Young person sitting on trunk of car in Studio Theatre production

What to expect-

The Illinois Department of Theatre offers nationally known acting programs on both the BFA and MFA levels. Students work with professionally active faculty, guest artists and visiting auditioners. Recent audition guests have included NYC Casting Director Pat McCorkle, and representatives from Steppenwolf, Chicago Shakespeare, Milwaukee Rep, American Players Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Montana Shakespeare Festival, St. Louis Shakespeare, and others.


Illinois Theatre will next audition nationally in Fall 2021-Spring 2022 MFA Professional Actor Training Program. Actors accepted will begin the program in August 2022.

Auditions will include


U/RTA National Final Auditions, January 14-15

Location TBD

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-only independent auditions, TBA


U/RTA National Final Auditions, January 21-24

New York Hilton Midtown

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-only independent auditions, TBA


U/RTA National Final Auditions, January 30-February 1

Palmer House Hilton, Chicago

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS-only independent auditions, TBA


We will also schedule individual on-campus auditions at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Please contact David Swinford at the Department of Theatre ( to schedule an on-campus audition or University of Illinois-only independent audition in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco.

Prospective students are strongly urged to apply to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign prior to their audition.

The three-year graduate acting program leads to a terminal professional degree in theatre performance. Graduate actors meet daily in four-hour sessions including acting, movement (including stage combat), voice and speech.

Acting students work on scenes from plays selected from the full scope of dramatic literature and perform them in final presentations at the end of each semester. Research and study accompany performance in order to stimulate fresh interpretations and a thorough understanding of each play, period, and style.  Electives may be taken in theatre history, dramatic literature, playwriting, and directing.

Students in the MFA Acting program perform in productions of the Department of Theatre on the stages of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.  Students spend three years in residence, in approximately 12 hours of class each semester. Faculty instructors provide comprehensive individual evaluations of each student’s progress at the conclusion of each semester.

Young person sitting on trunk of car in Studio Theatre production

Acting Courses

Acting Courses

MFA Acting classes meet Monday through Friday afternoons. Each semester includes physical and vocal preparation, acting scene work, skill development in voice, speech, and movement. Students immerse themselves in work on classic texts, contemporary plays, and stylistic challenges. Emotional connection and effective communication are central to the development of voice and speech skills. Movement training includes mask work, stage combat, and development of effective practice for dynamic performance.

Acting students receive credit for performances in the productions of the Department of Theatre and are encouraged to seek summer acting work beyond the campus to support their classroom learning.  MFA actors have been hired to work at American Players Theatre, Utah Shakespearean Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Montana Shakespeare Festival, Arkansas Shakespeare Festival, Theatre at Monmouth, and Chautauqua Theatre Company.

A Range of Subjects in Acting, Movement, Voice & Speech:

Foundational Process

Exercises and scene work focus on identifying and strengthening aspects of acting practice including the building of a creative ensemble.

Acting in Realism

Actors work on approaches to characterization drawn from realistic plays of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Acting in Shakespeare

Students explore the texts of Shakespeare with attention to language and verse, character and action, passion and size.

Acting for the Camera

Techniques of acting in commercials, television drama and comedy, and on-location scenes are developed.

Voice and Speech

Classes focus on relaxation, breathing, muscularity, phonetics, articulation, and expressiveness. Students acquire skill in verse speaking, dialects and recording techniques for audiobooks and animation.


Students experience neutral mask, clowning, physical acting as well as extensive training in all areas of stage combat leading to certification test with the Society of American Fight Directors.

Theatre History and Dramatic Literature Courses

MFA Acting students select at least one class in Theatre History and/or Dramatic Literature.  Courses vary from semester to semester and include subjects in World Theatre, Musical Theatre and Opera, Classical Drama, Shakespeare, African-American Theatre, Latinx Dramatists, and Asian-American Theatre.

Elective Courses

The Department of Theatre offers courses in Playwriting, Directing, Dramaturgy and Arts Management.  Many other courses are offered from departments beyond the Department of Theatre.

For more information please contact Tom Mitchell at .

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