UConn Dramatic Arts

URTA Schools Ranked Best in the Country for MFA in Design

URTA Member Schools took four of the top five spots in a recent ranking of MFA design programs by the blog Onstage.

University of Maryland, California Institute of the Arts, Indiana University, and University of Connecticut were cited as among the best MFA programs in theatre design, in the country. Each of the programs were lauded for their first-rate theaters and facilities, A-list faculty, and the comparative affordability of tuition.

Of University of Maryland, Onstage writes:

Students have numerous internship opportunities with more than 75 professional theatres in the Washington DC-Baltimore corridor. The faculty include five time Tony winning lighting designer Brian MacDevitt.

On CalArts:

The facilities are outstanding. I could simply mention the Walt Disney Modular Theater and move on but they also have the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) which can be transformed into several different configurations.

Indiana University and UConn:

If you’re looking for the strongest MFA program in the mid-west, Indiana University is the place to be.

…[UConn’s] proximity to both New York City and Boston can lead to some amazing internship and job opportunities. Their faculty are all working professional designers with some currently working on Broadway and Off-Broadway productions. They have study abroad connections with Bournemouth University College of the Arts and London University Wimbledon College of the Arts in the UK.

The rankings were based on various factors, including the quality of the faculty, reputation of the training program, facilities available to MFAs, the cost of tuition, and success of alumni.

Further, an honorable mention was accorded to URTA Member, the University of Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music.

We couldn’t be more proud of our members, who truly represent the gold standard in professional training of future theatre artists.


photo credit: Ken Jacques Photography

Actor/Director Jason Heil Talks with URTA

Jason Heil is currently directing and starring in THE LION IN WINTER for Moonlight Stage Productions in Vista, CA. He is also a graduate of the MFA Acting program at the University of California, Irvine. He recently took some time out of his busy production schedule to answer a few questions for URTA.

Welcome, Jason. Thank you for taking a moment to speak with URTA. You’re a prolific actor and director (and in this project you’re both). Do you have a preference for one over the other?

Honestly, I prefer going back and forth. They are two different muscles. As an actor, you try to immerse and be present and do your work. It’s not your job–or place–to worry about all of the other details. As a director, you’re looking at the big picture. You are trying to create something whole out of dozens of elements.

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URTA at KC American College Theater Festival!

KCACTF Region III attendees–Don’t miss URTA’s workshops at the Festival today and tomorrow!

URTA will conduct an audition workshop today at 3PM (Room MIT361). Lori Adams, Head of Acting at Illinois State University, will observe monologues and offer feedback and perspective. Come with your prepared audition piece, or simply watch and learn!

Tomorrow (1/9) at 11AM (Room MIT 195) URTA presents a session for design/tech students: “Is Graduate School Next? Straight Talk for Designers and Technologists“. Faculty designers including John Stark (Illinois State University), Michael McNamara (Purdue University) and Karen Kangas-Preston (Michigan State University) will offer discussion on graduate training, followed by one-on-one critique and review of your portfolios.

To keep up with all the events this week, download the Guidebook App and the load the KCACTF Region III guide!

URTA also plans to attend the KCACTF Region VII event in Ellensburg, WA in February, and SETC in March in Chattanooga, TN. Like our Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest news.


Hotel and Transportation Tips for NUAI Candidates

So, you’re registered for the URTA National Unified Auditions and Interviews, but now you’ve got to arrange your hotel and transportation.

You should have received details on URTA’s special hotel rate–but some cities/dates are already full. Never fear–there are some great deals to be had by checking around the web. Check sites like Groupon or LivingSocial–they often have great rates for hotels in New York City, as January is a rare “down-time” in the tourist trade there.

For getting to and from the auditions, you might look up Mega Bus, Bolt Bus, or other affordable coach lines. Their rates on direct routes to cities like Chicago, New York, and San Francisco can be extremely competitive!

"Good Kids" University of Michigan p: Peter Smith

“Good Kids” Launches New Play Initiative

Naomi Iizuka’s new play “Good Kids”, the inaugural effort of the Big Ten Theatre Consortium’s New Play Initiative, has concluded its run at the University of Michigan and will now continue its “rolling premiere”, being produced by theatre departments at several other Big Ten schools, including Indiana University, Purdue University, Michigan State, the University of Maryland and University of Iowa.

The Consortium plans to commission a new play for the Initiative every year for the next three years. Each commission will include a $10,000 payment to the artist, and the caveat that any Big Ten school will be able to produce the play, royalty-free.

