates to vocal production, the actor will develop a healthy singing voice appropriate for all forms of theatre and the knowledge base to create their own training regimen.
Instructors:  Shan Y. Chuang, Alvin Crawford, and Natalie Wilson

MUSIC THEORY I and II – Offers basic instruction in the rules of music theory, starting with an understanding of melody, harmony, rhythm, and notation. The actor will take this knowledge and apply it to understanding their pieces. Actors will also participate in a sight-singing and ear-training component that will allow them to quickly analyze an unknown piece of music with reasonable accuracy, and allow musical and dramatic interpretation.
Instructor: Natalie Wilson


DANCE FOR ACTORS – A study of primarily basic jazz movement patterns with surveys in other dance styles such as lyrical and partner dancing. The class features extended stretching for improved flexibility, focused technique work, and combination work to develop intuition in perceiving dance forms. Actors will also participate in 3–4 mock auditions per year that serve as preparation for their time outside of Circle. The class will enhance understanding of rhythmic movement which will allow the actor to succeed in stage characterization.
Instructor: Connor Coughlin, Priscilla Greco, Joshua Spencer,Shan Y. Chuang

PHYSICAL ACTING I – The actor’s body must be ready at all times to freely move to tell the story at hand. This class uncovers, enriches and hones each actor’s instrument through a variety of group and solo explorations to stimulate how intuition, imagination and memory work together physically to embody character needs and circumstances in scene work.
Instructor: Randolyn Zinn and Christine Sang

PHYSICAL ACTING II– In the second year, students deepen their improvisatory work through imaginative group exercises and structured solo assignments that employ music and/or text to explore how to actively listen and freely communicate behavior, need, and interiority with precision, specificity and, most importantly, the unplanned impulse.
Instructor: Randolyn Zinn and Christine Sang

MASK – NEUTRAL – The utilization of neutral masks to develop freedom of expression in the actor. An emphasis is placed on exploring primal instinct and how it progresses to and is covered by modern behavior.
Instructor: Shelley Wyant and Patrick Horn

MASK – CHARACTER – The utilization of character masks to further explore physical movement and expression in the actor. Eventual inclusion of text is used to facilitate freedom of expression with and without the mask.
Instructor: Shelley Wyant and Patrick Horn

CLOWN/COMEDY/IMPROV – Armed combat for the working actor. Emphasis is placed on the use of rhythm, musicality of movement, and intention to further develop story-telling in the actor. 

Instructor: Nancy Smithner, Ph.D.


STAGE COMBAT I – Basic tumbling and unarmed combat for the working actor. Confidence and the perception of the actor’s self-image are strengthened through various physical exercises. Emphasis is placed on creating convincing images and a routine that can be repeated to create believable scenes that tell a story.
Instructor: Dan Renkin, and Brad Lemons

STAGE COMBAT II – Armed combat for the working actor. Weapons studied include European short-sword, quarter-staff, and rapier and dagger. Emphasis is placed on the use of rhythm, musicality of movement, and intention to further develop story-telling in the actor.
Instructor: Dan Renkin, and Brad Lemons


SPEECH II – DIALECTS – A study of various dialects and accents of English. Work in Speech I is built upon and combined with dialectical research to create convincing and appropriate dialect and accent choices for a broad range of characters.
Instructor: Dianna Cortez 

VOICE I & II – LINKLATER – A course focused on removing physical and emotional blocks which inhibit the free and natural voice. Linklater technique is used to allow the actor to express the full spectrum of emotion, complexity of mood, and subtlety of thought used to portray a character.
Instructor: Dianna Cortez 

SPEECH I – A study of neutral American and Mid-Atlantic dialects. Actors learn the International Phonetic Alphabet and the various sounds used within English. Work in articulation and diction is taught to enhance clarity in the actor’s speech and to give the actor the option to neutralize regionalisms when necessary.
Instructor: Elizabeth Loughran

PROFESSIONAL ORIENTATION – A course on the business of the theatrical world. Taught by a combination of guest lecturers and current administration, the course focuses on audition preparation, including monologue work and visual presentation, learning how to market the actor to an agent, and interview coaching, and more.
Instructor: Guest Lecturers
SEMINAR– In order to expose the students to members of the professional theatre world, and thus to the practical application of their craft, a series of informal guest seminars is scheduled with playwrights, directors and actors, as well as other members of the theatre profession and its related fields, who are contributing to the vitality of today’s theatre and its creative processes.
Instructor: Guest Lecturers; View Seminar Series




Connor Coughlin (Michael)



Cait Kelly (Maggie) and Connor Coughlin (Michael)