Rad Grad(uate School Auditions)
SFUAD’s Performing Arts Department is on fire!
Not literally, of course, but as PAD seniors prepare to graduate in a few short months and move on to either graduate school or field experience, the Performing Arts Department is on a roll as students are getting accepted to some of the best graduate acting programs in the country.
With Shenyse Harris’ recent acceptance to Brown University’s Brown/Trinity Rep. Company, acting major Curtis Williams now has happy news to share as well: he’s been accepted to Yale University’s School of Drama, which boasts one of the most prestigious and competitive graduate acting programs.
Back in Santa Fe after auditioning for multiple schools, Williams is overwhelmed by his success.
“I don’t know what to think, I didn’t think I would get into Yale, it’s crazy!” says a smiling Williams. “I just woke up one morning, checked my email, and there it was and I was like ‘goddamn!’”
Williams also was accepted to other notable programs such as University of Tennessee and UCLA, and made callbacks for Julliard.
“When I’m looking for a grad school, I’m looking for a place that’s as similar to the profession as possible,” says Williams. “The profession is competitive, so you gotta be confident.”
Williams first got into acting as a way of addressing certain “taboo” issues that people may be uncomfortable thinking and talking about outside of entertainment mediums such as film and theater.
Similar to Harris, Williams attended URDA auditions, where students audition for multiple schools at once, as well as private auditions for certain schools.
“It was intense, but fun at the same time,” says Williams, remembering an audition in San Francisco when he ran eight blocks to get from one audition to another that was in front of as many as 50 people.
Most of the PAD’s graduating seniors prep for auditions with faculty member Jon Jory.
“The students who select this path are highly motivated, work hard and make the necessary sacrifices,” says Jory.
Jory, a huge name in the theater world, assists students by helping them find schools that fit their needs, helping them work and prepare monologues, writing letters of recommendation, and contacting the heads of programs to inform them about the student.
“Auditioning is substantially different than playing a role because the role is part of a larger storytelling structure while the audition (lasting between two and ten minutes) is about demonstrating skills,” says Jory, who teaches acting and audition technique classes. “Each actor must show their strengths and hide their weaknesses and it is this where I am most helpful. It is the Olympics of acting in a sense.”
Williams says that working with Jory on auditions was a huge help.
“He works with what you have, he doesn’t try to change you, and if you don’t do it, he’ll make you do it!”
The Performing Arts Department at SFUAD has a reputation for producing great talent that has been accepted to some of the best graduate programs in the nation, such as Yale, NYU, American Conservatory Theater, and more.
“We are, in fact, regarded as something of a powerhouse among undergraduate programs in the placement of our students in first rate graduate programs,” says Jory.
Both Williams and Jory agree that grad school auditions can be brutal experiences, where students play mind games to mess with the competition.
“I call this kind of auditioning a ‘blood sport’ because it is so competitive,” says Jory.
Williams agrees, saying that students from big name undergraduate programs often name-drop their school to “psych” out the competition. But Williams says he’s proud to announce he’s from Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
“Don’t be scared to say you’re from Santa Fe University of Art and Design, cuz we’ve got Jon Jory! We’ve got one of the best teachers in America, so don’t let anyone psych you out!”