If you’re seeking ways to interact with theatre faculty from colleges and universities across the country, MTCA hosts College Faculty Masterclasses throughout the year. Taught by master teachers from competitive college theatre programs, they are held in person in New York City and also virtually, via Zoom.
These masterclass weeks are an important opportunity to expand on all of the work you have been doing with MTCA coaches. At our College Faculty Masterclasses, you have the chance to experience working with actual college faculty members who give you valuable feedback right then and there. This always bumps your audition material to the next competitive level!
What’s so exciting is to see all of the individual work that you’ve done prior to a faculty masterclass week — the monologues, songs, and dance combinations that you’ve prepared— get “fresh eyes and ears” from master teachers who have never seen you before.
They offer a fresh perspective without already knowing the history of work you’ve done with your coaching team. What you never want to do in an audition is “show your work.” The faculty want to see you, your freedom, and spontaneity.
In the masterclass setting, the faculty member who is just meeting you for the first time is guiding you to that next, competitive level. They’re taking you from where you are at that moment. This is when we get to see your confidence really grow. You build arc and versatility. Then, of course, the other side of the process that is always helpful is that you’re creating relationships with these teachers.
“You often blossom into something new that is discovered with a master teacher that you can then showcase later in the year for an actual audition.”
You’re learning rapport and language, and you may realize that you really connect with a specific master teacher. For example, a teacher could actually communicate and talk the way you do! Therefore, the similar way in which you and the teacher communicate introduces you to an educational environment you want to be in.
Not only are our faculty masterclasses helping you artistically, they’re also helping you discover your compatibility with prospective teachers. That’s something you can’t get from a website, interview, or campus tour.
How Masterclasses Work
There are two tracks you can take during the MTCA College Faculty Masterclass experience. We have a track that is just for musical theatre majors and one for actors.
Are you somewhere in the middle or confused because you like both? College Faculty Masterclass Weeks are an excellent way to help you decide your path. You can experiment— do songs in some classes and monologues in others.
Anytime you’re signing up for a song or monologue masterclass, you get to work one-on-one with that teacher for ten to fifteen minutes. At MTCA, we believe in small, intimate masterclasses. There will not be fifty other students in class with you. This is incredibly valuable because you’ll not only get to work your song or monologue all the way through, but the master teacher is also going to give you exercises, notes, and adjustments. They may even throw you some curveballs to help you build the audition piece and press you with questions.
“I’m a big believer that you do not just grow when you’re selfishly up on your feet. You’re growing in the observation moments of watching your peers. It’s very important.”
When young actors are in the process of learning and growing, the observation of others is a huge part of what influences them. Sometimes you can actually assess and digest a note that you’ve received for yourself more effectively when you hear the same note given to someone else.
It’s not about you at that moment— you’re watching the back and forth relationship that happens between the faculty member and another student, and you realize, “Oh! That’s what they meant when they said it to me. Oh, now I see what this means.” Those realization moments are especially beautiful in the intimate classroom settings we create.
How To Prepare
The most important way to prepare for faculty masterclasses is to work and play with your MTCA coaches. That way, there will be a freedom and a spontaneity within the work you show the master teachers.
The last thing you want to do is over-think the lyrics for your songs, or the notes you’re singing: asking yourself, “What is the text within the monologue?” That’s all the technical work you need to do on your own and with the guidance of your coaches.
“When you get in front of the faculty master teacher, we want to see the fun, silly, goofy, vivacious teenager! And that’s hard to do if you haven’t been working ahead of time.”
Sometimes without preparation…your nerves kick in! The more work you do on your own, the greater chance you have of success with that faculty member. Then you’re able to be present. It’s very hard to be present when you’re up on your feet in the classroom and in front of the teacher— most of the time, all you’re thinking is, “I want to do well. I want them to like me.” But guess what? That’s the last thing you want to be thinking.
