Introduction to the BFA Acting Program
Thank you for your interest in the BFA in Acting program at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). The CSUF Acting BFA program ranks nationally among the “Most Highly Recommended Programs,” according to the most recent Performing Arts Major’s College Guide (published by Macmillan Books). CSUF's training program is one of the top sixteen most highly recommended undergraduate programs in the nation, among the most prestigious schools (including Juilliard, New York University, Boston University, and Northwestern University).
The below information will provide prospective student with an understanding of the challenging task they are undertaking when choosing the Acting BFA degree program, as well as the exceptional quality and standards of the program they are considering.
If you have further questions or would like to set up a meeting to visit the campus, observe classes and meet with an advisor, please contact:
Associate Proffessor, Svetlana Efremova-Reed, Coordinator of Acting BFA/Head of Performance Studies
The BFA in Acting is a "professional training component" offered by the CSUF Theatre and Dance program. The program is designed to prepare the student for a career as a professional actor, and focuses on developing skills in the areas of acting, auditioning and performance.
No student can be "declared" a BFA in Acting until successful completion of the “core curriculum” and a successful audition (“jury”) at the end of their sophomore year with admission invitation to the BFA. Until then, students are declared on an “Acting track.”
All prospective BFA in Acting majors must successfully complete the prescribed "core curriculum": two semesters of voice and movement, three semesters of acting (ALL aforementioned with a B- or better); and one semester of script analysis. Additionally, BFA hopefuls are strongly encouraged to take two semesters of intermediate voice and movement in preparation for the BFA jury.
All the above requirements are taken in addition to the general education requirements of the university. It is a heavy load - requiring 16 to 19 units per semester. Students have severe scheduling and unit-cap challenges in attempting a double major or minor. Furthermore, sports, clubs and/or sorority/fraternity involvement cannot interfere with the student's progress in program, therefore, students are rarely able to afford the time and effort required for these "luxuries." Finally, it is very challenging to find employment with such flexibility as needed to accommodate the BFA classes and production schedule.
BFA Program: Beginning Study, Assessement Auditions & Juries
Any incoming freshman who desires will be permitted into a BFA Acting track: a set schedule of required lower division theatre courses. Students’ class schedules are assigned by the department, allowing ample breaks of time in which to schedule their GE courses. The department-assigned “track” of classes comes with a guarantee of space in those sections for the student (enabling students to get their department coursework completed in four years); however, this means that the student cannot request any change any schedule – tracking is the only way we can accommodate all department majors’ course needs. All our performance courses, like Acting and Voice and Movement, are reserved for only students in tracks requiring those courses. This keeps class sizes small and student teacher ratios optimal.
The first “cut” audition occurs at the mid-point of the sophomore level of training. This audition lets students know as early as possible whether they are viable in our highly competitive BFA MT program. Thereafter, the “jury” (audition for formal BFA program admission) occurs in May, once students have met all jury prerequisites and completed their sophomore curriculum. If students do not pass their jury, they cannot re-jury – they must either select an alternate Theatre degree/emphasis (thus graduating with a Theatre degree, but not with the Acting BFA) or transfer to another department (e.g., Communications) or school.
All BFA juniors are admitted on a probationary status. BFA Acting juniors and seniors must jury for retention evaluation at the end of each semester until completion of curriculum. If satisfactory progress is not met once in the BFA, the student may be released (cut) from the BFA Acting program.
Performance & Crew Requirements
All BFA Acting juniors and seniors will be cast each semester, are thus are required to audition each semester for the season productions and accept any/all performance assignments. All theatre students must also satisfy a stage crew assignment (for either a show they are NOT cast in, or via 60 hours of Dept. office/shop service/teacher’s aide) for six semesters before graduating.
The projected enrollment numbers for the Acting BFA degree are dependent on state resources allocated to the Department. Typically, we have: freshmen Acting hopefuls = 75 – 100; fall sophomores = 55 – 80; spring sophomores = 30 – 45; juniors (BFA admits) = 14 – 16 This is an EXTREMELY competitive environment, as you can see. Further, the Acting BFA program strives for equality in gender distribution.
Traditionally, women far outnumber men in numbers, so a promising male student could be prioritized over a stronger female student.
Lower division BFA Acting students can expect varying student teacher ratios, based on subject matter, and classroom and faculty resources available. Lower division performance courses are typically from 14:1 to 24:1.
