MFA Program

The Academy for Classical Acting

Photograph of Michael Kahn, Artistic Director

“The actor who can perform the classics with confidence — who can meet the technical demands of performing classical dramatic texts — can perform anything. To best develop the necessary skills to succeed in this challenging discipline, where the full range of an actor’s abilities are brought into use, students must train in an environment wholly devoted to the classics. While many other schools offer a three-year MFA in acting with limited attention given to classical theatre, the ACA provides students the only one-year program that focuses exclusively on training to perform the works of Shakespeare and other classical playwrights. These texts are works of tremendous complexity — and there is a need for actors able to handle the formidable challenges of performing these plays. The ACA’s home is a theatre devoted to the works of Shakespeare and the playwrights he influenced; its faculty comprises working professionals and experienced teachers who specialize in this demanding material; its mission is to preserve classical theatre in this country through rigorous training. In short, the ACA is entirely dedicated to training tomorrow’s classical actors today.”

Michael Kahn
Artistic Director, Shakespeare Theatre Company


The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting (ACA), in conjunction with The George Washington University, offers a Master of Fine Arts degree to develop actors for the classical theatre. Under the guidance of Michael Kahn, Artistic Director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company and one of this country’s most respected acting teachers, the ACA trains up to 16 students each year. This one-year intensive graduate program (consisting of a full 59 credit hours) focuses on the specific craft of acting Shakespeare and other classical texts.

Training includes acting, voice and ear-training—in particular the challenges of speaking verse—movement, mask, the Alexander Technique, text, stage combat, as well as dramatic literature and theatre history. By training under the auspices of “the nation’s foremost Shakespeare company” (The Wall Street Journal) and one of the nation’s finest academic institutions, ACA students receive a unique opportunity to learn and interact with members of the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s accomplished classical acting company. Training also includes performances in the ACA repertory productions and its Showcases in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

An alternative to traditional MFA acting programs, the ACA helps professional actors who want to strengthen their skills in these specific disciplines.