This BFA degree offers a broad and holistic approach to the performing arts, one that not only concentrates on performance from a participatory perspective (that is to say, on being a performer), but also prepares the student for the wide and exciting range of careers available in the performing arts industry. While performance remains a central aspect of the programme, students are also prepared for the vast array of work that supports and produces performance, such as directing and staging, creating written material for performance, production, management, marketing and funding of the performing arts. The programme is based around live theatrical performance (with elements of recording used for diagnostic and development purposes), but at the same time a graduate is prepared for further study in all cognate specialisms in the performing arts, as well as for direct entry into a professional career. This is because the degree produces a wide spectrum of transferable skills such as effective presentational technique, expertise in using the voice and the body as communicative instruments, interpretational and compositional competency with written texts, management, marketing and fundraising abilities, and organizational skills. These are applicable not only in the context of the many career paths within performing arts, but also in a wide variety of social, cultural and business vocations.
American College Dublin’s BFA in Performing Arts is delivered in association with two outstanding Irish performing arts organizations, The Gaiety School of Acting – The National Theatre School of Ireland (GSA) and CoisCéim Dance Theatre. The programme draws extensively upon the professional experience, teaching expertise, industry contacts, communities and performance spaces of these world-renowned institutions.
The Gaiety School of Acting – The National Theatre School of Ireland
The GSA was founded in 1986 by the internationally acclaimed theatre director Joe Dowling, in response to the lack of full time actor training programmes in Ireland at that time. The school has since established itself as the country’s premier training facility for actors. It offers a two-year intensive acting programme and an extensive selection of part-time and tailored courses for adults, teenagers, children and overseas students. Graduates of the GSA have appeared in all of Ireland’s theatres, in film and television nationally and internationally and in theatres across England including The Royal Shakespeare Company and The National Theatre in London. The school is based in the centre of Dublin city’s cultural quarter, Temple Bar, on Essex Street West. The main studio spaces are located in the basement, ground floor and first floor. In the basement area the school also has a 90-seat black box studio space. The facilities include changing rooms, showers, common areas, meeting room, computer bank and library.
CoisCéim Dance Theatre
Founded in 1996, CoisCéim (the name comes from the Irish word for ‘footstep’ and is pronounced ‘kush came’) has established itself as a dance company with a leading international reputation. CoisCéim’s style of performance is contemporary and vibrant, with a knowing regard for the everyday. Artistic Director David Bolger embraces a selection of dance styles as a creative device to demonstrate and articulate stories and emotions that are relevant to the landscapes in which people live. A sense of fun and vitality set in a visually appealing environment along with a depth of emotion and poignancy are key attributes to CoisCéim’s success. The company’s work is created with highly skilled performers and collaborators and with a care and understanding of the needs for their health and well being.
CoisCéim Broadreach was established in 2006. A dance awareness and education programme, it underpins the performance work of CoisCéim Dance Theatre and provides opportunity for people to participate in a variety of dance activities. CoisCéim Broadreach hosts regular classes and an annual dance event as part of Bealtaine for older people. In addition, it also co-ordinates Creative Steps young peoples dance theatre, The Choreography Project for adults, and evening dance classes for adults.
The programme’s structure combines practical workshops and academic classroom modules. Approximately two-thirds of total weekly contact hours consist of modules devoted to practical aspects of performance. Students receive instruction in rising levels of live performance, including acting, voice control, dance and movement, direction and production. The students’ progress involves development and accumulation of material for a portfolio which provides evidence of their achievement of the programme’s required learning outcomes, and functions as a basis for individual assessment. The remaining one-third of weekly contact hours concentrates on class-based academic instruction that supports and contextualises the ascending levels of practical training, and includes such subjects as theatre history, performance theory, drama and politics, creative writing, management and marketing.
The practical modules are based on a rotating roles model in which all students take turns in specializing in each of six roles in the course of the year: lead performance, support performance, direction, production, writing, and business (management, marketing and finance). Notwithstanding these separations of roles, students are required to demonstrate an understanding of the integration and interdependence of the activities and to provide mutual support, encouragement and help for all activity areas and for the group as a whole. The programme lays great stress on the development of an ensemble ethic; alongside the development of the individual’s creative impulses and abilities, the degree seeks to imbue the student with an awareness of the paramount importance of responsibility to the collective in performing arts practice.
In the first year of the programme students are introduced to fundamental concepts of acting, including action, relaxation, spontaneity, monologues, projection, presence, substitution, gesture, movement, character analyses, voice and diction. These technical perspectives are developed through study of the Stanislavski system and the Meisner technique. Dance and movement foundational skills include a broad introduction to contemporary dance styles, and the development of kinaesthetic, rhythmic, spatial and body awareness; instructional perspectives include the Feldenkrais method, Laban movement analysis and contact improvisation. Classes on directing and production provide a practical analysis of approaches since the nineteenth century, including realism, naturalism, symbolism, epic, Brechtian and post-Brechtian methodologies.
