20 credit hours or 5 course credits

Fall '14 Semester: September 14 - December 14|  Fall '15 Semester: September 20 - December 20

Moscow Art Theater Semester

"More than twenty years ago we created the Moscow Art Theatre Semester with the O'Neill. Since 1991 we have hosted hundreds of American theater students looking for a unique opportunity to study at our world famous theater, the home of Stanislavsky and Anton Chekhov, located in the heart of Moscow.

Why go to MATS? We offer a total immersion in the craft of theater. You will experience the vitality of one of the world's first-class theaters and Moscow's best teachers. Come to Moscow to challenge yourself as a professional. There are very few places in the world where theater truly matters. This is one."

President, Moscow Art Theatre School 

In this highly competitive 13-week study abroad program offered only in the Fall semester, daily acting classes in the Stanislavsky System, the Michael Chekhov Technique, and movement classes (including Biomechanics and Ballet) are complemented with voice, design, Russian language, and Russian theater history. Students study in the vibrant city of Moscow, visit cultural sites, see theater, and train with master teachers of the Moscow Art Theatre School. Classes are held six days a week, from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

The MATS program begins in Waterford, CT for a 3 day orientation led by a representative from the Moscow Art Theatre. The group then travels together to Moscow to begin their studies. 

The Moscow Art Theatre was established in 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavsky and V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko who, in their mission to discover the truth in drama, discovered that its essence is the ensemble. Through their close association with Anton Chekhov and his plays and through Stanislavsky’s influential teachings, the Moscow Art Theatre became the birthplace of modern theater and modern actor training.

NTI has been collaborating with the Moscow Art Theatre for more than 20 years. It is the only American undergraduate program where students can train for an entire semester at the Moscow Art Theatre School and work with members of one of the most accomplished theaters in the world.

"Without knowing a word of Russian, I took a leap of faith. We all spoke in a language that was more than words and more than sounds. I learned to exceed what I thought were my limitations." Michael Lepore, Spring '95 

Connecticut College is the school of record for all six programs of the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center including the Moscow Art Theatre Semester (MATS). The Connecticut College-approved course descriptions are below. One semester of academic credit (20 credit hours or 5 course credits) is awarded to students who successfully complete the program. At the end of the semester final grades are reported to Connecticut College where they are recorded by official transcript and forwarded to the student’s college or university registrar upon request.


ACTING (MXT-253) Daily classes in all phases of acting technique with special emphasis on Stanislavsky and the Expressionist directors. Extensive scene work concentrating on Russian dramatists such as Chekov, Gorky, Gogol, Ostrovsky, as well as contemporary playwrights.

MOVEMENT AND VOICE (MXT-310) Daily classes in vocal technique, production, and singing. Movement classes include Biomechanics, mime, classical folk dance, scenic movement, and ballet. Classes focus on developing the actor’s imagination in connection with the training and development of the physical and vocal instrument.

RUSSIAN THEATER HISTORY AND CINEMA (MXT-251) Designed to familiarize students with the rich history of the Russian cinema and theater, especially the Moscow Art Theatre and the Stanislavsky System, the course includes regular lectures as well as theater, museum, and cultural visits.

DESIGN (MXT-254) An introduction to the world of Russian set and costume design and to the profession itself as prominent designers discuss design theory and history.

RUSSIAN LANGUAGE (MXT-252) Intensive language immersion appropriate for beginning and intermediate level students of the Russian language. Advanced level students have special classes to improve their language skills.

Conservatory-like training is enhanced by the rich cultural life of Moscow. Every student will frequently attend the theater, opera, ballet, concerts, and museum exhibits – as many as 40-50 shows in one semester. Tickets are provided as an integral part of the cultural program. During their stay in Russia, students may also travel for several days to St. Petersburg for a guided tour of Russia’s old capital city. Russian language experience is encouraged but not required, since many classes are in English and others have excellent translators.

MATS students live in the centrally located and newly renovated Moscow Art Theatre School dormitory with a dining room, WiFi Internet access, and excellent security.

Anatoly Smeliansky - President, Moscow Art Theatre School & Teacher of Russian Theater History
Russia's foremost biographer of Stanislavsky and a leading writer, scholar and critic of Russian theater, Dr. Smeliansky is the Associate Artistic Director of the Moscow Art Theatre and the Dean of the Moscow Art Theatre School (MATS). He is Editor-in-Chief of Complete Works by Stanislavsky and The Moscow Art Theatre: 100 Years. His books include Is Comrade Bulgakov Dead? and Russian Theater After Stalin. Dr. Smeliansky has lectured on Russian theater in the United States at Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton and Yale, as well as the Sorbonne in France and at Cambridge and Oxford in England. He is one of the founders of the MFA program in acting and dramaturgy at Harvard University's Institute for Advanced Theater Training and their Moscow Art Theatre School USA.

Galina Aksenova, History of Cinema
Theater and film historian, critic, author and producer; studied at the Institute of Theater, Music and Choreography in St. Petersburg and received her PhD at Moscow's State Institute of Theater Art. Associate Professor of Cinema at MATS

Larisa Dmitrieva, Dance
Bolshoi Ballet prima ballerina. MATS Professor of Dance. Has performed on every major ballet stage in the world.

