National Theater Institute Semester
Offered in the fall and spring; 20 credit hours or 5 course credits
At NTI you have one semester—fourteen weeks—to delve deeply into the craft of theater. Seven days a week, from sun up to sun down, you train as an ensemble with working professionals who challenge you on every level to develop your instrument, expand your artistic horizons, and be a malleable artist who is truly present in the moment.
Theater is about action. So join us and embrace the challenges that NTI will throw your way. Put yourself into action at NTI: into acting, directing, writing, designing, moving and creating—now!
“Ultimately, NTI was a lesson in persistence, risk and getting it done. Toward the end of the program, we put up fifteen full plays in one week, including two musicals. It was unbelievable how much we learned to pack into each hour we were given.” Chris Ashworth, NTI Fall ‘00
This fourteen-week study away program is offered twice a year, in the fall and spring, at the O’Neill’s Waterford, CT campus. Classes are held seven days a week from 9am to 10pm with a 7:30am warm-up six days a week. This rigorous, conservatory-based approach to theater training exposes students to a broad range of theater styles and techniques. Coursework is rooted in five primary disciplines: Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Design and Movement & Voice.
Two Weeks Abroad
Two weeks of the semester are spent abroad: in the fall NTI travels to England; in the spring we travel to Russia. The fall ensemble trains with Complicite, one of Europe’s most important theater companies, whose award-winning productions of classics and group-devised pieces tour around the world. The spring ensemble trains at one of Russia’s most elite theater schools, the St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy. In each of these cities, students study intensively with master teachers and also see a wide range of theater and visit museums and cultural sites.
Complicite: Britain’s Independent newspaper called Complicite “the greatest creator in theatre in this country.” Led by Artistic Director Simon McBurney, Complicite’s performances have ranged from entirely group-devised work to theatrical adaptations and revivals of classic texts. These workshops explore familiar Complicite themes: the use of masks, the manipulation of objects, the ensemble, improvisation and games.
St. Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy: Located in the very center of the city, the Academy was established in 1779 and in the oldest and largest theater arts school in Russia. The Academy’s principal approach is based on the Stanislavsky System, especially his later theater techniques which are not widespread in the States. The faculty of working professionals trains our students in acting, movement and voice.
20 credit hours or 5 course credits. Connecticut College is the college of record for NTI.
One semester of academic credit is awarded to undergraduates who successfully complete the program. Acting, Directing, Playwriting, Movement & Voice, and Design courses are each assigned a value of four credit hours. At the end of the NTI semester, grades are reported to Connecticut College where they are put on an official transcript and forwarded to the student's college or university registrar upon request.
Admission to NTI is competitive; applicants are encouraged to apply well in advance of the deadlines. Click here for the application.
Fall Semester: March 20 deadline
Spring Semester: October 20 deadline
O'Neill Theater Center, Waterford, Connecticut
COURSES, PROJECTS & WORKSHOPS
“NTI gave me the opportunity to realize my full potential as a total theater artist. I discovered passions and talents I did not know I had.” Teresa Bayer, NTI Fall ‘08
Students are trained in a wide range of acting techniques and styles by core instructors and visiting artists. Classes concentrate on improving your craft as an actor and on strengthening your intelligence and imagination as an artist. In-depth scene study covers a variety of plays and periods: from Shakespeare to Sam Shepard; Moliere to Arthur Miller; and Chekhov to Charles L. Mee. Guest artists teach specific workshops in improvisation, ensemble-generated theater, auditioning, and acting for the camera.
All students direct scenes and short performance pieces during the semester. You not only learn the basic skills of directing through table-work and practical exercises, you also practice being a confident artistic leader that is adaptable to the needs of the script, the space and the actors in the room. Although the emphasis is on directing scenes from classic and contemporary plays, students also direct found texts, group-generated plays and choreographic scores.
Through a variety of projects reflecting the range of contemporary theater, you develop skills as a playwright and a play-listener. The work of the class is active listening as each week’s assignment is read aloud and discussed by the group. Assignments range from kitchen-sink American realism, to abstract themes, to radio plays and musicals. The course culminates in Playwrights Week, dedicated to readings and staged readings of student plays.
In this course celebrating the power of visual theater through exploration of a classical and a contemporary play, students are encouraged to explore the individual perceptions and interpretations of text in physical form and are challenged to find clear ways to communicate visually. A practical lab is provided in conjunction with the class to develop visual presentation skills.
This course covers both vocal technique and production, along with dance and movement techniques. Movement classes include: Tai Chi, Droznin Russian movement, Biomechanics, Yoga, Improvisation, Dance and Stage Combat. Voice classes include: Linklater method, Dialect Work and Singing.
PROJECTS & PERFORMANCES
Noted for being extremely intensive and creatively challenging, this week-long project is dedicated to the development, reading and staging of up to fifteen new 30-minute plays created by students during the NTI semester.
Each semester ends with an ensemble project which allows students to participate in all area of the production, including acting, directing, writing, design and choreography. The material is compiled, collaged and adapted from a wide range of plays, novels and poems. Past Final Projects have been based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Sophocles’ Antigone, Homer’s The Odyssey, Dante’s Inferno and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. The project is selected specifically for each class. This work-in-progress has two performances, open to the public.
A movement-oriented workshop to build the strength of the ensemble, sharpen improvisation skills and heighten each performer’s awareness of movement and use of space.
Improvisational storytelling and mask-making; Balinese Mask and the acting techniques of the great Russian actor, Michael Chekov; and Lecoq neutral mask.
Business of the Business
Agents who cast for television, theater and film provide students with first-hand information about networking, auditioning, resume writing and the realities of the business.
Producing for Theater
Students are introduced to the fundamentals of producing for non-profit and commercial theater, as well as the various fundraising and marketing strategies successful organizations employ, with emphasis placed on new companies.