Throughout the first and second years of actor training, students are cast in plays and rehearse them under the guidance of professional staff or guest directors. Plays are selected to challenge students in a variety of increasingly demanding ways. The rehearsal projects are exercises for exploring an actor’s process and are not aimed toward performance results. Casting is determined by the needs of the training, rather than the demands of the play. The projects are with only basic rehearsal clothes, props, and furniture, and are shared with an invited audience from the Juilliard community. These projects serve as yardsticks for measuring the degree to which the student is able to apply and integrate what has been learned in the various classes.
In the third year, play projects continue to be an integral part of the training, but shift from the classroom to a small studio theater with the addition of modest, professionally designed costumes, scenery, and lighting as well as makeup and, where appropriate, music and sound effects. Six productions are mounted, including a two-play repertory and ensemble project in the Harold and Mimi Steinberg Drama Studio, a musical cabaret performance in the Rosemary and Meredith Willson Theater, and two Shakespeare plays performed in repertory at the end of the school year in the Stephanie P. McClelland Drama Theater. All third-year productions are open to an invited public audience.
The fourth year begins with a Playwrights Festival featuring three new plays written by current and alumni playwrights. Following the festival, three plays in a broad range of periods and styles are given full-scale productions for the general public. A December Playwrights workshop presents fully staged, script-in-hand works by current playwrights-in-residence. In February, students perform a combination of three classical and contemporary works in repertory, directed by professional guest directors.
The year culminates with an evening of scenes presented to members of the industry in New York and Los Angeles. Beforehand, students participate in a three-day retreat which gives them the opportunity to reflect on their individual and collective journeys as they move out into the profession and the world.