Andrei Droznin, Movement
One of Russia's most distinguished movement teachers. His unique system of training, which combines Meyerhold's Biomechanics and Stanislavsky's Method, has become an essential part of theater training programs throughout the world. Head of Movement for Harvard's Institute for Advanced Theater Training.

Natalia Fedorva, Movement
Studied at the Vakhtangov Theatre with Andrei Droznin. Movement teacher at MATS; choreographer for many Russian theaters. Workshops draw on the traditions of Stanislavsky, Meyerhold and Vakhtangov.

Elena Lisina, Russian Language
MATS Faculty, teaching Russian language for foreign students.

Mikhail Lobanov, Acting
MATS Professor. His class focuses on technique aimed at awakening the actor's imagination, emotional memory and stage awareness. Combines Stanislavsky System with Michael Chekhov.

Eleonora Maklakova, Design
MATS Professor, Department of Production Design Technology. Developed costume design program for MATS. A leading designer for the Novaya Opera.

Michael Ovchinnikov, Acting
Graduate of MXAT and Meyerhold Centre; a director and actor who has directed several shows for MATS; interested in avant-garde and drama.

Vladimir Petrov, Acting
MATS Faculty and theater director. Has directed many productions at MATS and at theaters in Russia and abroad.

Evgeny Pisarev, Acting
MATS Faculty and director of several successful MXAT shows; Associate Director on Declan Donnellan's productions.

Alexander Rezalin, Acting
Actor of Russian TV and cinema.

Victor Rishakov, Acting
MATS Faculty.

Vladimir Sazhin, Movement
MATS Faculty. Actor of Stanislavsky theater, director of plastic performances.

Marina Smirnova, Singing
MATS Faculty. A leading teacher of voice and singing for more than 20 years.

Sergei Zemstov, Acting
Dean of the MATS Acting Department. Has taught acting in Paris at L'Ecole du Passage, and has performed throughout Russia.

Igor Zolotovitsky, Acting
MATS Faculty. Has taught acting in Paris, Italy, Spain. Actor at the Moscow Art Theater and of Russian TV and cinema.

Oleg Tabakov, Artistic Director, Moscow Art Theatre

Anatoly Smeliansky, Associate Artistic Director of the Moscow Art Theatre/Head of MXAT



"I'll never meet a group of teachers as collectively wonderful again as the MATS teachers. Nothing could compare to their knowledge, passion, and ability to bring out the best in all of us through hard work."

- Rachel Anderson, Fall '01


Thank you for your interest in applying to the National Theater Institute! We look forward to reviewing your application and learning about your artistic aspirations, professional goals, and educational background.  Please contact us at nti@theoneill.org or 860-443-5378 x226 as questions arise about the application process.

Dates and Fees
Fall 2014: September 14 to December 14, 2014
Fall 2015: September 20 to December 20, 2015

Tuition: $15,800 (includes $900 non-refundable reservation deposit)
Room Only: $6,250
Travel & Culture: $1,600 

Total Comprehensive Fee: $23,650
(Meals are not included in the total comprehensive fee.) 

Application Deadlines
Early applications are encouraged and may receive early acceptance.  To ensure full consideration, please submit your application by March 20. 

Admission Requirements
Applicants must have a minimum of a high school diploma, GED, or demonstrate the ability to benefit.  The National Theater Institute welcomes applicants undertaking a gap-year (between secondary school and university), undergraduate students, post-graduates, and professionals looking for a broad-based theatrical training intensive.

In our selection process, we look for a proven ability to handle the demands of disciplined theater work and to be a positive and contributing member of an ensemble. Successful applicants demonstrate a clear understanding of the opportunities and challenges of an intensive semester of study as well as a determination to complete the chosen program in a conscientious manner.

Finalists for each program will be notified to schedule an interview in person, via Skype, or by phone. 

Application Process

NTI uses Submittable to help you manage your application. Please create an account below so that you can track your progress. We know it can often take a little time to polish the essay, decide between semesters, or pick your favorite headshot (though NTI doesn’t require anything fancy--just a photo that looks like you). This application allows you to start your application, save it, and submit it on your time. Should you have any questions please contact us at nti@theoneill.org.

You may also submit by mailing your completed application to:
National Theater Institute
305 Great Neck Road
Waterford, CT 06385 


Application Materials
All materials may be submitted as part of your online application using Submittable or mailed to NTI.

  • NTI Online Application (or Hardcopy)
  • Official college transcript(s) (or official secondary school record(s) for gap-year applicants)
  • An essay describing how a specific program at the National Theater Institute can help fulfill your aspirations in theater.
  • A completed Evaluation Form from two teachers or qualified professionals familiar with your theater experience. These can be sent electronically to nti@theoneill.org by your school official and/or evaluators
  • A theater resume 
  • Headshot
  • A non-refundable $40 application fee. Checks payable to “Eugene O’Neill Theater Center”

Twelve-College Exchange Students: Please file a Twelve-College Exchange application (available at your school) with the appropriate administrator prior to submitting your NTI application if you attend Amherst, Bowdoin, Connecticut College, Dartmouth, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Trinity, Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan, Wheaton or Williams.