“Other schools give you an isolated experience of what is preferred at their specific theater but Theatre Lab really opens up the whole of the D.C. professional theatre scene to you.”
Honors Acting Conservatory Graduate

What We Offer


The Honors Acting Conservatory at The Theatre Lab offers:

A year to focus intensively on your acting . . .

One year of concentrated attention to all aspects of the acting craft can make an enormous difference in an actor’s life. Taking classes now and then is beneficial, of course, but when it comes to learning what you're really capable of, nothing can match the value of immersing yourself in the craft.

. . . without turning your life upside down

Keep your day job – for now! The Honors Acting Conservatory at The Theatre Lab takes place solely on evenings and weekends, so you can continue to earn a living at your current occupation while preparing for a career in the theatre. No need to pull up stakes and head off for a two- or three-year MFA program.

Here's your chance to receive graduate-equivalent training from the area's most respected working professional actors, directors, and casting directors, with attention to every aspect of the art and business of the acting profession--all within one calendar year. What's more, The Honors Conservatory is much more affordable than any comparably extensive program in the area.

Fellow students who are as dedicated as you are

Admission to the Conservatory is by audition, and Conservatory faculty select only students they believe can succeed in the acting profession.

Demonstrated ability and commitment are prerequisites for admission, so the acting student's perennial problem--the scene partner who doesn't show up for rehearsals or drops out of class--is not a concern. Instead, students can count on working with scene partners and classmates who share their dedication to acting, and who will support and challenge each other as members of a committed acting/learning ensemble.

A truly comprehensive curriculum

Honors Acting Conservatory students receive extensive training in scene study, advanced improvisational skills, auditioning, performance skills, physical and vocal technique, and the business of the business. In addition, Conservatory students study other theatrical disciplines to put that training in appropriate context.

To gain experience on the technical side of things, each student runs crew for at least one Theatre Lab production. Upon finishing the program you will have a firm grasp of theatre history and will be familiar with dramatic literature from across the spectrum of styles and periods.

Extensive access to The Theatre Lab's acclaimed faculty

The program is directed by Theatre Lab Founders and Directors Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro (MFA graduates of The Catholic University of America) and popular actor and instructor Kim Schraf. A core curriculum of ongoing Monday-night scene study and advanced improv training plus a minimum of nine six-week courses--taught by distinguished Theatre Lab faculty--is required of all Honors Acting Conservatory students, but there’s no requirement to stop there.

When spaces are available, Conservatory students may take other Theatre Lab classes during the year, for no additional fee, as long as the extra work does not interfere with the Conservatory curriculum.

Special workshops with top theatre professionals from Washington and beyond

The Theatre Lab is known for introducing actors and acting students to the wisdom and inspiration of top theatre talents from both Washington and New York. Past master classes and workshops have been led by Bruce Dern, Pat Carroll, Michael Kahn, David Huddleston, Holly Twyford, and many others.

A variety of special guests will work solely with Honors students, as a supplement to the regular Monday-night acting classes.

Regular progress evaluations

Students receive detailed evaluations of all their work throughout the year. All instructors provide honest, specific, and constructive criticism as a way of guiding each student through his or her unique development as a theatre artist.

And learning how to take and use that criticism is itself an important part of each actor's Conservatory education.

Personal and professional mentoring throughout the year

Another important aspect of acting training that is made available solely to Honors Acting Conservatory students is an ongoing advisory component.

The directors and faculty serve as mentors, making themselves available to Honors students to discuss any and all aspects of coursework and preparation for the professional theatre.

A wide variety of performance opportunities

All students play a major role in a production arising from one of our performance classes (past productions have included Jane Eyre, Othello, Our Town, and The Good Woman of Szechwan), and there are frequent showcases of the scene work done in class.

Final projects are productions of small-cast plays--chosen, produced, directed, and acted entirely by students under faculty supervision.

A final showcase for the area's most influential directors and casting directors

Upon completion of the program, Honors Acting Conservatory students are formally introduced to the professional community in a showcase of their best work, presented to the decision makers from a wide variety of Washington theatres and casting agencies.