In year two, the focus shifts increasingly towards application and development of the skills encountered in the first year, with an accompanying analysis of key forms and practitioners, including devising, improvisation, clowning, mime, characterization and the Chekhov technique; the directing approaches of Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook; and ongoing development of dance and movement competencies, including choreography, improvisation, enhancement of bodily coordination and movement vocabulary, improved conditioning to support technical capacity, and further exploration of contemporary dance styles. In the second year students also begin to examine the practice of play writing, initially through adaptations of canonical works, but increasingly by way of producing entirely original works for performances by the class. The movement towards a practical application of performance skills in year two is supported in both semesters by event management modules, which use as their case studies the designing, planning and running of various performing arts events by the class group.
The final taught year of the programme concentrates on the practice of performing arts by the class. Although consideration is given to historical and contemporary approaches, the overriding focus is now on producing from within the group’s internal resources largely or completely original presentations for public performance. Whereas in the previous two years all members of the class have practised in turns the six rotating roles, in the final year the roles are assigned by the programme teaching team on the basis of individual abilities and proclivities identified in each student over the preceding semesters. Master class presentations are provided by established actors, dancers and directors, giving the class the opportunity to engage directly with those who have had significant experience in various aspects of the performing arts. These presentations are combined with workshop classes which prepare the student for participation in the performing arts industry, with sessions offering guidance by experienced practitioners on matters such as curriculum vitae and headshot preparation, interview and audition preparation and mock auditions.
Throughout the course of their study participants are involved in a number of didactic and illustrative performance exercises, culminating in the showcase performances at the end of each academic year, delivered in the three theatrical spaces of The Gaiety School of Acting – The National Theatre School of Ireland, and Smock Alley Theatre. At the end of year one there are two performances in the Black Box Theatre; at the end of the second year there are two performances in the Boys’ School; at the end of year three there are four performances in Smock Alley Theatre. The teaching staff provide guidance and advice in the preparation of these performances. At the same time the class is ultimately responsible for all aspects of the performance, and assessment is based both on individual execution of assigned roles and on the performance of the group as a whole. The process of development of responsibility and preparedness for a career in the performing arts culminates in the 1200-hour internship, completed as a fourth year or incrementally in the course of the three years during summer and other breaks. The internship is sourced by the College and is rigorously supervised and assessed, with regular meetings required with the College supervisor to monitor progress and on-site learning, and final assessment achieved by way of a detailed report.
- Introduction to the performing arts
- History of drama
- Introduction to performing arts management
- Acting and voice 1 (9 hours per week)
- Dance 1 (3 hours per week)
- Principles of marketing
- Drama and politics
- Direction and production 1 (3 hours per week)
- Acting and voice 1 (6 hours per week)
- Dance 1 (3 hours per week)
Two end-of-year showcase performances in The Black Box Theatre
- Dramatic writing 1
- Theoretical perspectives on performance
- Event management for the performing arts
- Acting and voice 2 (9 hours per week)
- Dance 2 (3 hours per week)
- E-commerce and internet marketing for the performing arts
- Direction and production 2 (3 hours per week)
- Acting and voice 2 (6 hours per week)
- Dance 2 (3 hours per week)
- Event design and experience for the performing arts
Two end-of-year class showcase performances in The Boys’ School Theatre
- Dramatic writing 2
- Performance and performativity
- Master class presentations
- Acting and voice 3 (9 hours per week)
- Dance 3 (3 hours per week)
- The business of performing arts
- Direction and production 3 (3 hours per week)
- Acting and voice 3 (6 hours per week)
- Dance 3 (3 hours per week)
- Performing arts project
Four capstone end-of-year showcase performances in Smock Alley Theatre
PA425 Internship (1200 hours, completed as a fourth year or incrementally in the course of the three years during summer and other breaks)
The programme has one intake per year: September.
Applicants should furnish evidence of graduation from high school (secondary school), with final-year subjects to include completion of English.
A prospective student should submit an application for the course directly to the Admissions Office at American College Dublin.
Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS score of 6.5 (or equivalent).
An interview and audition is required for entry to the BFA in Performing Arts course. For the audition you must prepare one classical monologue (ie. pre the year 1900) and one contrasting modern monologue (ie. post the year 1900). Each piece should be approximately three minutes. Students should contact the Admissions Office at American College Dublin for details on the interview and audition process.
Further education students
The College accepts students from further education colleges to all of its courses. Students must have gained three distinctions in a cognate area of the programme that they wish to study. Students must have a full level 5 or level 6 award and this award may have been taken over a number of years. Students with a FETAC qualification can gain access to both American College Dublin and American College Delaware.
Mature student application
Mature applicants can apply directly to the Admissions office. An interview and audition is required for entry to the BFA in Performing Arts course. For the audition you must prepare one classical monologue (ie. pre the year 1900) and one contrasting modern monologue (ie. post the year 1900). Each piece should be approximately three minutes. Mature students should contact the Admissions Office at American College Dublin for details on the interview and audition process.
Other EU applications
Every student who has taken examinations in an EU member state is expected to have completed English in his or her final year. The only exception to this is students who have completed the A-Levels. These students must have taken mathematics and English for their O-Levels.
For overseas students Skype auditions can be arranged. More information is available in the Admissions menu or by contacting the Admissions Office, Tel: +353 1 6768939; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you have a question? Need some advice? Contact the Admissions Office.