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Dramatic Arts

Do you crave the vibrant energy of live performance, and find yourself singing the latest musical theatre songs or acting out scenes in your head? Young Actors at Ƶ Arts live in a space where ideas, stories, and characters come to life. Our expansive, interdisciplinary curriculum offers students an entire spectrum of Dramatic Arts including acting, musical theatre, production and design or general theatre; creating fully-realized, well-rounded performers and technicians confident in their own abilities and ready for the next level.

Students performing a musical.
A shakespeare class.

Curriculum

Our robust curriculum and agile approach provide a rigorous Dramatic Arts education on par with liberal arts college and conservatory programs, powered by our distinguished and dedicated faculty. Students select pre-professional training in musical theatre, acting for stage & camera, directing, playwriting, production & design to name a few, developing the skills and knowledge to succeed in the pursuit of conservatory, college or a professional career in the industry.

A student performing in a musical.

Philosophy

Magic happens when artists come together, weaving tales that inspire, entertain, and challenge audiences. The Dramatic Arts major encompasses more than just the actor’s spotlight—our students explore the full depth and breadth of the discipline, collaborating as actors, singers, dancers, lyricists, technicians, and crew members to assemble all of the elements of a professional stage production as well as the actor’s role in front of the camera.

Concentrations

Dramatic Arts majors declare an area of concentration in Acting for Stage & Camera, Musical Theatre, Design & Production or General Theatre at the time of admission, which shapes the curriculum they receive. No matter the focus, Dramatic Artists will collaborate, perform, produce, and demonstrate their skills on and off campus in a variety of main stage performances, showcases, competitions.

In the Acting concentration, students develop their craft to reach new heights of artistic expression. Acting for Stage & Screen connects the foundation of classical theatre with innovative training for contemporary performing artists including on-camera techniques, voice over and much more. With some highlights like scene study, character development, text analysis and improvisation, our expert faculty emphasize the Acting techniques that can make characters real, authentic and alive.

The Musical Theatre concentration provides high-level triple-threat training for multi-talented student Actors who sing, dance, and act. On top of the intensive performance training that distinguishes that Musical Theatre concentration, students receive additional cross-departmental training with music and dance faculty for voice, music theory, tap, ballet, and jazz, empowering students to captivate audiences.

The Design & Production concentration focuses on the technical aspects of theatre and live performance, including stage management, set, lighting, sound, and costume design. Hands-on experiential learning and the guidance of our expert faculty, students become highly capable production designers who create visually and audibly stunning productions.

Students performing in a play.

Activities & Events

  • Touring Children’s Musical
  • Main Stage Spring Musical
  • Main Stage Play Fall
  • Main Stage Play Spring
  • Winter Quilt Performance (involves every department in December)
  • Cabaret (MT Students perform during Family Weekend)
  • Freshman/Sophomore/New Student Performance/Showcase (Fall)
  • AEL Projects (grant funded/student driven opportunities) 
  • ESU Shakespeare Competition, Jimmy Awards Opportunities, and more
  • Class Work/Class Performances
  • Ongoing Auditioning 
  • Film Projects in Collaboration with our Film & Digital Media Department

Opportunities

Students have the opportunity to participate in 3-4 pre-professional, student-led productions, as well as two cabarets per academic year.

Students can participate in the prestigious Jimmy Awards, Lucie Arnaz Awards, August Wilson Monologue Competition, English Speaking Union Shakespeare Competition, Spotlight Competition, University of Chapman Shakespeare Festival Competition, or National YoungArts Competition.

Students showcase their acquired skills and aim for the professional stage. Senior and postgraduate students can enter The Chicago Unified Auditions, placing their talent in front of colleges and conservatories.

Ƶ Arts hosts special guest teachers who share their experiences and inspire future dramatic arts generations. Masterclasses have been led by notable people including: Marvin Hamlisch, Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony Award-winning composer; David Mamet, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright; Marni Nixon, voice-over soprano for My Fair Lady, The King and I, and West Side Story; Mara Wilson, actor, Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire.

Audition/Portfolio Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can apply and be accepted to IAA’s Dramatic Arts Department if you are already attending high school. You will have an Arts Certificate upon graduation that reflects your time with us.

The audition and/or portfolio review is the primary qualifier for admissions and placement into our Musical Theatre, Acting for Camera/Stage, Production & Design programs but it is not the only factor that is considered. The Dramatic Arts Department, the Office of Admissions and Student Services will review all materials in your application, including academics and extracurricular involvement. Your acceptance into the programs is based on many factors including your skill sets/potential, willingness to and ability to fund this highly sought after high school education.

  • Performance opportunities at IAA are fluid with new opportunities being created each semester–here’s some things to consider, just to name a few:
  • Touring Children’s Musical
  • Main Stage Spring Musical
  • Main Stage Play Fall
  • Main Stage Play Spring
  • Winter Quilt Performance (involves every department in December)
  • Cabaret (MT Students perform during Family Weekend)
  • Freshman/Sophomore/New Student Performance/Showcase (Fall)
  • AEL Projects (grant funded/student driven opportunities) 
  • ESU Shakespeare Competition, Jimmy Awards Opportunities, and more
  • Class Work/Class Performances
  • Ongoing Auditioning 
  • Film Projects in Collaboration with our Film & Digital Media Department

You are encouraged to audition in person but it is not required. Due to our international community, filming your auditions is allowed. Zoom interviews are also required if you cannot come to our campus.

We are all here to support your journey of studying at IAA no matter where you come from in the world. We are a global community. If you are unable to audition in person on a campus tour, you can audition via filmed submissions. You will need to complete a language assessment if English is not your first language. We embrace all cultures and languages for performative opportunities; however, there is a minimum requirement in terms of written and spoken English. All other details of student visas and transitioning to an American School are handled by our admissions team.

You can reach out to our admissions team and they will put you in touch with our Production & Design Faculty and the Chair of the Dramatic Arts Department.

Featured Dramatic Arts Alumni

Mara Wilson headshot.

Mara Wilson, 2005

Actor

Dylan Arnold headshot.

Dylan Arnold, 2012

Actor

Ace Eure headshot.

Ace Eure, 2002

Director

Celeste Headlee headshot.

Celeste Headlee, 1987

Radio Show Host

Josh “Caleb” Eberhardt headshot.

Josh “Caleb” Eberhardt, 2008

Singer, Actor

Clayton Alexander headshot.

Clayton Alexander

Theatre – ’94

A dancer.

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