In 1996, Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland Play House launched a jointly administered Master of Fine Arts in Acting program. This three-year program accepts eight actors every two years to study in this intense physical and language based conservatory program.
Classes are held on site at Cleveland Play House where students also have access to all CPH professional and artistic resources including an extensive script library. Acting, voice and movement instructors, with impressive professional theatre backgrounds of their own, assess students individually while integrating the various disciplines that create a flexible and diverse actor.
What Makes the CWRU/CPH MFA Program Unique?
This MFA program combines one of the oldest academic theatre programs in the U.S. with America’s first regional theatre.
Not only are students taught by industry professionals from CWRU, they also receive training from CPH artists and internationally renowned guest artists in focused master classes.
While all the skills taught in the program are theatre based, classes include a wide range of disciplines including acting for the camera and voice over work; no matter what, students are prepared to become actors in whatever area they choose.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the program is that it includes a full tuition waiver and a living stipend of $13,500; this makes a combined value of $53,000 per year that students will not have to pay.
Welcome to the Real World: Transitioning from Student to Professional Actor
At the end of their three years in the program, students perform in New York City in front of industry professionals including managers and casting directors. They also gain membership in Actors’ Equity Association.
On the night of his New York showcase, Class of 2014 graduate T.J. Gainley felt officially welcomed into the industry.
“For three years I’ve been rubbing elbows with actual professional actors, professional directors, all of the industry people so that I didn’t feel like an outsider when I arrived to this moment…I feel like I’ve been with those people all along,” he said.
Through the professional connections MFA students gain in this program, many of them find top quality work as actors after they graduate.
“It’s pretty safe to say that every audition, every booking, that I've had has been deeply influenced and inspired by what I learned in the the CWRU/CPH program,” said Class of 2010 graduate A.J. Cedeño.
A.J. was cast in McCarter Theatre Center’s productions of A Christmas Carol for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Even after being involved in the professional industry for a few years, he says he still uses what he learned during his MFA.
“I still, to this day, will crack open one of my grad school notebooks, and the lessons continue to click,” he said.
Rich Sommer, Class of 2004, feels the same. Rich joined the cast of award-winning television series Mad Men as Harry Crane not long after graduating.
“I have not had a single day of acting work in which I have not somehow accessed the training I received at CWRU/CPH. It’s an integral part of who I am as an actor,” he said.
The Allen, Helen and Outcalt theatres are located at Playhouse Square
1407 Euclid Avenue Cleveland, OH 44115
Administrative Offices and Education Center
1901 E. 13th Street, Suite 200 Cleveland, OH 44114 (216) 400-7000
7401 Detour Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103