Originally proposed by Alan MacVey, Director of the Performing Arts Division at the University of Iowa, the Initiative is meant to support female playwrights and to provide rich, interesting roles for young, female actors at both the university and professional levels; two things MacVey currently sees in short supply. In describing the Initiative, MacVey says:

“As educators and directors of theater training programs, we are uniquely positioned to address the problem from the ground level. With the commissions, we’re doing three things at once: developing challenging scripts for our female students, scripts that will make them stronger actors; supporting outstanding female playwrights; and encouraging the production of more plays by women, which we hope will be widely produced by colleges and professional theaters.”

Iizuka’s play, inspired by the events of the Steubenville rape case, explores a casual sexual encounter gone wrong, and its very public aftermath. Reviews from the Michigan production were effusively positive, with the Ann Arbor News writing:

“Iizuka’s play invites us to rethink our assumptions about gender and sexuality and have an honest discussion – a noble attempt to produce positive change from an ugly tragedy.”

URTA is proud to count 11 of its member schools among the Big Ten Consortium (in actuality, a group of 14 schools) including: Michigan State University, University of Maryland, University of Iowa, Indiana University, the Ohio State University, Northwestern University, Penn State, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Minnesota, and Purdue University.

URTA intern

Meet Kyle Mencel, URTA’s Newest Intern

This fall marks the launch of URTA’s new internship program and we are delighted to introduce our very first intern: Kyle Mencel!

Kyle comes to us from The New School for Drama. He has been acting for about 7 years and has performed in productions ranging from Shakespeare’s The Tempest to Charles Mee’s Under Construction. Kyle is also a producer and director who is currently creating a variety of web series and invisible theatre work with his production ensemble, End of The Line Productions. Along with scripted work, the production company is very involved with developing scripts and theatrical performance through improvisation. Always encouraging new artists to join their group allows the ensemble to keep ideas and energy fresh.

The URTA internship will bring theatre students from all disciplines into our national office to gain firsthand experience in theatre arts administration by working in each of our URTA’s programs. We are excited to welcome Kyle to the team and to provide both he and our future interns an invaluable opportunity for their personal and professional enrichment.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying to be an intern at URTA, contact our Director of Operations, Christy Ming-Trent at cmingtrent (at) urta.com.

URTA NUAI Auditions

Satellite Auditions – 2015


Last year URTA introduced the Satellite Auditions, where NUAI acting candidates have the opportunity to be seen by non-member universities and conservatories, in addition to the member programs attending the URTA Auditions. The initiative proved to be very popular with both candidates and recruiters, and this year we have even more schools taking part!

Satellite attendees this year are scheduled to include:

  • Academy of Art University
  • University of Arkansas
  • Birmingham School of Acting
  • Case Western Reserve/Cleveland Playhouse
  • Catholic University of America
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Houston
  • Long Island University
  • University of Louisville
  • The New School for Drama
  • Portland Actors Conservatory
  • Regent University
  • Rose Bruford College
  • SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design)

Don’t forget to check the option for Satellite Auditions on your URTA NUAI application and remember: The application deadline for Acting and Design candidates is Friday, November 21st–So get your application in now to make sure you receive an audition slot!

You can find more information about these schools and our other Guest Participants on urta.com!

URTA NUAI Auditions


URTA’s National Showcase Calendar Returns!

Ok, it never really went away–but spring is right around the corner, and it’s the Calendar’s time to shine again.

URTA’s National Showcase Calendar is a one-stop shop where you’ll find showcase listings from dozens of training programs all in one place, including BFAs, MFAs, and other conservatory and university programs.

Each listing shows the date, time, and location of the event, the RSVP contact, as well as additional information about the program, and links to the school and/or actor websites. You can set up email reminders and forward listings to colleagues, friends, or other interested parties.

If you haven’t listed your school’s showcase yet, contact the URTA national office to do so at 212-221-1130.

CLICK HERE to visit the National Showcase Calendar.

2-SBSH Faculty - Photo(c)2012 by Star Black

Satellite Auditions – Stony Brook Southampton

We continue our profiles of Guest Participants attending the Satellite Auditions with Stony Brook University – Southampton.11-Historic Campus Windmill-Literary Landmark

Stony Brook is located in the beautiful seaside town of Southampton on the East End of Long Island, a bus or train ride away from Manhattan. Students study throughout the year in Southampton, including during the summer Southampton International Theatre Workshops & Festival. There is also a facility in Manhattan where students take classes and have access to everything one of the most vibrant cities in the world has to offer.

Stony Brook recently took the time to answer a few questions about their program for us and our candidates.

Please tell us a little more about the training program at Stony Brook.

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