The Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama Pre-College Program introduces high school students to the intensity of a top-ranked undergraduate conservatory program.
Pre-College Drama helps students prepare for the college audition and interview process and illustrates the kind of creativity and discipline required for Bachelor of Fine Arts Drama curriculums. The 6-week program enrolls more than 100 students in the areas of Acting, Music Theater, and Design/ Production. Students are encouraged to live on campus so they are able to participate in the CMU community activities, interact with faculty and staff, and network with peers. Acting and Music Theater students focus on the audition process rather than a production, which allows students to enter the college application/audition process with a repertoire of monologues and songs, as well as the skills needed to find material appropriate for their age and type. Performance students hone their material with nationally acclaimed faculty before performing a mock audition with constructive feedback at the end of the program. This focused and specific feedback allows students to continue the work begun at Carnegie Mellon with a clear idea of their strengths and weaknesses. Design/Production students leave with the beginning of a cohesive portfolio which they can build on for their college application process.
The length and depth of Pre-College Drama can lead to a stronger resolve to pursue a career in theater, helping students to understand the work involved and providing a clear picture of what the future holds. Students may also discover that they value a wider, liberal arts undergraduate experience, where they could explore other options/college careers.
Pre-College students are involved in a wide variety of classroom projects, lectures and demonstrations, and master classes. Classes are held between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a daily lunch break. Students will choose one of the three concentration options:
The Acting curriculum includes classes in acting, voice and speech, movement, audition techniques, acting Shakespeare and dramatic literature, with a choice of one course in playwriting, directing, acting for the camera, tap and improvisation available as electives.
The Music Theater curriculum mirrors the Acting curriculum, with courses in singing and dance rather than voice and speech, movement and styles. Music Theater studies will focus on the rudiments of music and singing in large and small group sessions. Dance classes consist of training in ballet and jazz and are tailored for beginning, intermediate and advanced dance students. Music Theater students can also choose from playwriting, directing, acting for the camera, tap and improvisation for their one elective option.
Design, Production Technology, and Management
Design and Production Technology and Management students will be exposed to a curriculum of basic design, scene painting, technical production, drafting, stage lighting and dramatic literature.
Optional workshops and master classes are held in the evenings, Monday through Thursday. Weekends are intended for homework, independent rehearsal and Student Life activities.
To be eligible for the Pre-College Drama program students must:
- Be at least 16 years old by the program start date (to participate in the residential program).
- Be a current sophomore or junior in high school.
The complete application for the Pre-College Drama program consists of the following:
- Completed Online Application
- Unofficial Transcript
- Standardized Test Scores (optional)
- One Letter of Recommendation
- Responses to the following essay prompts (300-500 words):
- What do you hope to gain from participating in the Carnegie Mellon Pre-College program?
With the changes on the world stage, the growing influences of technology, and the decline of fine arts programs in schools, we are witnessing significant shifts in our society. Keeping this in mind, why is theater important? How do you approach theater, and what purpose does theater serve in your life?
Frequently Asked Questions
Why don't I need an audition tape?
Pre-College Drama focuses on preparing students for the audition process rather than the execution of a production. Requirement of a video audition for admittance to Pre-College Drama would undermine the goals of the program.
Will I need to bring monologues or music?
If you have material you are working on or would like to work on, please bring it along.
Will there be a final production?
There is no final production. Our program is focused on process not product.
Where can I get the necessary textbooks?
The campus bookstore will bundle the necessary text books with the correct editions and translations and make a link available for purchase which we'll share with students via email and the Facebook group. You'll be able to purchase the books through the link and pick them up when you arrive on campus.
What are the dance wear requirements?
If you have specific questions concerning dance wear, contact Maria Stoy via email or 412.268.3284
Can I take an elective in the School of Music or another department?
No. Because of class times and varying schedules, you cannot take classes outside Pre-College Drama.
I'm a Pre-College student, but not enrolled in Pre-College Drama. Can I take a dance, audition or improv class?
No. Because there are so many students enrolled in Pre-College Drama, we do not have space in our classes to accommodate students from other programs.