The casting call is out! Upper School students with a strong interest in theater are invited to apply for Dwight’s Master Theater Program, an in-depth theater learning experience designed for those who are dedicated to putting in the extra time and work needed to hone their craft.
Now entering its fifth year, this program has brought a wealth of professional talent to our students from which to learn — and has since inspired many theatrical sparks on and beyond campus.
Created by a working actor and long-time faculty member, Terry Christgau, now in his 23rd year at Dwight, this after-school program helps students who have shown drive to benefit from intensive instruction and connections with the New York professional theater community. Mirroring those at the college level, our program is designed specifically for high school students and provides participants with direct contact with artists working on Broadway and Off-Broadway stages. It also affords those who may not plan on pursuing theater in college or as a career with an opportunity to build public speaking skills and the ability to think and act creatively on the spot.
Mr. Christgau, who also directs Upper School Theater Productions, has mentored many Dwight students over the decades who have gone on to pursue acting in college and professionally on stage and screen, including those who participated in the first year of the Master Theater Program.
Learning from New York’s Professionals
One of the most unique and exciting features of this program is the exposure students have to experts in the field. New York City is perhaps second only to London as the world’s leading theater community and Mr. Christgau tapped into this rich resource. He forged collaborations with the Manhattan Theater Club, Atlantic Theater Company, and the Movement Theater Studio, among several other independent artists. Last year, professionals from these organizations taught acting workshops and attended performances at their theaters with Dwight students, reinforcing the work they did together. During one session each year, a professional from the film world comes in to teach students an essential on-camera workshop modeled exactly after professional film acting classes and Mr. Christgau is excited to kick off the 2020-21 year with this workshop.
“Through the years, the program has focused on specific acting techniques, including physical theater, movement, mask work, decoding commercial copy, cold reading, and audition techniques," says Mr. Christgau. “In short, this is a pre-college professional-level training program not available at any other school.”
One-on-One Mentoring with Mr. C
In keeping with Dwight's long-standing commitment to igniting the spark of genius in every child, this program is personalized for every student. Those who enroll in the Master Theater program for a full year have the opportunity for one-on-one professional coaching sessions with Mr. C, as his theater students call him. These sessions can include acting strategies, audition preparation, consultation regarding application processes for performing arts colleges, as well as consultation about professional tracks available in New York and the industry. Individualized in-depth training and coaching for auditions are also available by special arrangement, further boosting a student whose passion is to perform.
Two alumni from the Class of 2016 — who were among the first students to participate in the Master Theater Program when it launched — pursued their acting sparks of genius in college and shared how they benefited from the program before they graduated from Dwight:
Krishna Doodnauth, a 2020 graduate NYU Tisch School of the Arts, said: “As an aspiring actor, this program gave me exposure to acting techniques that I’ll need in the future. It gave me an opportunity to explore the type of actor I want to be. The program allowed me to be more comfortable with acting in front of a supportive audience and experienced teachers, and was most definitely an invaluable stepping stone to the career I hope to pursue.”
Sofia Reidbord, theater major and 2019 graduate of McGill University, who is a professional actress and model, said: “This program was an incredible experience. Not only did it give me so many tools I need to be successful as an actress, but it also expanded my network within the business. I worked with such incredible actors, who have enhanced my understanding of performing!”
Please click here for additional testimonials.
Students who are interested in applying for this year’s program, which begins in October, are encouraged to please contact Mr. C.