Acting Apprentice Company
Now in its 43rd year, the Acting Apprentice Company is one of the nation’s oldest pre-professional training programs. Each year we audition over 2000 young artists and choose 20 to spend a season-long residency at the Tony Award-winning home of the Humana Festival of New American Plays.
The program is designed to serve as a bridge between undergraduate study and a professional career. We specialize in providing the kind of practical training and real-world experience that give our apprentices a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace.
The apprenticeship is an intensive nine-month (August to April) total immersion into the world of a major American regional theatre. It offers a unique combination of performance, training, observation and networking.
The Apprentice Company produces a full season of shows, focusing entirely on new works:
- The year begins with the Apprentice Ensemble Project. We bring in guest artists from renowned companies like the Mad Ones, the Neo-Futurists, Dell’Arte, the Civilians, SITI Company and others to teach the apprentices a variety of methodologies for devising original work. Then, with the support of a group of directors and dramaturgs, the Company develops short pieces that will serve as springboards for original performances throughout the season.
- Each apprentice writes and performs a Solo Mio—a short solo-performance piece. The company participates in workshops with our literary department and with a nationally-known solo artist. Then each apprentice is assigned a director and a dramaturg to help shape the piece.
- In January, the Company performs in The Tens – a group of Ten-Minute Plays culled from the National Ten-Minute Play Competition and fully produced on one of the theatre’s main stages.
- Each year, the theatre selects a group of both established and emerging playwrights and commissions them to write the Apprentice Anthology, a full-length and fully produced work that is part of the Humana Festival of New American Plays. As part of the process, the playwrights visit Actors Theatre, meet with the apprentices, and workshop the piece with the company. Recent anthology playwrights include Dan Dietz, A. Rey Pamatmat, Marco Ramirez, Allison Moore, Jennifer Haley, Lucas Hnath, Deborah Stein, Kristoffer Diaz, Greg Kotis, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb, Anne Washburn, Lydia R. Diamond, and Deborah Zoe Laufer.
- The theatre sponsors a regional playwriting contest for middle and high school students called New Voices. The Apprentice Company helps these young writers workshop, revise and ultimately perform the winning plays on one of the theatre’s main stages.
- Each season, members of both companies are encouraged to collaborate on Independent Projects – basically any artistic endeavor (scene studies, workshops, readings, full productions and more) that a company member (or members) would like to undertake. Groups are assigned mentors but given complete creative and business control over the projects they choose. The entire company then holds a debrief to discuss how what they learned can be applied to creating their own companies and producing their own work later in their professional careers.
- The full company performs an Industry Showcase– a group of short scenes targeted to an invited group of agents, casting directors, and other industry professionals.
Additionally, apprentices fill all age-appropriate non-Equity roles and understudy several Equity roles in the theatre’s mainstage season. All apprentices who are cast or understudy in the mainstage season earn weeks in the Equity Membership Candidate (EMC) program and the theatre pays the admission fee for anyone not already enrolled in the program.
Our training focuses on the practical and the experiential. The cornerstone of that training is auditioning. Apprentices audition for actual roles in the mainstage season and their own season of shows. Mock auditions, using both monologues and sides, are held regularly with Actors staff, guest directors, and other visiting artists serving as respondents. Emphasis is placed not only on material preparation, but also on how to be present and personable in the room.
Other areas of emphasis include:
- navigating the actor/director relationship in rehearsal
- participating fully in the new play workshop process
- an actor’s relationship with Equity and other trade unions
- negotiating your own contracts when you don’t have an agent
- how to begin and maintain relationships with industry ‘gatekeepers’ (agents, casting directors, etc.)
Actors Theatre has an open-rehearsal policy. Apprentices are encouraged to watch the work of visiting artists and regular debrief sessions are held to discuss those observations.
Apprentices are given the opportunity to interact (in both formal and informal settings) with every visiting actor, director, and playwright that works at Actors. Additionally we’ll bring a host of Industry Professionals from New York, Chicago & other cities to meet you and see your work throughout the season.
There are no tuition costs associated with the program. In fact, every apprentice is provided a small stipend to help defray living costs. We’ll also help you find low-cost housing and help get your student loans deferred for the time you’re with us. You are responsible for all costs associated with living in Louisville for the duration of the apprenticeship.
Instead of charging tuition or fees, what we ask in return for the benefits of the program are your commitment and hard work. Every apprentice participates in a work-study program that includes crewing shows and working load-ins and changeovers.