Once a student is accepted into the BFA program at the junior level, student/instructor ratio reduces drastically, down to 15:1 for performance courses. Also, upper division acting classes are restricted to only the highest caliber student, those students admitted by BFA jury and our MFA Acting candidates – so you will be studying with only our finest students in the department.
There are many performance opportunities at CSUF. Theatre students are eligible for casting from the second semester of their freshmen year forward. The Department of Theatre and Dance has made a commitment to actor training, and offers many opportunities for performance. Typically, the Theatre and Dance season consists of 12 to 14 season productions, with additional intimate/studio productions offered at our Grand Central Artist’s Village Theatre in Santa Ana (a department satellite facility). Additionally, CSUF enters every season (mainstage and studio) production in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, offering cast members an oral response by a professional theatre artist, as well as scholarship nominations in each area of theatre production. The department finances a large group of student scholarship nominees to attend the annual regional KCACTF festival, to compete for scholarships and the opportunity to advance to the national festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
CSUF students have a myriad of opportunities to experience the profession in and around the university. Thirty miles east of downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood, CSUF is a warm, friendly campus nestled between the mountains and the ocean in the personable haven of Fullerton in Southern California. The Department is in close proximity to major regional theatres, and borders Southern California’s mecca of major film and television studios, over 100 producing theatres, and the nation’s premiere theme parks (Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags, Universal Studios, etc.).
A source of great pride and a testament to the success of the program is the fact that many recent CSUF graduates are working professionals: on Broadway (Linda Emond: Death of a Salesman opposite Philip Seymour Hoffman, Homebody/Kabul, Life x 3); on network television (Kirsten Vangsness as Garcia in Criminal Minds; Val Curry opposite Kevin Bacon in The Following; Dale Raoul as Maxine Fortenberry in True Bloodi, Brenda in Ave 43, and guest star on Royal Pains; Lesley Fera Southland, CSI Miami, 24, Justice, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, House, Pretty Little Liars; Danielle Bisutti on Anger Management, Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Leverage, Castle, CSI Miami, and Parks and Recreation; Marc Cherry, creator of Desperate Housewives; Mara Davi recurring lead in Smash; Joe Gillette guest star on Desperate Housewives; Omid Abtahi in Archer, Family Guy, NCIS Los Angeles and Covert Affairs); and in film (Omid Abtahi in Argo; Linda Emond as Simone in Julie and Julia; Michael Miranda in Pirates of Cariribean: Dead Man’s Chest and Ocean’s Thirteen). What better mark of accomplishment can be offered than prominent and continuing employment in such a challenging profession?
We are also among the top sixteen most highly recommended undergraduate programs in the nation, according to the most recent Performing Arts Majors College Guide (ranked with such prestigious schools as Juilliard, New York University, Boston University, and Northwestern University). The competitive nature of our program recognizes excellence, and in turn is nationally recognized as excellent. We are truly a successful professional training program; one geared toward individuals who wish to make a career of performing.
CSUF has been fortunate in developing relationships with major Broadway talents who have been willing to share their expertise and experience in master-classes. Some of those who have recently graced our campus:
Jason Robert Brown - Tony Award winning Composer (Parade, Songs for a New World, and The Last Five Years)
John Bucchino - award-winning American composer, lyricist, pianist and teacher
Kristin Chenoweth – Tony Award winner for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; Tony Award nominee for Wicked; television versions of The Music Man and Annie
Mara Davi – CSUF alum; Maggie in Broadway’s A Chorus Line revival; replaced Sutton Foster in The Drowsy Chaperone; Daisy on Smash; Bianca Sanfino on Blue Bloods
Jane Lanier - Tony Award nominee for Fosse; original cast of Sweet Charity
Joe Mantello – Director of Broadway’s Wicked
Matthew Morrison – Tony Award winner for Light in the Piazza; original Link in Broadway cast of Hairspray; original Broadway cast of Footloose; Will Schuester on Glee; J.M Barrie in Finding Neverland
Marni Nixon – famous for dubbing the singing voices of the leading actresses in films including The King and I, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady
Eric D. Schaeffer – Director of Broadway’s Follies revival
Dana Solimando – prolific regional director/choreographer; Broadway performer (Tiger Lily in Peter Pan, Rumpleteaser in Cats, Country Feature in Swing!)
Georgia Stitt – Composer who workshopped her production of The Water here before its Theatreworks’ production