Actors in Polaroid Stories
“It transformed me as an actor and was so professional. It showed me lots of thing I had never seen before and opened my eyes to many different opportunities."
Summer Acting Institute Student, 2018

Summer Acting Institute

A challenging four-week acting conservatory for ages 13-19

About the Program • Location • Admission • Tuition • Acting Classes

Big Love by Charles L. Mee
Mondays-Fridays, 12 pm-6 pm; July 20-August 14, 2020
Performance: evening of August 14, 2020 (full day of rehearsals August 12-14)

Apply now 

About the Summer Acting Institute for Teens

The Theatre Lab’s Summer Acting Institute for Teens is designed to immerse young adults in the art of acting, from mastering the essential principles of the craft to participating in a public performance of a challenging contemporary work at the end of the four weeks. 
The curriculum includes audition seminars, improvisational workshops, voice and speech training, movement training, and scene study, as well as special programs designed to give interested students insight into the workings of the professional theatre community. In addition to the daily training, students will present Charles Mee’s Big Love, a wild contemporary adaptation of Aeschylus’ The Suppliant Women, at GALA Hispanic Theater in Columbia Heights.
Big Love tells the story of fifty brides (played by a small group of actors) who flee to Italy to avoid marrying their fifty cousins. A dark serio-comedy written in the late 1990s, Big Love has surprising resonances with the #MeToo Movement, raising issues of gender politics, passion and consent. It also incorporates music — both classical and contemporary — to create a theatrical experience heralded by the New York Times as “comedic, gymnastic, sensual, shocking and redemptive.” There will be movement training incorporated into rehearsals as well as opportunities for actors who sing to take on some of the vocals (no singing required, however, for most roles). 
Please note: Big Love explores mature themes and includes some adult language. 
All institute classes are taught by professional actors and directors. The summer program is directed by actor Deb Gottesman, a founder and co-director of The Theatre Lab, and includes a staff of highly trained instructors and specialists including awardwinningdirector Randy Baker (Rorschach Theatre), who will direct the final production.
Location: Classes and rehearsals take place in our downtown home, 733 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Gallery Place Metro - Red, Yellow and Green lines).
The final performance is at Gala Hispanic Theatre, a renowned professional venue

Admission: Admission to the Acting Institute for Teens is by application and audition. Applicants will be accepted on the basis of their commitment to exploring the theatre craft, their willingness to collaborate in a group process of discovery with other young artists. All applicants must complete a written essay expressing their interest in the program. Applicants must also prepare a 90-second monologue for auditions that will be scheduled upon receipt of completed application. Due to the limited nature of our enrollment, admission is competitive. You will be contacted shortly after we receive your application to schedule an audition. Applications submitted after the deadline will be considered only if space becomes available.

Tuition: Tuition for the Summer Acting Institute is $1,135. Please note: If you audition and are accepted into both Twelfth Night (musical) and Big Love your total tuition to participate in both programs will be $2,070
Partial financial aid is available through our Work Study program. In addition, a limited number of scholarships will be awarded annually through the Harvard Class of 1985 Scholarship Fund and the George Grant Memorial Scholarship Fund. (Criteria: exceptional community involvement and financial need.) 

Apply now

Acting Classes

Summer Acting Institute participants take all of the following courses:

The Drama Workshop: An improvisational workshop designed to explore core acting skills, including: creating a character, activating needs, developing spontaneity and focus, and communicating effectively with others on stage.  Students will be challenged to discover new ways of thinking, expressing themselves, and creating.

Students take part in a stage combat workshop

Auditioning: An intensive seminar designed to prepare students to perform monologues in an audition setting, this course focuses on developing confidence, rechanneling nervous energy into creative energy, and using the body and voice effectively to tell a story.  At the conclusion of the seminar, students use their monologues to audition for Big Love. All students are guaranteed substantial and interesting roles.

Stage Movement: Designed to increase the actor’s range of movement and physical expressiveness, this course incorporates elements of mime, dance, and improvisation, as well as training in relaxation and posture development, in order to maximize the potential of the body on stage.

Voice and Speech:  This course focuses on developing proper breath control, improving diction and projection, and maximizing the flexibility and range of the voice to give students the skills they need for clear, effective speech on stage.

Scene Study: An intensive exploration of scripted work, this course focuses on developing the actor’s process through the introduction of powerful rehearsal techniques.  Course culminates in a public performance of Big Love.

In addition to the above classes, students participate in a variety of special workshops—such as acting for film and TV, mask work, and stage combat—led by guest artists from the Washington theatre community.