The best way to kick off your preparation for MTCA’s Faculty Masterclass Weeks is to ensure you have completed your Individual Consultation. There, you and your family are introduced to MTCA. I talk you through how the team works and operates, discuss your areas of interest, among other topics.
“We help you not only artistically, but organizationally, strategically and psychologically. And psychological preparedness is actually one of the most important aspects of the process.”
It’s exciting to set goals in the initial consultation that work for you and your family. Especially any budgetary concerns.
We get to find out what kind of an artist and person you are and want to be so you can be matched effectively with coaches on the MTCA team. All of our matching is done in a personalized, individualized way. It’s really important to me that personalities are compatible and academic backgrounds are similar.
Perhaps you’re a student who wants a lot of BFA liberal arts schools, or maybe BFA conservatory schools. Some of our coaches on the team have a very large liberal arts background. Others have a conservatory background. We focus on matching you aesthetically with people that are going to understand your track and your journey. Matching is very specific to you.
What Parents Should Know
Faculty Masterclass weeks are not just for students!
MTCA hosts a welcome meeting at the beginning of the week. Then, at week’s end, we host a panel of MTCA alumni students and parents for an energetic and interactive Q&A session where you learn from those that have experienced the rollercoaster of college audition season.
Remember: the goal of performing for multiple master teachers is to have multiple experiences.
Sometimes, students who complete a Faculty Masterclass Week may get a bit overstimulated and a little confused. “Why did teacher ‘A’ say this? “Then teacher ‘B’ said that, and teacher ‘C’ said another thing. Am I not doing well?”
On the contrary! You’ve done great work. You’ll notice how different teachers in different perspectives have different opinions and different styles. How do you digest and navigate three different notes from three fantastic educators, neither of the three are more right or wrong than the other. It’s about learning from different master teachers and different school’s perspectives on your skill set.
Remember. Art is subjective. Art is arbitrary. You’re learning..
After the masterclasses complete, you go back to your MTCA coaches and you do a debrief. Your coaches help you decipher all the feedback you receive.
“I often remind students, with every bit of love and warmth in my heart and voice: you are amateurs. The goal of going to school is to get better at your craft.”
MTCA coaches, the teachers and educators you meet — we’re experienced at this. We’ve been doing this a lot longer than you!
The biggest fear I hear from students is the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to happen on the college audition journey. You’re up on your feet in front of a teacher you’ve never met before. Technically, the fact you’re participating is the best thing you can do! Inside the Faculty Masterclasses, you’ll naturally make yourself better prepared for the unexpected and uncertainty of your theatre college audition.
And besides. All the good juice happens when you’re not planning anything out. The unexpected is GOOD!
To learn more about future MTCA’s College Faculty Masterclasses, visit MTCollegeAuditions/Events.
About the Author
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Leo is a Carnegie Mellon graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Entering his 13th year with college prep, Leo balances and integrates a diversity of artistic disciplines, drawing from years of professional experience as an actor, voiceover artist, and educator. Leo infuses his students with the tools and confidence to prepare for successful college auditions. Most recently, Leo completed a year and a half long run with School of Rock on Broadway. Other B’way credits: Shuffle Along (starring Audra McDonald) and Jesus Christ Superstar. Off-Broadway: Jasper in Deadland, Finks at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, Wanda’s World, & Ionescapade: The Works of Eugene Ionesco at The York. He’s played Riff in West Side Story on The West End, 50th Anniversary US Tour, Houston TUTS, Barrington Stage, & NCT. National Tours include 42nd Street, Disney’s On The Record, & Casper The Musical, starring Chita Rivera. Select credits: Black Stache in Peter And the Starcatcher (Pioneer), Emcee in Cabaret (Houston TUTS & The Arvada Center), & Tulsa in Gypsy, starring Patti LuPone (Chicago Ravinia Festival). National Voice Overs: Siemens Technology, Monster, Sharp, Foster Grants, JC Penney, V8, & more. IG: @leoashevens. www.leoashevens.com